Increased competition for water between different sectors (agriculture, industry, and housing) has increased the price of water, leaving many communities-usually the poorest and most vulnerable in a situation where women and children must travel long distances to fetch water To meet their needs. basic needs. In countries where there is no real water shortage due to the abundance of rivers and lakes, difficult economic and social conditions make it difficult to use and evaluate the available resources. This is because the infrastructure and institutions needed to extract, distribute, manage, and treat water are either missing or poorly managed, leading to economic water shortages. This scarcity is characterized by a natural state in which water is available but cannot be used due to capital, technology, manpower, and institutional constraints.
Climate change and population growth have intensified competition for water in several sectors.
More people will need more food production, processing, transportation, and distribution. This increases the water footprint of the agricultural value chain and makes water use efficiency a prerequisite for sustainable water management. For example, if the middle class continues to grow as it has in recent decades, only systems that use efficient water can meet the growing demand. Forecasts show that Africa’s demand for water will quadruple by 2030, most of which will be driven by population growth and the development of the agricultural, industrial, and commercial sectors. At the same time, climate change reduces the frequency of rainfall and causes droughts or floods, which is costly for some African countries. Previous droughts, floods, and changing rainfall patterns and temperatures have greatly increased the vulnerability of various regions in Africa.
Drought in South Africa
The drought that occurred earlier in 1991-1992 affected more than 80,000 people, of which 20,000 were at serious risk of hunger. In South Africa, recent estimates indicate that in 2018, the agricultural sector in provinces severely affected by drought and temperature changes laid off 31,000 jobs and lost about 7 billion rand in turnover due to weather changes. At the same time, the 2017-2018 drought in Zambia plunged more than 2.3 million people into poverty. Taken together, these issues paint a complex picture of the water use situation in Africa. Therefore, it is not surprising that the tensions surrounding its use usually increase. A striking example is the conflict between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, which has escalated to a crisis point in recent years, over the construction of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). According to Ethiopian government officials, GERD aims to help solve the country’s problems in energy production and socio-economic development.
It is expected to help reduce poverty and promote large-scale youth employment programs. Today, the country relies heavily on biomass energy, and more than 60 million people have no access to electricity. The hydropower expected by the GERD project should help the country achieve its long-term development and structural transformation goals. GERD plans to become the largest hydropower project in Africa, with an estimated cost of US$500-6 billion, funded by government bonds and private donations. However, officials from the downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan expressed deep doubts about the project. More than 90% of the fresh water consumed in Egypt comes from the Nile River. According to Egyptian officials, GERD represents an existential threat because it may not only affect the amount of water the country must draw, but also the output of the 2.1 GW high Aswan Dam that provides electricity to many sectors of the country.
If water flows are controlled from GERD, the water available to farmers and hydropower sectors in Egypt will be reduced, and Egypt’s economic and social stability will also be at risk. Egypt claims that the construction of the dam does not comply with previous agreements, which guarantee Egypt’s annual right to use 55.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Nile water and Sudan’s annual right to use 18.5 cubic meters (however, the signing of these agreements does not have Ethiopia’s participate). Sudan has expressed similar concerns about the potential impact of GERD on the efficiency of its 280 MW Roseries dam. Although Sudan initially supported the GERD project, changes in the country’s political landscape following the al-Bashir military coup have changed Sudan’s discourse on GERD. The January intervention led by former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to reach an agreement.
with information from: https://www.thecairoreview.com/essays/a-new-water-paradigm-for-sub-saharan-africa/