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Righting the Injustice of Africa's Water Crisis

Africa did not cause the climate crisis, but African leaders are taking the initiative in developing strategies for coping with it, including its impact on the continent's water security and sanitation. The question is whether the countries most responsible for the crisis will put their money where their mouth is.

JOHANNESBURG – Imagine that a crisis emerges in your home, workplace, or community. You neither created it nor benefited from it. And yet, you are bearing the brunt of the consequences, while those who did create and benefit from it continue to make the problem worse. For Africa, such an egregious injustice has become all too real.

Though Africa contributes only 4% of global greenhouse-gas emissions annually, it is among the regions most vulnerable to climate change and climate variability. Already, climate disruptions and crises are severely undermining human well-being and economic development, and water-related disruptions pose some of the most serious risks.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2021 report confirmed that global warming intensifies and accelerates the water cycle. Climate change will not only continue to fuel ruinous rainfall and flooding but will also cause more frequent and extreme drought in many areas. This means reduced access to drinking water in a region where one in every three people already face water scarcity daily. It also means more hunger, malnutrition, and even famine.

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