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Water in Eastern and Southern Africa

DRC June 10, 2024

In the water sector, taking stock of challenges leads to new solutions

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the largest and most populous countries in sub-Saharan Africa, faces some of the lowest rates of access to water and basic sanitation.

MALAWI March 13, 2024

Improving Water and Sanitation Facilities in Malawi’s Urban Schools for Better Learning Outcomes

Without WASH facilities in schools, children are more likely to get ill and miss out on an education, particularly girls. The availability of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in schools improves health and increases school attendance leading to better learning outcomes.

The number of people without access to water is growing in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the only region of the world where this is happening. About 387 million people lived without access to basic drinking water services in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, up from 350 million people in 2000, according to a WHO/ UNICEF progress report.

By acting now and acting at scale, countries can accelerate #WaterAction, protect and improve lives, and reap economic rewards.

The stories on this page show that progress is possible, and that reforms and innovations are making a difference - including in the countries with the largest access gaps. As of October 2022, about 226 million people in Eastern and Southern Africa did not have access to basic water services, and 381 million people lacked access to basic sanitation services. The situation is worse in rural areas than in cities. And nine countries (Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) are home to 80% of underserved people in the region.

Addressing people’s need for water and sanitation in these nine countries and continuing to make progress in other parts of the region is key to improving people’s lives and boost economic growth.

As African countries continue to rapidly urbanize and climate change wreaks havoc on rain patterns and water supplies, the need for innovative and efficient water production, storage, and delivery is stronger than ever. The challenge is to ensure that governments, private sector, and households continue to invest in water and sanitation solutions until all Africans have access to these life-saving, time-saving, and business-creating basic services.


The Gendered Burden of Water Collection in Sub-Saharan Africa

Fetching water is a demanding task, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where it is common for people to spend over 30 minutes for a single water fetching trip.
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Water Sector

As the world’s largest multilateral source of financing for water in developing countries, the World Bank is committed to Water for People and Planet.

Water-related Projects

World Bank's water development projects in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Documents & Reports on Water

Learn more about the challenges and possible solutions to water supply in East and Southern Africa from the World Bank's research and publications.