The spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – is closely associated with having access to sufficient clean water. Recently, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization (WHO), demonstrated how people should wash their hands. WASH – the acronym for ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’ – demonstrates the central role of water and hygiene. It all starts with ensuring that everyone has access to safe and adequate water supplies. In Nigeria, only a little over 20% of the population has access to piped water supplies. Approximately 70% of the country’s population, especially in rural and informal settlements, uses groundwater from drilled wells.
The Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP) in Nigeria, a partner of the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice (GRIPP), works actively to improve the professionalism of well drilling in the country. Some of these improvements include mandatory licensing of drilling companies, registered drilling company offices, requirements for minimum skills and supplementary training for drilling workers, which will allow more efficient drilling practices in the country. The Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC), under the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, plays a key role in issuing licenses to drilling companies. On World Water Day 2020, licenses were issued to 10 registered companies and two hydrogeologists. According to Mr. Michael Ale, President, AWDROP, close collaboration between the government, AWDROP and drilling companies, as well as lesson sharing with other African and non-African countries have helped to ensure that the most vulnerable people have access to safe and sustainable water supplies. Importantly, it also helps licensed drillers to establish themselves through the facilitation of bank loans. Finally, it guarantees licensing contracts to professional companies, and assists in capacity development and the creation of indigenous employment in the water sector in Nigeria.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the aims of improving professionalism is to ensure that drilling and developing water wells do not create health risks to water users, drilling workers and other stakeholders, as an extended, and very acute, part of professional well drilling.
Read the National Groundwater Association (NGWA) Guidelines for well drillers during the COVID-19 pandemic