Africa has the resources required to improve peoples’ lives, but any future prosperity will be unimaginable without constant access to clean water. Sivan Ya’ari, Founder & CEO of Innovation: Africa, discusses the importance of water in the changing climate and how a water-energy nexus through solar pumping systems can accelerate access to clean water, as well as reliable energy.
Today, a change in climate is primarily felt through a change in water. As the earth gets hotter, hungrier, and more crowded, the collective demand for water has reached a crisis point. Unicef predicts that by 2040, if drastic measures aren’t taken, almost 1 in 4 children will live in areas of extremely high water stress. As the numbers currently stand, a staggering 784 million people live without basic access to clean water, roughly 1 in 10 people on earth.
Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, is experiencing the slowest rate of progress toward water security in the world. Aside from the detrimental impact on health this lack of water carries, it is also a crucial input for agricultural production and food security. Agriculture is at the heart of Africa’s economy and has an extensive social footprint. It accounts for 14% of the total GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the majority of employment for the continent’s population.
As governments feel the pressure to ramp up their climate change strategies, renewable energy should be our immediate answer to Africa’s water crisis and it is in the form of solar power.
It takes energy to generate water. It takes water to generate energy. The water-energy nexus is the virtually inextricable link between the two. The complimentary relationship between these two elements should mean that the issues most African countries face in lacking one or the other should not be the reality in today’s world.
The nexus approach ensures essential efforts are made to facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for establishing a reliable supply of power and water, which will foster sustainable development, industrialisation, poverty reduction, economic growth, and improved quality of life for Africans. In terms of farming, when local grids are unreliable or in some cases non-existent, solar-powered and efficient drip-irrigation, for example, is increasing farm-level incomes by five to 10 times, improv