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New atlas shows Africa's vulnerable water resources in striking detail

Addis Ababa/Nairobi, 25 November 2010 -The major challenges facing Africa's water resources have been laid out in striking clarity in a new atlas compiled by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Africa Water Atlas uses hundreds of 'before and after' shots, detailed new maps and satellite images from 53 countries to show the problems facing Africa's water supplies, such as the drying of Lake Chad and the erosion of the Nile Delta, as well as new, successful methods of conserving water.

Some of the most arresting images in the Atlas, which was launched during Africa Water Week in Addis Ababa, include green clouds of eroded soil and agricultural run-off in Uganda, pollution from oil spills in Nigeria and a 3km segment of the Nile Delta that has been lost to erosion.

Research carried out for the Atlas shows that the amount of water available per person in Africa is declining. At present, only 26 of the continent's 53 countries are on track to attain the water-provision target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to drinking water by 2015.

Furthermore, only nine African countries (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Rwanda, Botswana, Angola, South Africa and Egypt) are expected to attain the MDG target of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015.

But in addition to these water challenges, the Atlas maps out new solutions and success stories from across the continent. It contains the first detailed mapping of how rainwater conservation is improving food security in drought-prone regions. Images also reveal how irrigation projects in Kenya, Senegal and Sudan are helping to improve food security.

The Atlas, compiled by UNEP at the request of the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) shows how the challenges of water scarcity in Africa are compounded by high population growth, socioeconomic and climate change impacts and, in some cases, policy choices.

Prepared in cooperation with the African Union, European Union, US Department of State and United States Geological Survey, the 326-page atlas gathers information about the role of water in Africa's economies and development, health, food security, transboundary cooperation, capacity building and environmental change in one comprehensive and accessible volume.



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The Africa Water Atlas shows the drying of Lake Chad (above) over a 40-year period


 

 

Further Resources

Africa Water Atlas

Africa Water Week 2010

UNEP Regional Office for Africa

 

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