It is widely recognized that inadequate access to water and sanitation services has enormous health, economic and social consequences. Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health. Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing around 760,000 children every year (WHO, 2013). A significant proportion of diarrheal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and hygiene. In communities that lack safe drinking water, women and girls spend several hours each day collecting water from distant sources, and this reduces opportunities to attend school.
The upland forests, coastal resources and wildlife that support the social, ecological and economic resilience of West Africa are at risk. Complex forces that drive resource degradation—illegal and unsustainable logging, wildlife poaching and trafficking, poverty, population growth and weak governance—threaten the sustainability of key transboundary resources and undermine the ability of the human and natural systems to respond and adapt to climate change shocks and stresses. Projected changes in the West African climate—temperature increases on the order of 2-3 degrees centigrade, unpredictable rainfall, and the greater frequency of droughts and floods—will affect livelihoods and challenge economic growth and resilience across the region.
With increasing rates of population growth and urbanization, infrastructure in African cities, such as water delivery systems and wastewater systems, can be overwhelmed. Poor governance, chronic underinvestment and a lack of skilled staff make it difficult for urban water utilities to provide safe drinking water to consumers. However, experience suggests that strong leadership and institutions, coupled with preventative risk-based management approaches and sustained capacity-building efforts, are critical to improving the quality of drinking water services in African cities
West African countries are experiencing change at many levels—climatic, agricultural, demographic, political and socioeconomic. As a result, a growing number of major challenges threaten the region including high climatic variability; rapidly growing populations and climate-driven land use; and human and land cover changes that result in considerable pressure on the fragile resource base.
There is a growing concern in the international community about the need to preserve West Africa’s ecosystems. The Upper Guinean Forest has an estimated 9,000 species of plants. Of these, 2,250 (25 percent) are believed to be endemic. However, this forest is highly degraded, having experienced dramatic encroachment by expanding human activities and fragmentation that has reduced the forest to approximately 15 percent of its original coverage. Only an estimated 20,000 km2 of the land is protected under national parks and reserves.
Some of the lowest rates of improved sanitation in the world are in Benin (13 percent), Côte d’Ivoire (14 percent), and Ghana (28 percent). There are minimal services for safe disposal and treatment of human waste. Densely populated areas, such as slum communities, do not have enough space to construct household toilets. Land disputes and a lack of urban planning complicate this problem. Most urban families desire a toilet, particularly to protect the privacy of the women and children in the household, but there are few affordable sanitation options that suit their needs. Disconnected supply chains make products expensive and difficult to acquire, and service providers often fail to provide quality materials.
Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in adolescence is a major public health issue in Afghanistan, where the prevalence of anemia is among the highest in the world.
USAID has been helping the Afghan government to increase children’s access to basic education since 2002. One of the ways in which USAID is helping bring education to children in remote areas is through community-based education activities implemented in partnership with UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Education. Community-Based Education is a proven means to reach children who are unable to access formal schools due to insecurity, distance or geographical constraints.
Sierra Leone discharges final Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) patient; no new EVD cases reported in the country for the second consecutive week. Overall weekly EVD case incidence across EVD-affected West African countries has remained at three confirmed cases for four consecutive weeks. All EVD contacts in Liberia complete 21-day monitoring period; countrywide surveillance efforts continue.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Low Emissions Asian Development program works with regional governments, businesses and institutions toward sustainable, low-carbon economic development, or “green growth,” across all economic sectors. The five-year program promotes regional cooperation to develop and implement low emission development strategies, improve greenhouse gas inventories and advance carbon markets in 12 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Last updated: February 14, 2016