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Water and the Development of Africa

Past, Present, and Future

Kwadwo A. Sarfoh

This book examines Africa’s water resources from pre-historic times to the present, illustrating how Africans and their rulers formulated water management systems to support water-sector activities including irrigation, livestock raising, fishing, river transportation, industry, and the generation of hydropower so crucial to the continent’s socio-economic transformation of its communities.
The recent increasing demand for water by Africa’s growing population makes it clear that new water management strategies are necessary for the continent to benefit from sustained development. In the face of ongoing water shortages caused by reduced rainfall, frequent droughts, and global warming, new political and economic arrangements are essential to ensure cooperative use of available water resources. Kwadwo A. Sarfoh argues that such arrangements will inevitably bring peace to countries that share river basins.
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Chapter III Who Controls Africa’s Water Resources?


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Chapter III

Who Controls Africa’s Water Resources?

The question of who controlled water in ancient African societies has been the subject of scholarly discussion for centuries. This discussion would not have been necessary according to the prevailing view at the time, which held that water is an abundant and inexhaustible natural substance requiring no monitoring or control. This view, however, is not borne out by fact.

A close study of annual rainfall patterns reveals that precipitation on the African continent is low and variable, with very uneven distribution. Complicating this distribution is the flow pattern of major rivers, such as the Niger and Congo, away from those regions most in need of water for productive activities. In addition to these critical factors, population growth in regions with limited water has created conditions which further underline the need to control water resources in Africa in order to meet demand. Africa is in fact in ever increasing need of answers to questions pertaining to water control, water rights and unimpeded access to water. ← 29 | 30 →

It goes without saying that the need to control water is greater in the arid and semi-arid regions of Africa, where water is indeed a precious commodity critical for socioeconomic development. Control of water in these regions is needed both to curtail over-exploitation of water and to guard against conflicts over access and disagreements as to how much water is to be allocated to...

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