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09/12/2012 - 07:00hs

Africa should plan use of water

A World Bank study shows that African cities are those that grow fastest in the world and warns that the water system is not prepared to supply this demand.

São Paulo – Cities in African countries are growing at an average rate of 3.9% a year, the highest in the world, and should double in population by 2030. According to study The Future of Water in African Cities: Why Waste Water?, disclosed last week by the World Bank, the main cities on the continent, which currently host 320 million inhabitants, should grow to 654 million by 2030 and are not prepared for this growth in demand.

The study was elaborated to warn governments, businessmen and populations of these cities about the challenges they face, but also presents cities in which there was planning of the water system and how the projects adopted there may be implemented in other places. It covers reuse of water in Windhoek, in Namibia, the treatment of water used in Arua, in Uganda, and the management of the entire hydric system that was adopted in Nairobi, Kenya.

The study took place based on information collected in 31 African cities that represent the main cities, with over two million inhabitants, the fastest growing cities and the small ones in which the World Bank has water management projects. The cities selected include Dakar, in Senegal; Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, Nairobi, in Kenya; Khartoum, in Sudan; Durban, Johannesburg and Cape City, in South Africa, and Conacri, in Guinea.

The study shows that if no project is executed in most cities, there will be “great pressure” on the already scarce supply of water, which is dropping. According to the study, the growth in population and in the needs of industry and governments will make the demand for water four times greater than it is today in 25 years.

The study states that, on planning the use of water resources, the governments of Africa need to consider the needs they must supply.

These governments should ask themselves, for example, how irrigation of the crops affects water supply in cities, if the blockage of sewers causes floods, if sanitation or the lack thereof affects the water table and if the use of water supplies all demands.

The manager of the water department at the World Bank, Julia Bucknall, stated that many cities in North America and Europe will have to rebuild themselves to supply the growth of their populations and pointed out that the African nations have the opportunity to develop adequate projects “in the first go”

“This requires daring leadership, but we have already seen many African leaders eyeing the opportunities that this new perspective offers and we are pleased to support them,” said Bucknall. The urban development and service manager at the World Bank in Africa, Alexander Bakalian, said that facing the challenge of managing water resources on the continent is fundamental to “unlock” the economic potential of African cities and increase the quality of life of the population.

*Translated by Mark Ament

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