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Conférence “Water Scarcity in Africa: Issues and Challenges”

03 octobre 2012
Paris, France


Introduction
Clean and ample water is the link to health, economic and agricultural prosperity. It is unsurprising then that the former UN Sec. Gen. Mr. Kofi Annan addressed the water issue by making his famous statement on world water day in 2001: "(that) access to safe water is a fundamental human need, and therefore a basic human right". Yet clean and sufficient supply of water is a luxury that remains out of the reach of many, especially in rural areas of the developing world.  This problem is particularly acute in Africa where of the estimated 800 million who live on the continent, more than 300 million live in water scarce environments.  Moreover, with the existing climate change scenario, between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030, with water scarcity in some arid and semi-arid places likely to displace between 24 million and 700 million people.  Nevertheless, the issue of water in Africa is not as straightforward as a general shortage of this natural resource. Rather water supply varies greatly over space and over time on the continent, giving rise to a number of more complex aspects. For instance, from a political perspective, given that water basins and river networks do not respect national borders, there is room for efficient transboundary water management requiring supra-national cooperation.   From a physical perspective water can be more efficiently allocated over time and space by investments in irrigation schemes and transboundary water supply networks. Moreover, the question of water scarcity in Africa should not be viewed in isolation to the African continent, as locally available water is in part determined by exports of water intensive agricultural goods to the developed world.  Additionally, much of the water infrastructure investment tends come from outside non-governmental and private sources, which in view of limited resources must decide between competing projects.  Nevertheless, research on these questions, though growing, is still in their infancy.

Purpose
This one day workshop intends to bring together experts in industry, academia and government in the area to present and discuss the themes within this context.  In particular, the invited speakers and subsequent discussions will focus on four main issues: (a) the extent of water scarcity in Africa, (b) the role of transboundary management, (c) irrigation investment potential, (d) the role of the developed world in solving the water scarcity problem.

Organizers
Dominique Bureau and Eric Strobl - Ecole Polytechnique

Venue
Institut de Paléontologie Humaine
1 r René Panhard
75013 PARIS

Date
3rd October, 2012

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