There are various sources of fresh water

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Water: Sources of fresh water

  • Supplies of fresh water can be examined at a local level or at a national/international level.
  • Local supply sources at family or village level are usually small-scale, cheap schemes that can be maintained and managed at that level.
  • These may include local piped water schemes using boreholes or small dams or rivers; boreholes fitted with hand pumps, and protected wells.
  • Unsafe sources include dams, rivers and protected wells.
  • These small schemes are usually confined to rural areas.
  • The majority of people in developing countries live in rural areas where small scale water schemes are prevalent.
  • The United Nations Decade for safe Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation, from 1980 to 1990 was mainly targeted at this sector.
  • The ‘Decade’ aimed at proving safe drinking water and sanitation to at least 2 billion people in the world.
  • Safe water is defined as water free from chemicals and micro-organisms that might cause illness.
  • The World Health organization gives guidelines on international water quality standards.
  • WHO indicates that in order to enable the health of a given population, there should be enough safe water for personal hygiene as well as the household’s drinking, cooking and other domestic needs.
  • Water supplies that fail to provide safe and adequate water forces communities to resort to unsafe water sources.
  • A water source is deemed unsafe when it is contaminated due to inadequate sanitation facilities.
  • The absence of inadequate sanitation facilities cause excreta to come into contact with any part of the food chain and water.
  • National and international water supply systems involve large scale multi-purpose schemes.
  • These involve the building of large dams forming large reservoirs and lakes, covering large areas of land.
  • The large schemes usually provide water for urban domestic and industrial use or hydro-electric power.
  • Other benefits from such schemes are water for rural domestic use and animals, irrigation, fishing, transport, tourism and flood control.
  • Disadvantages, however include displacement of large local populations, water-borne diseases like malaria, destruction of flora and fauna, barriers to communication by dams, disturbances of natural drainage cycle and heavy capital expenditure in construction.
  • Examples of large scale multi-purpose schemes in Africa are:
    1. The Kariba project in Zimbabwe
    2. Cabora Bassa in Mozambique
    3. The Orange River project in South Africa
    4. The Kafue River project in Zambia
    5. Le Marinel in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    6. Kainji in Nigeria
    7. The Volta River project in Ghana.

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