Freshwater availability is one of the most critical factors in development in Africa. Problems with
freshwater availability in Africa are further complicated by highly variable levels of rainfall. As a result, large numbers
of people are dependent on groundwater as their primary source of freshwater. Water is often key in terms of poverty alleviation,
consumption, production, sanitation, human settlements and biodiversity. (UNEP).
Africa is facing a largely forgotten, endemic water and sanitation crisis that debilitates and kills
in large numbers, limiting economic growth, educational access, and life opportunities. International trends and research
have indicated that hygiene awareness and education play a major role in breaking down the transmission of diseases affecting
many rural communities in the developing world.
Providing daily water needs is a burden on households with inadequate services in a number of ways,
in addition to the direct health threats. Often water has to be carried long distances to the house which takes time and effort,
a burden borne mainly by women and children. In urban and urban fringe areas water is often only available from vendors at
a price which is usually several times more expensive than the water provided through formal services and of poor quality.
Inadequate water supplies are both a cause and an effect of poverty. Invariably those without adequate
and affordable water supplies are the poorest in the society. The effects of inadequate water supply - disease, time and energy
expended in daily collection, high unit costs, etc. - exacerbate the poverty trap. Provision of basic daily water needs is
yet to be regarded by many countries as a human right.
Recent UNDP studies indicate that more than 300 million people in Africa lack access to safe water
and that the situation is worsening. In sub-Saharan Africa about 51 per cent of the population has access to safe water and
47 per cent to sanitation.
During the 1980s the United Nations spearheaded an ‘International Drinking Water Supplies and
Sanitation Decade’ to bring water and sanitation to the millions of people in developing countries without access to
these basic services. Fifty litres of clean water a day are considered necessary to stay healthy – for drinking, washing,
cooking, sanitation and personal hygiene. And yet in many countries, this standard is still not met. Despite considerable
effort, demographic growth and particularly rapid urbanisation have outstripped developing countries’ capacity to build
pipelines, develop distribution, drainage and management systems, dig latrines, bore, pump, and connect users to the water
supply, and treat, recycle, and re-use waste safely.
CAF activities in relation to fresh water, health and sanitation aim to:
create awareness of the implications of water quality and of poor sanitation practices on community
health and living conditions;
contribute to create awareness among local communities for recognition that that water has
a value and it is that value which is the basis for rational use of water resources;
organise capacity building (e.g.
training) to community-based organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to enable them participate effectively
in managing local water resources and services;
promote NGO networking, advocacy and awareness building and exchange of
lessons learnt and best practice adopted by other stakeholders in water and sanitation projects;
develop training tools,
guidelines and manuals for human resources development and for adoption appropriate technology options;
and sanitation education and training at schools, NGO and at the community level;
Advocating for national policy development
and changes for advancement of water and sanitation services that take into consideration community needs, goals and objectives;
advocate for support for provision of basics water supply and sanitation services in disadvantaged local communities;
contribute to sensitise the international community to make them prioritise water as a key area that needs support for
poverty alleviation and sustainable development in Africa.