One of the key uncertainties surrounding the impacts of a changing climate in Africa is the effect that it will have on the sustainability of rural water supplies. Of Africa’s population of 900 million, roughly 60% live in rural areas and most – perhaps 80% – rely on groundwater-based community or household supplies for domestic and other water needs (JMP, 2008). Understanding the impacts of climate change on groundwater resources is, therefore, of critical importance, yet is often ignored in development debates – including those on water supply and management.
This Background Note, one of four prepared for World Water Day 2009, attempts to fill in some of the gaps and identify the most pressing research needs. The main focus is on domestic supply – water used for drinking, cooking and washing – but the note also deals briefly with groundwater irrigation and climate change.