Every year on March 22, the world celebrates World Water Day in a bid to raise awareness about the importance of water in protecting the sanctity of life and maintaining the health of the planet's ecosystems.Humans need water to survive, as do all the systems we rely on: sanitation, healthcare, education, business, and industry. Globally, 785 million people do not have access to a basic drinking water service. And even for those who have access to water — the very resource on which a healthy, productive life depends — services are often inadequate to meet basic needs.
According to a recent survey carried out by Afrobarometer, more than half of Africans say their governments are failing them when it comes to one of their top priorities — clean water and sanitation services at the top of that list. This is a particular concern considering the importance of proper hygiene for preventing the spread of the novel COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
This year’s World Water Day theme is Climate Change and Water. As temperatures rise and weather patterns become more extreme and less predictable, the availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows, and groundwater are affected and lead to further deterioration of water quality.
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is actively involved in fighting these challenges. In Southern Tanzania, Mkoji Sub-Catchment Area, AWF has been engaging the community and local leaders in the restoration of the degraded catchment area. The main driver of this degradation has been attributed to human activities. The training has emphasized the importance of water conservation and has increased the awareness on proper use and management of natural resources. In collaboration with other stakeholders in the region, AWF has ensured that not only the water quantity improves but also the quality.
The project has already proven to be sustainable as the communities have started sharing these skills and knowledge with neighboring Water Use Associations. They have understood that optimum results can only be seen when the entire region is involved. The research supporting this work was funded by the Barr Foundation.
In Africa, there has been little progress in recent years toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 6, "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all." However, it is important to note that projects such as these Africa can make significant strides towards achieving this goal.
“Our water security in Africa is directly linked to the protection of water catchment areas like the natural forests in most of the African countries. Scientists have emphasized that water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change and now, we are experiencing it,” said AWF CEO Kaddu Sebunya.
As we strive to live in harmony with nature, we must brace ourselves to fight climate change and accept that we must do it collectively. No single sector, government, business, or philanthropist will be able to remedy the impacts of climate change singlehandedly.