The world’s poorest people spend the most on water, and some of the countries with the worst access to safe water are in Africa, according to a report by U.K.-based international charity, WaterAid.
WaterAid was set up in 1981 as a response to a U.N. initiative. Its report on the state of the world’s water — “Water: At what cost?” — shows that some people in developed countries pay as little as 0.1 percent of a minimum-wage salary on water.
By comparison, someone in Madagascar who relies on a private company’s tanker truck for water could spend as much as 45 percent of daily income on water. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors sometimes spend up to 100 times more on water that people using government-subsidized water.
Worldwide, some 650 million people in the world still do not have access to clean water, according to WaterAid. Government subsidized water sources often are reserved for wealthier communities, leaving the poorest to spend disproportionately.
Almost half of those who lack access to safe water — 300 million plus — are in Africa, NewYorkYimes reported in 2012.
Africa, ironically, has possibly 20 times more water stored naturally underground than the 8,000 cubic miles of water visible in its lakes and rivers, according to two years of research led by the British Geological Survey and financed by the British Department
for International Development.
The findings were published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
This water has the potential to help people out of poverty, produce more food and adapt to climate change. It could also lead to conflict — at least 45 aquifers have been identified in Africa that cross country boundaries, according to NYTimes.
“If there is sufficient investment in investigating groundwater, and water wells are carefully sited, it is usually possible to drill a well that can provide enough safe water for communities at a reasonable cost,” said Alan MacDonald, a hydrogeologist at the British Geological Survey. “Groundwater responds slowly to droughts and floods and, as a result, is much more resilient to climate variability than water supplies drawn from rivers or ponds.”
MacDonald called for sustained investment in water wells and pumps, NewYorkTimes reported.
Check out the 10 countries with the worst access to safe water: 8 of them are in Africa.