Clean water is amongst the world’s most valuable commodities, yet not everybody in the 21st Century has access to it. Still, in Africa alone, two-thirds of the populations living in the sub-Saharan area rely on surface water for cooking and drinking, according to the United Nations (UN).
Surface water refers to the water bodies lying on top of the earth. It comprises of rainwater, lakes, rivers, dams, and oceans. Surface water is exposed to a number of pollutants and may be unsafe for drinking under most scenarios.
On the other hand, water scarcity is a menace, and most African families living in rural areas often have to walk for miles to quench their thirst. The following are four ways to deal with water scarcity and pollution effectively.
Reduce water wastage in the agricultural sector
A staggering 70% of the world’s poor people dwell in rural areas and rely on rain-fed agriculture. Unpredictable climate changes lead to more extended periods of drought. Consequently, in sub-Saharan Africa, 18% of the population (200 million people) has to contend with rain shortages. This, in turn, leads to increased pressure on the limited and valuable water resources available for agricultural irrigation.
However, to reduce wastage, conservation policies should be adopted. The strategies and activities include solutions that protect and manage freshwater as a sustainable resource. Notably, harvesting is a practical solution that involves collecting water around areas that rainwater naturally falls. Other techniques depend on the financial capability of a farmer and may be limited to conservations around the farming area only. Farmers should devise ways to trap rainwater as it flows by constructing mini dams.
Public sensitization on the importance of clean water
Every year, an estimated 892,000 people die from diarrhea, yet this illness is preventable. Running stomach often results from poor sanitation, unsafe drinking water, and lack of hand hygiene. On the flip side, where rain is scarce, people assume washing hands is not a priority.
The aim of raising water conservation awareness to the public is to change the attitude and behavior towards its use and efficiency. Regardless, the public ought to know the environmental benefits of water conservation. Some benefits include:
- To reduce water costs for end-users.
- To relieve the pressure on water sources for utility purposes such as hydropower generation.
Adequate sensitization can be achieved through the use of social media, workshops, and stakeholder dialogues. Small improvements in the communities may amount to significant savings at regional levels.
Proper waste disposal
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025. 22% of the population will have no proper waste management services or solutions.
Garbage disposal relies on waste management involving activities undertaken to reduce pollution in its inception. It includes landfills, combustion, recycling, composting, and utilization to create energy. However, minimization is a more natural way to handle waste management. It works by reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. Achieving this would involve recycling, composting, and utilizing waste to create energy.
Modern sanitation programs
The World Economic Forum estimates that about 2.5 million people in developing countries cannot access basic sanitation. Also, notes to the UN, over 892 million people still have to defecate in improper toilets.
Nevertheless, one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to ensure by 2030, everybody in Africa can access equitable sanitation and hygiene. It also plans to end all open defecation. Consequently, in 2013, the UN marked November 19th to be the World’s Toilet Day.
Conversely, Africans should not entirely depend on the UN to solve the problem of sanitation. Everyone ought to take it upon themselves and do what is right. Again, communities should construct pit latrines. Still, African governments should build sewerage plants and ensure the pipings of sewer lines don’t clog or leak.
To sum up, water conservation has the power to boost the economy, industrialization, education, and health across the African continent. As it is, the above solutions can create a balance and maintain this finite resource that will help Africa meet all its water needs now and in the future.