Written by Shane Arriola

Taps in Africa are running dry. Cities and towns in several African nations, including Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the Ivory Coast have been plagued by water shortages in recent months. The current water shortage is primarily due to a global supply squeeze attributed to drought, population growth, urbanisation and insufficient investment in infrastructure needed to assuage water demand.

Water use has increased by about 1 percent annually, since the 1980s with more than 2 billion people worldwide living in countries that are experiencing high water stress. These statistics were announced by the United Nations in its World Water Development Report that was released in Geneva last Tuesday, March 19. What’s worse is that the report projects water demand to balloon by 30 percent by 2050.

Who’s going to be hit the hardest?

The situation is set to be exceptionally worse in the African continent, with the UN expecting the population of the world’s poorest continent to almost double to 2.5 billion people by 2050. Of that figure, 59 percent reside in urban areas where the demand for water is higher given more condensed and concentrated human activity.

What’s worse is the compounding effect that is expected to happen due to global population growth. As the world’s population increases, there is an increased demand for water not only for drinking, but also for agricultural and pastoral activities.A study by the African Development Bank last year found that the continent needs to spend at least US$130 billion to address an infrastructure backlog. This includes the US$66 billion needed to provide universal access to water and sanitation. Unfortunately, Africa remains a developing continent and does not have the finances nor the infrastructure to afford such development.

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