The Maghreb

The Maghreb – means “place of sunset” or “western” in Arabic.

The term loosely applies to those nations north of the Sahara Desert with strong ethnic connections to the Middle East.

The focused region of The Africa Oasis Project pinpoints those countries below the Sahara Desert and does not include Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya or Egypt.

West Africa

Like many other regions of Africa and the world, West African children suffer from very preventable diseases…if only adequate, clean water were available. Take the problem of trachoma for example.

Trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world. Trachoma, or “rough eye” impacts some 8 million people worldwide with impaired vision. An important part of prevention is the simple matter of face washing. Yet for many in such water-critical areas as Niger, Mali and other West African locales, the quart-per-day required for this simple action is frequently hard to secure.

The principle sources of water in West Africa countries are 1) rain, 2) surface water, and 3) groundwater. Most recently, changes in climate, the issue of deforestation, and persistent drought have seriously affected these sources in most parts of the subregion.

AOP personnel are actively looking for opportunities to intervene in effective ways to combat water-related problems in West Africa.

East Africa

In East African nations, as in other areas as well, women and girls are disproportionately impacted by the problem of inaccessible water.

Long walks and heavy labor are required to provide daily water supplies. The burden for this solution is disproportionately placed on women and girls. Hours spent in this activity rob many young girls of classroom time and an education. A well, a pump, simple water collecting systems – any of these interventions can alleviate the problem and see the girls return to the classroom. Finding the most appropriate, sustainable and impacting intervention is a simple matter of systematic assessment and planning.

AOP has its longest track record in East Africa. The need is vast. Our efforts continue.

Central Africa

Clean consumable water is rare in most of Africa, even though several major rivers cross the continent and some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world are found there.

Water is a crisis or crisis creator in even the wetter, more humid tropical and sub-tropical regions of Central Africa as well.

  1. It is estimated that up to 60 % of the population of Equatorial Guinea is lacking safe water.

  2. Central African Republic normally experiences abundant rainfalls – even flooding at times. Water that is clean and safe for consumption is a precious resource for most people. Many suffer from water-borne diseases. It is a common sight to see children with distended bellies due to parasites from drinking unclean water.

  3. The mighty Congo river and hundreds of smaller rivers slice the lush country side of the Democratic Republic of Congo. DRC is a land of plentiful water. Yet it is estimated that 20% of children in DRC dies before reaching five years of age. A full 10 % die from waterborne diseases. Less than half of the Congolese population has access to safe drinking water.

Interventions here may likely focus on water sanitation, hygiene training, collection methods etc. more so than on wells. AOP is about more than wells…it is about valid interventions to meet needs for safe, accessible water….whatever needs to be done.

Southern Africa

The famous Zambezi River, and Victoria Falls, listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, provide Southern Africa with a water landmark of epic proportions!

In spite of – and sometimes because of – the Zambezi’s impressive flow, Southern Africa carries a significant share of Africa’s water crisis. Recently heavy flooding due to relentless rains have complicated this land of chronic famine. No water, or too much water equally thrust major population blocks in the river basins into jeopardy circumstances.

Human population growth, and the accompanying increase in demand for fresh water, are leading unavoidably to what many are calling a world water crisis. The growing demand and competition is nowhere exemplified more graphically than in the Southern African region encompassing 12 countries, including Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

AOP has, at times been mistakenly considered a well-drilling project. That is, however, only one component of our overall strategy. AOP’s priority is to study and assess each situation in order to arrive at the most valuable and effective intervention possible. A well may not be the best solution. It could be rainwater collection, simple sanitation training, improved drainage, etc. etc.

AOP projects focus on providing clean water for communities in need.

  1. AOP projects focus on communities with evident felt need for water. Providing or improving safe water availability should emerge as a priority in the community in the initial contacts and the assessment process.

  2. Projects should assure free and open access by all community members to the safe water resulting from the project.

  3. Careful assessment of the need and best practice solutions will help assure the success and sustainability of every project.

  4. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation systems and plans will be included in project planning in order to insure adequate outcome results for the involved community.

  5. Preferably each project should include a training component on pertinent issues impacting safe and available water and broader sanitation issues.

70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water.

97% of the earth’s water is in the oceans.

Only 3% of the total global water is fresh. It is not evenly distributed around the world.

Much of the fresh water is in aquifers, deep below the earth’s surface – more than 800 meters.

Africa has about 9% of the world’s water resources but 13% of the world’s population. This means that the amount of water for each person is well below the world average and often at great distance from the people. Africa’s women and children are often obligated to use large segments of their time and energy daily in hauling water.

Predictions indicate that over the next 20 years, 30% more water will be needed just for farming. Twenty-five African nations will suffer water shortages.

When there is too little water, drought occurs. Drought is the third most common disaster in Africa.

Drought contributes to a) degrading the environment (deforestation, loss of land cover, soil erosion, overgrazing, etc.), b) food shortages due to crop failure, death of animals…leading to hunger and malnutrition and c) declining health and sanitation…an increase in sickness and disease as a result. Africa has the lowest coverage of water supply and sanitation services in the world.

The question that some consider a cliché comes into focus under such circumstances: What Would Jesus Do? It is a firm principle of AOP that the compassionate Christ would search for water to alleviate thirst. That is our pure motive.