In Lagos, a city girded by the sea and a lagoon, portable water is a scarce commodity. There is a water corporation but due to the non-functionality of the corporation some Lagos residents have had to dig their own wells and boreholes. The city is a scatterplot of holes in the ground, but with a population of 15 to 20 million, many more don’t have their own boreholes. So, they buy water from those who do, creating a vast retail market that defies quantification.
There are middlemen, of course, in this relationship of borehole owners and water buyers. They are called MERUWA. The term “Meruwa” is of the Hausa language and it literally translates to English as “water seller”. Equipped with a hand-held cart that easily accommodates 10 jerry cans and a phone so his clients can reach him whenever they need water, he patrols streets, shuttling between gushing taps and empty water containers nestled in the homes of his clients.