Water Scarcity in Africa

Food & Water

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Africa appears blessed with abundant water resources: large rivers include the Congo, Nile, Zambezi, Niger and Lake Victoria; the world's second largest rivers.

Today the most influential issue that Africa faces is water scarcity. Water scarcity affects all who inhabit the region. Africa is the second-largest and most-populous region, as well as the second driest continent in the world, after Australia. Millions of Africans still suffer from water shortages throughout the year because of water scarcity.

Water scarcity in Africa is bigger that we imagine it to be. Of the estimated 800 million people who live on the African continent, more than 300 million live in water-scarce environments. In fact, more than 60% (34 out of the 55) of the countries (globally), in which the basic human water requirements are not met, are located in Africa. (Gleick, 1996; 2002)

Food & Water - Zakat Foundation of America | Zakat Calculator | Muslim Charity | Muslim Aid

Water scarcity occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period, in conjunction to when the quality of water is extremely poor and its use must be restricted. Water shortages are often due to problems of uneven distribution, such as having plenty of water for where there are fewer people, and issues with the management of existing supplies that could be improved.

One example of the disparity in water availability lies in the Congo basin where 30 percent of the continent's water drains the land inhabited by only 10 percent of Africa's population (WWF).

Some additional reasons for why water scarcity exists in Africa include: the lack of investment in water infrastructure, climatic change and variability, poor water quality, a large and rapidly-growing population, and uneven density levels. Additionally, more than 80 percent of Africa's river and lake basins are shared by two or more countries. Many countries depend on water flowing from outside their national boundaries. (WWF)

Water scarcity contributes to many children's deaths in Africa. Although people have a scarcity in water, the water they receive contains harmful bacteria. Half of the African population suffers from one of the six major water-related diseases. The most common disease are Diarrhoea infections. Diarrhoea infections are particularly prevalent amongst children, and constitute a major cause of preventable deaths.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the impact of diarrhoea disease on children is greater than the combined impact of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; the provision of improved sanitation and drinking-water could reduce diarrhoea diseases by nearly 90%.

There are many possible solutions in order to prevent water scarcity in Africa. One of the solutions is the creation of a rainwater catchment system that is based on collection of rainwater and gravity flow pressure principles. This system is relatively inexpensive, flexible and is easy to reconfigure and expand.

Another solution that is common in many African villages is digging a well. A water well is a structure created by digging, driving, boring or drilling the ground in order to access groundwater in underground aquifers. Water that is delivered by a well is free of any harmful bacteria and ready to drink. Water from a well prevents people from catching any water related diseases that cause over 2.2 million deaths around the world, every year.

Providing clean and drinkable water for Africans must be a high priority for all developing countries, NPOs and other international relief agencies. Zakat Foundation of America has dug wells in many African countries such as Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia, where water scarcity occurs. Each water well provides clean and drinkable water for thousands of people living in a single village.

You can change the lives of thousands of Africans by donating funds for water well construction in Africa.


Zakat Foundation of America, a Muslim charity that collects zakat, sadaqa / donations to provide humanitarian, emergency relief and sustainable development programs to empower lives throughout the world. We offer top Zakat resources including The Zakat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Muslims in the West, Zakat kit, ask an Imam feature, and you can calculate and pay zakat through our easy, online calculator.

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