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African Efforts to Conserve Water Resources

International agencies like the United Nations Development Program say that competition for water resources can lead to war. This is especially true in areas of the world where rivers or water basins cut across national boundaries. In Africa, such areas include the Nile, Niger, Volta and Zambezi basins. In Southern Africa, tensions have arisen over the River Cuito, which runs through Angola, Namibia, and Botswana. But Africans are making progress in water conservation.

Anthony Turton is the head of the Africa Water Issues Research Unit at the University of Pretoria. He told English to Africa reporter William Eagle that the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have made great strides in cooperation. He says, for example, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia have decided to grow all but about 10 percent of their food. That 10 percent – mostly food grains – are imported. He says that’s important because food grains use the most water. On the other hand, he says provisions must be made, including accelerated industrialization, to employ rural workers who are no longer needed as farm labor.

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