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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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It is an honor to write the foreword for this book and a particular pleasure to write it on a subject of great importance for Africa, Water and the Development of Africa: Past, Present and Future.

As Professor Sarfoh points out in this book, water is of a protean nature. It can be solid like ice, fluid like river and gasiform like vapor. In between, we find such water-related phenomena as various forms of snow on the ground and clouds in the sky. And although the tiny fraction available for human use is unevenly distributed, water is in fact ubiquitous. Because of its ubiquitous nature, however, it is generally assumed that the earth’s supply of water is unlimited. Recent studies caution against this complacency. A United Nations study predicts that the world’s population will rise to about 7.8 billion by 2025 and to 9.07 billion by 2050. The danger of significant population growth has led researchers, such as Michael Klare (2004, 144), to warn that “the world will soon be using 100 percent of [its] available water supply, probably, by the mid-21st century.” Demand-induced scarcity will also be aggravated by the growing middle class in emerging economies. Middle class lifestyles increase water consumption, tipping the scale of ← XI | XII → the balance toward the demand side. Meanwhile, the available quantity of water has, is and will remain the same. Unawareness of the fragility of water supply, in terms of both quantity and quality, is often described as...

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