The Real Cause of Water Scarcity in Africa: Infrastructure

Three tube wells in Senegal, Africa are currently used to supply four water towers in a 400 sq km region that’s home to 35k people. However, the distribution system is severely inadequate and only reaches about 1/3 of the individual communities.
By: Roger L. Newman
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Jm Eagle
Earth Institute
Clean Water
Jeffrey Sachs
Water Scarcity


Dec. 29, 2008 - PRLog -- Three tube wells in Senegal, Africa are currently used to supply four water towers in a 400-square kilometer region that’s home to 35,000 people. However, the existing distribution system is severely inadequate and only reaches about one-third of the individual communities. While many of the villages are relatively close to a tower, because there isn’t a functioning distribution infrastructure most don’t have direct access to the water. Consequently, residents must often travel 10-15 kilometers each day to reach a safe water source.  

To help solve this problem, JM Eagle, a manufacturer of plastic pipe, has embarked on an initiative with the Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Project ( to develop a sustainable system that will transport potable water throughout the region. The water supply network in the Potou Cluster of Senegal will feature over 110 kilometers of high-strength PVC pressure pipe in sizes ranging from 2-inch to 6-inch diameter ( The new pipelines, driven by pressure and gravity, are intended to provide drinking water to individual villages and improve the public health of the whole region.  

Additionally, the distribution infrastructure will transport non-potable water that can be used to irrigate crops. By having this stable water supply – versus relying on erratic rainwater – farmers can produce higher margin foods that will ultimately help move the communities out of poverty. Just as importantly, people will also be more productive because they won’t need to spend an exorbitant amount of time and physical energy gathering water.

Whether you live in Canton, Ohio or Canton, China, water is the vital link to the world’s health and economic advancement. Unfortunately, the world is facing a crisis, not just in the availability of water, but in its management ( In helping to develop the necessary water infrastructure in Senegal, this initiative is fulfilling an immediate need, as well as providing the basis for long-term, sustainable solutions.

The ultimate goal is to build a water infrastructure that will be the link to health and economic prosperity in communities throughout the region ( Interestingly, most developing countries in the world are not water-deficient—they’re infrastructure deficient. In other words, they have water but they don’t have ways to get or transport it. The objective of this initiative is to change that.

Upon completion this extensive network of PVC pipe will service 85% of the region and be the basis for a sustainable infrastructure that drives future health and prosperity. Most of the men, women, and children who live in the region will for the first time have reasonable access to clean water, and the hope is that this work will help drive more positive change throughout the area.

Additionally, the pipe will also be used to remove sewage that’s the cause of so many water-borne diseases, and the reason why many communities in the region are in perpetual state of illness and poverty. In addition to the staggering loss of life, this lack of sanitation cripples efforts to enhance productivity and improve quality of life.  

Finally, this work in Senegal will hopefully motivate others to participate with organizations like the Earth Institute in an effort to find more solutions to solving water scarcity issues in developing nations throughout the world.

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