The Stream, March 23, 2022: Can African Nations Meet WASH Goals?

In Ankadindambo, drinking water has stopped supplying water. A mother has been in line
since 4am to get water from a temporary water tank, refilled every 2 days.
Location : Ankadidambo, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Credit : © Tsilavo Rapiera – /


  • Africa is not on track to meet global goals for water access, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Islamist militants are attacking water infrastructure in Burkina Faso.
  • A new report concludes the United States has not met the goals of decades old legislation meant to keep waterways clean.
  • More than half of the United States will remain in some stage of drought through the spring, a recent projection said.

Thailand will not move forward with a Chinese plan to open a stretch of the Mekong River to large cargo ships.

“Wins like this don’t happen often in the Mekong.” – Brian Eyler, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank. Thailand’s decision to cancel a project to dredge and open a rocky stretch of the Mekong River for larger cargo ships is being heralded by rights groups and researchers. Rights groups and local communities have long opposed the project, which was proposed by Beijing and endorsed by Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in 2000, expressing fears that it would destroy critical fish habitats and threaten their way of life.

In Recent Water News

Unsafe Yield – Severe drought, dead well, and political division push Arizona steadily closer to water supply peril. Read the second of three reports on Arizona’s water reckoning.


Perspective: IPCC Paints a Bleak Picture for Water—But There is a Way Forward – Businesses play a key role in addressing the world’s water challenges, Kirsten James writes. This article was republished by Circle of Blue from Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.


HotSpots H2O: In Besieged Ukraine, Water Again a Locus of Conflict – Water has long been a source of geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Three weeks into the Russian invasion, the damage is mounting.


What’s Up With Water – March 22, 2022 – This week’s episode of What’s Up With Water covers a major settlement for Canada’s Indigenous communities and persisting drought in the Horn of Africa. Plus, Circle of Blue reports on a database that documents the rising number of violent clashes involving water.

Africa Not on Track to Meet Global WASH Goals

According to a new report from UNICEF and WHO, African nations will need to dramatically accelerate progress in order to meet targets for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The organizations say more than two billion people across the continent lack basic WASH services, including 208 million that still practice open defecation.

In Context: Government agencies, academic departments, foundations, investors, consultancies and non-profit organizations have spent 50 years and more than $400 billion to improve WASH for billions. In interviews with Circle of Blue, many WASH thought leaders said that meeting all the 2030 goals were unlikely. But they also were convinced that universal WASH for water and hygiene was within reach, perhaps by 2030, and for sanitation by 2040.

This Week’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers


Islamist militants killed at least eight people who were collecting water in the northern Burkina Faso town of Arbinda last week. More than three months after a military coup, militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have forced more than two million from their homes in the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert. Arbinda mayor told Reuters that insurgents have only recently begun attacking water towers and pumps. 

In Context: The Pacific Institute’s Water Conflict Chronology has documented the past 4,500 years of conflicts over water sources. Violence is on the rise, president emeritus Peter Gleick told Circle of Blue.


A recent report from the Environmental Integrity Project found that 50 percent of U.S. river and stream miles are classified as “impaired.” Additionally, the report categorized 55 percent of lakes, ponds and reservoirs and 25 percent of bays, estuaries, and harbors under the same classification. The report marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a landmark piece of legislation that, according to the report, has thus far failed to meet its intended goals.

On the Radar

According to the latest forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), drought will continue in more than half of the continental United States through at least the beginning of summer. NOAA announced that nearly 60 percent of the United States is currently experiencing some level of drought, the largest part since 2013. If the forecast remains accurate, water supplies are likely to be strained and the risk of wildfires will increase.

More Water News

Thousands of Palestinians in Israeli-controlled portions of the West bank lack access to piped water.

Yemen forces attacked a Saudi water desalination facility.

Swimmers discover microplastics deep beneath UK waterways.

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