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World Water Day: Accelerating Change on the African Continent

World Water Day

Water is one of the planet’s most precious resources, which is why it is important to stay aware of the issues surrounding it. In that light, World Water Day is observed annually on March 22 to promote water conservation and universal access to safe water.

World Water Day

The focus of Water Day, which looks to provide universal access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, meets the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the UN World Water Development Report.

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This year’s World Water Day focuses on the close link between water and climate change and looks at how, as a global community, Africa cannot afford to wait to take action, as there are about 783 million people worldwide who still lack access to potable water, whereas more than 2.5 million people worldwide still do not have access to proper sanitation facilities.

Although having access to safe drinking water is a universal human right, in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 39% of the population has access to water connected to their homes—and in the region’s rural areas, this figure drops to just 19%.

In Kenya, with a population of 53 million, about 28 million Kenyans lack access to safe water and another 41 million lack access to improved sanitation. Increasing water scarcity and demand have become serious challenges in Kenya. Water pollution, urbanisation, population increase, inadequate water resource management, and climate change have all contributed to the current water crisis, which has an impact on health, education, food security, and economic activity. These difficulties are most noticeable in rural areas and urban slums, where residents frequently lack access to piped water infrastructure.

Having a population of 45 million people, 38 million people (83% of the population) lack access to a reliable, safely managed source of water, and 7 million people (17%) lack access to improved sanitation solutions. Uganda has experienced two decades of economic growth, leading to large population movements from rural areas to informal settlements around urban centres. High population growth stresses the water and sanitation services that exist.


In 2019, the Nigerian Government and UNICEF released the WASH NORM study, which showed that while there has been some progress, thanks to efforts by the Ministry of Water Resources and its partners to strengthen the sector’s planning and monitoring – there is still much more work to be done in the country to ensure that all Nigerians have access to adequate and quality water and hygiene services.

Even though it is estimated that 70% of Nigerians have access to basic water services, more than half of these sources are contaminated. Nevertheless, on average, only nine litres of water are available to a Nigerian each day, despite the fact that 73% of the country’s population has access to a water source.

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To reach continental access to drinking water, and sanitation in the coming years, the current rates of progress would need to increase fourfold. Achieving these targets would save thousands of lives annually who die from diseases directly attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene practices.
Additionally, access to water saves women and children the burden of having to walk to the nearest water source to get water, causing fatigue and time mismanagement, which can impact their access to education and opportunities to study.
Knowing that access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene is the most basic human need for health and well-being isn’t enough, as billions of people will lack access to these basic services by 2030 unless progress quadruples.
People in communities have a responsibility to work to reduce and manage this lack of options for meeting these two basic human needs by bringing clean water and better sanitation to poor areas around the continent, thus living up to this year’s World Water Day theme; Accelerating Change.

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