Nigeria 2018 Environmental Performance Index Ranking and the Way to Sustainability Success

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) assessment in 2018 ranked Nigeria to a 100th position out of 180 countries in the comparative metrics, with Switzerland taking the precedent position. ’s rank is shown in Fig 1. The measurement analysis was based on 24 performance indicators across the underlisted ten issue categories relating to environmental health and ecosystem vitality.

  1. Air Quality
  2. Water and Sanitation
  3. Heavy and Metals
  4. Biodiversity & Habitat
  5. Climate and Energy
  6. Air Pollution
  7. Water Resources
  8. Fisheries
  9. Agriculture.
  10. Forests.


Fig 1. Nigeria rank on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI 2018 ).

Nigeria ranks 10th in “Climate and Energy” issue, 168th in “Water and Sanitation” and 152nd in “Air Quality”.

As listed in Table 1, the “total CO2 emissions intensity” indicator put us in the 3rd position which is the country’s highest score indicatorThis means that Nigeria is the third least contributor of CO2 among the 180 countries considered. Azerbaijan and Seychelles took the first position as they have the same score of 99.99 percent.

Table 1. Nigeria ranks and scores in 2018 EPI on climate and energy (EPI 2018).

table 1

Water and Sanitation

According to Water Aid report, two thirds (over 130 million people) of the Nigerian citizens have poor access to improve sanitation in the country and this pose a threat to the health of the growing population. One should not expect less of a nation where 57 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water.  As seen in Table 2, Nigeria has a poor score of 7.75% in “Water and Sanitation”.

Table 2. Nigeria ranks and scores in 2018 EPI on water and sanitation ( Source)

t 2

In 2017, concluded that many Nigerians are exposed to life-threatening environment due to poor sanitation and drinking water, viz. 41 percent of households in Kano don’t have improved sources of drinking water and only 8.9 percent of Lagos households have an improved drinking water source. 

Air Quality

Nigeria (2018) takes a leading edge in the air pollution global issue which is plaguing individuals across all countries and socioeconomic groups.  The country’s score is 48.08% as shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Nigeria ranks and scores in 2018 EPI on air quality 

t 3

It is quite alarming that four of the worst air polluted cities in the world are actually located in Nigeria (Onitsha, Kaduna hub, Aba and Umuahia), according to World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016. of the population in Nigeria is exposed to air pollution levels that exceeds WHO guidelines.

The way to success

On a general note, while Nigeria’s ranking improved in comparison with 2016 and 2014 performance indexes (Fig 2), the 2018 ranking is unsatisfactorily poor due to the fact that we, as a nation, have not done enough to fully explore Nigerian sustainability potentials and translating developed policies into viable actions especially in water, sanitation and air quality. As illustrated in Fig 2, the country ranked 133 (among 180 countries) and 134 (among 178 countries) positions in 2016 and 2014 respectively on the EPI.

fig 2

Fig 2. Nigeria EPI rankings from 2014 to 2018.


In 2014, the country’s framework indicator score was at 8.17% and 72.17% on “Water and Sanitation” and “Air Quality” respectively. As depicted in Fig. 3, there is an abrupt decrease in both “Water and Sanitation” and “Air Quality” performances from 2016 to 2018. This is why the country’s ranking is said to be poor despite having a higher rank in 2018 compared to the previous index years.


fig 3

Fig 3. Nigeria indicator scores in “Water and Sanitation” and “Air Quality” from 2014 to 2018.


In the context of the status quo EPI figures, there should be more local and national sustainability effort on a number of fronts, especially in the water and sanitation aspects, as well as in cleaning up the poor air quality. All hands must be on deck.

Secondly, Nigeria needs better data on sustainable agriculture, water resources, waste management, air quality and threats to biodiversity. Supporting global data systems is one of the most significant steps Nigeria can take to reifying sustainable development goals.

In addition, according to UNICEF, “Nigeria has made substantial progress in developing policies and strategies for water supply and sanitation service delivery but faces major challenges in translating these into action.” These challenges should be dealt with seamlessly.

Furthermore, there should be more and more local sustainability NGOs in creating awareness and volunteering in activities relating to water, sanitation and air quality issues both in the urban and the rural area. Activities such as road sides waste bin should be largely incorporated.

Nigeria will be a better sustainability nation if she excels to a large extent in water, sanitation and air quality.

Written by:

Abbas Lawal


Abbas Lawal has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a Master’s degree in Process/Energy technology. He has a strong interest in sustainability, renewable energy, environment, climate change and relating these with civil engineering structures. He supports our work at GHI.

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