"More than 300 million people in Africa right now lack safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. Millions of children die each year from water - borne diseases. It is estimated that if nothing is done, by 2020, 400 million Africans will be without access to safe water and 500 million with no hygienic sanitation." (WHO-UNICEF- WSSCC Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report; WHO: Geneva 2000)
Due to rain-fed agriculture, average yields in Africa remain very low. According to Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, "Clearly, unless measures are taken to improve crop yields, particularly that of staples through adoption of more productive technology, it will be very difficult to eradicate hunger in Africa".
During the dry season, the time spent by women and children queuing for water can reach 4 hours per day. "In Uganda 440 children die every week because of sanitation-related diseases; 40.000.000 workdays are lost every year due to sanitation-related diseases. The Ugandan Government spends around US $20 million per year for the treatment of sanitation-related diseases. During the dry season, people are forced to travel several kilometres to look for drinking water." (Water and Sanitation Program Africa Region). Over half the villages in Africa do not have access to potable water. People are forced to buy water at high prices, leaving the poor no choice but to walk long distances daily to fetch water.
"What is needed, along with fresh water, is fresh thinking,…finding practical, appropriate solutions to ensure the reliable and equitable supply of water. Some of these solutions are simple and cheap"
Kofi Annan World Environment Day 2003