ASC: Ignoring another Inconvenient truth? Managing Africa’s water crisis
By: MARCEL RUTTEN AND MOSES MWANGI.
“Among the many things I learnt as a president was the centrality of water in the social, political and economic affairs of the country, the continent and the world.” (Nelson Mandela)
Water is a basic need and an important catalyst for accelerating socio-economic development in semi-arid areas. Good management of water resources is a pre-requisite for rural development.
During the First African Water Week, held in Tunis in March 2008, the African Development Bank, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the World Bank called for an increase in funding and a renewed focus on agricultural water management in Africa, including irrigation, drainage and rainwater harvesting.
Growth in the agricultural sector is considered vital to poverty reduction and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The Initiative called for knowledge sharing to improve and expand the availability of water. By adopting the MDGs, the world pledged to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015. With the exception of
Sub-Saharan Africa, the world is reportedly well on its way to meeting this target.
With only 64% of the population having access to improved water supplies, Africa has the lowest proportional coverage of any region of the world. The situation is much worse in the rural areas where coverage is only 50%, compared to 86% in urban areas. By 2025, at least 48 countries are expected to be facing water shortages. No fewer than 22 of these are in Sub-Saharan Africa, which means that approximately 2.8 billion people (35% of the projected world population) will be living either in water-scarce areas (less than 1,000 cubic metres/cap/yr) or in water-stressed areas (between 1,000-1,700 cm/cap/yr).
It is recognized that the achievement of each of the MDGs hinges on the availability of safe water. However one person in six – more than 1 billion people – still has little choice but to use potentially dangerous sources of water.
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