Clean Water’s Impact on Afric ...

Source: sciencedirect.com | Re-Post Water For Good 7/8/16

It’s not only about water. It’s about improving lives. Water for Good is blessed to provide access to sustainable, clean water. Our mission though, is part of a much larger vision. Water resources have a dramatic impact on Africa’s development. This article from sciencedirect.com explores how clean water affects not only the health and well-being of precious people, but key economic sectors such as agriculture, livestock, energy, manufacturing and tourism. We are committed to saving the lives of young children in one of the world’s most neglected countries by attacking extreme poverty through a resource that provides so much more than just a quenched thirst. Please enjoy this article. It will connect the dots on how clean water transforms lives over the long haul… for good.

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Africa is endowed with vast water resources including but not limited to lakes, rivers, swamps and underground aquifers. However, the way of life in Africa does not reflect this kind of wealth owing majorly to degradation and under-utilization of these water resources. This review discusses the centrality of water resources in Africa’s pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Following the Sustainable Development Model, the paper thematically examines and synthesizes the importance and potentials of water resources to Africa’s development through exploring their contributions and limitations to the various economic sectors namely; agricultural and livestock production, energy, manufacturing and processing, tourism, health, fisheries, trade and other institutional mechanisms such as payment for ecosystem services (PES), mutual cooperation and economic cooperation.

Data were collected by review of online peer-reviewed and grey literature published between the year 2000 and 2015. It is observed that sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (SDG 6) will be central to the attainment of all the other SDGs (particularly SDG 1 (No poverty), 2 (No hunger), 3 (Good health), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land)) across Africa. African states should therefore increase their commitment to water conservation and management as this will significantly decide Africa’s future development paths.

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Water is life, so the old adage goes. This is owed probably to the ubiquitous nature of the resource. Water is a universal component of every living thing but more importantly of human life. It is not only home to myriads of marine species (Polidoro et al., 2008) but also a huge driver of man’s economic and social expediency making his home a lot more habitable (FAO, 2011). Globally, water is one of the leading drivers of economic development but also a source of contention and conflict (UNEP, 2010). Even when the images of our planet show vast quantities of water, this is only a mirage as most of the water is salty and not suitable for human consumption (UN, 2015; World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 2006). NEPAD (2006) states that only 2% of the global water is freshwater fit for human use. This leaves the global population with only 0.5% (10,000,000 km3 in underground aquifers, 119,000 km3 net of rainfall falling, 91,000 km3 in natural lakes, over 5000 km3 in man-made facilities and 2120 km3 in rivers) to survive on (UN, 2015). Africa has 9%, the least percentage of fresh water at continental level. America has the largest share of the world’s total freshwater resources with 45%, followed by Asia with 28% and Europe with 15.5%.

This natural distribution of water together with several anthropogenic factors has, in part, created the water problem that the global village is battling with today (UNEP, 2010). The natural distribution of water is highly variable geographically and seasonally (United Nations World Water Assessment Programme WWAP, 2015); with some areas having huge amounts of water while others have little or none and seasons of extremely high rainfall are often followed by long periods with no rain. These patterns of inequity, variability, extremity and unreliability are worsening in many areas because of the impacts of climate change – especially in those areas occupied by the poorest and least resilient communities (Wolf (2001), Ashton (2002), Donkor, 2003, Freitas (2013) and IPCC (2014); DESA (2015) and WWAP (2015)).

For a continent whose countries are ranked among the least developed countries in the world (Freitas (2013) and Winkler & Marquand (2009)) and whose population growth is unprecedented (African Union (AU) (2014) and IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) (2015)), Africa needs its water more than any other continent. Africa has great potential of underground water resources which according to Africa Progress Report (APR) (APP, 2015), are 100 times more than surface water sources. Though still a poor continent, Africa is fast picking pace on the development track with GDP growths as high as above 6% per annum in some sub Saharan countries like Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa (African Development Bank (AfDB) et al., 2015; APP, 2015).

As we move from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to embrace the new and more promising Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also termed as the Global Goals (Fig. 1), the contribution of water resources to the continent’s development paths cannot be undermined. As demonstrated in the subsequent sections, this paper explores the extent to which African water resources can enhance the attainment of SDGs. Specifically, the paper examines the importance and potentials of water resources to Africa’s development through exploring their contributions and limitations to the various sectors of growth namely; agricultural and livestock production, energy, manufacturing and processing, tourism, health, fisheries, trade and other institutional mechanisms such as payment for ecosystem services (PES), mutual cooperation and economic cooperation.

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