Monday, 20 April 2015

Clean Water Can Boost Africa's Economies

"There is a causal relationship between access to water supply and higher income levels"
This quote came from a W.H.O. report by M. Sanctuary, H. Tropp and A. Berntell.

They found that, "Poor countries with improved access to clean water and sanitation services enjoyed annual average growth of 3.7%." While those without improved access averaged per capita GDP growth of only 0.1%".

I am glad that you are reading this article to learn more (I guess) about the new wave of events and happenings in the economic future of Africa. 

Hopefully, you got here from a link from my previous post about why Africans, most of all (and not just foreigners) need to invest more effort and resources in Africa. 

In that article, I talked about the benefits of staying up to date with discussions at the World Economic Forum on Africa as well as the US-Africa Business Forum hosted by Barack Obama and moderated by Bill Clinton.

In this one, I will address an issue that was raised by author & futurist Chris Lang, who felt it was an important issue to consider where ever there is development. 
The issue of access to clean water.

It Is About Access And Cleanliness!

I live in a private estate (in Lagos, Nigeria) where there are still a few undeveloped pieces of property. And like most people in my country, I actually supply my own water and provide most of the electricity that I use. 
I have a borehole and a pumping machine to pump water into a large tank that is suspended above my roof (Most people who live in suburbs and urban areas in Lagos have the same kind of arrangement).

I personally choose not drink the water from my borehole (I buy my drinking water) even though some of my neighbors say it is safe and do not even bother filtering it. Anyway, every now and then when there are constructions going on close by, the workers come to me to ask to fetch water for their work, and they sometimes drink directly from the tap in my backyard. 

I always warn them that the water has not been tested or verified to be good for drinking but they don't care. They often say that they've drank water that is visibly scary looking, and not clear like mine.

Now on the other hand, you could probably use any kind of dirty water to mix your cement for construction, but it still helps a great deal to have immediate access to that water wherever you're working. Also, being able to easily get the water you want when you want it, and not having to get medical treatment for consuming it is indeed an economic advantage to the society at large.

Think about it! 
There would be less burden on our already overburdened hospital systems in Africa because of easy access to clean water.  Medical attention and resources can then be focused on other challenges like malaria. 

Common diseases that are transmitted through dirty water

Humanitarian & Philanthropic Efforts

The image above is very scary isn't it?
Of course it is!

Former UN Sec Gen, Kofi Annan, said: 
"We shall not defeat the diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care."
Hollywood actor, Matt Damon and Gary White founded in 2009, and this is a non-profit that provides access to drinking water and sanitation in developing countries all over the world.

I mention them here because of their method:

1. Forge partnerships with local change agents.
2. Involve the local community at every stage.
3. Select appropriate technology for particular environment.
4. Integrate with health & hygiene education.

Sometimes some people criticize celebrities for  humanitarian work in Africa and other underdeveloped regions, arguing that they seek some kind of "vain" glory. My response to that would be to ask those who benefit from these efforts if they share such a shallow sentiment. 

Another person I really must mention is the young Canadian, Ryan Hreljac who began his Ryan's Well cause when he was only 7 years old. 
The story is so moving because not only was young Ryan able to raise enough money (by doing extra chores) to start a trend that eventually grew into a life changing foundation, he also made a friend in Uganda at the same time.

7 year old Ryan Hreljac looking on as a
 borehole is being constructed in Uganda,
thanks to funds he helped to raise
Jimmy Akana walked miles to fetch dirty water that his family used for drinking, cooking and bathing. The efforts of Ryan's Well Foundation helped his village tremendously. And even when Jimmy lost his parents (under very horrible circumstances) at a very tender age, Ryan's family stepped in and offered him their home in Canada. 

Jimmy Akana and Canadian Ryan Hreljac became friends
when Ryan visited Uganda to inspect his first well.
A remarkable story if you ask me.....

But now I want you to ask yourself, what can we do MORE, in Africa, to improve on the improvements in the accessibility of our people to clean water?

(Pardon me for a moment, but I feel like posting a number of photos here right now. :-) )

Jimmy attended high school with Ryan in Canada.
And in 2012, he graduated from
St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.

Today, Jimmy Akana Hreljac is also helping with the foundation
by speaking publicly to create awareness of the foundation. 

Africa Has To Fix Africa

Ryan and many foreigners have done their best, and we are indeed grateful. But now it is time to challenge our governments: It is time to fix things!

Now I know that there is clearly a lot of misconception about Africa in the perceptions of the global community at large, thanks to the foreign press. 

While a few foreigners still assume that we live in a wide open safari with hyena packs running around, and our babies are perpetually starving to death; others are taken by the shallow depictions by foreign media which have a tendency to regurgitate only images like this one: 

By the way, our own governments prefer to focus on images like this one  :

But that is not what is important here now. What is important is that for development to be beneficial to any society, it must be inclusive.
There is no point having some scattered portions of Africa developing into futuristic utopia's, while most other parts are neglected by the government, to suffer a perpetual lack of electricity and access to clean water. 

I want you to take a look at the data gathered by the WHO and UNICEF back in 2012, when they announced that the world had already met its Millennium Development Goal on access to clean drinking water which targeted 2015.

However a large part of Africa hasn't quite gotten there yet. But the good news is that a lot of effort has been made all round Africa, and there is reason to be confident that these goals could be met a little later than 2015.

Here are a few numbers:

Data summary for a select few African countries...

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) water supply improvements - summarized by The Guardian (UK)
Country2010 National Water Total Improved (x1000)2010 National Water Total Improved (%)1990 National Water Total Improved (x1000)1990 National Water Total Improved (%)
Nigeria              92,581                                 58                               46,131                              47

Zambia              7,937                                   61                              3,852                                 49

S/Leone            3,225                                   55                              1,520                                 38

Togo                  3,694                                   61                              1,794                                 49

Uganda             23,929                                 72                               7,667                                43

Kenya                23,762                                 59                              10,259                               44

S/Africa             45,792                                  91                              30,411                               83

DRCongo          29,891                                  45                             16,211                               45
Ghana               20,894                                  86                              7,913                                53

In truth, all of the African countries listed did somewhat well, when you compare the levels of access from 20 years before. Countries like Nigeria did reasonably well over the past 20 years, but Ghana and Uganda did way better....relative to their population!

Again, these figures represent the increase in improved access to clean drinking water which has been found to be both correlative and causative of economic growth.

The point I am trying to bring out in this particular case is that the data shows that there is indeed progress. It can also drive more progress as the knowledge of the successes of some African nations would inspire/challenge others to work harder, in my opinion.

By the way, I believe I must also point out a thing or two about the Grand Inga Dam Project (which I will be writing a whole article on at a later date) that seeks to provide much electric power to Africa, and (by extension) enhance economic growth.

I believe there is a need to consider some possible negative effects on the water in the DRC (Democratic Republic Of Congo) where the dam is to be built. Dealing with this now can save us a lot of wasted lives and resources later.
You may stick with this blog to read about that and more. Just scroll down the right side bar (below my photograph) to join the blog list (I don't usually post more than twice a month, so I won't drown you in my posts). 

In the final analysis, I would say Africa is largely on the right path in terms of democracy, trade, and recent economic policies. What we need now is to keep our children alive, healthy, and enlightened, so they can help build our continent into it's true wealthy self, and not the shadow of it that it is today.

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