Water safety is a huge problem for Africa’s poor: half of rural households and 20 percent of urban ones don’t have access to clean water, a total of 300 million people. Most African governments have programs to help the poor get access to clean water because they recognize that without basic necessities, economic growth is impossible. Countries such as Senegal, Gabon, Uganda, and South Africa are investing in clean water with both public and private funds. In 2001, African leaders agreed on a development blueprint called NEPAD, which includes clean water as one of its goals.
Despite government and other efforts, providing water can be difficult. Some countries are having problems because of a lack of money and skilled personnel. Others are dealing with pollution or water contamination. Some, like Egypt, simply don’t have the water resources, despite their spending huge amounts of money on water projects. Other countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, have plenty of water but political instability means it is often contaminated or isn’t getting to the poor. It’s hard to generalize about such a complicated issue over an entire continent.
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