See publication on: Lifegate; RSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera Italiana

The UN resolution of July 28, 2010, states for the first time in history the right to water as 'a universal and fundamental human right'. Despite this, to the day there are still 2.4 billion people without access to basic sanitation, and more than 660 million people without safe sources of drinking water. In fact, water scarcity affects more than 40% of the world's population. A figure that is expected to rise steadily in the years to come, not least because of ongoing climate change. More areas of the planet will be affected by drought and more people will be forced to move in search of better living conditions. This is expected to generate new human migrations, some of which are already taking place, with consequent social and political tensions in the medium and long term. More than ten years after the UN resolution, access to safe sources of drinking water still remains a mirage for too many people, and the impression is that much is still to be done.

Senegal is a country particularly affected by desertification. In fact, it belongs to the Sahel belt, the climatic transition zone between the Sahara Desert belt and the savannah belt, which crosses the African continent transversally, involving several countries. The name Sahel derives from the Arabic “sahil”, which means “limit”, “coastline” or “desert edge”. Here the effects of climate change are particularly evident. Shorter rainy seasons, combined with an increasing population burdening the already scarce resources of the area, makes the desert to progressively gain land. The population suffers the lack of access to water sources such as drinking water or to water the livestock on which they depend for their subsistence. Despite the presence of the Senegal River, which marks the border with Mauritania, as soon as one moves away from its banks the land becomes dry and sterile, and finding water becomes the first of the difficulties the population has to face, but not the only one. Many in fact are forced to travel dozens of kilometres every day to find water that is sometimes undrinkable.