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Water’s crucial role in accomplishing the continent’s development goals is widely recognized. Africa faces endemic poverty, food insecurity and pervasive underdevelopment   with almost all countries lacking the human, economic and institutional capacities to effectively develop and manage their water resources sustainably. Thus, a large number of countries on the continent still face huge challenges in attempting to achieve the United Nations water-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Northern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa even though in one continent, have made different levels of progress towards the Millennium Development Goal on water. North Africa has 92% coverage and is on track to meet its 94% target before 2015. However, Sub-Saharan Africa experiences a contrasting case with 40% of the 783 million people without access to an improved source of drinking water from the region. Sub-Saharan Africa is off track from meeting the MDG on water with just 61% water coverage and with the current pace cannot reach the 75% target set for the region.

An analysis of data from 35 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (representing 84% of the region’s population) shows significant differences between the poorest and richest fifths of the population in both rural and urban areas. Over 90% of the richest quintile in urban areas use improved water sources, and over 60% have piped water on premises. In rural areas, piped-in water is non-existent in the poorest 40% of households, and less than half of the population use any form of improved source of water.

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