Water in Africa

Clean and safe water is crucial to achieving sustainable and inclusive development in Africa. Learn more about this area, as well as the innovative new technologies enhancing access to water on the continent.

With over 66% of Sub-Saharan Africa classified as arid or semi-arid, almost 50% of the region’s population live in a water-scarce environment.

Although Africa is the world´s second-driest continent after Australia, there are 677 lakes on the continent. These lakes hold 30,000 cubic kilometres of water in total.

Ethiopia has the best water conditions on the continent. 60% of Ethiopians have access to clean water.

Population imbalances put pressure on the rest of continent’s water supply. 30 million people live around Lake Victoria and place a huge demand on its water, with around 1200 people living in each square kilometre surrounding it. However, only 10% of the continent’s population lives in the Congo basin, where 30% of the continent’s water can be found.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of the population relies on surface water. However, approximately 5% of the gross domestic product in Sub-Saharan Africa is lost, due to water scarcity, polluted or contaminated water, and poor sanitation.

Water scarcity also affects agriculture on the continent, especially since rainfed agriculture accounts for more than 95% of farmed land in sub-Saharan Africa. The most vulnerable agricultural systems are the rain-fed uplands and lowlands that form almost 80% of the continent’s rice farming land.

Local tech innovators are creating products to enhance access to water on the continent. In an effort to streamline water access in urban homes, French company CityTaps, is developing a system where users buy “water credits” via their mobile phones and a smart meter dispenses only as much water as has been paid for.

Over 25% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population walks seven hours per day to collect water with heavy 20 litre buckets on their heads. In response to this problem, two South African innovators, Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, designed The Hippo Roller, a portable water transporter that allows more water to be collected in less time.





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