Access to potable water in rural communities in Nigeria is failing rather than rising. In this context, this paper investigates the landscape of rural water supply in Nigeria using reliable data collected across the six geo-political zones in the country. The data used were obtained through questionnaire surveys, field observations and from records in the national and states agencies responsible for public water supplies. The data generated were analyzed through the use of descriptive statistical tools. The results of the study characterized the rural water supply sources, systems and systems performance in the sampled communities. The water supply systems are characterized by poor performance. Drinking water supply is not planned recording to population growth and public sector agencies are unable to provide adequate water supplies to the rural population. Rural water supply infrastructures are largely dysfunctional, over-aged and ill-maintained. Several constraining factors, including inefficiencies, low investment levels and weak institutional framework, have to be overcome for the rural populace to access better and more reliable services. Strategies which may help to achieve these goals were advanced.
Keywords: Access, rural communities, water sources, water supply system, sustainability, constraints, Nigeria.