Water Shortage Crisis in Africa Has Gotten Worse in 2019
A water shortage crisis in Africa exists when there is not enough potable water for a population. The lack of fresh water leads to drought, famine and death. In many parts of Africa, a water crisis has existed for years.
The World Health Organization reported in 2015 that more than 40 percent of the global water-stressed population lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. In that same part of Africa, only an estimated 44 percent of the urban population and 24 percent of the rural population have adequate sanitation.
According to predictions reported at the 2012 Conference on Water Scarcity in Africa: Issues and Challenges, by the year 2030 an estimated 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will be living in areas of high water stress. This will likely displace 24 million to 700 million people as conditions there become increasingly unlivable. The average distance women in Africa must walk in order to collect water is 6 kilometers, or 3.75 miles. Water scarcity affects 1 in 3 people in this African region.
Despite the efforts of many people to correct it, the water shortage is actually getting worse in some areas. Why is that the case? Several reasons for it include:
Most of the sources of water, especially in rural areas of Africa, are terribly polluted due to poor sanitation and lack of waste treatment plants. The problem is growing worse as the total levels of global pollutants contribute to the contamination of drinking water.
Urbanization and Industrial Water Waste
People are leaving the rural areas for urban life and the hope of jobs. This leads to increased demands for water in the urban areas, but the infrastructure cannot handle it. Additionally, industrial excessive use of water only escalates the crisis.
Reliance on Agriculture
Although urbanization is happening, the majority of Africans remain dependent on an agricultural lifestyle. Around 80 to 90 percent of all families in rural Africa produce their own food. If water is scarce, it means those families lose food security. And many of them do not use irrigation, the irrigation is mismanaged, or worse, the irrigation systems use contaminated water. In short, the rural African communities are not tapping into their irrigation potential according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa and New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
Using wastewater for crop irrigation causes a large number of people to consume foods that can contain chemicals or disease-causing organisms transferred by the wastewater. Due to lack of sanitation and good water treatment practices, much of the available groundwater in African countries is infected with disease. Also, water scarcity means people store water in their homes. This provides more breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are carriers of dengue fever, malaria and other diseases.
Climate change is affecting water evaporation and changing rainfall patterns, making water collection efforts even more challenging.
Poor Water Management
Inadequate training and education about effective water use management is leading to more water waste. Corruption is another problem that hampers efforts to make clean water more accessible. All of this contributes to a lack of safe water delivery systems and necessary infrastructure in some African countries.
In some areas of extreme poverty, clean water is available at extremely high prices. If people do not have the money to buy it, they have to drink water wherever they can find it. For those people, their water sources may be puddles on the roadside.
Potential Conflicts over Water
The UN Economic Commission for Africa predicts that if current rates of consumption paired with climatic stress continue, levels of water scarcity in Africa are will reach dangerously high levels by 2025. This could mean that by 2022, water scarcity could contribute to armed conflict. Additionally, the United States’ own National Intelligence Estimate on water security completed in 2011 predicted that after 2022 water will be more likely to be used as a weapon of war and potential tool for terrorism, especially in North Africa. The American State Department believes that water stress will likely increase the risk of instability and state failure. Because of this potential, many view water scarcity as one of the world’s top five risks.
Contact The Last Well for More Information about How You Can Help
If you want to learn how you can help mitigate the water shortage crisis in Africa, contact The Last Well for more information. Their mission is to provide access to safe-drinking water for the nation of Liberia, border to border, and offer the gospel to every community they serve by 2020. Through The Last Well, you can find out the latest information about the African water shortage and learn all the ways your donations can support the cause. Your donations can transform an entire community.