Advancing Water Governance Reforms in Bauchi with the Formation of a Board of Directors for the Bauchi State Water and Sewerage Corporation
Members of the Board of Directors at the WCP organized corporate governance orientation retreat in March 2018
The water sector in Bauchi State recently experienced a major improvement with the appointment of a Board of Directors (BOD) for the Bauchi State Water and Sewerage Corporation (BSWSC). The WASH Coordination Project (WCP) played a key role in guiding this Board election. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Development Innovations Group, WCP is supporting sector reforms in Nigeria to improve the utilities’ capacity to deliver water and sanitation services.
The absence of a Board of Directors (BOD) in the past five years stalled the Bauchi State Water and Sewerage Corporation’s governance reform and progress to improve services. The WCP, from its inception in November 2016, made it a cardinal focus to engage with the state government to appoint a Board of Directors to govern and oversee the BSWSC. The process involved persistent, strategic advocacy across high-level partners, politicians and decision-makers. The WCP Team closely collaborated with the state government, including the State Governor, the Secretary to the State Government, and the Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources. As a result, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, Barrister Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, issued an executive memo authorizing the implementation of the Bauchi State Urban Water Law 2014. This authorization unblocked the policy bottlenecks inhibiting the momentum established under the previous USAID-funded Sustainable Water and Sanitation for Africa (SUWASA) project.
The WCP Team also brokered a tripartite agreement between Bauchi State, the World Bank, and the WCP to develop and implement a road map for the transition of the Bauchi State Water Board into the more commercial-oriented Bauchi State Water and Sewerage Corporation, with the constitution of a seven-member Board of Directors for the utility. Following a meeting with the WCP Team in September 2017, the Executive Governor issued a directive for the constitution of the BOD. In November 2017, the WCP Team, with the Secretary to the State Government, produced a list of possible members for the Board of Directors, in line with the provisions of the Bauchi State Urban Water Law 2014. Subsequently, a seven-person Board of Directors was set-up for BSWSC on November 10, 2017, helping the utility make important strides in its transition to the BSWSC in December 2017. In March 2018, the WCP Team provided the BOD members with training in effective corporate governance, as well as guiding laws, policies, and activities of the utility. With the now-appointed BOD, BSWSC is expected to gain greater autonomy in decision-making, as well as improve its performance and commercial viability, which would benefit the 600,000+ Bauchi State urban residents’ prospects for better water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
The constitution of this long-awaited Board of Directors is a fundamental milestone for the WCP. This achievement builds on the momentum established under the SUWASA project. In a statement at the BOD retreat, the Director of Water at the Bauchi State Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. Adamu Ali, said, “There was a great defect; the activities of the corporation were left in the hands of the management team. But now, we see the appointment of a Board as great progress because there will be more hands to complement oversight, and regulations, encouraging accountability and transparency.”
The Board is now generating ideas to implement the BSWSC’s corporatization program. To support this process, the WCP Team helped the BOD to develop a workplan. As a first step, Board members conducted a field visit to assess first-hand the capacity of the utility’s existing infrastructure in March 2018. This step, among others, marks the BSWSC’s determination to manage service delivery from the position of a business entity moving forward.