One of the areas of the world most ravaged by water shortages and lack of access to adequate sanitation is Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 40 billion hours a year is said to be spent collecting water by women and children in that part of the African continent. This figure equates to the total number of hours a year the entire work force of France put into work.
When you consider the fact that France is the 5th largest economy in the world, the amount of time wasted collecting water in Africa can be put into some financial context.
Apart from the fact that some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are dry with water tables quite deep and difficult to reach; most of the countries in that part of the world lack infrastructure with municipal water unavailable in most parts. To illustrate the absence of the infrastructure we take for granted in Europe, one overseas development worker in Nigeria said “everyone here is their own local government; theyprovide their own water and generate their own electricity”.
The Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs)
Lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation as well as other challenges has plagued Sub-Saharan Africa for generations. The problems are intractable; however, there is evidence suggesting that, though painfully slow, progress is being made. In the review of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by various NGOs and government agencies in 2015; it was noted that progress has been made in reducing the number of people that lack access to clean water.
Just as MDGs was giving a positive assessment of the last 15 years; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which looked into future challenges for the next 15 years painted a pessimistic picture of a world where 600-700 million people still lack access to clean water, and more than a billion lack access to adequate sanitation. A specific SDG goal was created to promote the awareness of the water and sanitation challenges. It is goal number 6: Clean water and sanitation. With the goals and targets created, the MDG was launched in September 2015 by the United Nations secretary general. Governments worldwide and NGOs have started helping affected communities to work towards achieving the various goals that have been set in place.
Small NGOs are Making a Difference Providing Access to Clean Water
There are dozens of overseas development charities working in Africa. Many of them work in the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector. Several of these charities and NGOs include UN agencies. A number of them work in Africa’s most populous nation: Nigeria. Specialist WASH charities working in the continent include WaterAid, water.org and smaller charities such as water for Nigeria and Hope Spring Water. Their beneficiaries tend to be communities that are most at risk for diseases and fatalities associated with lack of access to clean water.
The author of this article spoke to a number of the smaller charities working in Africa. One of the charities is Hope Spring, a young NGO based in England in the United Kingdom. Their core focus is helping developing communities in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa find a sustainable solution to their water, sanitation and hygiene challenges. One of the reasons Hope Spring works in West Africa, according to one of its founding trustees Temi Odurinde, is because of the local knowledge and expertise the charity has in West Africa in the form of personal knowledge of Nigeria and neighbouring countries. The local knowledge meansHope Spring is able to target WASH intervention at the communities that need help the most. He added that their local knowledge and presence also helps them to get projects completed at a far lower cost than other organisations.
Hope Spring has recently completed a water project for the Kongbari community. This community consists of over 100 peopleand is located on the outskirts of the Ilorin, Kwara state in Western Nigeria. The project helped the community overcome severe water shortages that they have been plagued with for generations.