Freshwater availability is one of the most critical factors in development in Africa. Inadequate water supplies are both a cause and an effect of poverty. Invariably those without adequate and affordable water supplies are the poorest in society. The effects of inadequate water supply – disease, time and energy expended in daily collection, high unit costs, etc. – exacerbate the poverty trap. Provision of basic daily water needs is therefore a human right.
Problems with freshwater availability in Africa are further complicated by highly variable levels of rainfall. As a result, large numbers of people are dependent on groundwater as their primary source of freshwater. Providing daily water needs is a burden on households with inadequate services in a number of ways, in addition to the direct health threats. Often water has to be carried over long distances to the house which takes time and effort, a burden borne mainly by women and children.