Part 2: Issues in Sustainable Development



Water is a scare resource in much of the African continent. Competing water uses include drinking water and sanitation, agriculture, and industry. Water pollution is a major problem that limits available resources still further. Since water is a publicly owned resource, fair allocation demands cooperation among the competing groups.

Main Idea

Water management

Key Concepts

      • Depletion of freshwater resources
      • Water pollution
      • Water management


Knowledge of

      • water availability
      • small scale water supply and irrigation

Understanding of

      • the connection between water and health
      • water security
      • water management and governance

Ability to

      • describe a traditional means of water capture
      • explain different methods of providing safe water
      • explain small scale irrigation approaches

Core Readings

  1. Africa Environment Outlook 2, Chapter 4: Freshwater, pages 119-132
    Good overview of freshwater in Africa; key concepts of water governance as a central issue in water resources (14 pages)
  2. Access to Safe Water and Sanitation
    Map and statistics on access to clean water in Africa (2 pages)
  3. Water and Food Security
    Explains the gains from irrigation, water availability in different regions, and types of small-scale irrigation projects that can make a difference (2 pages)

Sustainability Strategies

  1. Water Betters Lives in Tanzania
    Overview of a project for providing piped water to a rural village (3 pages)
  2. Community-based Natural Resource Management (6 pages)

Supplemental Readings

  1. Global Water Resources
    Summary of global water statistics and issues (8 pages)
  2. Women and Water Management
    Discussion of the role of women in managing water resources (26 pages)
  3. Surface Water
    Selection includes summary of sources of groundwater pollution (2 pages)
  4. Gender Dimensions of Environmental Change
    Women’s role in collecting and managing water (8 pages)
  5. Water Pollution
    Statistics and discussion of environmental effects of water pollution, including marine pollution, based on GIWA regional reports (17 pages)
  6. Freshwater Shortage
    Statistics and exploration of root causes for freshwater shortage based on GIWA regional reports, includes economically framed discussion of demand management (17 pages)
  7. Transboundary Water Management
    Notes existence and importance of river basin organizations (2 pages)
  8. Liquidity Crisis in Africa: “Equity-Led Policies for Sustainable Development in Africa,” pages 5-13
    Need for better water management in Africa, including fair shares for poor majority who currently pay highest, for the environment, and for countries and communities (8 pages)
  9. Historical Water Rights
    Discusses water use rights under Roman, common law, and Napoleonic legal systems, concluding that the system which developed in Europe was poorly adapted for use in arid colonies (5 pages)
  10. Water from One Planet, Many Peoples
    Two pages of text relate to over-exploitation of water resources for irrigation and dumping, while satellite images show consequences of dams and large scale irrigation projects (37 pages, almost all images)

Assignment Questions

  1. Interconnections: Water & Health: Why is access to clean water important for improving human health in Africa?
  2. Interconnections: Water & Agriculture: Discuss irrigation’s role in increasing agricultural productivity in Africa.
  3. Water: List some of the important challenges for effective water management in Africa.