Every year, on 22 March, the world celebrates World Water Day. It is always an opportunity for the international community to take stock of the various advances in access to drinking water and respect for the environment. “Wastewater” is the theme chosen in 2017 through the campaign: “Why waste water?” In sub-Saharan Africa, where access to drinking water remains a major challenge, is it relevant to think about wastewater?
Still today, more than 319 million Africans in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe drinking water. One in three people consume water from unprotected dug wells, tanker trucks or poorly maintained streams. Moreover, even in the most connected cities, people suffer from water shortages more or less frequently.
This situation is due to several factors: poor land use, deforestation, climate change, increased use of fresh water due to industrial development, lack of water sanitation infrastructure. In addition, the quality of this water is threatened by the increase in pollution, particularly due to urbanization and intensive agriculture. And the social consequences: gender inequalities are accentuated because the provision of water to households remains a duty of women and girls.
What solutions for Africa?
To address the problem of access to drinking water, many initiatives have emerged. Nelson Mandela said, “It seems impossible until we do it.” An overview of these innovations that effectively address access to drinking water.
The pure Water Tech: fountains that transform air moisture into drinking water. Developed by a young entrepreneur of Congolese origin, this technology is already used in the DRC, Congo, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire.
SunWaterlife solar cases: autonomous and mobile water purifiers powered by solar energy. These bags are portable and operational on all contaminated water points (pond, lake, river, well). In Côte d’Ivoire, it was entrepreneurs Thomas Kacou (founder of the platform It’s about my Africa) and Evariste Ahoui (president of the NGO Paro-CI) who wanted to promote this system.
The Safe Water Cube: a stainless steel cube of about 1 cubic meter, combined with a manual water pump, which functions as a fountain that can recycle rainwater, swamps or rivers. In Cameroon, the safe water cube is used at Dschang University.
The waterwheel is a plastic container in the shape of a wheel to facilitate the transport of water. After filling and plugging it, it is enough to tilt it on its edge and then tow it with ropes to make it roll effortlessly. With a capacity of 45 liters and a total weight of 45 kg under full load, it can transport on average two to five times more water than by traditional means.
In the style inspired by literature, the drinking book of The American NGO Water is Life. It’s a filtration device in the form of a book. Once ripped and placed in a rectangular box, each page becomes a filter capable of providing drinking water thanks to a paper covered with nanoparticles that eliminate the bacteria responsible for typhoid, cholera and other diseases. Each book can, through the pages, ensure the purification of the water necessary for a person for four years.
Returning to the theme of 2017, wastewater is indeed an issue for Africa. More than 80% of the wastewater generated returns to the ecosystem without treatment or reuse. Poor wastewater management results from often fatal diseases. For example, 1.8 billion people consume water contaminated with feces, and are at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid, or polio. Unsafe water and lack of sanitation and hygiene claim 842,000 lives each year. Here again, initiatives and innovations make it possible to treat these waters for reuse in the fields of agriculture, electricity networks or even energy.
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