In Africa, over 400 million people are deprived of safe drinking water. In order to get water, people who can afford the option buy water from private water tanker operators for around $50 each month.
Water, Water, Water: The Water Crisis in Africa
|Drinking piped water|
Africa faces a number of issues in attaining increased access to clean water. These include an insufficient number of skilled personnel, effective institutions, water scarcity and pollution. The most common hindrance is the limited money and resources put towards water infrastructure.
“Inadequate financing is the single most important factor affecting the continent’s fresh water delivery abilities,” Peter Akari, chief water policy officer of the African Water Facility at the African Development Bank.
Due to a lack of water infrastructure in rural settlements, there may be a water pump or well in a village, but if it is not maintained, they quit working. It is not enough to build a well or water pump in African communities, they must be maintained or the water become useless to the community. In rural Ethiopia, women and children can walk up to six hours to collect water.
|African market day|
The public water utility, the Ghana Water Company, Ltd. had previously been able to provide water to about half of the country’s population of 20 million. Nevertheless, it started losing money for a variety of reasons, including unpaid bills and illegal connections. As a result, it could not make any significant repairs or further extend the system and lost half of its water through leakages from old pipes.
According to Scripps, in South Africa, around 19% of the rural population lacks access to a reliable water supply and 66% have no basic sanitation services. In addition, over 26% of urban and rural schools and 45% of clinics, have no water access.
Ethiopia has one of Africa’s lowest rates of access to water supply and sanitation despite abundant surface and groundwater resources. Out of Ethiopia’s 96 million people, 86.5 million people or 83% live in rural areas, that is 49 million people or 51% lack safe water and 76 million or 79% have no sanitation services. At most, 49% of people have access to safe water, while proper sanitation facilities are available to about 21%.
Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services negatively impact health and productivity, especially for children. “There is not one single solution to ensuring everyone gains access to water,” says the UK charity WaterAid. Ironically, Africa is rich in fresh water: large lakes, big rivers, wetlands and groundwater but only 4% of the continent’s available freshwater is currently being used.