Top Solutions to Water Scarcity in Africa
It’s no secret that water is an increasingly finite resource, with many regions worldwide facing water scarcity. The question now is which ones are experiencing the issue at a worse rate than others, and finding effective solutions to water scarcity in Africa is becoming increasingly needed.
Currently, Africa is the least water-secure region, facing a severe crisis of water scarcity. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 people in Africa faces water scarcity, and this situation is worsening due to climate change, urbanization, and population growth. Experts predict that by 2025, 460 million people in Africa will be in water-stressed areas. Finding effective solutions to water scarcity in Africa is crucial to address this growing crisis.
With water playing a vital role in sanitation, mitigating diseases, and ensuring good health, it’s imperative for those with influence and power to help increase water availability in Africa. This means that international aid and monetary organizations, along with engineering consultants, city leaders, and industries in Africa, must work together to alleviate the issue and implement solutions to water scarcity in Africa.
Fortunately, there are plenty of potential solutions to water scarcity in Africa. It’s easy to find articles listing various strategies, but in our experience, a few methods work best. Before discussing these solutions, lets talk further about the issues Africa is facing so that the gravity of the situation is abundantly evident.
What’s Driving Water Scarcity in Africa?
There are two types of water scarcity: physical and economic. Physical water scarcity refers to a lack of water due to droughts, climate change, and variations in weather patterns. Economic scarcity, on the other hand, is a symptom of institutional failings like poor infrastructure, lack of investment, and improper planning. Unfortunately, Africa suffers from both types of water scarcity.
In terms of physical water insecurity, the region has experienced some of its most severe droughts as the world gets increasingly hotter due to climate change. Lakes and rivers in Africa that once provided ample water are now drying up, forcing people to travel unimaginable distances to access clean water. These challenges are primarily because of human activity, specifically over exploitation and ever-changing weather patterns.
Over exploitation is the biggest reason for physical water insecurity in Africa. According to Earth.Org, only one-third of South Africa’s rivers are in good condition, with 60% of the country’s rivers being over exploited. Additionally, Lake Chad, previously Africa’s largest freshwater source, is shrinking as a result of over exploitation. A 2019 report even suggests that since the 1960s, Lake Chad has decreased by 90%, mainly due to over exploitation, with its surface area diminishing from 26,000 square kilometers to 1,500 square kilometers between 1963 and 2018.
Additionally, climatic changes are worsening water availability in Africa. A 1-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures can reduce runoff by up to 10%. These weather patterns are set to continue decreasing rainfall in North Africa, exacerbating groundwater depletion and reducing groundwater recharge.
The African Regions Struggling the Most?
While water scarcity is affecting Africa as a whole, certain areas are experiencing the brunt of the issue. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, arid regions, primarily in North Africa, are facing high rates of physical water scarcity. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, economic water scarcity is most prevalent.
On a micro level, 13 African countries are critically water insecure. Based on the findings in the Global Water Security 2023 Assessment, those countries include Ethiopia, Eritrea, Comoros, Chad, Madagascar, Libya, Djibouti, Liberia, Niger, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Sierra Leone. Another report indicates that on a scale of 1 to 100, 19 African countries have water levels below the threshold of 45. The same report suggests that only 13 African countries have at least a modest level of water security, including Tunisia, Botswana, Egypt, Gabon, and Mauritius.
How to Tackle Physical Water Scarcity in Africa?
Addressing the diminishing water supply in Africa is a significant challenge, but there are unique ways to mitigate this water trend. Two innovative primary solutions to physical water scarcity in Africa are desalination and water reuse.
Desalination is particularly effective for treating water in coastal areas and brackish bore wells. This process removes various contaminants, including salts, nutrients, and trace metals. Industries in Africa can also use desalination alongside their tertiary water treatment to ensure the cleanest water for their process water requirements.
After desalination, water reuse is not only an option but the next step for both communities and industries in Africa. This term refers to reusing water after it’s been collected and treated. Implementing water reuse allows both communities and industrial clients in Africa to utilize water for various beneficial purposes, including agriculture, irrigation, groundwater replenishment, environmental restoration, potable water supplies, and industrial processes. What’s most advantageous about water reuse is that it is an alternative to existing water supplies, helping to increase Africa’s water availability, sustainability, and resilience.
In domestic wastewater reuse initiatives, clarification is a key component of ensuring high-quality water. A sustainable, non-toxic bio-organic flocculant like Zeoturb can be used. This bio-organic liquid is an environmentally safe treatment solution that ensures the flocculation and clarification of potable water, storm water, process water, and wastewater sources. When used, this solution eliminates contaminants without introducing additional chemicals, as is common with conventional products.
For tertiary treatment of surface water, bore well water, and wastewater, natural and environmentally friendly water treatment media like NatZeo filtration media can be used in filtration systems. These high-performing filtration systems reduce sediment levels to around the 5-micron filtration range. Once implemented, communities and industries can integrate this process into a multi-parameter approach to obtaining sustainable and reliable clean water supplies.
How to Tackle Economic Water Scarcity in Africa?
Now, it’s easy to wonder whether the solutions to water scarcity suggested in this article are feasible, especially regarding economic water scarcity. Engineering consultants, water utility leaders, and industrial clients in the region may be hesitant to invest in these solutions.
At Genesis Water Technologies, our team of water and wastewater experts delivers cost-effective benefits by implementing water scarcity solutions that are advantageous and not financially burdensome. We also collaborate with international organizations, including the US Ex-Im Bank, which offers funds to various qualified communities and industrial clients in Africa to obtain reliable and safe treated water for their operations.
Partner With Professionals
Africa’s water insecurity issues are not going away unless there are drastic changes. There needs to be a significant improvement in prioritizing and mitigating physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity—but that improvement canot happen without the help of professionals.
For countries in Africa to take steps in the right direction, they must rely on the right partners, which is why our team works extensively with locally qualified engineer consultants, community stakeholders and industries throughout the region to implement these mutual goals for a clean and safe water supply.
Together it is achievable and we look forward to working with your organizations in these endeavors.
To learn more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you to alleviate water scarcity in Africa.