Why does Africa not have clean water?

Africa has the most: 5 amazing facts about water

On World Water Day: 5 amazing facts about water in Africa

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For World Water Day on March 22nd, 2020
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Water is life. And theoretically there is more than enough of this elixir of life for everyone worldwide. The problem: By far not everyone can simply turn on the tap and it starts to bubble. According to the UN Water Report, 2.1 billion people worldwide have no access to potable and continuously available drinking water. According to this, two thirds of the world's population even lives in areas that are affected by water scarcity for at least one month a year. This also includes people in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ethiopia. Did you think so? Then we have five more facts about World Water Day on March 22nd that you may not have known about water and Africa.

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1. Water abundance and water shortage in Africa

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Given the water scarcity in many African countries, one can quickly get the idea that there is generally too little water in Africa. The opposite is the case: Africa is the continent with the largest aboveground, non-frozen water resources. Large rivers such as the Nile, Congo and Niger contribute to this, as do 677 African lakes. The largest of them, Lake Victoria in East Africa, is almost as large as Bavaria in terms of area alone.

So enough water for all Africans? Not at all. The big problem is access to clean drinking water. The water from rivers and lakes is polluted, contaminated with germs and pathogens and also distributed very unevenly. In rural regions in particular, water points are often miles away. In Ethiopia, women and children sometimes spend several hours a day fetching water.

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One solution to the water shortage can be groundwater. According to calculations, Africa has 600,000 cubic kilometers of groundwater, which is around 30 times the amount of precipitation that falls on the entire continent in a year.

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This occurrence also makes use of People for peopleto build hand pump wells and municipal water supply systems. Over a million Ethiopians now have access to clean drinking water through these measures.

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2. Water consumption in Germany and Ethiopia: full bath vs. short shower

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According to the United Nations, at least 50 liters of water per day and person are necessary to satisfy basic needs, avoid diseases and maintain productivity.

Every German consumes an average of 121 liters of water every day. This is roughly the capacity of an average bathtub. If you add the water that industry uses to produce goods, for example, an average German consumes around 4,000 liters a day.

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An Ethiopian has an average of 25 liters of water a day, in rural regions it is sometimes only five to ten liters. That is roughly the amount of water that we use in a half-minute shower.

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3. Lack of water hits the weakest first

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Those who only have a few liters of water available a day are most likely to save on personal hygiene. First and foremost, this has negative consequences for the weakest in society: children.

Children in sub-Saharan Africa are at 500 times more likely to die of diarrheal disease due to poor hygiene than children in Europe. Worldwide, a child dies every 15 seconds from an illness caused by unclean water, such as diarrhea.

In addition, a lack of access to water not only affects the here and now of many children, but also their future. According to the UN, 443 million school days are lost every year due to diseases caused by lack of water. In addition, there are the long marches to the next water point, which also fall victim to school attendance.

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4. Hand washing succeeds with birthday serenades

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It is actually a matter of course, but especially in times of the coronavirus, hand washing has become the focus of attention. And rightly so: some water - if available - and a bar of soap are the most cost-effective means of preventing illness. Simply washing your hands lowers your chances of developing diarrhea by 35 percent.

As part of our main focus WaSH (Wasser, S.sanitary, HIn addition to expanding the water supply, we therefore attach great importance to accompanying hygiene training courses, for example in schools.

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The trick that you use to wash your hands effectively was demonstrated by Larry David in the Woody Allen film “Whatever works”: if you sing “Happy birthday” twice while washing your hands, you wash long enough to eliminate life-threatening pathogens.

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5. For every euro of water there is a multiple return

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Every euro that is invested in water supply and sanitation in developing areas brings a long-term return of between five and 25 euros. The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated this in a large-scale study. Diseases such as diarrhea or trachoma can be avoided through access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. The costs for visits to the doctor are eliminated and the savings can be invested more sensibly.

In addition, women, for example, have more time to generate an income for themselves and their families. Children can regularly attend classes and complete training for a higher standard of living in the long term.

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The foundation Menschen für Menschen - Karlheinz Böhms Ethiopia Aid is a public foundation under civil law. It is kept at the Munich tax office under the tax number 143/235/72144 and was last exempt from corporation and trade tax due to the decision of June 11, 2018 due to the promotion of tax-privileged purposes and thus recognized as a non-profit organization.