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Water Pollution Problems in Africa and India Essay

Gathering water for African villages is a job placed on the women. They spend countless hours carrying water from distant sources. These sources are often polluted and this continuous effort is an enormous waste of time that could be better used for childcare and education (Wanja). According to J.W.N. Riviere in a publication called “Threats to the Worlds Waters”, women and girls in Africa spend 40 billion person hours a year hauling polluted water. Both natural and man-made pollutants have damaged water quality in Africa and India, which has adversely affected the population’s health and wasted time.

The poorest coverage for water supply and sanitation is in Africa. It is estimated that the current investment is 1.3 billion dollars per year. This amount of coverage is completely inadequate for this continents needs (Wanja). It is estimated by a report called “Year 2000 Progress Report” from the World Health Organization that the funds necessary on a yearly basis for water supply and sanitation is 2.2 billion dollars. This report also stated that over half of the population of Africa currently lacks safe drinking water. It also says that two thirds of the population doesn’t have a sanitary means of human waste disposal.

In Africa, polluted water, water shortages, poor water management, and improper waste disposal all cause major public health problems. According to David Mhango from the University of Malawi, the current level of water resources has partly been due to the rapid population growth and urbanization, along with meteorological and hydrological droughts and rainfall variability, wastage and mismanagement, water supply system problems (inadequate design criteria, leakages, poor maintenance, insufficient boreholes and wells, deforestation, improper cultivation practices and uncontrolled bush fires.

The deterioration of water quality is caused by the high sediment in the rivers. Other problems include highly mineralized and salty aquifers, waste effluent discharges and solid waste dumping in rivers, sanitary problem, agrochemical pollution and microbiological contamination. In Malawi, water scarcity is greatly affected by limited financial resources, poor institutional structure and implementation of environmental regulations, insufficient and unaffordable electricity supply, high unemployment and insufficient public education and awareness (Wanja)Lake Chad is widely regarded as the worlds’ third largest freshwater lake. However, this lake has become an endangered water source because of natural and man-made causes, says Abubakar Jauro, executive secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission. .

Natural causes include drought, desertification, high evapotranspiration rates, and possible river capture. The man-made causes consist of forest over-exploitation, bush burning, and tree cutting. According to Jauro, these natural phenomena cannot be easily predicted and contained, therefore, new systems of water resource management and planning have to be devised through water management and conservation techniques. “Such techniques would include the improvement of the efficiency of current water uses, particularly large scale irrigation projects, as well as water conservation measures as improving soil texture to reduce evaporation, adopting proper operation rule for upstream dams and intra and inter-basin water options within the basin” (Jauro).

The pollutants in the water in Africa cause many diseases throughout the population. The most prevalent are Cholera, Schistosomiasis, Malaria, and Typhoid (Wanja) . There were 106,224 cases of Cholera by July of 2001. The total number of fatalities by July was 228 (Limson). There are about 200 million people infected with Schistosomiasis globally. Half of those people are in Africa (“Schistosomiasis”) . Each year, there are at least 300 million cases of Malaria. Each year there are more than a million deaths; about 90% of these deaths occur in young children in Africa (“Malaria”). Globally, the WHO estimates that there are 16 million cases every year of Typhoid. These cases result in 600,000 deaths worldwide (Easmon). People who are unable to maintain personal hygiene and are forced to drink contaminated water are constantly bothered by disease and death.

There is an urgent need to formulate a management system and make agreements between upstream and downstream users to guarantee minimum flows in rivers during dry seasons to minimize conflicts according to the East and Southern Africa Geological Journal. River flows have declined extremely. However, the rainfall patterns have not changed. “Safe water and adequate sanitation are not only the basis of life and health but are also essential factors which can contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation and human dignity” (UNESCO).

The supply of water in the lower reaches of rivers has been over stretched by high levels of irrigation abstraction in dry seasons and high water demand . More than 60 percent of river flow is also abstracted through high agricultural activities in mountain slopes and nearby savanna areas. Abstractions over 80 percent are illegal (Wanja).

India is a different story. In the 1970’s, the first significant laws concerning the protection of environmental resources in India appeared (Maria). A National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination was created along with the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Three main texts about water pollution have been passed since then. These texts are the Water Act of 1974, which regarded prevention and the control of pollution, the Water Cess Act, which also had to do with the prevention and control of pollution, and the Environment Act of 1986 which dealt with the protection of the environment.

In theory, wastewater discharge is accountable to Indian cities and towns (Maria). According to this theory, the cities would also be collecting and treating all their wastewater. And they should also pay the water cess proportional to their own water usage to the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB). However, these rules are not currently in practice. In 1993, 3.15 percent of the rural population of Africa had access to sanitation services. This number left about 563.6 million people unable to access these same sanitation services (Maria).

In 1998, the CPCB created a list of major polluting industries. These industries include: cement mills, sugar, thermal power plants, distillers, fertilizers, oil refineries, caustic soda protection, petrochemicals, zinc smelting, copper smelting, aluminum smelting, sulpheric acid, integrated iron and steel, and pulp and paper. The CPCB launched a water pollution control program in 1992. They tried to tackle the problem of industrial pollution. They gave medium to large industries a time limit to comply with certain standards of water protection. But, the CPCB ran into a problem with the small scale industries, also known as SSI’s. For these smaller faculties, adaption to the standards of environmental protection is expensive.

The amount of the SSI’s is over .32 million units. Most of these SSS’s are highly polluting. In terms of wastewater, the share of generation by the SSI’s among the major polluting industries was calculated to be about 40 percent (Wanja).

The World Bank has developed a method to assess the levels of pollution in order to deal with the lack of global data on industrial pollution. The method used data from developed countries like the United States and converts them using pollution intensities coefficients. This new method is called the Industrial Pollution Projection System (IPPS). This system merges the data from US-EPA about pollution emissions and the Longitudinal Research Database (LRD) on industrial activity. They then use the merged data to calculate the pollution intensity for different industrial sectors. The level of pollution emission per unit of industrial activity is the pollution intensity of that particular unit. The industrial activity is measured by either the value of production or employment.

There are two risk factors that are related to water contamination. These include the lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene and the agro-industrial pollution. Water born diseases are when the organism responsible for the disease is transmitted through a water source. Water washed diseases occur when the virus is born due to lack of hygiene. Water based diseases are those when the water is the medium for only a part of the diseases life cycle, such as mosquitoes and flies. The diseases through these types are Amoebiases, Cholera, Conjunctivis, Dengue, Diarrhea, Dysentery, Filariases, Giardiasis, Guinea worm, Helicobater Pylori, and Helminthes (Wanja).

To conclude, the water pollution crisis in Africa and India is adversely affecting the population of these two regions. Both industry and the lack thereof has created significant problems in the water and sanitation systems. Diseases are ravaging through the populations. Much can be done to alleviate the issues concerning sanitation and water availability.

,Works Cited

Easmon, Dr. Charlie. “Typhoid Fever and Paratyphoid Fever.” NetDoctor. 4 Jan. 2005. 2 Mar. 2008 .

Limson, Janice. “He Global Cholera Pandemic.” Science in Africa. Sept. 2001. 2 Mar. 2008 .

“Malaria in Africa.” Roll Back Malaria. 2 Mar. 2008 .

Maria, A. “The Costs of Water Pollution in India.” CERNA. 31 Oct. 2003. 21 Feb. 2008 .

“Schistomiosis Control.” The Carter Center. 2 Mar. 2008 .

Wanja. “Africa.” ITT Industries. 20 Feb. 2008 .

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