Personally, I regard the topic of water deficit as very important issue to deal with and to be engaged in. For sure, we don’t consider a lack of water a problem if it doesn’t influence our personal lives. Despite of it, it is very urgent problem in other parts of the world and for this reason, we shouldn’t be phlegmatic about these matters.
Slovakia, my home country, has the one of the most significant water resources in Europe. We use water every day, without even realizing its worth and value. The access to water in the schools or households is taken for granted and that’s why we don’t appreciate it enough.
However, everyone is aware of how complicated is the situation in other parts of the world, especially in Africa. In fact, the water consumption differs completely across the world. In the states of Sub-Saharan Africa the water use oscillates between 10 and 20 litres per person per day, in comparison to developed countries such as Europe or Japan where this amount represents 200 – 350 litres. Although the solution of water related problems is one of the Millennium Targets of UN, nowadays in 21st century there are almost 800 million people that do not have access to clean and safe water. 37% of those people live in Sub-Saharan Africa. But why is the situation in “dark continent” so alarming and can this serious problem be solved?
Now, I would like to emphasise the main factors causing the lack of water and reasons of such problematic situation in Africa.
First of all, it is the location of continent in the tropical climate, whereas one third of country’s surface is covered by desert. Africa has to fight with extremely difficult climate conditions, and has to face a challenge of the global warming and progressively increasing temperature. The next point is population growth. Already now Africa has population of one billion people and the population growth is the fastest in the world. If this situation goes on, in next 40 years the population in Africa can even double. It’s clear that water sources are highly limited and water supply is not consistent with water demand. The other factor is the moving of many Africans from villages to cities, where the access to drinking water is much worse than in the rural areas. On the other hand, in most developed countries, the state and government take responsibility for water distribution to the household of citizens. But in most African countries, the reality is poor government and a non-functional infrastructure.
Nevertheless, new analysis presents that Africa doesn’t have to have so big problems and there can be a new solution. The researchers in a survey found out that huge water reserves are hidden under surface in northern part of Africa. This amount is about a hundred times greater than the resources on the surface of the continent.
This kind of under-surface water is located under Sahara desert. These sources originated thousands years ago, at a time, when Sahara was not a desert. They are hidden above all in Libya, Chad, and Algeria Basin, but also in other parts of the continent such as Congo, Angola, Zambia, Namibia or Botswana. But there remain some very important issues. How is it possible to reach these sources? How to use them effectively and how to avoid resource depletion? In the first place, countries should not build large water holes. They should rather construct small water pumps or wells that cannot pump out a lot of water. This is the kind of solution that could keep the water supplies. On the other hand, especially if the water becomes a strategic resource, it can provoke conflicts on the continent, taking into consideration an increasing number of thirsty inhabitants.
To sum up, we can conclude that water in Africa is a commodity that can be comparable to oil. Both commodities are high valued, especially in parts with the deficit of these commodities. It is not surprising that there are ongoing many oil wars among states as well as water wars. I am not sure if Africa is ready to use these new discovered water reserves properly and reasonably. Nevertheless, significant changes have to be accomplished, such as improvement of infrastructure or the change of attitude of leading institutions. In any case, Africa has a long and difficult journey in order to reach these aims. But finally, it’s time for Africa to move on.
Thank you for reading!
…and don’t forget the World Water Day on March 22 :-).