The Commodification of Water is the Answer to Scarcity Experts Argue, But What Are the Implications for Africa?

The Commodification of Water is the Answer to Scarcity Experts Argue, But What Are the Implications for Africa?

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According to the United Nations, by 2050, two-thirds of the world is not going to have entry to water. One in three people nonetheless wouldn’t have entry to scrub water and it is estimated that about 842,000 deaths per yr is attributable to unsafe water provide, sanitation and hygiene, with 361,000 deaths of them occurring in kids beneath age 5, largely in low-income nations. All these figures sum as much as one bleak actuality: the world is presently battling a water disaster that many aren’t even conscious.

While humanity faces a drier future as a consequence of local weather change, the water situation in Africa has been dire for years. In many components of the continent, it’s not uncommon for individuals to queue in lengthy strains for clear water or stroll lengthy distances to fetch water to be used of their properties. In reality, the UN estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa, for a lot of the inhabitants (37% in rural areas and 14% in city areas), one spherical journey to gather clear water is 33 minutes on common in rural areas and 25 minutes in city areas.

In most circumstances, the governments of African nations management the availability of water of their areas both straight or not directly by way of varied non-profit utilities managed by the state. Even in conditions the place these are non-public entities, they’re nonetheless closely regulated by authorities companies. Water shortage, not less than within the cities, is commonly the results of the incompetence and corruption of the federal government, the utility firms or each. In response to this incompetence, Africans attempt to supply their very own water provide by digging in wells or drilling boreholes the place potential.

The Commodification of Water is the Answer to Scarcity Experts Claim, But What Are the Implications for Africa?
Photo: Albert González Farran, UNAMID.

All these appear to help the argument for commodification as a result of by all requirements, on this continent, the federal government and “individuals” have didn’t optimize water as a public useful resource. Put in another way, seeing because the dialog on water commodification is already so superior in lots of Western nations (Australia has been buying and selling water rights for many years and water has simply been listed within the California Water Index), “consultants” will argue that monetizing an essential useful resource is what’s finest for Africa.

The fact although is that while you mix the incompetence and corruption of the governments with the greed of individuals in these organizations, the consequence might be disastrous. The average GDP per capita in Africa is $1809. For some context, the world common is $10,300. Asia is $5,635 and Europe is $10,300. Many Africans are already struggling to make ends meet and including the horrors of water commodification to that checklist will solely make a foul scenario worse. If individuals in superior economies like Australia discover it tough to achieve entry to water when commodified, what would be the destiny of Africans? 

Our destiny as Africans might be far worse not simply because extra of us wouldn’t have entry to scrub water, but additionally as a result of we’d be affected by the ripple results of water shortage. In Nigeria, as an example, the Boko Haram insurgency within the North Eastern a part of the nation has been happening for greater than ten years and together with this, the herdsmen-farmers disaster has change into a perennial situation. Experts relay that every one these have a lot to do with the truth that in latest occasions, Lake Chad, answerable for offering freshwater water to each cattle and tens of millions of individuals in Northeastern Nigeria has shrunk by some 90%.

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Collecting water in Africa
Barry Aliman rides her bicycle together with her child to gather water for her household close to Boromo, Burkina Faso. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR.

In Sudan, the Darfur disaster had been linked to the shortage of water, grazing land and depleting water reserves. The disaster has displaced an estimated two million individuals and claimed a whole lot of hundreds of lives. Over within the north, rigidity has been constructing amongst Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over Ethiopia’s plan to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile. The tensions boil right down to water sharing between the 2 nations and as issues maintain escalating, navy motion looms on the horizon. Much of the sabre rattling has been from Egypt with the backing of the US with the latter threatening to reduce aid to Ethiopia if the nation doesn’t compromise on the undertaking.

Now why would the US have an interest within the River Nile and what occurs with water in Africa? Could it have one thing to do with the truth that the average American uses 400 litres of water daily and as such, there are good probabilities that America will face a water disaster by the yr 2050? Or the truth that the Nile produces 49 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water yearly?, Or that 25% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserves lie in Africa’s Great Lakes Region? Well, your guess is pretty much as good as mine.

Speaking at a latest occasion, Vice President Kamala Harris shared that the wars of the longer term might be fought over water. As scary as this would possibly sound, the fact grows extra doubtless with every passing season of drought. What are the geopolitical ramifications of Africa if the continent has the freshwater that the West wants? Even although you could not understand this, a have a look at the water reserves of Africa will present that the United States is properly positioned militarily to struggle these water wars. Now this is likely to be an enormous coincidence, however I don’t suppose the US is way for coincidences in relation to their pursuits. From Iraq to Libya, we have now seen what occurs to poorer nations after they possess assets needed by the world powers.

A lady digs for water from a dry riverbed close to Kataboi village in distant Turkana in northern Kenya. Photo: Marisol Grandon/Department for International Development.

Even the place the poor nations elect to share their assets amicably with the US, there are nonetheless non-public fairness vultures to deal with. And this brings us again to water commodification. According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), one in 10 water entitlements is foreign-owned at 10.4%. Chinese and US buyers every personal 1.9% adopted by the UK proudly owning 1.1%. French billionaire businessman Bollore owns over 15 ports in West Africa. What occurs when he decides he needs the rivers too? What do you suppose would occur when these rich firms, nations and personal billionaires resolve that they wish to commerce the water of the growing world?

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Africa and her assets has since been a battlefield for American and Chinese pursuits. Commodification of water might be an simple device for neo-colonisation. Geographically, it won’t appear cheap that Western firms and nations will attempt to exploit water from Africa. It would appear that different strategies akin to desalination can be higher options. However, as I have written before; a number of occasions, revenue and never options appear to be the driving drive. Plus, if Western states might conquer this geographical problem to construct a thriving slave-business, I don’t doubt that they’ll do one thing comparable when in want of unpolluted water.

For certain, all these are nightmarish situations and when you dub me a worry monger, I sincerely would hope that you’re proper. Make of it what you’ll however I consider the expression ‘there isn’t a smoke with out hearth’ applies right here. If the United States and different Western nations are getting awfully fearful about water, I’m guessing that Africa needs to be too.

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Cover photograph of individuals fetching water in Ethiopia by Isabelle Chauvel.

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