Are you concerned about the water crisis in Africa?
Have you always heard that there’s a problem with the water in Africa, but you’ve never been totally sure what’s going on?
Do you want to learn about this situation so you can figure out the best way you can help?
Whatever brings you here, you’re in the right place to learn. In this article, you’ll be introduced to the major water problem that affects the entire continent of Africa. You’ll find out just what makes this problem so widespread and how come it’s been nearly impossible to solve it, and you’ll also learn which industries and parts of the continent put the greatest strain on Africa’s water.
In the bulk of this article, you’ll discover facts about water in Africa that can help you better understand just what’s going on. Whether you’re interested in learning about how the water problem is distributed across the continent, how it affects the economy, which waterborne diseases the people of Africa face most often, or how many people die each year as a result of these illnesses, you’ll learn all this and more in the second half of this article.
By the time you make it through these facts, you might want to know what’s being done or how you can pitch in and make a difference. Be sure to check out the conclusion for some suggestions you can participate in to help improve the quality of water in this very critical situation.
Read on to learn more.
It’s no secret that Africa has a water problem. People in developed countries have known this for a long time, and organizations and governments around the world have been trying to make a difference for decades. Unfortunately, the continent of Africa continues to face a big problem, and it only seems to be getting worse no matter how hard people try to resolve it.
The biggest issue is the inability to find fresh, clean water for drinking and daily living. Most people in Africa rely on surface water and don’t have the technology or the money to dig wells to harvest groundwater. Since Africa is an arid continent, surface water evaporates often, and when that’s coupled with the strain placed on these bodies of water by large populations, the result is a receding water table across the continent.
Sanitation also poses a big problem. Many people don’t have dedicated sewage or septic systems, so human waste builds up over time and pollutes the surface water used for drinking. Even in agricultural processes, animal waste can’t be disposed of properly, leading to unsanitary conditions that are perfect for the spread of disease. There are a lot of factors that work together to cause problems for the condition of water across Africa, and these don’t seem to be easing up anytime soon.
Before you jump into learning about clean and dirty water in Africa facts, it’s a good idea to understand just how this continent uses its water in the first place.
Most of the water used throughout the continent goes toward growing crops and raising livestock. Unfortunately, even the larger scale agricultural projects that take place every year usually don’t see a profit, and they’re not planned well enough to best utilize a dwindling water supply. They have even caused the food output to come in at well under its projected number, and they often take water away from those who rely on fishing as their main source of income.
It takes a lot of water to run a mine, but this is a major industry across the continent. Other countries also often set up mining locations throughout the many countries of Africa, which further puts high demands on water that really should be saved for the people who actually live there. Mining practices can and do seriously pollute the water, too, especially with heavy metals that are exposed during the process.
In this section, you’ll discover clean water in Africa statistics and information to help you better understand what a serious situation this really is. This is a general section that doesn’t focus on one specific facet of the African water crisis but instead introduces you to the situation as a whole. Here, you’ll learn where this water problem comes from, how it affects humans and the environment, and which parts of the continent struggle more than others. If you’ve ever wanted to learn facts and stats about this situation, this is a great place to get started.
By this point, 50% of the 1.45 billion people who live in countries like Africa will be threatened by a lack of clean, fresh water or the inability to find enough water to sustain normal life. Water stress occurs as an immediate result of pollution, but it also comes from a lack of technology to help reach groundwater sources and an over-reliance on surface water as the only source of fresh water.
These parts of Africa are quite scarce already, especially in comparison to less arid parts of the world, and as water continues to be used and overused in unsafe ways, these natural ecosystems become more and more threatened. These wetlands are incredibly important because the fresh water that can be found there can also recharge the water table and help supply clean water to other parts of the country.
243 different types of fish alone are found in the basins throughout Africa, and of these, twenty of them are not found anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, because of the stress to the water supply, these fish are dying in huge numbers, and some of the species are beyond the ability to be saved. Fish aren’t the only ones threatened, however, and some of the rarest species of mammals and birds in the world are going to be lost very quickly if nothing is done about the water problem in Africa.
This might not sound like a big problem at first, but it means a lot lower water quality overall. Surface water has the potential to be more seriously contaminated by human and animal waste, and it can also be used up much more quickly than groundwater can. When surface water is overused, it disappears, and this is a major issue facing this part of Africa.
There are many economic reasons that contribute to this loss of funding for the region, but when money is lost, this means there’s nothing in the budget to help improve technology, sanitation, or water conditions. This creates a vicious cycle of poor water causing a deficit that, in turn, doesn’t provide funds to improve the poor water that caused the problem in the first place.
The country with the highest percentage of people with no access to safe drinking water is Ghana, coming in at 85%, closely followed by Malawi at 80%. Burkina Faso, Lesotho, and Uganda are close behind this at 75% of people living in these countries facing a lack of clean, dedicated drinking water. The African country with the best water conditions is Ethiopia, with only 40% of its residents dealing with a lack of clean water. Madagascar, Mozambique, and Niger all come in at anywhere between 45% and 50%. This is still a huge number, and it’s distressing that even the African countries with the cleanest water still face such a staggering problem.
The jerry can is the most common form of water transportation used by these women, and when it’s filled with water, it weighs about forty pounds. If these women want their families to have access to any water at all, they must make this trip at least once a day, and sometimes more often than that. Unfortunately, even after all this effort, the water is usually very unclean and unsafe to drink, but families are forced to rely on it anyway.
This means that they rely on polluted or contaminated water sources, have no technology with which to clean up those water sources, and usually don’t have the proper sanitation required to keep this water from becoming dirtier and less safe over time. Of this huge number, 37% of these people live in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. This doesn’t even account for people in the rest of the continent.
Between these lakes, they hold thirty thousand cubic kilometers of water. Although it might seem strange to think that so much water could be found on such an arid continent, this is actually the largest volume of non-frozen water on any one continent in the world. In ten years, Lake Victoria, the largest lake on the continent, has receded by a full meter. Lake Chad has receded to a tenth of the size it once was. These lakes support a huge population, and the more people who rely on them for their water, the less water there will be available.
30 million people live around Lake Victoria and place a huge demand on its water, with around 1200 people living in each square kilometer surrounding it. However, only 10% of the population of the whole continent lives in the Congo basin, where 30% of the continent’s water can be found. There is no technology available to this country to help transport clean water from the Congo basin to the populated parts of the continent that need it the most.
In this section, you’ll learn water in Africa facts about illness, disease, and parasites that affect people in this part of the world every day. You’ll find out which parts of the population have a harder time dealing with waterborne illnesses as well as which diseases are the most prevalent. You’ll learn which countries have the dirtiest water versus which ones have the cleanest, and you’ll find out about a couple of instances of water pollution that contributed to health issues across the continent.
This equaled out to about 778 million people at the time, and the number has only risen since then. For the purposes of this study, these water-related illnesses included cholera, typhoid, E. coli, dysentery, polio, and hepatitis. Unfortunately, even though this study was some time ago, the problem persists even today. In 2001, over ten thousand people in South Africa became seriously ill from cholera.
This mostly affects young children and infants under the age of five, but it can also be a serious problem for the elderly and for anyone who is already immunocompromised. In infants and children under five, 85% of all diseases experienced can be traced back to water. Part of the problem lies in a lack of technology to treat these illnesses, but the source of this issue is the severely contaminated and polluted water found throughout the continent.
This isn’t just drinking water—this means the hospital operates completely with no access to fresh, clean water. 16% of these hospitals also function without improved sanitation conditions, meaning there’s no healthy or safe way to dispose of human waste from these locations. 36% of Sub-Saharan hospitals don’t have hand soap available, so even if they wash their hands in the polluted water, they’re not doing much good.
It’s estimated that less than one in three people in this part of Africa have dedicated, regular access to a working toilet. Data has also proven that only 50% of the people in this part of Africa practice regular, healthy hand washing habits. Combining the presence of human waste with a lack of hand washing is a recipe for the spread of illness, disease, and parasites. Unfortunately, the exposure of human waste also means these contaminants find their way into surface water used for drinking more often than not.
However, even Uganda, which has the longest life expectancy of any African country, still comes in at only around 60 to 65 years of age. The next closest is Rwanda, with an average life expectancy of around 58 years. On the other end of the spectrum is Lesotho, where the life expectancy is only about 49 years, and Niger, where it’s about fifty years. The African country with the lowest life expectancy is Sierra Leone, where people generally only live to be about 46 years old.
Once again, Uganda comes in at the top of the chart, with about 80 infant deaths in every one thousand studied. Sierra Leone’s mortality rate is three times higher, at 180 infant deaths per every one thousand births studied. Most of the rest of the countries throughout Africa fall somewhere in the middle, averaging out at around 100 infant deaths per one thousand live births. These are incredibly high numbers and they can be directly traced back to the problem of water pollution on the whole continent.
However, several others plague this continent, including ringworm and hookworm, malaria, typhoid, giardiasis, cryptosporidia, legionellosis, salmonella poisoning, Dengue fever, malaria, polio, dysentery, and many others. Many times, people who drink the unsanitary water found throughout Africa suffer from serious diarrhea and vomiting even if they aren’t sure which of these diseases or parasites is causing it. This can lead to dehydration quickly, which in turn often leads to death.
Although water certainly isn’t the only cause of this, it’s believed that parasites, repeated diarrhea-related illnesses, and a lack of sanitation and clean water causes at least half of these instances of malnutrition. A massive number of these deaths occur throughout Africa, although there are certainly other parts of the world where childhood death related to poor water conditions is a major issue, too.
This was a major event that led to some serious pollution issues. As more soil and sediment washed into surface water sources and more dead human and animal bodies contaminated fresh water in the area, pollution rose significantly. This problem is still being felt throughout the country, as people were forced to continue relying on this now even more severely contaminated water for day-to-day life.
In 1994, the Harmony Gold mine near Merriespruit in South Africa suffered a tailings dam failure which led to 2.5 million tons of tailings wastewater spilling into the nearby town, groundwater, and surface water. This wastewater was contaminated with heavy metals and other byproducts of the mining process, and nearly three hundred houses were either heavily damaged or swept away completely by the water. Eighteen people died and the surrounding area was affected by polluted water for a long time to come.
You’ve seen a lot of clean water in Africa facts and figures, but you might be wondering just what’s being done to actually take care of this very serious problem. In this section, you’ll find out what organizations in Africa and around the world are doing to combat this major water crisis.
You’ve come a long way since the beginning of this article when you wondered a lot about what is going on with Africa’s water crisis. By now, you’ve learned a ton about statistics, facts and figures that say a lot about just what this country is going through. It’s hard to read these facts and not feel something for the struggles your fellow human beings are going through every day on the other side of the world.
So, now that you’ve finished reading this article, you’re probably more than ready to figure out what you can do to make a difference. Remember that there are many things you can accomplish, even if you never travel to Africa in your life. This is a country that relies heavily on outside help from other people around the world, and the more you get involved with water cleanup and provision, the better off everyone will be.
Some quick fixes can be instituted to help provide fresh, clean water to the people who need it most. These are the things you can usually find a way to get involved with, whether that means traveling to Africa yourself of sending money to help nonprofit organizations do good work.
Over the course of several years, these long-term solutions need to be put into place to help provide clean drinking water for a long time to come. Some of these are things you might not be able to help much with, but if you put your mind to it, you’re sure to come up with new and creative means of getting the word out.
Of course, there are always other things you can do to make a difference, too. Some of the changes that need to be made can only happen from within the country itself, but there are many more that you can get involved with no matter where you live. You don’t always have to give money to help get something done, but of course, this is a great place to get started. Remember that if you choose to donate to any water charities, you should always do your research to be sure you’re giving to one that isn’t using the money for unsavory purposes.
Find the best way for you to get involved, and get ready to make a difference.