Παρασκευή 31 Ιουλίου 2015

The Orthodox Church in Uganda, an outgrowth of indigenous self discovery

From Wikipedia

Uganda is the first country to the south of the Sahara where an Orthodox Christian community began to form.

Present day

Currently there are four eparchies which are united into a metropolia headed by Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga. The metropolia is in Namungona, a suburb of the capital Kampala. The clergy consists of 55 priests and 7 deacons. It has 100 communities, many of which have no priests and are run by catechists. There are 41 brick and mortar churches, 17 medical clinics, and the Holy Cross Mission Hospital. Many of the parishioners are orphaned children and total 30,000 enrolled. Many temples have parish boarding schools where children not only study, but live and eat at the expense of the parish. They also get professional education from the 13 secondary schools. There are 600 teachers, sometimes teachers from other confessions are hired, some convert to Orthodoxy in this way. At Monde there is the largest Orthodox village, "Fos Christou" (The Light of Christ). 

Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga (from here)

Father Antonios Mutyaba is the priest of that parish. At Monde there are five orphanages, a dining house, schools, a hospital, a church of Saint Anthony the Great, and the first monastery in Uganda with two nuns. The eldest of the nuns, Anastasia, is the first Orthodox nun in Uganda's history. In 1995 a seminary was opened within the Metropolia which is attended by 15 people. The program is designed for three years of study, and new seminarians are admitted once every two years. The most pressing problem for the church is the poverty of the African people and to keep those educated from leaving.

The Orthodox Church of Russia also has a mission parish, the Annunciation Orthodox Church on Bukasa Island in Lake Victoria. The parish was founded in 1983, and now is under the spiritual Omophore of Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR. Father Christopher Walusimbi is the parish priest. He has taken care of orphans and operates an ambulance service and was instrumental in the establishment of a school and a medical clinic. Both the school and clinic were dedicated to Saint Panteleimon of Nicomedia, but the Ugandan government assumed control and secularized them. The clinic which was started by Fr. Gerasimos in 1983 was abandoned after his expulsion from Uganda in 1988, however the use of aid from the Japanese government finished the clinic. Fr. Christopher planned and built the stone church building which is topped by a multi-colored Russian onion dome.
Sisters Mary, Thaboria & Theosemni, holy monastery of st. Mary of Egipt, Uganda (from here & here)


The founders of Orthodoxy in Uganda were four men, one of them Obadia Basajjakitalo. His grandson is Jonah, present Metropolitan of Kampala and of all Uganda.

Metropolitan Jonah said: "Some of the Africans were thinking people. They read books on the history of Christianity and found out that Catholics and Protestants are in opposition to each other in the way unsuitable for true Christians. They began to study thoroughly the Bible hoping to find answers to their questions. Once, one of them, an Anglican follower Rebuen Mukasa, encountered in a dictionary the word 'Orthodoxy' and became interested in its meaning. It was called a 'true Church, Mother Church' there. He showed this to his friends and began to seek for further information on Orthodoxy". 

Fr. Rebuen Spartas
This went on in the year 1919. They began to send letters all over the world with the questions on Orthodoxy. One came to a US citizen of African ancestry named George Alexander McGuire. He sent them some literature on his non-canonical "African Orthodox Church". Rebuen Mukasa and his friends then were finally convinced in setting up this religion in Africa. McGuire directed them to a Black Bishop named Daniel William Alexander who lived in South Africa. He came to Uganda and ordained them. Rebuen Mukasa became Father Spartas. But the bishop turned to be an Uniate. This was disclosed later by a Greek businessman.

The friends didn't stop their quest here. Father Spartas and his supporters found a priest from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople who traveled through Africa and baptized and chrismated (anointed) Greek children. He came to Uganda and stayed for about 18 months teaching Father Spartas, Irenaeus Magimbi, Theodoros Nankyama and his friends in Orthodox Faith. It was in the beginning of the 1930s. He advised them to place themselves under the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria in order to be in Canonical Communion. They sent many letters to Alexandria, but there was no answer. In the meantime they baptized people and opened many parishes moving mainly by foot or by bicycles. They gained many followers, but without outside help Father Spartas, and the God loving Orthodox Christians with him, could not manage alone. Eventually they voyaged by foot, by river, by sea, by land until they arrived in the Alexandrian Patriarchate, where they spent several years being taught what Holy Orthodoxy was, ultimately being ordained and sent back to Uganda. 

Fr. Irenaeus Magimbi († 2013). Photo from here.
Canonical Orthodoxy

But later in the year 1946 Orthodox communities of Uganda and Kenya were accepted to join the Patriarchal Throne in full canonical contact. In 1959 in Uganda was sent Bishop Nicolas, Metropolitan of Kampala and the entire East Africa. From 1959 the Patriarch of Alexandria began to assume spiritual direction for the Orthodox Churches of Africa.

By 1958 for better ruling of Orthodox communities in Eastern Africa the Irinopolis Metropolia was founded with the center in the Tanzania capital Dar es Salaam], which means "city of peace", in Greek, Irinopolis. The Bishop again ordained Father Spartas and his friends with the accordance to canons of the mother church.

Father Spartas and his friends began to create their church. First four of them converted their relatives to Orthodoxy, and spreading of the faith went further. Spartas understood that the Church is in need of educated people. He began teaching English language in the school founded by him which was officially private and belonged to the Church. The colonial authorities (Uganda received independence only in 1969), trying to secure its monopoly on education, issued a law directing to teach English only in state schools. That didn't stop Spartas and he was then sent to prison for 5 years.

From 1958, some young Ugandans were sent to Greece and other Orthodox countries, but few of them returned to the motherland. That became one of the problems. Those who returned often conflicted with elder priests.

In 1959 Father Spartas visited Greece. He made speeches to Christians and called for Greeks to come to Africa for catechization and founding of a mission. It resulted in creation of several groups, mostly youth, of prayer and material support.

One of the priests in 1965, while being in the USA, addressed to 75 Greek parishes asking for help. Missionaries in Greece and the USA started to help African Orthodox followers, and still are helping them.

The first of the missionaries was Hieromonk Chrysostom Papasarantopulos, who came to Uganda in 1960. He served in Africa till his death in December 1972. One of the most prominent missionaries was Stavritsa Zachariou, an American woman of Greek ancestry who arrived in East Africa in 1971. She painted icons and taught Africans the basics of housekeeping.

The help of Greek missionaries was useful, but the principal affairs on apostolic sermon were held by native Africans themselves.

In 1972 in Alexandria for the first time in history three native Ugandans were consecrated Orthodox bishops. One of them was the enlightener of Uganda Spartas Rebuen Mukasa, named the bishop Christophor Nilopolian. He died in 1982 as the prelate of this church.

By this time they joined the Alexandria Patriarchy there were more than 10 thousand followers of Makasa and Basadjikitalo in Uganda. There is no statistics on this, and exact numbers can hardly be known. Some sources state that in the beginning of 90s there were more than 200 thousand, and in 2004 there were about 1.5 million of Orthodox Christians in Africa.

Starting from 1995, the first African became Metropolitan — the Metropolitan of Kampala and the entire Uganda Theodoros Nankyama. From 1997, he was followed by Jonah, grandson of Obadia Basadjikitalo. 

See also

Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos
Jonah (Lwanga) of Kampala
George Alexander McGuire
African Orthodox Church (non-canonical)
Raphael Morgan

St Nickolas Uganda Children's Fund

Orthodoxwiki, Uganda
Orthodoxwiki, Christopher Reuben Spartas

e-book about the Orthodox Church in Uganda


The article was translated from Russian article Православие в Уганде, where sources for the data are stated.

Further reading

Metropolitan Makarios (Tillyrides). Adventures in the Unseen. Orthodox Research Institute, 2004. 548 pp. ISBN 978-0-9745618-5-1
Metropolitan Makarios (Tillyrides). The Origin of Orthodoxy in East Africa. Orthodox Research Institute.

Orthodox Africa – Orthodoxy Finds Fertile Ground in Uganda

 Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga presides over Sunday’s Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Church

Kampala is a city of clamor. Uganda’s capital, a metropolis of 1.2 million, lies in the rolling highlands surrounding Lake Victoria. The acoustics of the place are such that sounds rise to wash over its green hills like a gentle tide. Climb one of them any Sunday and listen, and up will waft Uganda in all its varied devotion: a muezzin’s call to prayer, an Anglican hymn, the gravelly bark of a born-again preacher – “Ha-lle-luiah!” The Church of St. Nicholas stands atop a hill called Namungoona on the outskirts of Kampala, up a winding dirt road from an open-air evangelical congregation and a Catholic church shaped like a pagoda. St. Nicholas’s is prim and yellow, with a peaked roof and windows of brightly colored stained glass.
On a recent soggy Sunday, worshipers filed inside to the clank of a bell, taking care as they entered to kiss a gold-bound copy of the Gospels that lay on a pedestal near the door. At the front of the church, before icons of Jesus, Mary and the congregation’s patron saint, stood a gray-bearded man bedecked in white vestments and a jeweled crown. He was Jonah Lwanga, Metropolitan of Kampala and All Uganda, and crammed into the rows of wooden pews before him, singing heartily in the local language, Luganda, was one of the most unlikely congregations in a nation renowned for its religious diversity. They were African followers of the Orthodox Church.

Orthodox Christianity is not new to Africa. According to tradition, the Evangelist Mark arrived on the continent around A.D. 43, and founded the Church of Alexandria and, by extension, all Africa. But “all Africa,” for most of the church’s history, effectively ended at the Sahara. Orthodox missionaries sat out the 19th century’s “scramble for Africa,” when European Catholics and Protestants fanned out across the continent to save souls and build colonies. The story of how the Alexandrian Church came to have an affiliate in faraway Uganda, a country with no previous connection to the Orthodox world, is therefore not a tale of white men bearing the message of God to a dark continent. Rather, the Ugandan church traces its roots to two Africans who, rebelling against colonial rule, fled to a religion they felt was pure and politically uncompromised. This makes Uganda’s small community of 60,000 Orthodox Christians nearly unique within their home country. They found their faith on their own.
A child receives Holy Communion

Metropolitan Jonah, 62, whose rank in the Orthodox hierarchy is roughly equivalent to a Roman Catholic archbishop’s, is currently the only black African member of the synod of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, which is dominated by men of Greek descent [no, he is no longer the only]. The grandson of one of the church’s founders, he exemplifies the divided nature of his community. Equally comfortable speaking Greek as he is English or any number of African languages – he studied at a seminary on Crete and at the University of Athens – the metropolitan, nonetheless, says he has encountered “great, great difficulties” in convincing some Orthodox that his church really belongs to their tradition. But he believes that somehow, over 80 years of struggle in a country where life is hard, his church has managed to become something both fully African and authentically Eastern.
That morning at St. Nicholas’s, the smell of incense clung to the air as Metropolitan Jonah appeared from behind the iconostasis – the icon-decorated wall separating the altar from the congregation in many Eastern churches – carrying a pair of silver candelabras, one with three flames, one with two, meant to signify the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ. “Ayi Mukama, ayi Mukama,” he prayed in Luganda – “O Lord, O Lord” – as he moved the candles in fluid rotations. The metropolitan chanted a psalm calling on God to “look down from heaven and behold” a community he had planted like a vineyard. Then he repeated the prayer – this time in Greek.
Orhtodox priests in Congo (from here)
Uganda has always been fertile ground for religion. Islam arrived in the middle of the 19th century, brought by Arab traders from the Swahili coast doing business in slaves. Anglicans of the Church Missionary Society arrived in 1879, and the White Fathers came a year later. The European missionaries braved hard journeys, malaria and incalculable danger – in the early years, several were killed in tribal wars or intrigues at the thatch-roofed court of the kabaka, the king of the dominant Baganda tribe – to “plant churches of the living God in Central Africa,” as one of them put it.
After a little initial resistance, the missionaries’ message was embraced. Then, with the zeal of the converted, Uganda’s Catholics, Protestants and Muslims fell into a series of religious wars. The British sided with the Protestants. When the smoke cleared, the kabaka was Queen Victoria’s subject, Uganda was a protectorate and Anglicanism was the de facto state religion.
From the beginning, there were always some who rebelled against the government and its established faith. Reuben Spartas, the father of the Ugandan Orthodox Church, was one such dissenter. Spartas was born Reuben Mukasa in a village near Kampala in 1899, around the same time his land was losing its independence. He acquired the name he was to carry for the rest of his life at an Anglican mission school, where his discipline and athleticism reminded his classmates of the Spartans of their history books.
When World War I broke out, Spartas served in the British Army as a hospital orderly. But he was a fierce nonconformist, and before long he had joined the movement against British rule in his country. Spartas founded several short-lived nationalist organizations, with names like the African Progressive Society and the Christian Army for the Salvation of Africa. He joined a political party that agitated for the land rights of dispossessed Bagandan tribes, winning the notice of colonial authorities who judged him “an eloquent and powerful speaker” and eventually threw him in jail for a time.
Fr. Obadiah Basajjakitalo
Spartas was, in short, a man in search of a vehicle for his nationalist passions. As it turned out, that vehicle was to be a church. He was a devout man, but by the mid-1920’s Spartas had grown increasingly frustrated with what he saw as the established church’s compromises and inconsistencies. He and an army buddy, Obadiah Basajjakitalo – Metropolitan Jonah’s grandfather – began exploring other religions. What happened next has taken on the air of a creation myth: Spartas supposedly ran across an entry for the word “Orthodox” in the dictionary. “Like another Archimedes,” a subsequent church leader wrote, “he ran out into the streets shouting: ‘I have found, I have found!’ ”

Eldress Konstantia from Africa
The real story is a bit more complicated, involving an iconoclastic early civil rights leader and a case of mistaken religious identity. Sometime in the 1920’s, Spartas got hold of a copy of a newspaper called the Negro World, which was published by Marcus Garvey, the West Indian progenitor of the “back to Africa“ movement. Spartas learned that Garvey had championed the creation of an African Orthodox Church. Other than sharing a name, Garvey’s church had no relationship to mainstream Orthodoxy. But Spartas did not know that. In 1925, he wrote African Orthodox Church leaders in America, saying he wanted to join up and convert other Ugandans.
After a long courtship-by-letter, Spartas announced that he had left the Anglican Church and declared the establishment of a new church “for all right-thinking Africans, men who wish to be free in their own house, not always being thought of as boys.” In 1932, one of Garvey’s bishops traveled to Uganda and ordained Spartas and Basajjakitalo priests. The kabaka of Baganda donated a section of his personal estate at Namungoona to the new church, and within a few years, it claimed 5,000 members.
There was just one problem – the church was not really Orthodox. Spartas discovered this when a Greek expatriate in town came to baptize a child and told him he had the rituals all wrong. Worried correspondence with Alexandria ensued and, after some confusion, all links to Garvey’s church were severed, and Spartas traveled to Egypt to be ordained by Patriarch Christophoros II. The Ugandan Orthodox had Alexandria’s recognition. Acceptance would be longer in coming.
One weekday afternoon, Metropolitan Jonah welcomed me into the sitting room of his home in Namungoona, which stands near a giant gnarled mango tree just across the way from St. Nicholas’s. The room is simple by an archbishop’s standards, paneled with dark wood and crammed with plush furniture in the Ugandan fashion. On its walls hang Greek icons and numerous portraits of bearded Orthodox Church leaders, both white and black. The metropolitan, a man of regal carriage and a honeyed baritone voice, wore a simple black cassock and an engolpion, an ornate medallion that all Orthodox prelates wear around their necks. In order to tell me the story of his church, he took me on a tour of what was hanging on his walls.
He stopped before a faded black-and-white photograph of a slight, elderly man. It was his grandfather, he said, Basajjakitalo, a beloved figure known in his old age as “Father O.K.”
“They had seen the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants, and they were asking, ’Why, when the Bible is one?’ “ the metropolitan said. “Then they saw there is an original church where the two bodies were coming from: the Orthodox Church. And for them, they said, ’We will join the original one.’ ”
Metropolitan Jonah pointed to the portrait next to Basajjakitalo’s, a painting of a man wearing sunglasses and a beatific smile. “That is Theodoros,” he said, Spartas’s successor and his own predecessor as leader of the Ugandan community. The metropolitan told me that Theodoros was the first Ugandan to join the Alexandrian synod in 1995. “After being an auxiliary bishop for 45 years,” he added, cracking a wry smile.
Uganda’s Orthodox have gotten used to waiting. Though their church won official recognition from Alexandria in 1946, the first full-time Greek Orthodox missionary did not arrive in the country until more than a decade later. As of 1957, Spartas and Basajjakitalo were still the only two Ugandan priests – serving more than 50 parishes nationwide – and the Greek bishops appeared to be in no hurry to ordain more.
Metropolitan Jeronymos with ChildrenWealthy Orthodox congregations overseas have given some financial assistance through the years – Greeks donated most of the icons and other fixtures in the church – but the patriarchate itself always had priorities other than Africa. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, as the country endured dictatorships and civil wars, an increasing number of Ugandans abandoned mainline religions for homegrown evangelical churches, and the Orthodox community suffered.

Photo: Metropolitan Jeronymos of Mwanza, Tanzania (site here)

“We lost very many because there were no priests to handle the responsibility,” Metropolitan Jonah said. “The communities were dissolving.”
Change began in the mid-1980’s, when a new archbishop was assigned to East Africa. He opened a seminary in Kenya, home to 60,000 Orthodox faithful, about the same as in Uganda, according to church officials. (There are smaller Orthodox populations in Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zaire and Zimbabwe.) The archbishop ordained many priests and cultivated new leaders – including Metropolitan Jonah.
In the early 1990’s, Parthenios III of Alexandria became the first patriarch to visit Uganda, and the experience prompted him to “make some radical changes,” said Metropolitan Jonah. In the eight years since he ascended to the rank of metropolitan, “something has happened that is really fantastic,” he said. “When you are able to move around a little bit …this is when you might even be able to get support.”
Metropolitan Jonah has high hopes for Alexandria’s new patriarch, Theodoros II, a Cretan who previously served as a bishop in Cameroon and Zimbabwe. Still, the metropolitan said he had never been able to escape the sense that some of his peers view him and his church as not “Greek” enough. “I am alone in the Holy Synod as a black man,” he said. “You can understand the difficulty I have.”
Recently, Uganda has enjoyed relative stability and prosperity, and the Orthodox Church, like the country itself, has enjoyed something of a resurgence. In Namungoona, a primary and secondary school each have around 500 students, and there is a 40-bed hospital, maintained with help from Greece. But the church’s reach extends throughout the country via a network of parishes and schools, located in places as wretched and remote as a camp for refugees displaced by a long-running civil war in the north.
“One of the things about our parishes is that almost every one of them seems to be at the very end of the road,” said Peter Georges, a missionary from Ohio who has been living on-and-off in Namungoona since 2002.
The future of the church, however, can be said to lie much closer to home, in a low-slung dormitory across a courtyard from Metropolitan Jonah’s residence. There, 15 young seminarians study to become priests. When they are ordained, they will increase the number of Orthodox priests in Uganda by 50 percent – though the metropolitan says he still needs many more. In a country where the youth increasingly gravitate to the balokole (born-again) movement, with its charismatic preachers, upbeat songs and promises of miracles, these young men stand apart.
“There are some [Orthodox] youth who have gone over to the balokole, but few,” Metropolitan Jonah said. “I would say those are the Africans who are very taken with the songs and dances. But we say life is a very serious business. People who are serious, they are going to receive the message.”
Andrew Rice has written about Africa for The New York Times Magazine, The Nation and The New Republic among others. Photographer Tugela Ridley is based in Kampala.

See also

News from the Orthodox Church in Uganda here & here.
Natives Africans bishops in the Orthodox Church

Τρίτη 28 Ιουλίου 2015

Water scarcity in Africa

Mwamanongu Village water source, Tanzania. In Meatu District, Shinyanga Region, water most often comes from open holes dug in the sand of dry riverbeds, and it is invariably contaminated

From Wikipedia

Water scarcity or lack of safe drinking water is one of the world's leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally, meaning that one in every six people lacks access to safe drinking water.[1] The Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) defines safe drinking water as "water with microbial, chemical and physical characteristics that meets WHO guidelines or national standards on drinking water quality." Hydrologists generally assess water scarcity by looking at a population-to-water equation that treats 1,700 cubic meters per person as the national threshold for meeting water requirements for agricultural and industrial production, energy, and the environment.[2] Availability below the threshold of 1,000 cubic meters represents a state of "water scarcity", while anything below 500 cubic meters represents a state of "absolute scarcity".[2]

As of 2006, one third of all nations suffered from clean water scarcity,[3] but Sub-Saharan Africa had the largest number of water-stressed countries of any other place on the planet and of an estimated 800 million people who live in Africa, 300 million live in a water stressed environment.[4] According to findings presented at the 2012 Conférence on "Water Scarcity in Africa: Issues and Challenges", it is estimated that by 2030, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will be living in areas of high water stress, which will likely displace anywhere between 24 million and 700 million people as conditions become increasingly unlivable.[4]

Impact on development



The most immediately apparent impact of water scarcity in Africa is on the continent's health. With a complete lack of water, humans can only live up to 3 to 5 days on average.[5] This often forces those living in water deprived regions to turn to unsafe water resources, which, according to the World Health Organization, contributes to the spread of waterborne diseases including typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery and diarrhea, and to the spread of diseases such as malaria whose vectors rely on such water resources, and can lead to diseases such as trachoma, plague, and typhus.[6] Additionally, water scarcity causes many people to store water within the household, which increases the risk of household water contamination and incidents of malaria and dengue fever spread by mosquitos.[6] These waterborne diseases are not usually found in developed countries because of sophisticated water treatment systems that filter and chlorinate water, but for those living with less developed or non-existent water infrastructure, natural, untreated water sources often contain tiny disease-carrying worms and bacteria.[7] 

Although many of these waterborne sicknesses are treatable and preventable, they are nonetheless one of the leading causes of disease and death in the world. Globally, 2.2 million people die each year from diarrhea-related disease, and at any given time fifty percent of all hospital beds in the world are occupied by patients suffering from water-related diseases.[1] Infants and children are especially susceptible to these diseases because of their young immune systems,[7] which lends to elevated infant mortality rates in many regions of Africa. Water scarcity has a big impact on hygiene.

When infected with these waterborne diseases, those living in African communities suffering from water scarcity cannot contribute to the community’s productivity and development because of a simple lack of strength. Additionally, individual, community, and governmental economic resources are sapped by the cost of medicine to treat waterborne diseases, which takes away from resources that might have potentially been allocated in support of food supply or school fees.[7] Also, in term of governmental funding, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) estimates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, treatment of diarrhea due to water contamination consumes 12% of the country’s health budget. With better water conditions, the burden on healthcare would be less substantial, while a healthier workforce[8] would stimulate economic growth and help alleviate the prevalence of poverty. 


The Human Development Report reports that human use of water is mainly allocated to irrigation and agriculture. In developing areas, such as those within Africa, agriculture accounts for more than 80% of water consumption.[2] This is due to the fact that it takes about 3,500 liters of water to produce enough food for the daily minimum of 3,000 calories, and food production for a typical family of four takes a daily amount of water equivalent to the amount of water in an olympic-sized swimming pool.[2] Because the majority of Africa remains dependent on an agricultural lifestyle and 80% to 90% of all families in rural Africa rely upon producing their own food,[9] water scarcity translates to a loss of food security. At this point, with less than a third of the continent's potential using irrigation most of rural African communities are not tapping into their irrigation potential,[9] and according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa and New Partnership for Africa’s Development, "irrigation is key to achieving increased agricultural production that is important for economic development and for attaining food security".[3] The doubling of Africa's irrigated land is currently high on many political agendas, which can potentially be addressed through markets, commodity selection, ownership, land tenure, reliable water storage, and international agreements.[9]

But for many regions, there is a lack of financial and human resources to support infrastructure and technology required for proper crop irrigation. Because of this, the impact of droughts, floods, and desertification is greater in terms of both African economic loss and human life loss due to crop failure and starvation. Additionally, lack of water causes many Africans to use wastewater for crop growth, causing a large number of people to consume foods that can contain chemicals or disease-causing organisms transferred by the wastewater.[6] Thus, for the extremely high number of African areas suffering from water scarcity issues, investing in development means sustainably withdrawing from clean freshwater sources, ensuring food security by expanding irrigation areas, and effectively managing the effects of climate change.[3]


Local girls from Babile fill yellow water jugs
at the area's main water source, May 26, 2012


African women and men's divergent social positions lead to differences in water responsibilities, rights, and access,[10] and so African women are disproportionally burdened by scarcity of clean drinking water. In most African societies, women are seen as the collectors, managers, and guardians of water, especially within the domestic sphere that includes household chores, cooking, washing, and child rearing.[11] Because of these traditional gender labor roles, women are forced to spend around sixty percent of each day collecting water, which translates to approximately 200 million collective work hours by women globally per day[12] and a decrease in the amount of time available for education. Water scarcity exacerbates this issue, as indicated by the correlation of decrease in access to water with a decrease in combined primary, secondary, and tertiary enrollment of women.[10]

For African women, their daily role in clean water retrieval often means carrying the typical jerrycan that can weigh over 40 pounds when full[7] for an average of six kilometers each day.[1] This has health consequences such as permanent skeletal damage from carrying heavy loads of water over long distances each day,[9] which translates to a physical strain that contributes to increased stress, increased time spent in health recovery, and decreased ability to not only physically attend educational facilities, but also mentally absorb education due to the effect of stress on decision-making and memory skills. Also, in terms of health, access to safe and clean drinking water leads to greater protection from water-born illnesses which increases women's capabilities to attend school.[10]

The detriment water scarcity has on educational attainment for women in turn affects the social and economic capital of women in terms of leadership, earnings, and working opportunities.[9] As a result of this, many women are unable to hold professional employment. The lost number of potential school days and education hinders the next generation of African women from breaking out of the cycle of unequal opportunity for gainful employment, which serves to perpetuate the prevalence of unequal opportunity for African women and adverse effects associated with lacking income from gainful employment. Thus, improved access to water influences women's allocation of time, level of education, and as a result their potential for higher wages associated with recognized and gainful employment.[10]


In addition, the issue of water scarcity in Africa prevents many young children, especially girls, from attending school and receiving an education. They are expected to not only aid their mothers in water retrieval, but to also help with the demands of household chores that are made more time-intensive because of a lack of readily available water. Furthermore, a lack of clean water means the absence of sanitary facilities and latrines in schools, and so once puberty hits, this has a more serious impact on female children. In terms of lost educational opportunity, it is estimated that this would result in 272 million more school attendance days per year if adequate investment were made in drinking water and sanitation.[12]

For parents, an increase in access to reliable water resources reduces vulnerability to shocks, which allows for increased livelihood security and for families to allocate a greater portion of their resources to caring for their children. This means improved nutrition for children, a reduction in school days missed due to health issues, and greater flexibility to spend resources on providing for the direct costs associated with sending children to school. And if families escape forced migration due to water scarcity, children's educational potential is even further improved with better stability and uninterrupted school attendance.[13]

Productivity and development

Poverty is directly related to the accessibility of clean drinking water- without it, the chances of breaking out of the poverty trap are extremely slim. This concept of a "water poverty trap" was developed by economists specifically observing sub-Saharan Africa and refers to a cycle of financial poverty, low agricultural production, and increasing environmental degradation.[10] In this negative feedback loop, this creates a link between the lack of water resources with the lack of financial resources that effect all societal levels including individual, household, and community.[10] Within this poverty trap, people are subjected to low incomes, high fixed costs of water supply facilities, and lack of credit for water investments, which results in a low level of investment in water and land resources, lack of investment in profit-generating activities, resource degradation, and chronic poverty.[10] Compounding on this, in the slums of developing countries, poor people typically pay five to ten times more per unit of water than do people with access to piped water because of issues - including the lack of infrastructure and government corruption - which is estimated to raise the prices of water services by 10% to 30%.[9][14]

So, the social and economic consequences of a lack of clean water penetrate into realms of education, opportunities for gainful employment, physical strength and health, agricultural and industrial development, and thus the overall productive potential of a community, nation, and/or region. Because of this, the UN estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion potential work hours per year collecting water.[7]


The explosion of populations in developing nations within Africa combined with climate change is causing extreme strain within and between nations. In the past, countries have worked to resolve water tensions through negotiation, but there is predicted to be an escalation in aggression over water accessibility.

Africa's susceptibility to potential water-induced conflict can be separated into four regions: the Nile, Niger, Zambezi, and Volta basins.[14] Running through Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the Nile's water has the potential to spark conflict and unrest.[14] In the region of the Niger, the river basin extends from Guinea through Mali and down to Nigeria. Especially for Mali - one of the world's poorest countries - the river is vital for food, water and transportation, and its over usage is contributing to an increasingly polluted and unusable water source.[14] In southern Africa, the Zambezi river basin is one of the world's most over-used river systems, and so Zambia and Zimbabwe compete fiercely over it. Additionally, in 2000, Zimbabwe caused the region to experience the worst flooding in recent history when the country opened the Kariba Dam gates.[14] Finally, within the Volta river basin, Ghana is dependent on its hydroelectric output, but plagued by regular droughts which effect the production of electricity from the Akosombo Dam and limit Ghana's ability to sustain economic growth. Paired with the constraints this also puts on Ghana's ability to provide power for the area, this could potentially contribute to regional instability.[14]

At this point, federal intelligence agencies have issued the joint judgment that in the next ten years, water issues are not likely to cause internal and external tensions that lead to the intensification war. But if current rates of consumption paired with climatic stress continue, levels of water scarcity in Africa are predicted by UNECA to reach dangerously high levels by 2025. This means that by 2022 there is the potential for a shift in water scarcity's potential to contribute to armed conflict.[15] Based on the classified National Intelligence Estimate on water security, requested by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and completed in Fall 2011, after 2022 water will be more likely to be used as a weapon of war and potential tool for terrorism, especially in North Africa.[15] On World Water Day, the State Department stated that water stress, "will likely increase the risk of instability and state failure, exacerbate regional tensions and distract countries from working with the United States on important policy objectives." Specifically referring to the Nile in Egypt, Sudan, and nations further south, the report predicts that upstream nations will limit access to water for political reasons, and that terrorists may target water related infrastructures, such as reservoirs and dams, more frequently.[15] Because of this, the World Economic Forum’s 2011 Global Risk Report has included water as one of the world’s top five risks for the first time. 

Reasons for scarcity

Climate change

According to the Africa Partnership Forum, “Although Africa is the continent least responsible for climate change, it is particularly vulnerable to the effects,” and the long-term impacts include, “changing rainfall patterns affecting agriculture and reducing food security; worsening water security; decreasing fish resources in large lakes due to rising temperature; shifting vector-borne diseases; rising sea level affecting low-lying coastal areas with large populations; and rising water stress”.[16]

More specifically, the Human Development Report predicts warming paired with 10% less rainfall in interior regions of Africa, which will be amplified by water loss due to water loss increase from rising temperature.[2] This warming will be greatest over the semi-arid regions of the Sahara, along the Sahel, and interior areas of southern Africa.[2] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that climate change in Africa has manifested itself in more intense and longer droughts in the subtropics and tropics, while arid or semi-arid areas in northern, western, eastern, and parts of southern Africa are becoming drier and more susceptible to variability of precipitation and storms.[16]

The Human Development Report goes on to explain that because of Africa’s dependence on rain-fed agriculture, widespread poverty, and weak capacity, the water issues caused by climate change impact the continent much more violently compared to developed nations that have the resources and economic diversity to deal with such global changes. This heightened potential for drought and falling crop yields will most likely lead to increased poverty, lower incomes, less secure livelihoods, and an increased threat of chronic hunger for the poorest people in sub-Saharan Africa.[2] Overall this means that water stress caused by changing amounts of precipitation is particularly damaging to Africa and thus climate change is one of the major obstacles the continent must face when trying to secure reliable and clean sources of water.
Physical scarcity and economic scarcity

Water scarcity is both a natural and human-made phenomenon.[17] It is thus essential to break it down into two general types: Economic scarcity and physical scarcity. Economic scarcity refers to the fact that finding a reliable source of safe water is time consuming and expensive. Alternatively, physical scarcity is when there simply is not enough water within a given region.[7]

Map showing Global Physical and Economic Water Scarcity 2006

The 2006 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that 300 million out of the 800 million who live on the African continent live in a water-scarce environment.[3] Specifically in the very north of Africa, as well the very south of Africa, the rising global temperatures accompanying climate change have intensified the hydrological cycle that leads to dryer dry seasons, thus increasing the risk of more extreme and frequent droughts. This significantly impacts the availability, quality and quantity of water due to reduced river flows and reservoir storage, lowering of water tables and drying up of aquifers in the northern and southern regions of Africa.

Included in the category of physical scarcity is the issue of overexploitation. This is contributing to the shrinking of many of Africa's great lakes, including the Nakivale, Nakuru, and Lake Chad, which has shrunk to 10% of its former volume.[2] In terms of policy, the incentives for overuse are among the most damaging, especially concerning ground water extraction. For ground water, once the pump is installed, the policy of many countries is to only constrain removal based on the cost of electricity, and in many cases subsidize electricity costs for agricultural uses, which damages incentives to conserve such resources.[2] Additionally, many countries within Africa set the cost of water well below cost-recovery levels, thus discouraging efficient usage and threatening sustainability.[2]

The majority of Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from economic scarcity because of the population’s lack of the necessary monetary means to utilize adequate sources of water. Both political reasons and ethnic conflict have contributed to this unequal distribution of resources. Out of the two forms of water scarcity, economic scarcity can be addressed quickly and effectively with simple infrastructure to collect rainwater from roofs and dams, but this requires economic resources that many of these areas lack due to an absence of industrial development and widespread poverty.[7]
Regional Variance

Northern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are progressing towards the Millennium Development Goal on water at different paces. While Northern Africa has 92% safe water coverage, Sub-Saharan Africa remains at a low 60% of coverage - leaving 40% of the 783 million people in that region without access to clean drinking water.[18]

Some of these differences in clean water availability can be attributed to Africa's extreme climates. Although Sub-Saharan Africa has a plentiful supply of rainwater, it is seasonal and unevenly distributed - leading to frequent floods and droughts.[18] Additionally, prevalent economic development and poverty issues, compounded with rapid population growth and rural-urban migration have rendered Sub-Saharan Africa as the world's poorest and least developed region.[18] Thus, this poverty constrains many cities in this region from providing clean water and sanitation services and preventing the further deterioration of water quality even when opportunities exist to address these water issues.[18] Additionally, the rapid population growth leads to an increased number of African settlements on flood-prone, high-risk land.[18]

Addressing the issue 
Play media
A Water.org video about addressing water scarcity in Ethiopia. 

International and Non-Governmental Organization's efforts

To adequately address the issue of water scarcity in Africa, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa emphasizes the need to invest in the development of Africa’s potential water resources to reduce unnecessary suffering, ensure food security, and protect economic gains by effectively managing droughts, floods, and desertification.[3] Some suggested and ongoing efforts to achieve this include an emphasis on infrastructural implementations and improvements of wells, rainwater catchment systems, and clean-water storage tanks.

Efforts made by the United Nations in compliance with the Millennium Development Goals have targeted water scarcity not just for Africa, but globally. The compiled list includes eight international development goals, seven of which are directly impacted by water scarcity. Access to water affects poverty, food scarcity, educational attainment, social and economic capital of women, livelihood security, disease, and human and environmental health.[19] Because addressing the issue of water is so integral to reaching the MDGs, one of the sub-goals includes halving the proportion of the globe’s population without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. In March 2012, the UN announced that this goal has been met almost four years in advance, suggesting that global efforts to reduce water scarcity are on a successful trend.[20]

As one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States plays an integral role in promoting solutions to aid with clean water scarcity. One of many efforts include USAID’s WASH- the WASH for Life partnership with the Gates Foundation- that works to promote water, sanitation, and hygiene. With this, the U.S. "will identify, test, and scale up evidence-based approaches for delivering these services to people in some of the poorest regions".[20] Additionally, in March 2012, Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. Water Partnership, which will bring together people from the private sector, the philanthropic community, non-governmental organizations, academics, experts, and the government in an attempt to look for system-wide solutions.[20] The technologies and ability to tackle the issue of water scarcity and cleanliness are present, but it is highly a matter of accessibility. Thus, the partnership will aim at making these solutions available and obtainable at a local level.

In addition to the role the United States, the United Nations, and other international governmental bodies, a number of NGOs have formed water charities centered around the goal of providing clean water for the continent by 2015. These charities are based on individual and group donations, which are then invested in a variety of methods and technologies to bring clean water to regions in Africa.[21] Some notable NGOs working towards this goal include, but are not limited to:

African Minister's Council on Water[22] Formed in 2002 Goal: Promote cooperation, security, social and economic development, and poverty eradication among member states via effective management of Africa's water resources. AMCOW has been accorded to status of Specialized Committee for Water and Sanitation in the Frican Union. Alternative World Water Forum[23] Held in March 2012 Objective: creating an alternative vision of water management based on ecological and democratic values, continue research to find solutions, and make the water movement structure sustainable.
Drop in the Bucket[24] Founded in 2006 Los Angeles based with field offices in Uganda and South Sudan. Build wells and sanitation systems at large rural schools in sub-Saharan Africa. The Ann Campana Judge Foundation[25] Established July 2002 Promotes, undertakes, supports, and funds philanthropic projects focused on portable water, sanitation, and health initiatives in developing countries.
Blood: Water Mission[26] Launched first project in 2005 Working to empower communities to fight against HIV/AIDS and the water crisis in Africa. Its core values are community, responsibility, integrity, dignity, and teachability. Blue Planet Network[27] Active since 2002 Connects funders, NGOs, the public and communities in need to improve planning, selection, management, and monitoring of water/sanitation programs, which allows for lasting impact at a lower cost.
Care[28] Founded in 1945 Humanitarian organization with the goal of fighting global poverty by placing special focus on poor women in an effort to improve basic education, prevent the spread of disease, increase access to clean water and sanitation, improve economic opportunity, and protect natural resources. charity: water[29] Founded by 2006 Funded by private donors, foundations, and sponsors. Founded on the promise that 100% of donations go directly to the field to fund water projects, such as construction of freshwater wells, rainwater catchments and sand filters.
Circle of Blue[30] Founded in 2000 by leading journalists and scientists Provides on-the-ground information about the world's resource crisis with a special focus on water and its relationship to food, energy, and health. Goal of spurring new methodology in science, innovation, and response by informing academics, governments, and the general public. Clear Water Initiative[31] Founded in 2007 by Benjamin Sklaver US-based NGO that promotes simple, sustainable solutions to provide clean water in northern Uganda. Funds establish and innovate clean water solutions, such as borehole repairs, protected springs and well drilling, with emphasis on community involvement and training.
DIGDEEP Water[32] Founded in 2011 Lead water access projects, as well as education and advocacy programs in order to work towards a goal of defending access to water as a human right. 100% of donations fund the water projects. The Gender and Water Alliance[33] Established at the Second World Water Forum (WWF) in March 200 Mission is to promote women's and men's equitable access to and management of safe and adequate water. Special emphasis on gender, social justice, and human rights. Funded by the governments of the Netherlands and United Kingdom.
Generosity Water[34] Founded in 2008 Donations are pooled to fund well projects villages in need, in which a committee of locals is formed and trained in business management, pump maintenance, hygiene and sanitation. The well is built with the involvement of the village and de-worming medication is distributed. Global Water[35] Founded in 1982 by former U.S. Ambassador John McDonald and Dr. Peter Bourne Since its formation, Global Water has worked with water supply projects in a variety of roles to accommodate local conditions, and has transitioned from an advocacy group into a project oriented organization. Strategies include construction of sanitation facilities to create safe waste disposal, construction of hygiene-related facilities for rural schools, and work to access, purify, and distribute new sources of safe water for rural villages.
Global Water Partnership[36] Founded in 1996 by the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) Goal: foster integrated water resource management (IWRM), which is the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources to maximise economic/social welfare without compromising sustainability of ecosystems/the environment. Healing Waters International[37] Founded in February 2002 by Tom and Dana Larson Empowers local ministry partners to bring physical, social, and spiritual transformation to poor communities by providing sustainable, safe water solutions. Uses the model: "Equip, Educate, and Empower".
H2O For Life[38] Founded in 2002 by Patty and Steve Hall Provides a service-learning opportunity for schools, youth groups, and faith-based organizations to raise awareness about water scarcity while taking action to provide funds for water, sanitation and hygiene education for a partner school in a developing country. International Medical Corps[39] Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses As part of its comprehensive approach to health, International Medical Corps prioritizes equitable, reliable access to clean water, the provision/improvement of sanitation facilities, and education of safe hygiene practices.
Office International de l'Eau[40] Active since: Network of public and private organizations involved in the management/protection of water resources. Its mission is to educate, inform, manage, and cooperate in the field of water. International Water and Sanitation Centre[41] Founded in 1968 Knowledge-focused NGO that works a worldwide network of partners, with roots in advocacy, knowledge management and capacity building.
Just A Drop[42] Launched in 1998 at World Travel Market by Fiona Jeffery Goal to reduce child mortality by delivering accessible, clean water through the construction of wells, boreholes, pipelines, hand pumps and latrines, while establishing health and sanitation programs. Independent, non-campaigning NGO that promotes local ownership of projects. Field operatives work directly with other charities, local partners and communities. Lifewater International[43] Founded in 1977 by William Ashe since: Christian-based non-profit, with a focus on addressing the crisis through local communities. Trains volunteer field trainers in shallow well drilling, hand pump repair, biosand filtration, sanitation, community health, and WASH. Focused on long-term change and improved community health.
Living Water International[44] Founded in 1990 Christian-based and located in Houston, TX. Train, consult, and equip local people to implement clean water solutions in their own countries, specifically with shallow well drilling, pump repair, and hygiene education. The Millennium Water Alliance[45] Formed in 2003 Offers sustainable solutions through advocacy, shared knowledge, and collaborative programming. Major field programs to date operate in Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as four countries in Central America.
Ok Clean Water Project[46] Active since 2003 Based out of Ottawa, Canada, volunteers raise funds to support water delivery systems in Kumbo, Cameroon Africa and the surrounding villages. In exchange, the villagers volunteer their labor to build the infrastructure and receive training to manage/maintain the systems. The Water Trust[47] Started in 2008 Working to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in East Africa - specifically Uganda. Collaborates with local communities, government officials, and WASH NGOs
Project Water for Life[48] Founded in 2012 Project Water for Life drills and maintains wells in Africa. Their wells use locals to drill and pay for maintenance, allowing a sense of community involvement. Pump Aid-Water for Life[49] Registered in the UK in 1998 UK-based NGO builds "Elephant Pumps" and "Elephant Toilets" in a number of regions throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with program facilities in Malawi and Liberia.
Pure Water for the World[50] Began in 1999 For rural areas, they focus on individual sand filters that go in each families home with an educational component, parasitic treatment, and follow-up monitoring. Also have constructed more large-scale community-based sand filters, use solar pasteurization, and rainwater harvesting programs. Ryan’s Well Foundation[51] Foundation formed in 2001 Canada-based charity founded by Ryan Hreljac after learning about clean water scarcity in 1st grade. Works largely with youth for fundraising and educational efforts.
Sanitation and Water for All[52] Active since 2010 Global partnership between developing countries, donors, multi-lateral agencies and civil society with an immediate focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Developing country governments are in control and donors play a more supportive role. Thirst Relief International[53] Founded in 2005 Provides infrastructure development, training, and financial and technical resources to partners with the goal of improving people's long-term health in a cost-efficient way.
The World Bank - Water[54] Created in 2006 Provides integrated support nationally and regionally across macroeconomic, financial, technical, social and environmental dimensions to help encourage functional policy implementation, government capacity building, and partnership with communities and partners from multilateral and bilateral agencies. UN - Water[55] Established in 2003 Inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater related issues, with the goal of mobilizing resources in an efficient/integrated manner to meet development and environment targets set by the international community.
UNICEF - WASH[56] Approved by the UNICEF Executive Board in 2006 Objective is to contribute to the realization of children's rights to survival and development through support of national programmes that increase equitable and sustainable access to safe water. Voss Foundation[57] Active since 2008 Norwegian NOG working in sub-Saharan Africa to help communities fulfill water requirements with a particular interest in assisting women and girls. Projects primarily involve a combination to well-digging/creation/rehabilitation, pumping, and piping.
WASH Advocates[58] Launched in 2002 Nonprofit, nonpartisan initiative with the goal of increasing awareness of WASH, catalyzing partnerships between foundations/corporations/nonprofits/schools/U.S. government, increase WASH advocacy in Washington D.C., and encourage more media coverage of WASH challenges and solutions. WaterAid[59] Launched in 2009 Work with local partners and influence decision-makers to maximize efforts to improve access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation. Focus on promotion, support to governments and service providers, and advocation.
WaterCan/ EauVive[60] Charter established in 1987 Canadian-based charity that supports small scale community projects that are sustainable, low-cost and locally appropriate, emphasizes community ownership and self-help, and particularly involves women. The Water Project[61] Active since August 2006 Christian-based non-profit working with Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda. Use local labor and management, with the help of donated funds, to help dig wells, build small dams, collect rainwater, and filter water using Biosand water filtration systems.
Water For People[62] Formed in 1991 Work to provide innovative solutions to water scarcity, while respecting the dignity of local people, using local resources, working with trusted partners, and experimenting with promising new ideas. Water Is Life[63] Concept formed in 2007 Distributes personal straw filters o partner villages and disaster situations to provide immediate clean water, provides hygiene and sanitation education in village schools, and implements long-term strategies.
Water.org[64] Founded as WaterPartners International in 1990 Driving the water sector for new solutions, new financial models, greater transparency, and local partnerships. Encourages community ownership, and selects technology based on local conditions. Works in Africa in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Water and Sanitation Program[65] Active since: Multi-donor partnership administered by the World Bank that works directly with client governments at the local and national level. Their work helps to effect the regulatory and structural changes needed for broad water and sanitation sector reform.
Water is Basic[66] Formed in 2006; Completed first well in 2008 A borehole drilling organization in the Republic of South Sudan birthed and led by Sudanese religious leaders. WiB has drilled over 500 wells and repaired 75 others.[67]

Solutions and technologies

The more basic solutions to help provide Africa with drinkable and usable water include well-digging, rain catchment systems, de-worming pills, and hand pumps, but high demand for clean water solutions has also prompted the development of some key creative solutions as well.

Some non-profit organizations have focused on the aspect of drinking water contamination from sewage waste by installing cost-effective and relatively maintenance-free toilets, such as Drop In The Bucket’s “Eco-sanitation Flush Toilet”[68] or Pump Aid’s “Elephant Toilet”.[49] The Elephant Toilet uses community-sourced resources in construction to build a relatively simple waste disposal mechanism that separates solids from liquids to promote faster decomposition and lower the impact on ground water.[49] In comparison, the Eco-Sanitation Flush Toilet also uses no power of any kind, but actually treats sewage rather than just storing it so that the toilet’s output is only water.[68] Both solutions are then simple for residents of African communities to maintain and have a notable impact on the cleanliness of local water sources.

Other solutions to clean water scarcity issues have focused on innovative pump systems, including hand-pumps, Water for People’s “Play Pumps”,[62] and Pump Aid’s “Elephant Pumps”.[49] All three designs are built to aid communities in drawing clean water from wells. The hand pump is the most basic and simple to repair, with replacement parts easily found.[44] Using a more creative approach, Play Pumps combine child’s play with clean water extraction through the use of playground equipment, called a roundabout. The idea behind this is as children play on the roundabout, water will simultaneously be pumped from a reservoir tank to either toilets, hand-washing stations, or for drinking water.[49] Some downsides to the PlayPump, though, are its inability to address situations of physical water scarcity and the danger of exploitation when children's play is equated with pumping water.[69] Alternatively, Elephant Pumps are simple hand water pumps. After a well is prepared, a rope-pump mechanism is installed that is easy to maintain, uses locally sourced parts, and can be up and running in the time span of about a week.[49] The Elephant Pump can provide 250 people with 40 litres of clean water per person per day.[70]

Moving beyond sanitary waste disposal and pumps, clean water technology can now be found in the form of drinking straw filtration. Used as solution by Water Is Life, the straw is small, portable, and costs USD$10 per unit.[63] The filtration device is designed to eliminate waterborne diseases, and as a result provide safe drinking water for one person for one year.[63]

Overall, a wide range of cost-effective, manageable, and innovative solutions are available to help aid Africa in producing clean, disease-free water. Ultimately what it comes down to is using technology appropriate for each individual community’s needs. For the technology to be effective, it must conform to environmental, ethical, cultural, social, and economic aspects of each Africa community.[43] Additionally, state governments, donor agencies, and technological solutions must be mindful of the gender disparity in access to water so as to not exclude women from development or resource management projects.[10] If this can be done, with sufficient funding and aid to implement such technologies, it is feasible to eliminate clean water scarcity for the African continent by the Millennium Development Goal deadline of 2015.


Africa is home to both the largest number of water-scarce countries out of any region, as well as home to the most difficult countries to reach in terms of water aid. The prevalence of rural villages traps many areas in what the UN Economic Commission for Africa refers to as the "Harvesting Stage",[3] which makes water-scarce regions difficult to aid because of a lack of industrial technology to make solutions sustainable. In addition to the geographic and developmental limiting factors, a number of political, economic reasons also stand in the way of ensuring adequate aid for Africa. Politically, tensions between local governments versus foreign non-governmental organizations impact the ability to successfully bring in money and aid-workers. Economically, urban areas suffer from extreme wealth gaps in which the overwhelming poor often pay four to ten times more for sanitary water than the elite, hindering the poor from gaining access to clean water technologies and efforts.[3] As a result of all these factors, it is estimated that fifty percent of all water projects fail, less than five percent of projects are visited, and less than one percent have any long-term monitoring.[12]

See also 
2007 African floods
2009 West Africa floods
Millennium Development Goals
Water issues in developing countries
Water politics
Water scarcity

External links 

African Flood and Drought Monitor (AFDM)
Webdossier Water in Africa (2012)
International Decade for Action "Water for Life" 2005-2015

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"Conference on Water Scarcity in Africa: Issues and Challenges". Retrieved 18 March 2013.

"The Water Page". Retrieved 11 April 2012.

"10 Facts About Water Scarcity". Retrieved 11 April 2012.

"Water Scarcity: The Importance of Water & Access". Retrieved 18 March 2012.

Sandy Cairncross (1988). "4". In Douglas Rimmer. Rural Transformation in Tropical Africa. Great Britain: Belhaven Press. pp. 49–54.

"Coping With Water Scarcity: Challenge of the 21st Century" (PDF). Retrieved 18 March 2013.

"Gender Relations and Access to Water: What We Want to Know About Social Relations and Women's Time Allocation". Retrieved 18 March 2013.

"Impacts of Water Scarcity on Women's Life". Retrieved 1 April 2012.

"Women Affected by the Crisis". Retrieved 18 March 2012.

SEWA: Campaigning for Water, Women and Work. Retrieved 18 March 2013.

"Africa Rising 21st Century". Retrieved 18 March 2013.

"US Intel: Water a Cause for War in Coming Decades". Retrieved 23 March 2012.

"Climate Change and Africa" (PDF). Retrieved 11 April 2012.

"International Decade for Action: Water for Life 2005-2015". Retrieved 18 March 2012.

"International Decade for Action: Water for Life 2005-2015". Retrieved 1 April 2013.

"International Decade for Action Water for Life 2005-2015: Water Scarcity". Retrieved 1 April 2012.

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"African Minister's Council on Water". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Alternative World Water Forum". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Drop in the Bucket". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"The Ann Campagna Judge Foundation". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Blood: Water Mission". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Blue Planet Network". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Care". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"charity:water". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Circle of Blue". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Clear Water Initiative". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"DIGDEEP Water". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"The Gender and Water Alliance". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Generosity Water". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Global Water". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Global Water Partnership". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Healing Waters International". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"H2O For Life". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"International Medical Corps". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Office International de l'Eau". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"International Water and Sanitation Centre". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Just A Drop". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Lifewater International". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Living Water International". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"The Millennium Water Alliance". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Ok Clean Water Project". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"The Water Trust". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Project Water for Life". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Pump Aid-Water For Life". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Pure Water for the World". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Ryan's Well Foundation". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Sanitation and Water for All". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Thirst Relief International". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"The World Bank - Water". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"UN - Water". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"UNICEF - WASH". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Voss Foundation". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"WASH Advocates". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"WaterAid". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"WaterCan EauVive". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"The Water Project". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Water For People". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Water Is Life". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Water.org". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

"Water and Sanitation Program". Retrieved 8 April 2013.

"Water is Basic". Retrieved 1 April 2015.

"Water is Basic About Us". Water is Basic. Retrieved 1 April 2015.

"A Drop In The Bucket". Retrieved 11 April 2012.

"The Play Pump: What Went Wrong?". Retrieved 1 April 2013.
"Elephant Pump". Retrieved 1 April 2013.

Lack of water in Africa (from Google)

The Patriarchate of Alexandria has created hundreds of wells in several countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Orthodox Mission - Programs - Wells

14 wells of life from the spring of your heart

Water tanks in Madagascar

Photo from here