Monday, March 26, 2012

Little Attention Given to Africa’s Water Problems

Media coverage of Africa often emphasizes food shortages in the continent’s sub-Saharan countries, but a 2010 survey shows the continent’s more pressing need is clean drinking water.

Gallup Inc. surveyed people in 17 African countries and 67 percent of those surveyed who had enough clean drinking water said they never went without enough food. In comparison, of those who did not have enough clean drinking water only 46 percent said they never went without food.

Access to clean drinking water is one of the United Nation’s major goals. In Africa, the problem varies from country to country. Botswana residents were most likely to have good access to drinking water, while people in Burkina Faso and Chad have the most trouble finding potable water.

Unfortunately, because of drought and governmental indifference, the problem seems to be worsening. In Senegal, about 52 percent of those surveyed said water is getting harder to find. In Burkina Faso, which sits at the edge of the desert, 90 percent of those surveyed are having increasing problems finding drinking water.

This has global implications because as water becomes scarcer, conflict over water — unthinkable in most other parts of the world — could ignite into armed conflicts.

Gallup conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults age 15 and older in 2010 in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

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