TOP FIVE REASONS FOR CLEAN WATER IN ZIMBABWE AND AFRICA
The most immediate impact of water scarcity is the health of the country. With a complete lack of water, humans can only live up to three to five days on the average.
This often forces those who are living in deprived regions to turn to unsafe water resources, which, according to the World Health Organization contributes, to the spread of waterborne diseases Including malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery and diarrhea. Additionally, water scarcity causes many people to store water within the household, which increases the risk of household water contamination and incidents a malaria and dengue, fever spread by mosquitoes.
These waterborne diseases are not usually found in developed countries because of sophisticated water treatment systems that filter and chlorinated water, but for those living with the less developed or nonexistent water infrastructure, natural, untreated water sources often contain tiny disease carrying worms and bacteria.
Although many of these waterborne illnesses are treatable and preventable, they are nonetheless one of the leading causes of the disease and death in the world. Globally, 2.2 million people die each year from diarrhea related disease and at any given time 50% of all hospital beds in the world are occupied by patients suffering from water related diseases.
Infants and children are especially susceptible to these diseases because of the young immune systems, which lends to elevated infant mortality rates in many regions of Africa.
When infected with these waterborne diseases, those living in the Zimbabwean communities suffering from water scarcity cannot contribute to the community’s productivity and development because of a simple lack of strength. Additionally individual, community, and governmental economic resources are sapped by the cost of medicine to treat waterborne diseases which take away from resources that might have potentially been allocated in support of food supply or school fees.
The Human Development Report reports that human use of water is mainly allocated to irrigation and agriculture. In developing areas, such as those with in Zimbabwe, agriculture accounts for more than 80% of water consumption.
This is due to the fact that it takes about 3500 m of water to produce enough food for the daily minimum of 3000 and food production for a typical family of four takes a daily amount of water equivalent to the amount of water and an Olympic sized swimming pool. Because the majority remains dependent on and agricultural lifestyle and 80% to 90% of all families in rural Africa rely upon producing their own food, water scarcity translates to a loss of food security.
At this point, with less than a third of the continent’s potential using irrigation most of rural African communities are not tapping into the irrigation potential, and according to the UN economic commission for Africa and new partnership for Africa’s development, “irrigation is key to achieving increased agricultural production that is important for economic development and for attaining food security.”
For many regions, there is a lack of financial and human resources to support infrastructure and technology required for proper crop irrigation. Because of this, the impact of droughts, floods, and desertification is greater in terms of both African economic loss and human life loss due to crop failure and starvation.
Additionally, lack of water causes many Africans to use waste water for crop growth, causing a large number of people to consume foods that can contain chemicals or disease causing organisms transferred by the waste water.
Thus, for the extremely high number of Zimbabwean and African areas suffering from water scarcity issues, investing in development means sustainably withdrawing from clean freshwater sources, ensuring food security by expanding irrigation areas, and effectively managing the effects of climate change.
Available clean water for women and children in Zimbabwe translates to greater potential for education, and thus prosperity, power, literacy, hygiene, security, and equality.
African women and men’s divergent social positions lead to differences in water responsibilities, rights, and access, and so African women are disproportionately burdened by scarcity of clean drinking water.
In most African societies, women are seen as the collectors, managers, and guardians of water, especially within the domestic sphere that includes household chores, cooking, washing, and child rearing. Because of these traditional gender labor rolls, women are forced to spend around 60% of each day collecting water, which translates to approximately 200 million collective work hours by women globally per day and a decrease in the amount of time available for education.
Water scarcity exacerbates this issue, as indicated by the correlation of decrease in access to water with a decrease in combined primary, secondary, and tertiary enrollment of women.
For African women, their daily roll in clean water retrieval often means carrying the typical jerrycan that can weigh over 40 pounds 14 when full for an average of 6 km each day.
This has health consequences such as prominent skeleton damage from carrying heavy loads of water over long distances each day which translates to a physical strain that contributes to increased stress, increased time spent in health recovery, and decreased ability to not only physically attend educational facilities, but also mentally absorb education due to the effect of stress on decision making and memory skills. Also in terms of health access to Safety-Kleen drinking water needs to greater protection from waterborne illnesses which increases women’s capabilities to attend school.
The detriment water scarcity hasn’t educational attainment for women to turn affects the social economic capital of women in terms of leadership, earnings, and working opportunities. As a result of this, many women are unable to hold professional employment.
The lost number of potential schooldays and education hinders the next generation of African women from breaking out of the cycle of unequal opportunity for gainful employment, which serves to perpetuate the prevalence of an unequal opportunity for African women and adverse effects associated with a lacking income from gainful employment. Thus, improved access to water influences women’s allocation of time, level of education, and as a result their potential for higher wages associated with the recognized and gainful employment.
In addition, the issue of water scarcity in Africa prevents many young children, especially girls, from attending school and receive an education. They are expected to not only aid their mothers in water retrieval, but to also help with the demands of household chores that are made more time intensive because of a lack of readily available water. Furthermore, a lack of clean water means the absence of sanitary facilities and latrines in schools, and so once puberty hits, this has a more serious impact on female children.
In terms of lost educational opportunity, it is estimated that this would result in 272 million more school attendance days per year if adequate investment were made in drinking water and sanitation. For parents, an increase in access to reliable water resources reduces vulnerability to shocks, which allows for increased livelihood security and for families to allocate a greater portion of the resources to caring for the children.
This means improved nutrition for children, a reduction in school days missed due to health issues, and greater flexibility to spend on providing for the direct costs associated with sending children to school. And if families escape forced migration due to water scarcity, children’s educational potential is even further improved with better stability and uninterrupted school attendance.
4. PRODUCTIVITY AND DEVELOPMENT
Poverty is directly related to the accessibility of clean drinking water-without it, the chances of breaking out of the poverty trap are extremely slim. This concept of a “water poverty trap” was developed by economist Specifically observing sub-Saharan Africa and refers to a cycle of financial poverty, low agricultural production, and increasing environmental degradation.
In this negative feedback loop, this creates a link the lack of water resources with the lack of financial resources that affect all societal levels including individual, household, and community. Within this poverty trap, people are subjected to low incomes, high fixed cost of water supply facilities, and lack of credit for water investments, which results in a low level of investment in water and land resources, lack of investment in profit generating activities, resource degradation, and chronic poverty.
Compounding on this, in the slums of developing countries, poor people typically pay 5 to 10 times more per unit of water then do people with access to piped water because of issues including the lack of infrastructure and government corruption which is estimated to raise the prices of water services by 10 to 30%.
So, the social and economic consequences of a lack of clean water penetrate into realms of education, opportunities for gainful employment, physical strength and health, agricultural and industrial development, and thus the overall productive potential of a community, nation, and or region. Because of this, the UN estimates that sub Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion potential work hours per year collecting water.
The explosion of populations in developing nations within Africa combined with climate change is causing extreme strain within and between nations. In the past, countries have worked to resolve water tensions through negotiation, but there is predicted to be an escalation in aggression over water accessibility.
Africa’s susceptibility to potential water induced conflict can be separated into four regions: the Nile, Niger, Zambezi, and Volta basins. Running through Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the Nile’s water has the potential to spark conflict and unrest.
In the region of Niger, the River basin extends from Guinea through Mali and down to Nigeria. Especially for Mali one of the world’s poorest countries -the river is vital for food, water and transportation, and it’s over usage is contributing to an increasingly polluted and unusable water source. In southern Africa, a Zambezi River basin is one the world’s most overused river systems, and so Zambia and Zimbabwe compete fiercely over it.
Additionally, into thousand Zimbabwe calls the region to experience the worst flooding in recent history when the country open the Kariba dam gates. Finally, within the Volta River basin, Ghana is dependent on it’s hydroelectric output, but plagued by regular droughts which affect the production of electricity from the Akosombo Dam and limit Ghana’s ability to sustain economic growth.
Paired with the constraints this also puts on Ghana’s ability to provide power for the area, this could potentially contribute to the regional instability.
At this point, federal intelligence agencies have issued the joint judgment that in the next 10 years, water issues are not likely to cause internal and external tensions that lead to the intensification war. But if current rate of consumption paired with climatic stress continue, levels of water scarcity in Africa are predicted by UNECA to reach dangerously high levels by 2025.
This means that by 2022 there is the potential for a shift in water scarcity potential to contribute to armed conflict. Based on the classified national intelligence estimate on water security, requested by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and completed in fall 2011, after 2022 water will be more likely to be used as a weapon of war and potential tool for terrorism, especially in north Africa.
On World Water Day, the State Department stated that water stress, “will likely increase the risk of instability and state failure, exacerbate regional tensions and distract countries from working with the United States on important policy objectives.”
Specifically referring to the Nile in Egypt, Sudan, and nations further south, the report predicts that upstream nations will limit access to water for political reasons, the terrorist may target water related infrastructures, such as reservoirs and dams, more frequently. Because of this, the World Economic Forum’s 2011 global risk report has included water as one of the worlds top five risk for the first time.