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Safe water: A challenge for African households

In March, government, civil society and private sector leaders gathered in Dakar, Senegal for the ninth World Water Forum, which will work to move the world towards the sixth UN Sustainable Development Goal: universal access to safety. Water and Sanitation.

Billions of people still lack these basic necessities. The World Health Organization and UNICEF estimate that the current rate of progress needs to quadruple to reach the 2030 target. Progress has been particularly slow in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the agencies.

The coronavirus pandemic has added urgency to advocating for expanded access to clean water for handwashing, an important preventive measure against viruses and other infectious diseases. Climate change is exacerbating water and sanitation problems as more frequent storms, floods and droughts threaten access to these critical services.

But will the pandemic and climate change boost clean water efforts, or will they divert resources and slow progress? Decade Afrobarometer data on access to clean water and sanitation in Africa shows very slow progress towards UN goals.

According to the Afrobarometer, the water situation in Africa actually appears to be deteriorating. The results of 48,084 face-to-face interviews in 34 African countries in 2019-2021 show that more than half of Africans have experienced a shortage of clean water in the past year, and one in seven has no access to any type of sanitation. The number of people experiencing this poverty is increasing – citizens are expressing considerable dismay at the government’s efforts to address them.

More and more African households face the challenge of accessing clean water every day. Across 34 countries, more than half (56%) of respondents said they did not have enough clean water at least once in the year preceding the survey.

The experience varies widely across countries: while less than a quarter of Ghanaians (22%) and Moroccans (24%) report water scarcity, water scarcity affects Gabon (79%) and Guinea (78%) for more than three quarters of citizens) and Cameroon (78%).

Over the past decade, the Afrobarometer has surveyed 30 countries on these questions, and the percentage of respondents who have experienced water scarcity has increased from 49% to 54%. As the chart below shows, 18 countries reported an increase in the number of people reporting water scarcity, including 19 percentage points in Benin, 18 percentage points in Guinea, and 15 percentage points in Senegal. Only three countries showed significant improvement, with the survey showing fewer people experiencing shortages: Tanzania (down 23 points), Burkina Faso (down 12 points), and Ghana (down 8 points).


With information from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/28/is-africa-losing-ground-battle-water-sanitation/

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