"Sustainable use of water is of vital importance for our planet," states the published overview for the 2005 FAO/Netherlands Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems. "It is fundamental for both production functions and well functioning ecosystems. However, unsustainable water use is common. Population growth and increased use of water per capita put an increasing pressure on ... water resources .... The poor are the first to suffer from this. Often the satisfaction of basic food needs is obtained at the expense of the natural environment, which in turn threatens the very basis of future food production. [italics Africare's]"
- Food production suffers from water shortage. Of all the renewable water available in Africa each year, only 4 percent is used ― because most Africans lack the wells, canals, pumps, reservoirs and other irrigation systems that cost money to build but that are needed to make use of the potential water supply.
- Unsafe water is a leading cause of disease. About half of Africa's people lack access to safe drinking water, leaving them vulnerable to water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid and infectious hepatitis.
- Whatever the quality, water is in short supply. Here is a striking comparison of water use per person, per day, for all domestic purposes:
> In rural Africa (average): 4-9 gallons
> In Chicago, Illinois: 265 gallons
Statistics: FAO, UNICEF
(Updated, Dec. 17, 2007)