African Governments Failing in Provision of Water and Sanitation, Majority of Citizens Say

press release

More than half of Africans say their governments are failing them when it comes to one of their top priorities – the provision of clean water and sanitation services, a new Afrobarometer analysis shows. Half of survey respondents say they went without enough clean water for home use during the previous year – a particular concern considering the importance of proper hygiene for preventing the spread of coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

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These findings from national surveys in 34 African countries, released in advance of World Water Day (March 22), show that there has been little progress in recent years toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 6, "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all."

While experiences vary widely across countries, on average more than half of Africans have to leave their compounds to access water, and only one-fourth have access to sewage infrastructure. Rural residents continue to suffer major disadvantages in access to water and sanitation.

One in five Africans who tried to obtain utility services from government during the previous year report they had to pay a bribe. In 20 out of 34 countries, majorities say their government is doing a poor job of providing water and sanitation services.

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Afrobarometer survey

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on Africans' experiences and evaluations of quality of life, governance, and democracy. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys are planned in at least 35 countries in 2019/2020. Interested readers may follow our releases, including our Pan-Africa Profiles series of Round 7 cross-country analyses, at #VoicesAfrica and sign up for our distribution list at

Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent's choice with nationally representative samples that yield country-level results with margins of error of +/-2 to +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

This Pan-Africa Profile draws on data from 45,823 interviews completed in 34 countries between September 2016 and September 2018 (see Appendix Table A.1 for a list of countries and fieldwork dates). The countries covered are home to almost 80% of the continent's population. The data are weighted to ensure nationally representative samples. When reporting multi-country findings such as regional or Africa-wide averages, each country is weighted equally (rather than in proportion to population size).

Download full analysis here

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