Water Scarcity in Africa|
ESE1001 Term Paper|
Soh Jing Yi [A0101356U]|
Widespread poverty, is one of the most pressing problems that our world today faces, especially in the African region, where majority of the poorest live and the scarcity crisis is the most severe. The main reason why Africa is unable to escape from the vicious poverty cycle is due to its water issues (The Water Project, n.d.). Water is essential for human’s very survival and development, where it is required for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses. Its importance is reflected in the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as target 7C, which is to halve the proportion of world population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 (United Nations, 2012). The first step to achieving this would be the provision of water before there can be access to safe drinking water. However, in the situation that we are in today, the issue of water scarcity is worsening, not only in Africa, but also in developing and developed countries. Some of the main reasons for the failure of current efforts to alleviate water scarcity are political tensions with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), widening income gaps, lack of road network development as well as lack of concrete plans to tackle water scarcity. In light of these, future efforts should seek to overcome the problems mentioned above such that the African community can benefit enormously from the availability of water and achieve UN MDGs target 7C before 2015.
Introduction / Background
Water scarcity is defined as the situation whereby the aggregate impact of all users impinges on the supply or quality of water under prevailing institutional arrangements to the extent that the demand from all sectors, including the environment, cannot be satisfied fully (Water Scarcity, n.d.). In general, there are two forms of water scarcity: physical and economic water scarcity. The first type is the situation whereby there is insufficient water to meet both human demands and those of the ecosystem to function effectively. The second is caused by a lack of investment or insufficient human capacity to satisfy the demand of water. In the case of Africa, its water scarcity is caused by a combination of both forms of scarcity. Physical causes include climate change, rapid population growth while economic causes include the lack of infrastructure in safe extraction and distribution of water to villages. In today’s world, up to 780 million people still lack access to clean water, which is 2.5 times the entire population of America. Annually, 3.4 people die from water related diseases, almost equivalent to the entire city of Los Angeles. More significantly, a child dies from a water related disease every 20 seconds (Water.org, n.d.), which could simply be prevented with the provision or access to safe drinking water. This issue is of great significance as the water crisis claims more lives in the form of diseases than any other war fought on this planet. The situation is set to worsen with the rapid population explosion, with most of the growth occurring in Africa, where the current environment is extremely hard to handle such a large population and their needs. The current water scarcity problem is also one of the major stumbling blocks in Africa’s developmental progress to pull its citizens out of the poverty cycle. So, if the problem of water scarcity is well-tackled, it would yield numerous benefits for Africa, such as access to safe drinking water and sanitation, higher standard of living and even economic progress. Impacts of water scarcity on Africa
Water scarcity has resulted in a wide range of impacts, from health, agricultural, conflicts, productivity and development to women, children and education. One of the most severe impacts is the health threats posed by unsafe drinking water. Due to water...