Senegal/World Water Forum in Dakar: "Water security for peace and sustainable development

Published on 20/03/2022 | La rédaction



From March 21 to 26, Dakar, Senegal, will host the 9th World Water Forum (WWF), the main international event on freshwater issues. Here is an interview with hydrologist Emma Haziza, founder and president of the Mayane research center for the adaptation of territories to major risks, particularly global warming.

The world water and sanitation community will meet in Senegal, from March 21 to 26, for the 9th edition of the World Water Forum on an evocative theme: "Water security for peace and sustainable development".

The Forum, organized every three years by the World Water Council, is the largest international event on water, bringing together participants from all levels and fields, including the political and academic worlds. Civil society and the private sector are also represented, and in a few years the number of participants has grown from a few hundred to several tens of thousands of representatives.

A first in sub-Saharan Africa

This is the first time that the World Water Forum is being held in a sub-Saharan African country,"Dakar is really the city of extremes," explains Emma Haziza. Since the end of the 1960s, Senegal has been regularly subjected to periods of intense drought. A phenomenon that is becoming more pronounced with global warming.

At the same time, Dakar is also a city that is regularly confronted with major floods, especially in the coastal zone, as water is increasingly infiltrating the soil and in a sustainable manner. "In fact, Dakar is one of the most vulnerable places on the planet," adds the hydrologist. Africa does not lack water, it lacks distribution and sanitation infrastructure, and all regions of the country are affected, both urban and rural.

Cities are subject to what is called an "urban heat island". Every time the temperature rises, water shortages and drought increase, and the cities are left with drinking water supply problems. Rural areas are also affected. " In the countryside, we are observing major soil pollution phenomena, in which there is no longer any organic matter, no longer any microbiota, which leads to energy and food problems,"continues Emma Haziza.

And to conclude: "Given the demographic forecasts of African countries, we realize that in the future, we will have more and more thirsty, but also hungry.

One African out of four does not have access to drinking water

And the population of the African continent is expected to double by 2050.One of the priorities today is to work on improving the quality of water because "when there is a problem of quantity, it is absolutely necessary that the quality is there", explains the water specialist. It is absolutely necessary to find a solution for the management of waste and pollution at the origin of most of the water-related diseases.

Diseases that cause many deaths each year, especially children. According to UNICEF figures, 500 children die every day in sub-Saharan African countries due to lack of safe water and inadequate sanitation. And what is true in Africa is also a reality in India, where we dig deeper and deeper into the water table, and where we reach very high levels of cyanide, which directly contaminates the population.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 70% of the inhabitants are not connected to any network, which means that all the waste goes into the environment, causing immediate and long-term pollution of the natural environment."To understand the water problem is to understand that there is an economic problem, but also an energy, food and healthproblem.

"Those who will have power tomorrow will be those who have water reserves and who will have the means to defend them to conserve them."

Emma Haziza, hydrologist

to franceinfo

One of the geopolitical issues of water is the coordinated management of international water basins. The Senegal River, for example, crosses Guinea, Mali and Senegal, which means "water sharing"! A regular source of conflict and trafficking as well.

Emma Haziza is more measured, however. " Contrary to what one might think, there is very little water warfare, strictly speaking," she says.The hydrologist believes that conflicts are mostly resolved through cooperation between different countries, the problem is that this cooperation always benefits the strongest!And according to her, the strongest is not necessarily the one who has water on its territory, but the one who has the military reserves to intimidate the other.


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