Africa has a water crisis but these innovations could fix it

PUBLISHED: Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:26:50 GMT

This content was supplied to CNBC Africa by Standard Bank 
Everything Begins With Water

Water, the single greatest power to drive industrialisation, health and gender equality across the continent.

Water relates to all aspects of human development.
663 million people in the world live without clean water.
1 in 3 people don’t have a decent toilet.
1 in 9 don’t have clean water close to home.
Clean and safe water is essential to healthy living.
Regardless of where you live

In Africa
Water is a challenge.

Each part of the continent seems to face its own challenges associated with the water crisis, and the situation is far from ideal for anyone.

Rural communities
The rural parts of Africa are probably the most seriously affected by a lack of clean drinking water. In these parts of the continent, people must walk miles every day to find any water at all, and the water they do find is usually packed with contaminants and pollution.

These communities are often hotbeds of disease because there is no sanitary way to help cure people who fall ill.

They often don’t have access to toilets or any way to dispose of waste, so as one person becomes sick with diarrhoea it quickly spreads to the others in the community, all as a result of bad water.

Urban areas
Many urban areas still don’t have dedicated methods of cleaning up the water supply before it is used by the population.

The lack of plumbing or waste removal option causes bacteria, parasites and other contaminants to build of quickly and damage the water supply.

Unfortunately, water strain is a big issue in these places, as massive populations place high demands on surface water sources that are slowly dwindling.

Agriculture puts a huge strain on the water supply while simultaneously causing it to be even more polluted than it ordinarily would be.

The agricultural sector uses surface water much more often than ground water. This practice is contributing to the drying up of large bodies of water and rivers across the continent.

From freshwater forests to saline lakes and massive floodplains, Africa’s wetlands are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world.

They perform important ecological functions such as filtering water and improving air quality.

Rapid urbanisation, pollution, draining for agriculture, as well as challenges posed by climate change are threatening wetlands across the continent.

There are other areas that feel the strain of the water crisis in Africa, and it’s safe to assume that everyone and everywhere is affected by it in some way.

For the first time, a major international city will likely run out of water.
‘Day zero’ – the day when the taps run dry.

Despite the depth and the breadth of the challenges at hand, solutions are within reach.

Innovation, technology and training are an essential part of creating sustainable solutions.

Many organisations are building sustainable, community-owned water projects to help improve the water situation in Africa.

Communities are working together to solve their water problems:

Community managed latrines
Gravity-fed Schemes
Hand dug wells
Rehabbed wells
Bore-hole wells
Solar disinfection systems
Hand pumps
household sanitation
Spring water protection
Rain water harvesting
Sanitation and hygiene practices
Urban pit waste management
Wastewater treatment
Sand dams
Fog harvesting
Portable water purification

The Hippo Water Roller was developed by two South Africans, Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, in response to the daily struggle of rural women and children across Africa to access safe, drinkable water.

Mark Algra of Cape Town, created Aquatrap to save water, by using recycled tyres. Algra has been implementing his design at local schools.

He assists in educating children on how to save water, by providing with knowledge that they can take home and share with their families and communities.

The blend of solutions can balance competing demands on the finite resource and help to ensure that Africa is able to meet its water needs both today and in the future.

Water, the single greatest power to drive industrialisation, health and education across the continent.

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