Domestic groundwater abstraction in Lagos, Nigeria: A disjuncture in the science-policy-practice interface?

A. Healy, K. Upton, S. Capstick, G. Bristow, M. Tijani, A. Macdonald, I. Goni, Y. Bukar, L. Whitmarsh, S. Theis, K. Danert, S. Allan

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16 Citations (SciVal)


The rapid development of groundwater systems as part of urban water supplies around the globe is raising critical questions regarding the sustainable management of this essential resource. Yet, in many major cities, the absence of an effective policy regime means that the practice of groundwater exploitation is driven by the actions of domestic households and drilling contractors. Understanding what shapes the decisions and practices of these actors, their understandings of the groundwater resource and the extent to which scientific knowledge shapes this understanding, is an area of critical importance that is currently under-researched. Using a mixed-methods methodology, the paper explores domestic practices of groundwater abstraction in Lagos, Nigeria. It finds that there is a disjuncture between the households who are actively shaping exploitation of the groundwater resource on a day-to-day basis and science and state actors. This disjuncture results in household decisions that are influenced by commonly held, but potentially outdated, perceptions of the groundwater resource rather than scientific evidence or policy instruments. The unseen nature of groundwater resources effectively renders the scale of changing groundwater conditions invisible to households and the state, adding to the challenge of influencing practice. Addressing this disjuncture requires not just more scientific knowledge, but also the active construction of interfaces with, and between, non-state actors through which knowledge can be confronted, discussed and shared.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045006
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number4
Early online date10 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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