Overcrowded capitals and global warming accentuate the water crisis in Africa, remind the NGOs on this World Water Day.
"By 2030, humanity will lack 40% of the water it will need," explains the United Nations. Africa, of course, will not be spared. Already today, water is a major issue on the continent, in particular because it worries the populations who fear for their children. In Nigeria, for example, one in three children lacks water today. Pessimism is therefore evident regarding the future.
UThe explosion in the number of inhabitants in African metropolises has been threatening the water supply of these cities for many years, as well as of rural areas which are finding themselves de facto thirsty. At the end of each dry season, the endless line of inhabitants of some towns in front of public taps is a testament to the decadent infrastructure in many urban areas.
On this World Water Day, this is an opportunity to remind people how access to water should be a basic right. The un considers that around twenty liters of water per inhabitant per day is the strict minimum. However, global minima are only a dream in countries like Ghana, Guinea or even South Africa.
A crisis accelerated by several factors
Global warming is exacerbating a shortage already partly due to the population explosion and the lack of investment in the modernization and strengthening of existing water networks. Urban growth has considerably increased the need for water, not only to quench people's thirst, but also to guarantee agricultural and industrial production.
In South Africa, one of the countries worst affected by the water crisis, it is estimated that more than a third of water resources are wasted through waste from factories. In some West African countries such as Benin and Ghana, the percentages of wastage reach respectively 39% and 53% of the total water reserves.
The fragility of infrastructure is the third reason for this African crisis. Floods and landslides are more and more frequent and cause significant damage. The floods that hit the capitals of the two Congos, Brazzaville and Kinshasa, barely a week ago, claimed 27 victims and caused the collapse of a bridge.
The waterproofing of the land due to pollution, deforestation and the lack of adequate waste collection to avoid blockages of sewers and river beds increase the risks of collapsing water infrastructure.
In urban areas, governments have provided people with public taps. A buffer solution. The residents' plastic tanks to accumulate rainwater stocks are not making up the deficit. And although 38 African countries have invested in digital mapping to identify fragile infrastructure and tackle waste and unauthorized connections, the statistics are bleak.
86% of Nigerians only have access to contaminated water at best. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the richest countries in groundwater in the world, compared to the number of inhabitants, 28% of the population does not have access to drinking water. In South Africa, despite rudimentary solutions in rural areas, such as cobbled together collectors hitched to pipes, the fluctuating availability of water has led to huge migrations and the decline of the rural population. In short, the situation is not getting better.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Peter Hawkins told TV5monde: “When floods hit, children are victims of water-borne diseases. And when water is not available, children cannot wash their hands to protect themselves from disease ”. According to him, "the global water crisis is already here, and children are the first victims".