World Water Day 2021: Has Africa Made substantive Improvement in access to clean water?
Water is essential for life and good health. Freshwater is not only needed for drinking but also cooking, food production, and a variety of other uses such as sanitation, hygiene, and cleanliness practices.
According to the World Health Organization, lack of sanitation can force people to defecate in the open, in rivers, and near areas where children play. These habits result in 115 deaths every hour in the African Region.
Water scarcity affects 1 in 3 people in the African Region and is getting worse with population growth, urbanization, and increases in household and industrial uses.
Water scarcity often encourages people to store water in their homes. This can increase the risk of household water contamination and provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are carriers of dengue fever, malaria, and other diseases.
World Water Day 2021
World Water Day has been celebrated each year on March 22 since 1992. This day focuses on the importance of freshwater and presses for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Besides, the day is aimed at raising awareness about 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water resources globally. According to the UN, global water demand is likely to rise by over 50 percent by 2040.
The theme of World Water Day 2021 is “Valuing Water”. According to the United Nations, “The value of water is about much more than its price.” This day is celebrated keeping in line with Sustainable Development Goal number 6 which is aimed at achieving water and sanitation by all for 2030.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)
- Globally, at least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source contaminated with faeces.
- Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause 502 000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.
- By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
- In low- and middle-income countries, 38% of health care facilities lack an improved water source, 19% do not have improved sanitation, and 35% lack water and soap for handwashing.
- The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water; that’s the same as a whole year’s worth of labor by France’s entire workforce!
- The social and economic effects caused by a lack of clean water are often the highest priorities of African communities when they speak of their own development. The World Health Organization has shown this in economic terms: for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34.
In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use.
Safe and readily available water is important for public health, whether it is used for drinking, domestic use, food production, or recreational purposes. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources, can boost countries’ economic growth and can contribute greatly to poverty reduction.