Water scarcity and the ongoing crisis in Africa

The development crisis and the need to formulating appropriate measures in securing water and food security as one of the millenium development goals, has never been more pronounced than in Africa. Inter boundary management between different countries sharing water borders have to resolve conflicts and construct suitable plans to accommodate the ever growing stress on an extremely finite resource. The Nile and the Niger basins, being very large catchments have surrounding countries all in dire need of water and there is increasing stress on the already diminishing reserve.

“The main conflicts in Africa during the next 25 years could be over that most precious of commodities – water, as countries fight for access to scarce resources.

Potential ‘water wars’ are likely in areas where rivers and lakes are shared by more than one country, according to a UN Development Programme (UNDP) report.

The possible flashpoints are the Nile, Niger, Volta and Zambezi basins.

The report predicts population growth and economic development will lead to nearly one in two people in Africa living in countries facing water scarcity or what is known as ‘water stress’ within 25 years.

Water scarcity is defined as less than 1,000 cu.m of water available per person per year, while water stress means less than 1,500 cu.m of water is available per person per year.

The report says that by 2025, 12 more African countries will join the 13 that already suffer from water stress or water scarcity

Nile battle

The influential head of environmental research institute Worldwatch, Lester Brown, believes that water scarcity is now “the single biggest threat to global food security”.

More and more people need scarce supplies of drinking water

More and more people need scarce supplies of drinking water

He says that if the combined population of the three countries the Nile runs through – Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt – rises as predicted from 150 million today to 340 million in 2050 then there could be intense competition for increasingly limited water resources.

“There is already little water left when the Nile reaches the sea,” he says.

And he predicts that Egypt is unlikely to take kindly to losing out to Ethiopia – a country with one-tenth of its income.

Indeed water is already a catalyst for regional conflict.

In the dying years of the previous Ethiopian government, tensions with Egypt increased rapidly when the rulers in Addis Ababa pondered the construction of dams on the Nile.

There is also another potential water war in Southern Africa involving Botswana, Namibia and Angola.

The River Cuito which begins in Angola before heading through the Caprivi strip in Namibia and ending in the marshlands of the Okavango Delta in Botswana runs through an area that is no stranger to tensions and conflict between neighbours.

Grain imports

Fresh water is also becoming increasingly unusable because of pollution.

But given increasing populations Worldwatch identifies one way of easing demands for water – importing grain.

Agriculture is by far the biggest user of water in Africa accounting for 88% of water use.

It takes about 1,000 tonnes of water to produce every tonne of grain.

Worldwatch says that already the water needed to produce the annual combined imports of grain by the Middle East and North Africa is equivalent to the annual flow of the Nile.

Importing grain is much easier than importing water, but for poorer countries in Africa it may not be an option.

For this reason the UN proposes monitoring worldwide reserves of drinking water and establishing agreements for the use of water.”

By BBC News Online’s RussellSmith sourced at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/454926.stm


Textual Analysis of Nelson Mandela 100 day speech


Nelson Mandela’s 100 Day Speech to Parliament

It emphasises development by first reconciling the nation and improving its well-being through eradicating poverty, construction of RDP houses, providing good health care. It also emphasises that the new government of change which is made up of different parties should work together to better the lives of South Africans irrespective of their gender, race and culture. It also talks about implementation of programmes such as Reconstruction and Development Programme,  Socio-economic programmes and  An educational, scientific and cultural programme and all these programmes should reflect a non-racial and democratic principles.





10 Interesting Backstories About How These African Countries Got Their Names

Interesting and informative piece in the Atlanta BlackStar yesterday (March 31 st).  How did the following get their names?

Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Togo, Seychelles, Gabon, Mauritius and Mozambique.

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Pray the devil back to hell

I don’t often watch documentaries but this one had me cringing the whole way through. The documentary ‘Pray the devil back to hell’ is about civil unrest in West Africa, particularly Liberia. It is said that civil unrest started because  the people of Liberia wanted power, but according to the documentary directed by Gini Reticker and produced by Abigail Disney, that is only half the reason. People truly want wealth and power. Both of which can be achieved by obtaining resources at a cheap cost and selling it at a mark up price. The Lurd warlords wanted to over throw the Liberian government at the time Charles Taylor and this marks the the beginning of civil unrest which leads to the peace movement constructed by Liberian women peace activists: Leymah Gbowee, Asatu Bah Kenneth, Vaiba Flomo, Janet Bryant-Johnson, Etty Weah and Etweda “Sugars” Cooper, who after years of civil war and mayhem, came together to form a pressure group. This group had forced the warlords and Charles Taylor into a peace agreement. If it weren’t for these amazing women of Liberia civil unrest could have been much worse .

Negative perceptions slow Africa’s development

This article from the Guardian synthesizes some negative perceptions of Africa and the resulting negative implications that these perceptions can have for people. It is interesting, concise and relevant to the course. There were subtle indicators of the kind of harmful mindsets noted in this article in the documentary, “Blood Diamond”, and indeed they are prevalent in other media too.

This article also deals with the aid debate; it critiques the idea that all of Africa is in trouble and needs aid, which is perpetuated by these negative perceptions. It states too that some Africans are complicit in the spread of this kind of ideology.

Here’s the link: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/dec/10/africa-postcolonial-perceptions


Rwanda: Genocide and Societal Collapse

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Ishmael Beah reads an excerpt from “A Long Way Gone”

If it’s possible that reading the book didn’t conjure up enough troubling thoughts, here is a short clip of Ishmael Beah reading an except from his book. It becomes personal.  And very real. The child soldiers caught up in war step out of the statistics and become real people who do inexplicable things as a result of trauma when you realise that Ishmeal Beah is representative of them. This book hits home when the author reads an except from it; this well dressed and well spoken young man once shouldered an AK-47 and was part of horrific violence, and he was one of many.

Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3OcYVQ9o3o