Water Scarcity in Africa

Water scarcity also referred to as lack of safe drinking water is one of the world’s leading problems that face more than 1.1 billion people globally. This simply means that at least one in every six people does not have access to safe drinking water.

World Health Organization defines safe drinking water as the water with microbial, chemical and physical properties that meet the WHO national standards of drinking water quality. On average, every person’s access to water should meet a threshold of 1700 cubic meters to be used in agriculture, industrial and energy production among other uses.

Due to high population growth rates in the majority of African countries, the population-to-water equation has not been able to balance normally. This has made many people to experience either moderate or severe water scarcity challenges. If the water availability threshold per person is at 1 000 cubic meters, this is the state referred to as water scarcity while any threshold below 500 cubic meters is termed as the state of acute water scarcity.

Sadly, millions of Africans especially the ones living in the Sub-Sahara region experience water scarcity stress with majority of them being not even able to access water for several days. The saddest thing is that, the condition is expected to get even worse and by 2030, at least 75 to 250 million people will be facing severe water stress. Water scarcity expose people to among other risks health complications.

On average, a normal human being may survive for between 3-5 days without water. If the state of complete water scarcity persists, one has no chances to continue living. This makes people to turn to any available water irrespective of its safety. Drinking of dirty water risks people health as it exposes them to waterborne disease infections.

Diseases like cholera, dysentery, trachoma, diarrhea among other killer diseases have been on the rise in African countries mainly because there is lack of sophisticated mechanisms to treat drinking water. This is unlike in the developed countries where there are proper mechanisms to treat and store water.

Water scarcity highly affects children education because they are forced to join their parents in the hunt for water instead of being in school. As a long term effect, water shortage lead to a slowdown in the development process as many people do not engage in other productive roles apart from water collection. With this state of water scarcity in African countries, the number of poor people will continue to rise.

The water project initiatives like the one by Africaqua will be the only way people will manage to pull themselves out of the jaws of poverty. The project targets people living in arid and semi-arid areas to ensure that they get easy access to safe drinking water at a price they can afford.

The initiative will enable beneficiaries to utilize more time in development activities rather than collecting water. The number of people suffering from waterborne diseases will also reduce gradually.

Let’s take advantage of the massive runoff by collecting it

From Turkana to Tiaty, Nairobi to Nakuru, effects of the ongoing heavy rainfall that has pounded the country over the last two months have been intense. Houses have collapsed, vehicles swept by massive run offs as landslides torment residents of the peaceful Murang’a County. The weatherman has announced that the heavy rains might hit the country for a little while, something that has obviously not been received well by millions of Kenyans.

Today, cold shivers are sent down the spines of everyone when clouds begin to form. People are worried because they do not know what the rains might bring forth. For those working in town like Nairobi, they have to rush home as early as possible to avoid being denied access to their residential areas by the merciless water flooding Nairobi roads.

The heavy rains have already made some people homeless, others lost their lives somehow defying the common saying “Water is Life”, as others fight for their lives in hospitals following injuries rendered to them by the collapsed walls and buildings.

It will meanwhile be very sad if we will allow the runoff to go untamed and later complain about water shortage once the rains dwindle. Places like Turkana known for its aridity state is nowadays experiencing massive runoffs. The water is being allowed to flow freely as the soil has already taken more than enough of it.

As a country that knows what people go through during the dry season, we should not allow the water to flow uncollected. It is necessary for the government with the help of private companies device on the ways to collect the water, purify it and make it ready for use in the future.

Large dams can work well for places like Turkana where farming activities are very rare. If a few dams can be prepared, it will make it easier for the runoff to be collected and properly treated for use.

Even though the rains have a lot of negative effects to millions of Kenyans, we should be ready to take advantage of it to save our future. No matter how much people complain, the rain will go on and it will only make sense to us if we save enough of the water for future use.

Kenya has enough experts and resources to manage the runoff in different parts of the country and there is therefore no excuse for not collecting the storing enough water for the future. The want can be used to irrigate crops, used at homes as well as well water the ever thirsty livestock in the arid areas.

This will also help in saving the large amounts of money government spends on buying food to feed the hunger stricken communities. The money can be used to facilitate development programs.

David Mwaura, Communications Manager, Africaqua Limited.