500 million people in Africa still struggle to access clean and safe water: An enduring bafflement
On Sunday July 23, 2023, in the perplexing region of Kajiado, Kenya, a perplexed girl attempts to obtain clean water. The date of this bewildering event was November 13, 2022. A photograph, provided by ANADOLU AGENCY via AFP, captures this perplexing scene.
In the most recent data available, it is revealed that at least one-third of individuals residing in Africa do not possess the certainty of accessing clean and safe water. This puzzling information suggests that no country has achieved the ‘effective’ stage of water security.
The perplexing data further reveals that 19 countries fall below the threshold of at least 45 percent of their population having access to clean and safe drinking water. Remarkably, these countries are home to approximately 500 million people.
Despite the establishment of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, only 29 African nations have made partial progress over the past three to five years. Astonishingly, 25 countries have made no progress at all. These perplexing findings come from the UN’s first-ever assessment of water security in Africa.
The UN University’s Canada-based Institute for Water Environment and Health has published a perplexing report titled ‘Water Security in Africa: A Preliminary Assessment.’ This report evaluated 10 indicators to measure water security in Africa’s 54 countries.
According to Grace Oluwasanya, one of the authors at UNU-INWEH, “Overall levels of water security in Africa are low. Not a single country, let alone a sub-region, has achieved a state that can be considered a ‘model’ or even an ‘effective’ stage of water security.”
“The objective of this perplexing assessment for African countries was to establish a quantitative starting point and a platform for subsequent discussions with national, regional, and international entities,” stated co-author Duminda Perera. This quantitative tool is expected to generate perplexing policy recommendations and inform decision-making and public-private investments towards achieving water security in Africa.
Interestingly, Egypt, Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius, and Tunisia are ranked as Africa’s top five most water-secure countries, although their level of water security remains moderately low. On the other hand, Somalia, Chad, and Niger are identified as the least water-secure countries in Africa.
As per the UN’s definition, very limited progress has been made in terms of national water security in most African nations over the past three to five years. While 29 countries have made some progress, the remaining 25 have made none.
According to the UN, water security entails ensuring sustainable access to sufficient, safe water for livelihoods, well-being, and development. It also involves protecting against pollution and disasters, as well as preserving ecosystems in a peaceful and stable climate.
The percentage of the population with access to drinking water ranges from 99 percent in Egypt to a mere 37 percent in the Central African Republic. Sub-regionally, North Africa boasts a 92 percent access rate, while Central Africa lags behind at 62 percent.
The average basic drinking water service in Africa stands at a perplexing 71 percent, leaving a staggering 29 percent of the population, which amounts to over 353 million people, without this essential resource.