The lack of availability to clean water in Africa is due to a combination of issues. Below we discuss ten contributing factors to this crisis and provide a potential solution for non-profits working in the region.
Government Controlled & Stolen Water
Africa has roughly 54 recognized countries, many of which share bodies of water. Sharing these bodies of water has created political and economic struggles. According to The Water Project, “35 percent of the cities water is stolen or given out through illegal connections.”
Many rivers in Africa are becoming increasingly contaminated due to a lack of sanitation supplies. The Vaal River required 20 tons of dead fish removed from the river after a local NGO took the Emfuelni municipality to court. The NGO accused the local government of allowing raw sewage to leak into the river. The local government blamed the sewage leakage on old pipes.
Many remote villages only have access to surface water. These communities do not have access to basic infrastructure due to their distant location. These villages are at risk during droughts as the surface water dries up and their means of earning such as farming or livestock dies off.
Lack of Infrastructure
A lack of infrastructure and coordination between government entities means there is no clear path toward resolving the water crisis in Africa. The United Nations has evaluated that, “The situation is exacerbated by competition for public funding between sectors, and heavy public debt burdens in most countries.”
Reliance on Surface Water
According to a 2015 WHO report, 102 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to groundwater. These communities solely rely on surface water. Without access to safe and filtered groundwater, communities must use surface water that has not been sanitized and potentially carries water-borne diseases.
Women Walk for Water
According to the United Nations, more than a quarter of the population in Africa spend more than half an hour per round trip to collect water. Women are disproportionally affected by the water crisis as they are often the ones walking long distances for water.
Receding Water Table
The major strain on large bodies water from large urban cities and agriculture have produced receding water tables.
Agricultural Use of Water
Africa’s water strain is largely due to agriculture. Most of the water throughout the continent goes to crops and livestock. However, areas like Somalia are seeing farm animals die and families evacuate due to the strain on access to water due to drought and terrorist control.
According to the United Nations, roughly 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid and more than 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment. This means they have less than 1,000 m3 per capita per year.
Lack of Education
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the poorest and least developed regions in the world. Without access to education, individuals do not have the knowledge to stay away from or evaluate contaminated bodies of water.
There is no immediate solution to the water crisis in Africa. However, Aldelano Solar Cold Chain Solutions can help non-profit organizations take mobile, sustainable and off-grid solutions to areas in need. The Aldelano Solar WaterMaker extracts water right from the air! The WaterMaker provides fresh, clean water that is totally independent of any power grid or water system. Different models can create 30 to 1,000 gallons of clean water per day and up to 2,300 lbs. of ice.
“Africa, Decade, Water for Life, 2015, UN-Water, United Nations, MDG, Water, Sanitation, Financing, Gender, IWRM, Human Right, Transboundary, Cities, Quality, Food Security.” United Nations, United Nations, 16 May 2014, www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/africa.shtml.
Dixon, Robyn. “In Somalia, Famine Is Looming and Families with No Food or Water Are Leaving Their Land.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 12 Feb. 2017, www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-somalia-famine-2017-story.html.
“Lack of Clean Water in Africa: 10 Reasons Behind the Water Crisis.” ALL ABOUT WATER FILTERS, 23 May 2017, all-about-water-filters.com/lack-of-clean-water-in-africa/#tab-con-17.
“Water In Crisis – Spotlight South Africa.” The Water Project, 1 Jan. 2017, thewaterproject.org/water-crisis/water-in-crisis-south-africa.