Water Scarcity in Africa: A Challenge During Covid-19 Pandemic

June 21, 2020


Susu Gospel Primary School New Well Project
Susu Gospel Primary School New Well Project


Momoh G. Kamara Male, Age 30 years Occupation: Head Teacher of this school "For so long the students have had to fetch water from the swamp for their hand washing stations and for drinking, which is not safe for the students. But for now, I praise the Lord, Mariatu’s Hope and The Water Project for their deliverance."...

Momoh Kamara, Age 30, Head Teacher
The Water Project: 
Susu Gospel Primary School New Well Project [1]

New Delhi: Africa is the 2nd largest continent after Asia constituting a population of 1.3 billion.The continent is known for its rich natural resources as well it being surrounded by some major water-bodies such as Mediterranean Sea to the north, Indian ocean to the south east and Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent also comprises of beautiful islands such as Madagascar and various archipelagos.

Africa is the warmest continent on Earth which has suffered significant water and food insecurity. Water is the key to food security and unfortunately Africa has not achieved good quality of production processes.

As we know how water is the key to life and in places such as Africa, this has hampered the growth of people and restricted them in reaching their utmost potential. This has majorly affected the health of people living in the region especially in rural areas where there is a lack of water-treatment plants, resulting in people drinking severely contaminated water. [1] Water scarcity is also linked to malnutrition which is harmful for both women and children. Malnourished females would produce weak and unhealthy fetuses that would hinder with the physical and mental health of off springs, thus leading to the never-ending cycle of malnourishment.

Uganda is an example of a country suffering from Water crisis with more than half of the people not having access to clean water and people walking miles in order to fetch water for their families. Around 4,500 children are dying due to drinking contaminated water, getting exposed to waterborne diseases or simply not having a single drop to drink. [2]

It’s important for us to realize that improving this situation will not only improve the living conditions but will also positively trigger the economy of a nation. As this occurs through the human development route, the growth would be inclusive. This strong linkage can be partly explained by the reduction in malnutrition and infant mortality, with improvement in water situation. Further, nations could achieve good indicators of development even at low levels of economic growth, through investment in water infrastructure and welfare-oriented policies.

The year 2020 which started with a pandemic outbreak has definitely worsened the situation in the continent and need for solving this crisis in Africa is highly important. A region which is already going through a water and sanitation crisis, is highly vulnerable in contracting the deadly coronavirus since people are malnourished and are forced to go outside their houses to fill in buckets or access water sources, which makes it hard to follow all the protocols and guidelines provided by the WHO.

“A recent World Bank Study on the performance of water supply services in Africa finds that half of the region’s utilities do not have the revenues to cover their operation and maintenance costs. Countries urgently need to build up the operational capacities and resilience of both public and private utilities to be able to supply sufficient volumes of high-quality water.  And they need to do this at a politically and socially acceptable tariff while remaining financially viable.” [3]

Addressing these problems are not enough, there has to be immediate actions taken by NGOs and states in order to protect their citizens, otherwise the health crisis would lead to a very long-term impact on the economy and overall development.

(Sona Sharma is an intern at OneWorld Foundation India)


[1] Water In Crisis - Spotlight Africa: Rural and Urban Issues. (2020). Retrieved 19 June 2020, from https://thewaterproject.org/water-crisis/water-in-crisis-rural-urban-africa

[2] Uganda's Water Crisis - Drop4Drop. (2020). Retrieved 19 June 2020, from https://drop4drop.org/ugandas-water-crisis/

[3] COVID-19: Solving Africa’s water crisis is more urgent than ever. (2020). Retrieved 19 June 2020, from https://blogs.worldbank.org/nasikiliza/covid-19-solving-africas-water-crisis-more-urgent-ever