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Preserve water sources - report

afrol News, 19 November - Africa has been urged to adopt urgent measures to preserve the continents fresh water resources as climate change threatens water sources.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) latest report, 'Fresh Water Under Threat, Vulnerability Assessment of Freshwater Resources to Environmental Change, Africa', urgent adaptation measures to combat scientific and technical deficiencies, poor governance and management structures, pollution of water resources, and industrialisation and urbanisation are critical to reverse the situation.

The report illustrates that Africa's water resources are already facing serious risk, with the situation expected to worsen in the future. The report cites the Sanaga River basin in Cameroon, where there are competing needs between water for hydropower generation and irrigation, saying the basin has already been subjected to severe drought.

UNEP environmental impact assessment expert Henry Ndede, said that Africa must address its water deficiency by investing in scientific tools for forecasting and gauging water levels.

He also stated that innovations are required to predict future weather patterns and to take into account land gradients when constructing rainwater impounding dams for irrigation.

According to Mr Ndede, the report was a wake-up call for African governments, to lead the way in helping urban centres cope up with the expected population increase as rural areas become uninhabitable because of climate change-related events such as flooding and droughts.

One of the report authors, Alfred Opere, said the recent drought in Kenya had left many livestock dead, causing food insecurity and declining water levels in lakes, adding that parts of Africa will suffer prolonged droughts by 2025, leading to a lack of water for domestic consumption and agriculture, while other areas will experience flooding.

"If appropriate adaptation measures are not taken, we will witness severe food insecurity, problems of land degradation in search of elusive livelihoods, underdevelopment as water touches every aspect of development and an upsurge in the disease burden," he said.

He called on African governments to set up centres of excellence dedicated to climate-change research. “Time to act is now as we are yet to see the worst of scenarios resulting from climate change," he said.

Climate change has left a number of Africa states devastated by either heavy floods or severe drought in recent years.

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