Nearly a billion people in the world lack clean, healthy drinking water. While across most the developed world, people turn on taps to access safe drinking water, this situation is not the case in much of Africa, where fresh drinking water from a tap is treated by many as “a luxury.”
Millions across the continent of Africa – usually women and girls – walk miles each day to fetch and carry water to their humble dwellings.
Exacerbating the problem, the only water they have access to is from streams and ponds which is frequently unsafe and a frequent cause of illness.
Adults across Africa face the daily decision between dehydration or disease from the water they access.
It should not be that a “necessity of life” should in Africa be a “luxury”!
What are the challenges and the solutions?
Water sources at the surface are frequently polluted, while infrastructure to pipe water from fresh, clean sources to arid areas is considered too costly.
“It’s a pipe dream,” quipped a frustrated governmental official.
While groundwater is considered the best resource having the benefit of being naturally protected from bacterial contamination and is a reliable source during droughts – it is costly.
Drilling for water is expensive as are the costs associated with the technical challenges in finding sources that are large enough to serve populations in need.
Even so, groundwater is not an entirely fail-safe resource when it comes to providing clean water. There may be contamination of the water with heavy metals, and bacteria may be introduced by leaking septic systems or contaminated wells. For these reasons, it is important that groundwater be monitored frequently, which is also costly and requires technical abilities that may not be present in rural areas.