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Policy brief outlines necessary actions to ensure safe and clean drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa
A new policy brief recommended how governments, non-state actors and communities in sub-Saharan Africa can contribute to meeting the United Nations’ 2015 Millennium Development Goal on ensuring safe and clean drinking water.
Published by the Africa Initiative (AI) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), "Keeping Water Clean Through Evidence-Based Policy in Northern Uganda" reported that “unlike urban water supplies, which are regularly tested for contamination by national authorities, rural water supplies are rarely tested in sub-Saharan African countries.” Written by Christopher Opio, an AI research grant recipient and professor of ecosystem science and management at the University of Northern British Columbia, the brief reveals that the transportation to and storage of water in households can cause clean water to become contaminated, demonstrating the need for water policies that extend beyond well construction. These findings pose a problem because a lack of clean drinking water “has direct and immediate consequences for quality of life, food security, long-term socio-economic development and the eradication of poverty.”
Opio’s findings are based on field research, specifically on water samples, collected from bore wells and storage containers in rural northern Uganda. Due to common practices, his recommendations are universal to rural Africa, despite the variety in “geology, climate, weather, infrastructure, government policy, land use practices, poverty, levels of education and many other socio-economic conditions that affect the quality and management of drinking water in the region.”
Opio argues that after constructing water wells, there must be ongoing efforts by countries and communities to develop water management policies to ensure clean drinking water. He offers suggestions for three categories of actors throughout Africa:
Actions for national governments:
Actions for NGOs and other non-state actors:
Actions for communities and households: