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Lack of Clean Water in Angola Leads to Opportunity in Delivery Services

Luanda: Water, Water Everywhere but Mostly Unfit to Drink
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Luanda: Water, Water Everywhere but Mostly Unfit to Drink

Angola’s Luanda Province, home of the nation's capital, is surrounded by water. But clean water is not available for many of its residents. While Angolan authorities work to improve access to portable water, delivery services are cashing in.

Luanda Province is surrounded on three sides by water — the Bengo and Cuanza Rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean.

But only half of its 8 million inhabitants have access to clean, running water.

Informal car washers like Herminio Chitembo have no choice but to use untreated sewage water to earn a living. He says they do this business because of hunger.

"They need to make ends meet," Chitembo said. "They are unemployed — that is why they are here."

The United Nations Children’s Agency says nationwide, 44% of Angolans still do not have access to clean water. UNICEF´s deputy representative Patricia Portela De Sousa says a lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are the main causes of infectious diseases.

“It means that many people are in danger," De Sousa said. "Not having access to safe water equals the likelihood of people to get diseases, increases morbidity, and many time(s) mortality."

But the lack of clean water is also an opportunity for hundreds of drinking water delivery boys. They say people need this water because in the neighborhood where they sell it, there is no water whatsoever. There are taps, but they have never had running water.

The Public Water Company of Luanda, EPAL, admits there is a serious water shortage.

EPAL's spokesperson, Vladimir Bernardo, says Luanda´s water company has an average production level of 540,000 cubic meters of water per day, while the daily need is over a million cubic meters.

Luanda’s water company says financial issues have slowed progress, but production projects in the works will eventually improve access to clean water.

Meanwhile, Angolans do their best to get by, using what dirty water they have or the clean water they can sell.