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Half of Africans claim their governments failing them on water provision – Study

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By Staff Reporter

MORE than half the number of Africans say their governments were failing them when it came to one of their top priorities, which is the provision of clean water and sanitation.

This is according to an Afrobarometer survey just released.

Half of survey respondents say they went without enough clean water for home use during the previous year, a particular concern considering the importance of proper hygiene for preventing the spread of coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

“While experiences vary widely across countries, on average more than half of Africans have to leave their compounds to access water, and only one-fourth have access to sewage infrastructure,” Afrobarometer said.

“Rural residents continue to suffer major disadvantages in access to water and sanitation.

“One in five Africans who tried to obtain utility services from government during the previous year report they had to pay a bribe.

In 20 out of 34 countries, majorities say their governments were performing poorly on matters to do with providing water and sanitation services.

“On average across 34 African countries, about half (49%) of citizens went without enough clean water for home use during the year preceding the survey, including 38% who suffered this form of lived poverty,” it said.

“Repeated shortages of clean water decreased slightly between surveys in 2011/2013 (39%) and 2014/2015 (35%) but increased again by 2016/2018, wiping out the earlier gains.”

“More than three-fourths of Gabonese (77%) and Guineans (76%) experienced a shortage of clean water, compared to fewer than one in four respondents in Mauritius (11%), Ghana (22%), and Morocco (23%).”

The situation has worsened significantly over the past six years in 12 of 31 countries surveyed throughout the period, with the most severe declines recorded in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso, where the proportion of citizens who “never” went without enough clean water shrank by 17, 12, and 10 percentage points, respectively.

Improvements were registered in eight countries, led by Guinea (+17 points), Tunisia (12 points), and Malawi (11 points).

While SDG6 targets call for “universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all” by 2030, only a slim majority (54%) of Africans live in areas served by a piped-water system.

This ranges from just 8% of Liberians to more than nine out of 10 Tunisians (91%), São Toméans (91%), and Mauritians (100%).

Liberia (5%) is joined by Tanzania (6%), the Gambia (7%), and Malawi (8%) at the low end, while only Tunisia (75%) and Morocco (69%) boast sewerage access for more than two-thirds of their populations.

Rural residents and poor citizens are far less likely than their urban and better-off counterparts to benefit from water and sanitation infrastructure.

On average, across 34 countries, neither water nor sanitation infrastructure appears to be reaching larger proportions of the population than in Afrobarometer’s 2011/2013 surveys.

More than half (52%) of Africans have to go outside their compound for clean water.

This is true for more than eight out of 10 citizens in Uganda (87%), Niger (84%), Malawi (82%), and Tanzania (81%).