‘Lets make conscious efforts to collect rainwater to reduce flooding in Africa’ – UNESCO Officer

By
Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Oct 18, GNA –
Rainwater harvesting has been identified as a critical climate adaptation measure
that could also help in addressing the looming water scarcity confronting
Africa in the wake of climate change impact, some experts have said.

Also, the practice
of concretising spaces in homes, have been said to reduce the  volumes of water that sips in to increase the
water table underground, which feed the aquifers and most water sources.

“If people make
conscious efforts to harvest rainwater, we could have  volumes to cater for more than nine billion
people in the world,” Ms Melody Boateng, National Professional Officer for
Science,  UNESCO Ghana Office, said in an
interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, on the side-lines of the Climate
Chance Summit Africa 2019, currently underway in Accra.

Ms Boateng said
apart from the fact that rainwater was a useful source for domestic and
industrial uses, harvesting and storing in mass levels could also help reduce
the volume of flooding, which had become a big issue for many countries,
including African countries.

She was speaking to
the Ghana News Agency, after she addressed a UNESCO side-event, themed:
“Strengthening Coordinated Water and Climate Actions in Africa”, held alongside
the three-day Climate Chance summit, which is ending on Friday.

The second Climate
Chance Summit Africa 2019, had gathered subnational, local governments and
non-state actors in Africa, to discuss and strengthen coalitions in the
implementation of adopted climate actions in Africa.

Experts have
identified the impacts of climate change in Africa as strictly connected to water
as manifested through floods and droughts.

Available data say
water supplies such as aquifers and lakes are shrinking or increasingly being
polluted.

Also, a 2019 study
had indicated that about 90 per cent of all natural disasters were
water-related while over the periods of 20 years, floods and droughts accounted
for 53 per cent of all documented natural disasters, affecting 2.4 billion
people, killing 168,000 and causing $662 billion in damage.

Ms Boateng explained
that the UNECSO research and proposal had been that the other way to getting
water apart from going underground was to harvest rainwater.

“So instead of
letting the water runoff like we are doing these days in Ghana, we have to make
conscious efforts to collect rainwater to aid our adaptation to dwindling water
sources, droughts and even floods”.

A UNESCO 2012 report
have also revealed that by 2050, rising populations in flood-prone lands,
climate change, deforestation, loss of wetlands and rising sea levels, were
expected to increase the number of people vulnerable to flood disaster to two
billion.

Ms Boateng said
African countries, especially, facing water shortages as a result of climate
change have a massive potential in rainwater harvesting as the rainfall
contribution on the continent was more adequate to meet the needs of the
current world population several times over.

She indicated that
UNESCO, in partnership with UN Environment and others, had therefore, designed
an app that would help gather data and aid households and institutions in
countries to be able to measure and set up rainwater harvesting storages or
systems to help collect and store rainfalls.

She said the app had
been designed in English, French and Swahili languages for countries to
download online, and use it to calculate the volume of water that could be
harvested annually and build the appropriate storage facility for it.

Ms Boateng also
expressed the concern that in the name of modernity, people have tended to
build, cemented and concreted their home grounds and thereby, preventing
rainwater to sip down into the water table underground, and allowing rainwater
just to runoff into choked gutters and caused flooding, just at the instance of
a little rainfall.

She urged people not
to concretise all the spaces in “our homes so that, we get enough rainwater to
feed the water table”.    

GNA

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