Africa must listen to its scientists, says report for World Water Day

19 March 2010

African governments must act upon their scientists' expert advice, say the authors of a report prepared for World Water Day on March 22. The report is being released at the UN World Water Day conference taking place in Nairobi.

The Pan Africa Chemistry Network report Africa's Water Quality calls on political leaders to involve local scientists to ensure that policy is science-based and not pseudo science.

The report is backed by His Excellency Joaquim Chissano, former Mozambique Head of State who will be present in Nairobi for the launch: "With the right policies and commitment, Africa has the chance to match, indeed better the Asian agricultural miracle of the last generation. Better, because we can do so in an environmentally sustainable way, which takes fully into account the fact that 80% of Africans are dependent in some way on agriculture."

"Sustainable supplies of water, its better management and protection are the keys to this success - just as increased agricultural productivity holds the key to spreading prosperity and our other development goals. This report relies upon the collective knowledge of scientists from across Africa, brought together by the Pan Africa Chemistry Network. I have no doubt of the scale of this challenge, but I am also optimistic that with vision and will, we can encourage governments across Africa to adopt the right solutions."

He adds: "We need to increase our food production by half in the next twenty years. How will we achieve this without reducing the amount and quality of the remaining water resources which we will need for drinking and sanitation? Clearly, the provision of sustainable, clean water for our people is of the highest priority."

"The effects of climate change make the challenge of conserving our precious water resources even more difficult. The people of Africa are responsible for less than 5% of the pollution which has changed the planet's atmosphere, yet it is Africa which will feel the worst of its impact in terms of increased flooding and drought. Climate change is a global problem, and it places the onus upon the global community to live up to their commitments to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation."

"We need to make more use of fertilizers to feed nutrient deficient soils, and of modern crop varieties and new farming techniques to improve yields. We can see already what can be achieved with determination, vision and partnership."

The report is published for the UN World Water Day, March 22, and is based upon a three-day Pan Africa Chemistry network conference on sustainable water mounted at the University of Nairobi in August 2009.

Related Link

Water Report

Africa's Water Quality - A Chemical Science Perspective

22 March 2010

Report from the PACN's 'Sustainable Water Conference'

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