Africa is facing a lot of problems and water scarcity is one of them. Water scarcity is the major cause of the water crisis in Africa, as it is no myth that it is one of the world’s biggest problems and is affecting over 1 billion people globally. This statistics show that one in every six people lack safe drinking water. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) defines safe water as water with chemical and physical characteristics that meets WHO guidelines or national standards on drinking water quality.
Water scarcity is usually assessed by a hydrologist by comparing the population-to-water equation treating 1,700 cubic meters per person. This is the national threshold to meet water requirements for energy, industrial and agricultural production, and the environment. When the threshold is below 1,000 cubic meters, the availability of water is termed scarce and limited in supply. If the threshold is below 500, it is called “absolute scarcity”. Nations suffering from these are called water-stressed countries, especially the sub-Saharan part of Africa which has the highest number of water stressed countries in the world. Africa has an estimate of 800 million people, and about 300 million are living in water stressed countries. At this rate it is predicted that by 2030, 150 to 250 million people in Africa would be living in highly water-stressed areas. This prediction also states that it would displace between 25 million to 700 million people as the living conditions begins to get worse.
This crisis has had its negative impact on health, agriculture, etc. and is still having its negative impact on the lives of the people in water-stressed areas in Africa.
The negative impact the crisis has on health is the most apparent impact noted so far. Humans can live without water for roughly 3 to 5 days, but the desire to quench thirst forces the people to get water from unreliable sources. This is life threatening and is one of the major ways of spreading waterborne diseases like dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhea, and other diseases that rely on water like malaria, plague, trachoma, typhus, etc. Scarcity of water forces people to store water in their homes. This increases the chances of the water being contaminated and the risk of spreading malaria and dengue fever by mosquitoes in the home. This spikes up the mortality rate as these diseases lead to death most of the time.
Agriculture is a very common practice in Africa and it consumes about 80 percent of water consumption, consuming thousands of liters every day to produce food enough to feed a family daily. Scarcity of water deprives the people of food, as water is needed for the daily production of food. This causes starvation and can lead to death.