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Newsletter and Technical Publications
<International Source Book On Environmentally Sound Technologies
for Wastewater and Stormwater Management>

Section 3
Regional Overviews and Information Sources

1. Africa

1.0 Introduction

There has been an increased emphasis on urban environmental management to meet the demands of a rapidly growing urban population for safe water supply, solid waste, wastewater and stormwater management services. The demand for these services has been consistently higher than their supply in Africa; resulting in a huge unmet demand. It is now well known that integrated water management is imperative for the stability and sustainable development of cities. Examples from Africa illustrate clearly that unless adequate water supply and solid waste disposal are ensured, not much progress can be made in the provision of high standard wastewater and stormwater management. Table 1.1 illustrates the point more clearly. It shows that the method used and quantity of water supplied to an area or a house reflects the kind of waste disposal system it receives. A simple water supply system is linked to basic waste removal systems. As water service improves from minimum through basic and intermediate to full service levels it is accompanied by more sophisticated waste disposal services.

Table 1.1: Relationship between water supply and sanitation systems in Africa
Service level Water supply system
(typical water supply, litres/person/day)
Sanitation service
Minimum - Water vendors (5-50)
- Tanker supply (5-50)
- Water kiosks (5-20)
- Public (communal) standpipes or fountains more than 100 m from house (20-50)
- Pit latrines
- Bucket/Pan sanitation
Basic - Public (communal) standpipes less than 100 m from house (20-50) - Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrines
- Aqua-privies
Intermediate - Yard tank (50)
- Yard tap (50-100)
- Aqua-privy with solid free sewer
- Septic tank system
- Intermediate flush toilet
Full  - House connections (>100) - Full flush sewered sanitation

 We cannot assume that the Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade in Africa has solved all of Africa’s water and waste management problems. Evaluation of the achievements at the end of the decade shows that the percentage of water supply coverage increased to 41%. In the urban sector, the coverage increased from 66% in 1980 to 77% in 1990. In the rural sector, however, the coverage increased from 22% to just 26%. In the sanitation sector, the 1990 increases in coverage are from 22 to 34% for the total African population, from 57 to 80% in the urban sector, but a decrease from 20 to 16% in the rural sector. Unfortunately, the situation instead of getting better, has actually become worse in a number of the countries in the region.

Table 1.2: Urban populations in selected African countries
Country Urban Population (%) 1995 Total Population million ,1996 GNP per capita 1996 Remarks/sub-region
Congo 59 2.7 670 Central
Cameroun 45 13.6 610 Central
Central African Rep. 39 3.4  310 Central
Congo, Dem. Rep. 29 45.3 160 Central*
Djibouti** 83 0.59  -- Eastern
Kenya 28 29.1 320 Eastern
Tanzania 24 30.5 170 Eastern
Ethiopia 13 56.7 100 Eastern
Uganda 13 22.0 300 Eastern
Burundi 8 6.6 170 Eastern
Mauritius 41 1.13 3 690 Indian Ocean islands
Madagascar 27 15.2 240 Indian Ocean islands
South Africa 51 42.4 (40.6#) 3 130 Southern
Zambia 43 9.7 370 Southern
Namibia 37 1.58 2 250 Southern
Mozambique 34 16.5 90 Southern
Angola 32 11.5 270 Southern
Zimbabwe  32 11.5 610 Southern Southern
Botswana 31 1.53 3 210 Southern
Malawi 14 11.4 180 Southern
Mauritania 54 2.33 470 Sudano-sahelian
Burkina Faso  27 10.6 230 Sudano-sahelian
Mali 27 11.1 240 Sudano-sahelian
Sudan 25 28.9 -- Sudano-sahelian
Niger 23 9.5 200 Sudano-sahelian
Gabon 50 1.36 4 020 Western
Cote d’Ivoire 44 14.7 660 Western
Senegal 42 8.5 560 Western
Nigeria 40 115.0 240 Western
Ghana 36 18.0 360 Western
Guinea 30 6.9 560 Western
 African Development bank (1998),# Statistics South Africa (1998), World Bank (1996).
    * DRC has been recently admitted into SADC, thus becoming part of southern Africa economically while remaining geographically in Central Africa.
**The sanitation situation in the city state of Djibouti is unique in Africa. It is a best practice example; the problem in showing it off being the incomparably small scale of its operation.

It is convenient and helpful to divide Africa into sub-regions for the purpose of considering wastewater and stormwater management. The six sub-regions are Southern Africa, Sudano-sahelian zone, humid Western Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa, and the Islands of the Indian Ocean. Urban transition is under way in Gabon, South Africa and Mauritania where 50-54 % of the total population lives in urban areas; and in the Congo with 59 % urbanization. Table 1.2 shows the percentage of urbanization for other selected countries. It also shows the total populations and gross national product (GNP) which when used in combination provides at least indicative information about how many people need to be served ultimately as well as the internal resources available for doing so in a sustainable manner.

It is also important to look ahead a couple of decades with regard to urbanization in the sub-region. The number of small towns (population <100,000) is expected to grow from 3,000 in 1990 to 9,000 in 2020. Almost one-third of Africa's urban population will live in such towns. The number of medium towns (population 100,000 - 1 million) will likely reach 660 in number by 2020 and house 30% or about 175 million of the region’s urban inhabitants. Large cities (population >1 million) are expected to be about 70 in number by 2020 and will house some 40% of Africa’s urban population.


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