Saturday, 23 January 2010

Declining Water Supply in Africa puts many at Risk

While examining the various health and habitat issues that are taking place in Africa, the declining water supply remains one of the top problems. The water supply is decreasing in African lakes, rivers, and wetlands as a result of many different factors; unfortunately humans are the main cause.

Current Challenges

Africa’s decreasing water supply is being caused by both natural and human factors. First, let’s examine what we as humans are doing and how we are disrupting the water supply. Some of the main factors that are putting a stress on the water supply include: rapid population growth, pollution from pesticides and fertilizers, environmental degradation, waste disposal, introducing foreign fish species, and the numerous hydro-development projects that have been constructed in the area.

Humans are interfering with the soil erosion and vegetation, which is drastically stunting the growth of basic natural resources. Fields where crops should be growing, loss of forest resources and fisheries are all increasing problems. The agriculture is disrupted by chopping down trees for firewood, adding new species to the mix that cause an unnatural biological chain, and by adding enhancing chemicals that ruin natural products versus promoting production of the natural products.

While humans are causing the majority of the problems associated with the declining water supply, some of these factors may also be attributed to nature.The natural events occurring in Africa are destructive to the water, which people have no control over. These natural degradation factors include: climatic changes and quantities of rainfall. Periods of both drought and flooding have increased in the past 30 years, drastically influencing the reason why many lakes have been quickly shrinking in size. Increased frequency in flooding and droughts have added stress to the freshwater systems and the water supply networks.

It is important to have regulation of water flow with extreme flooding. If flooding is managed correctly, it is possible to store water from only a few major lakes which can provide water for over 400 million people. But if this management of water is not utilized, the continent will lose a significant amount of water and no one can afford to lose this natural resource.

This is a huge problem for the continent for water is an essential part of human life and a natural resource that many species need for survival. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, more than 300 million Africans still lack access to safe drinking water and 14 countries on the continent suffer from water scarcity. If Africa is unable to find more funding to help their water systems, many lives may be in danger. Water consumption in Africa has tripled over the past 50 years, while the natural water supply has shrunk.

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