What Causes Water Pollution in Africa?

Every hour, an estimated 115 people die in Africa from diseases linked to improper hygiene, poor sanitation, and contaminated water, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

Main Causes of Water Pollution in Africa

1. Agriculture

Agriculture plays a major role in water contamination. Farming results in the release of large quantities of organic matter, agrochemicals, sediments, and drug residues. The use of fertilizers and pesticides commonly can also contribute to water contamination.

2. Mining

The mining of coal, gold, and other natural resources has had a negative impact on air, soil, and water. Mining companies dump waste without considering the health problems it causes.



In West Africa, deforestation in the rainforests have reduced topical rainfall. It also causes soil erosion, forcing more soil into nearby bodies of water. This has a negative impact on humans who face water scarcity and must consume water that is unfit for drinking.

4. Urbanization

Rapid urbanization also contributes to the deterioration of Africa’s water quality. The water infrastructure in urban areas has not kept up with population growth. A lack of financial resources from local government is also a major factor in water deterioration.

5. Poor Sanitation

Sanitation issues are one of the leading causes of disease transmission in Africa, especially with conditions like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid. According to the World Health Organization, more than 842,000 deaths occur annually from people in lower- and middle-income families from a lack of clean water and poor sanitation.

Effects of Water Pollution on Africa

There are many communities throughout Africa that do not have access to safe, clean water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene. Viruses, bacteria, parasites, and pollution contaminate freshwater sources. Water scarcity and poor sanitation practices together lead to illnesses, diseases, and deaths.

As the population continues to grow, water scarcity and pollution will continue to get worse.

A lack of clean water also affects the African people in other ways. Many families have to travel farther to obtain clean drinking water. The women and girls in the family often carry the heavy buckets of water back to their homes. Younger girls often drop out of school to help their families, missing out on education. These journeys to collect water are also dangerous and sometimes result in physical or sexual abuse of girls and women.

Source: What Causes Water Pollution in Africa?
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