Published: Sunday 30 April 2000

-- Plagued by torrential rain and floods, people in Africa are nevertheless faced with an acute shortage of water. According to the African Development Bank, two out of three Africans living in rural areas lack an adequate supply of water while nearly three-quarters have insufficient sanitation.

The situation is predicted to turn worse. Projections by the United Nations Development Programme state that at present more Africans lack adequate water services than in 1990 and Africa is the only continent where poverty is expected to increase in the next 100 years. Civil engineering and sanitation specialist from Ghana, Albert Wright, points out: "It is a vicious circle. Due to the lack of water there are socio-economic problems, which means that there are not enough resources to facilitate the availability of water."

Shortage of water has also led to crop failure and thereby malnourishment. On the other hand, accumulating flood waters have given rise to water-borne diseases. Wright says, "Most of the people are infected by worms and diseases that make them weak. It is said that half the work of a sick peasant goes to producing food to feed the worms that make them sick."

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