Abstract

The provision of secure water-supplies for the rapidly expanding cities of sub-Saharan Africa experiencing climate-change stress will be one of the great infrastructure and environmental challenges of the next 20–50 years. Most African cities are blessed with usable groundwater, and some with the presence of major aquifers, but urban water utilities will need to take a more proactive approach to groundwater resource management and quality protection if the opportunity of a secure water supply is to be sustainably secured. Among the key policy issues that need more attention are rationalising utility groundwater use, prioritising installation of mains sewerage to reduce groundwater pollution risk, promoting enhanced groundwater recharge to improve resource sustainability, using groundwater in ‘decentralised closed-loop water-service systems’ to meet the demands of new outer urban districts, and implementing a consistent policy response to the ‘boom’ in private self-supply from waterwells. The consequences of non-action in terms of much increased exposure to water-supply crises, potentially hazardous water-supply pollution incidents, and irrational public and private investment in water-supply access are highlighted.

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