By: Shawgei Salah Ahmed
Water is the source of life on Earth, generally, water covers about 71% of the earth’s surface, oceans and seas represent 96.5%, lakes represent 0.013%, rivers 0.0002%, the rest found in groundwater and Floating snow or moisture mixed with air. As for the salty water, represents about 97.5% of the total water on the surface of the earth and the rest represents fresh water. On the other hand, African continent has water from seventeen large rivers, these rivers are often the natural borders between countries, same as the River Nile, which separates eleven countries, there are 160 lakes in Africa, including the African Great Lakes which are truly the richest Regions of Africa with water; It is a huge water reservoir conceder the source of the Nile River.
The situation of water security in Africa:-
The situation faced by three basic challenges. The first challenge is the topographical nature of the continent in terms of the existence of vast areas of deserts in which there is a scarcity of water little possibility for sustainable agriculture, in the same, Africa is the home of largest hot desert regions on the planet, namely the great Sahara, which occupies most of Northern part, African Horn desert in the east, Somalia, Kalahari in Namibia in Southern part, they all account for nearly two-thirds of the area in Africa. The second challenge is the massive population explosion and it’s offset by mismanagement of water resources, which affects the future of human activities then leads to Local , regional conflicts over water resources. The number of African population in 2015 estimated by 1.15 billion people will reach 2 billion by the year 2050. This population growth will mainly cast a shadow over the significant increases of urban dwellers. Before 2025, the urban population in Africa will reach 750 million people; will surpass the entire population of Europe. The researcher believes that this uncontrolled growth will create a dire gap in view of the available wealth. Water, which is subject to more unplanned behavior by decision-makers in Africa, the third challenge is the increase in withdrawals from groundwater reserves, as the increasing pressure on the demand for fresh water resources intensifies, which is exacerbated by the effects of change the climate. The rate of groundwater withdrawal has increased by 1% since the 1980s, as this rate continues; the up-coming period will be catastrophic for countries that rely heavily on groundwater. A country like Libya, for example, depends on groundwater by 95%, valley water is less than 3%, desalination water is 1.4%, it is in the 15th place in the world on the list of countries that will face a severe water crisis in the coming years, groundwater is being depleted at a faster rate than the rate of recharge of its reservoirs. By 2025, about 1.8 billion people will live in regions or countries experiencing absolute water scarcity.
The linkage between water and sustainable development:-
There is a close relationship between sustainable development in the goals declared by the United Nations and water in terms of availability and deficiency. The sixth goal seeks to ensure the availability of water and sanitation facilities and to achieve sustainable management in these two areas for everyone, the goal no 8 deals with the promotion of sustainable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Full and productive employment and decent work for everyone. Concerns related to water and employment are also of particular importance in achieving many of the other sustainable development goals, especially the first goal, which deals with poverty, and the third goal, which addresses the issue of health, from this standpoint, it occupies a central position in the fulfillment of the sustainable development goals.
Water, hunger and poverty in Africa:
Water shortage in Africa affects the most important productive activities in Africa, namely agriculture, it represents about 35 of the total output, constitutes 40 of its exports, mobilize 70% of employment opportunities. According to the African Union plan 2013-2063, agriculture will be the driving force for growth must be in rural areas, where 70% of the poor live, there is an airtight circle of disasters in Africa, the components of which are water, hunger and poverty, where armed conflicts erupt over water sources that lead to the displacement of people from their lands, so they lose the opportunity for agriculture and grazing, consequently they lose The opportunity to provide food and get rid of hunger, in the end there is a scarcity of food resources, which is an additional reason for fighting over scarce resources of food and agricultural products. Hunger is exacerbated by war and conflicts in countries such as South Sudan, Congo or Niger. Armed confrontations lead people to leave their villages and lose foundations. Their lives and livelihoods, at the same time, diminish water and pasture resources, causing additional confrontations.
Water, health and sanitation in Africa: –
Clean drinking water has major impacts on health, as polluted water and poor sanitation are linked to the transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. More than 842,000 people die annually from diarrhea as a result of unsafe drinking water, sanitation and lack of care for hand hygiene. Diarrhea is a largely preventable disease, as it can avoid the death of about 361,000 children under the age of 5 years every year. Everyone has access to water sources and sanitation networks, while reality shows a financing gap of 68 billion dollars, and in the same context in the relationship of water to health, there are figures at the global level where 1.8 billion people use sources of drinking water contaminated with faces, and contaminated water can transport Diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. It is estimated that polluted drinking water causes more than 500,000 deaths from diarrhea every year.
By 2025, half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas, and in low- and middle-income countries 38% of health care facilities lack any water sources, 19% lack improved sanitation services and 35% have water and soap for hand washing.
The roadmap to water resource management in Africa:-
The following are some suggestions for assisting in drawing a future roadmap for sustainable water resources that will help effectively in achieving the sustainable development goals through logical steps starting with preserving the existing and then seeking more.
- Sustainable development of water resources in Africa: –
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa. The longest river in Africa, it has historically been considered the longest river in the world, The Nile is about 6,650 km long and its drainage basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan, and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.
The Congo River , formerly also known as the Zaire River, is the second longest river in Africa, shorter only than the Nile, as well as the second largest river in the world by discharge volume, following only the Amazon. It is also the world’s deepest recorded river, with measured depths in excess of 220 m. The Congo-Lualaba–Chambeshi River system has an overall length of 4,700 km, which makes it the world’s ninth-longest river. The Chambeshi is a tributary of the Lualaba River, and Lualaba is the name of the Congo River upstream of Boyoma Falls, extending for 1,800 km.
This large amount of natural wealth is used without sustainable plans. Most African countries, natural capital represents between 30 percent and 50 percent of total wealth, Africa should put a plane to benefit, economically and socially from this natural wealth, it is necessary and urgently addresses issues such as managing the environmental and social impact of sustainable use.
- Settling disputes over water resources in Africa: –
The conflict resolution step is a fundamental and urgent issue for a stable future of the continent’s water supply. No project or any cooperation can be planned without the presence of peace and security, in this area we can mention the “Atlantic” Institute, which is a research institution release a studies about freshwater issues, It maintains a database covering 5,000 years of history of water-related disputes. The database includes 400 records of major water disputes that took place around the world, including 94 disputes in Africa as of 1898 when the Fashoda incident occurred at the height of the colonial rivalry between Britain and France over the headwaters of the White Nile, and war would almost break out between the two countries had the problem not been resolved thanks to diplomatic efforts. For example, the conflict between Mauritania and Senegal, water is considered an essential part of the causes of its outbreak, between 1989 and 1991, and claimed 24,000 people. In addition to the political and cultural factors of disagreement between the two countries, the war was the outcome of a succession of events, among them the project to exploit the Senegal River, which came into effect after the construction of the Diama dams in Senegal and Manantali in Mali, and the subsequent conflict of interests between camel herders in Mauritania and farmers in Senegal.
- Using technology to develop water resources:
Non-conventional sources of water can be developed, such as low-yield springs and wells, and water .Rainfall, urban water runoff, storm water, and wastewater recycling. Solar energy can be used to extract groundwater or cultivate desert areas, in order to achieve three goals, which are to enhance water, energy and food security. For example, Morocco expects to install more than 100,000 solar pumps by 2020. Likewise, Egypt is implementing a desert cultivation program that includes irrigation of 630,000 hectares with solar energy technology. Other countries are embarking on these projects as well, taking advantage of the lower costs of solar technology and the high solar radiation in the region. These initiatives will replace polluting and expensive diesel pumps, and provide a new option for farmers who lack access to power grids.
- Increasing investments in infrastructure for sanitation facilities: –
Today 2.4 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation services; among them are a billion people who defecate in the open. At least 663 million people suffer from a lack of safe drinking water. Poor sanitation and drinking water services and poor public hygiene lead to about 675,000 premature deaths annually, and economic losses in some countries amounting to 7% of GDP annually, so the sustainable development goals seek to ensure that everyone has access to adequate sanitation services and put an end to Of defecation in the open that leads to pollution of water and the spread of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and dysentery, about 842 thousand people die every year due to diarrhea as a result of unsafe drinking water or as a result of poor sanitation services or the absence of public health, that investment in the field of water supply and sanitation services is only It is considered a promising sector in terms of job creation and growth. For example, nearly 20 million people in Bangladesh, Benin, and Cambodia have access to running water in rural areas by 2025, which is six times the current figure, and represents a potential economic impact of $ 90 million annually.
In general, we can say that water security in Africa must occupy a great position in the future planning of all African countries, for the sake of future generations, through plans and programs that satisfy all countries under the auspices of the African Union, and to keep the African continent away from the conflicts that may arise because of water.