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Water Crisis in Africa: Its Issues and Challenges

*Image Source: Pixabay

Africa seems to be the greatest recipient of abundant water resources. These include large bodies of water, such as Niger, Zambezi, Nile, and Congo. In addition to the list is Lake Victoria which boasts of the globe’s second largest river.

With this seeming abundant water resource, Africa is second to Australia as the world’s driest continent. Millions of Africans experience shortage of water throughout the year. Possible reasons for these shortages involve the uneven distribution of water. There are cases when much water is present when there are fewer people. Moreover, great improvement regarding existing water supplies needs to be improved. An example would be the disparity of availability of water that is in the Congo basin that comprises 30 percent of the water of the continent. However, only 10 percent of the population of Africa resides in this area.

Water shortage

Water shortage is experienced by fourteen nations in Africa. It is predicted that another 11 nations will experience water shortage. This will affect approximately 50 percent of the predicted population of Africa, which is 1.45 billion Africans.

Two or more countries share an estimated 80 of Africa’s lake basins and rivers. Many nations depend on water that flows from outside their national boundaries. It is possible that the livelihood of people will be threatened due to some large-scale water infrastructure projects that include dams.

South Africa currently implements “Working for Water” Programme. This implements water laws that show how the scarcity of water can be decreased by proper management of natural resources. This Programme has many economically-disadvantaged South Africans who are currently employed and tasked to remove exotic plants that consume water in order to increase the flow of water into rivers. This gives water to many people and nature without the need to build new water infrastructure.

Water and food

Africa is known to be home to over 2,600 freshwater fish species. Fish comprises 21 percent of animal protein intake. Irrigated agriculture is the end point of water diverted for human use in Africa.  The improper planning of these agricultural developments often falls short in achieving the benefits for the poor. This improper scheme has decreased food supplies from river fisheries.

Water and health

Half of Africa’s population is affected by one of the six major diseases that are related to water. The factors that affect their health also include the lack of risk preparedness and mitigation. Around 650 Africans die daily with diarrhea. Most of those affected are children who are under five years of age.

Water sanitation

The past decade has shown less improvement of low levels of urban water supply and sanitation. Areas that are arid and semi-arid are severely affected by water stress. The root cause of this problem is that water is limited, and the increasing demands of water cannot be supplied by this limited supply.

Possible solutions

Improving access and sanitation is only a part of a bigger whole when it comes to solving the water crisis in Africa. Africa needs to have better water management that requires the participation of stakeholders.

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