Water Provision in Sub-Saharan Africa

26 September, 2014 | Lucas Emmerson
Categories: Safe Water

Across the globe, around 780 million people lack access to safe water supplies, which equates to approximately one in eight (JMP, 2012). In Africa alone, around one third of the continent’s population are without access to clean water and UNICEF estimates that  over 1.5 million child deaths per year are caused as a result of drinking contaminated water (UNICEF/WHO, 2009).

Over the last few decades, rural water demand in developing countries has primarily been addressed through the large-scale implementation of decentralized water points such as boreholes and shallow wells. However, one of the major barriers to clean water provision is that many countries do not have the infrastructure, regulation or financial capacity to conduct maintenance and repair programs. In Africa, existing water points are generally owned by community groups or Village Health and Water Committee (VHWC’s) and more often than not fall into disrepair because maintenance schemes have been poorly managed, or prove too expensive.

To highlight the magnitude of the problem, approximately 35% of all boreholes (345,071) in Sub Saharan Africa are estimated to be dysfunctional-see table below (Rural Water Supply Network 2009)

borehole dataDespite millions of pounds being invested in new water infrastructure there is evidently a greater need to implement effective long-term water management programs that prevent existing water points from becoming damaged. CO2balance are currently exploring innovative new ways to tackle this problem through carbon finance, which could indeed provide a viable means of addressing water scarcity across the developing world.