Water and Sanitation Inequality in Africa: Challenges for SDG 6

  • Horman ChitongeEmail author
  • Amanda Mokoena
  • Minga Kongo
Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)


Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which focuses on sustainable access to clean water and sanitation, pledges to ensure the ‘availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’ people. Achieving this goal goes beyond the task of making water and sanitation services available to all communities; it entails measures that ensure that there is sustainable use and management of water resources. In this chapter, we examine water and sanitation services in Africa, highlighting the challenges of achieving the two dimensions of SDG 6. Using examples from South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, we identify some of the enduring challenges around providing sustainable access to water and sanitation in Africa. We illustrate that, although different African countries face different challenges in this regard, there is a common challenge around the huge disparities between rural and urban communities.


Water and sanitation services Inequality Rural–urban divide 


  1. African Development Bank (AfDB) (2016) African statistical year book 2016. AfDB, TunisGoogle Scholar
  2. Araral E, Wang Y (2013) Water governance 2.0: a review and second generation research agenda. Water Resour Manag 27:3945–3957CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asingwire N (2008) Shifting paradigms in social policy reform: a case of demand versus supply-driven approaches to safe water supply in Uganda. PhD thesis, Makerere UniversityGoogle Scholar
  4. Begashaw B, Shah A (2017) SDG financing for Africa: key propositions and areas of engagement. Discussion paper for development finance workshop, sustainable development goals centre for Africa conference, 27 January, KigaliGoogle Scholar
  5. Biswas A, Tortajada C (2010) Future water governance: problems and perspectives. Int J Water Resour Dev 26(2):129–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brookes J, Carey C (2015) Goal 6—rising to the challenge: enabling access to clean and safe water globally. UN Chronicle: beyond 2015. Accessed 10 April 2018
  7. Carter CR, Tyrell FS, Howsam P (1999) Impact and sustainability of community water supply and sanitation programmes in developing countries. J Chart Inst Water Environ 13:292–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chitonge H (2011) A decade of implementing water services reform in Zambia: review of outcomes, challenges and opportunities. Water Altern 4(3):1–19Google Scholar
  9. Chitonge H (2014) Cities beyond networks: the status of water services for the urban poor in African Cities. Afr Stud 73(1):58–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). (2002) General comment no. 15. United Nations, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  11. Falkenmark M, Lundqvst J (1989) Macro-scale water scarcity requires micro-scale approaches. Nat Resour Forum 258–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gleick P, Allen L, Cohen MJ, Cooley H, Christian-Smith J, Heberger M, Morrison J, Palaniappan M, Schulte P (2011) The world’s water, 7. Island Press, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gleick P, Allen L, Cohen MJ, Cooley H, Christian-Smith J, Heberger M, Morrison J, Palaniappan M, Schulte P (2013) The world’s water, 8. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  14. Golooba-Mutebi F (2012) In search of the right formula: public, private and community-driven provision of safe water in Rwanda and Uganda. Public Adm Dev 32(4–5):430–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gupta J (2011) An essay on global water governance and research challenges. In: van der Valk MR, Keenen P (eds) Principles of good governance at different water governance levels. UNESCO, Geneva, pp 5–13Google Scholar
  16. Hadden S (2016) Parched prospects II: a revised long-term water supply and demand forecast for South Africa. Africa futures working paper no. 16. Institute for Security Studies, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  17. Holden E, Linnerud K, Banister D (2016) The imperatives of sustainable development. Sustain Dev 25:213–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) (2016) Rural water access and management in southern Africa: does community involvement offer alternatives? Policy brief. HSRC, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  19. Hutton G, Varughese M (2016) The cost of meeting the 2030 sustainable development goal targets on drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene: summary report. World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnson H, South N, Walters R (2016) The commodification and exploitation of fresh water: property, human rights and green criminology. Int J Law Crime Justice 44:146–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Naiga R, Penker M (2015) Challenging pathways to safe water access in rural Uganda: from supply to demand-drive water governance. Int J Commons 9(1):1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rees JR, Penny JW, Hall AW (2008) Water financing and governance, TEC Background papers no, 12. Global Water Partnership, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  23. Republic of South Africa (RSA) (2013) National water strategy, 2nd edn. Government Printer, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  24. Republic of Uganda (ROU) (2016) Review report on Uganda’s readiness for implementation of the 2030 agenda. ROU, KampalaGoogle Scholar
  25. Republic of Zambia (GRZ) (2010) National water policy. GRZ, LusakaGoogle Scholar
  26. United Nations (UN) (2015) Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Resolution adopted at the general assembly on 25 Sept 2015. UN, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. United Nations (2016) Report on SDGs: clean water and sanitation. Accessed 23 April 2018
  28. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2016) Human development report. UNDP, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Vision Africa Regional Network (VAREN) (2015) Realising the human right to water and sanitation—Zambia, Policy brief. VAREN, LusakaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations