Ethiopia: The water availability per person in Africa is declining. Only 26 out of 53 African countries are currently able to attain the demand of clean drinking water by 2015, according to a survey by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The survey eventually has turned into the Africa Water Atlas. It was launched during Africa Water Week in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
The atlas maps out new solutions and success stories on water resources management from across the continent. It contains the first detailed mapping of how rainwater conservation is improving food security in drought-prone regions. Images also reveal how irrigation projects in Kenya, Senegal and Sudan are helping to improve food security. It also include green clouds of eroded soil and agricultural run-off in Uganda, pollution from oil spills in Nigeria, and a three-kilometre segment of the Nile Delta that has been lost to erosion.
Prepared in cooperation with the African Union, the European Union, the United States Department of State and the United States Geological Survey, the 326-page Atlas gathers information about the role of water in Africa’s economies and development, health, food security, transboundary cooperation, capacity building and environmental change in one comprehensive and accessible volume.
Achim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director, said, “From the dams triggering erosion on the Nile Delta to pollution in the Niger River Basin, the way infrastructure development or uncontrolled oil spills are impacting the lives and livelihoods of people are all brought into sharp relief. But so too are the many attempts towards sustainable management of freshwaters – for example, the controlled releases from dams on Chad’s Logone River that are restoring in part the natural flooding cycles leading to the recovery of economically-important ecosystems. I am sure that the ‘before and after images’ presented in this Africa Water Atlas can also catalyse both greater awareness of the challenges and the choices and decisive, restorative and sustainable action on the ground.”
The Africa Water Atlas also draws attention to Africa’s “water towers.” Most of the water towers, from the Middle Atlas Range in Morocco through to the Lesotho Highlands in southern Africa, are under extreme pressure as a result of deforestation and encroachment.