What are the causes and consequences of water pollution in Africa?

Analysis: Causes and Consequnces of Water Pollution in Africa

Human activity is a major contributor to water contamination in Africa. It cannot be denied.

The species that is polluting freshwater sources is the very species that is so reliant on safe and clean water. What, though, is water pollution? Water pollution, broadly speaking, is the process of foreign contaminants entering a body of water (either above or below ground), making the water unusable or harmful to the ecosystem in which it is located.

Water contamination has devastating consequences on vulnerable individuals and communities as well as plant and animal life.

Although it is necessary for life, clean water is a limited resource in Africa. One of the greatest environmental challenges to Africa today is the causes of water pollution and its impact on people, vegetation, and species.


Sadly, water pollution is getting worse throughout Africa:

There is evidence that the water in Kenya's dams, rivers, and lakes is contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

Pollution is suffocating the waters of Kenya's Lake Victoria and Lake Nakuru. Agricultural pollution, untreated sewage, plastic, and nutrient-rich fish excrement are the culprits behind this.

The UmBilo river ecosystem in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, is under threat from water pollution. The river's native plant and animal species are being wiped out, and the pollution is even changing the color of the water itself.

Waste plastics cause water pollution

Africa's plastic pollution problem is a political one. Thousands of tons of plastic debris are transported annually from the Global North into nations like South Africa and Kenya, where the majority of it ends up in delicate river and dam ecosystems, causing water contamination. Water contamination is also a hazard to Africa's beaches. Kenyan authorities are battling a sharp increase in illegal plastic waste dumping into the Indian Ocean, a problem made worse by the massive amounts of plastic-polluted water that are dumped into the ocean via rivers and tributaries that are overflowing with plastic bottles and other single-use plastic items.


Water contamination caused by mining

Hydraulic fracturing, sometimes known as fracking, is a mining procedure that requires a lot of water and is one of the main contributors to water contamination. To liberate naturally occurring oil and gas for energy, water contaminated with chemical contaminants, sand, and other materials is pumped under high pressure into deep underground wells. This effluent is kept in tanks, where it frequently leaks out and contaminates groundwater, rendering it unsafe for consumption. In some cases, the contaminated water is just drilled deeper into the rock, where it causes more damage.

Water contamination caused by agriculture

In developing nations, large-scale agrochemical-intensive farming is a major source of water contamination. Farmers are under pressure to produce crops more quickly and are veering away from organic, sustainable farming methods as the global demand for food rises dramatically. They are endangering their own health as well as the health of their communities by contaminating rivers, streams, and water tables with pesticides and excess nitrogen from fertilizers. There is proof that intensive dairy farming, in particular, contributes to water pollution by releasing an excessive amount of nitrogen into groundwater levels and water bodies through the use of synthetic, nitrogen-rich fertilizers.

Because they produce an excessive amount of nitrogen-rich excrement that pollutes the water, farm animals that eat nitrogen-rich vegetation exacerbate the issue. Children and infants, who depend on clean water for good growth, are most severely affected by the toxic consequences of this dirty water. Traditional, eco-friendly farming methods like contour and furrow trenches stop runoff of water from agricultural activities into nearby rivers, where too much fertilizer and chemicals create water pollution.

How and why is water in Africa being polluted?

In  Africa, where human activity like farming, mining, and deforestation, along with ineffective infrastructure, corrupt governments, and foreign businesses operating without any responsibility, contributes to water pollution, it is an enormous problem that requires urgent attention. Africa's population is growing quickly, and the continent's deteriorating infrastructure is straining to meet the demand created by growing metropolitan centers. As long as people lack access to other methods of disposal, waste will inevitably be dumped into surrounding bodies of water, causing water contamination.

The Congo Basin and Cameroon's deforestation of the continent's priceless green lungs are significant contributors to water pollution. Deforestation increases soil erosion because of the removal of natural vegetation, and silt and other pollutants wind up in rivers and streams where they pollute the water and lower its quality for both animals and people who live in these places.