About Us: The TAP Journey

The Trans Africa Pipeline (TAP) is the largest, humanitarian civil engineering project of the 21st century.

TAP has designed a continental fresh-water pipeline to cross the Sahel area of Africa, beginning in in the west, in Mauritania, and culminating in the east, at the Red Sea. TAPss pipeline is the first and only permanent solution to perennial drought throughout the Sahel and will mitigate the encroachment of the desert. Currently, thousands of hectares of land are lost to desertification every year across the Sahel countries of Africa.

Conceived and launched in 2005 in Toronto, Canada, the Trans Africa Pipeline Inc. is a not-for-profit organization working in collaboration with the 11-country Pan African Great Green Wall (PAGGW) agency. TAP is also working with individual Sahel countries and with our U.S. charitable organization, the TAP Foundation U.S.

The Trans Africa Pipeline (TAP) project involves constructing an 8,000 km. fresh water pipeline (1.2 m to 1.5 m diameter) crossing 11 countries in the Sahel region of Africa. TAP's mission is to provide a sustainable supply of clean water for people and agriculture and support the goal of the Pan African Great Green Wall agency that involves the planting of millions of trees across a land corridor established by the 11 member countries, as illustrated below.

PAGGW route map

The Sahel area of Africa, which includes all 11 member countries of PAGGW, is a semi-arid region of north central Africa stretching in the west from Mauritania and Senegal on the Atlantic ocean to Eritrea and Ethiopia in the east, on the coast of the Red Sea. The Sahel is a transition zone between the encroaching Sahara desert north and the more humid and productive areas south. TAP consists of two pipeline sections, each 4,000 km. long, running from both the east and west coasts to a mid-point terminus in Chad. Fresh water will be produced from four solar-powered desalination plants, two on each coast. Each desalination plant will produce 200,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day, stored in regional tank farms along the route.

The total fresh water output will be 800,000 cubic meters per day. Power for the desalination plants and the pump stations will be provided by concentrated thermal solar farms capable of operation well past sundown due to the high temperature salt solution used in conjunction with steam turbines. TAP is also exploring new and innovative methods of creating renewable energy and power generation. TAP's pipeline system capacity can be expanded by adding more desalination plants connected to the same pipeline, up to a maximum capacity of 300,000 cubic meters per day per plant.

The available water from the desalination plants will be used to create local family farms, provide clean water for millions of people, water for the Great Green Wall of trees, and some water for commercial activities. All of the water will be provided to the member states free of charge, except for a small percentage of water set aside for commercial operations. The brine from the desalination plants will not be returned to the oceans, as is the case with many current desalination plants; this practice increases ocean salinity and damages or destroys any local fisheries. Brine from TAP's operations will be channelled to nearby salt ponds where rapid evaporation can produce large quantities of salt for harvesting. This will provide a major source of revenue to offset the costs of producing the water.

The TAP project will begin to alleviate human dehydration, reduce diseases caused by infected water and poor sanitation, mitigate agricultural drought, and begin the transformation of this region back to a self-sustaining existence, in collaboration with the Pan African Great Green Wall agency. A sustainable supply of fresh water is a fundamental building block for these countries to improve economic development and stop the encroaching desertification. As the population-wide health improves, and the number of family farms increases, cultivation and export of food products will reduce poverty.


Why the TAP solution is necessary

There are many efforts underway by many organizations to alleviate the perennial droughts that afflict the Sahel, other areas of Africa and other parts of the world. Many of these involve digging wells for individual villages, providing water purification methodologies and even providing clean water on a daily basis by truck. All these efforts assist individual areas or villages and many are successful for varying periods of time.

Unfortunately, virtually all these efforts eventually become ineffective or are halted for mechanical reasons, contamination, lack of training and even draining of local aquifers. At that point, local residents - usually women and girls - must return to the daily hours-long task of carrying water, sometimes for many kilometers. This eliminates their opportunity for education, work and dramatically negatively impacts food production.

Time is running out:

According to the U.N. over 2 billion people will suffer severe water shortages by 2050 and all of the countries predicted to be "water scarce" are in the sub-Sahara region of Africa.

One-third of the earth's surface is at risk, the U.N. states, particularly in Africa and by 2025, two-thirds of arable land in Africa will disappear.

The Trans Africa Pipeline will save lives - it is the first and only permanent solution to perennial drought throughout the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa.


The consequences of not implementing TAP

There are many efforts underway by many organizations to alleviate the perennial droughts that afflict the Sahel, other areas of Africa and other parts of the world. Many of these involve digging wells for individual villages, providing water purification methodologies and even providing clean water on a daily basis by truck. All these efforts assist individual areas or villages and many are successful for varying periods of time.

But virtually all eventually become ineffective or are halted for mechanical reasons, contamination, lack of training and even draining of local aquifers. At that point, local residents - usually women and girls - must return to the daily hours-long task of carrying water, sometimes for many kilometers. This eliminates their opportunity for education, work and dramatically, negatively impacts food production.

Facts regarding the effects of drought and lack of safe drinking water in the Sahel:

80 per cent of infectious diseases are water-related, AND diarrheal diseases kill one out every five children under the age of five 5 each year. 1

Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.

Desertification has already degraded 2.6 million square kilometres of formerly-arable land3 and desertification continues.

Cumulative loss of productivity as a result of land degradation amounts to 25 per cent of cropland and 6.6 per cent of pasture. 3

Economic costs of desertification: a loss of $23 billion (U.S.) Agricultural Gross Domestic Product for the PAGGW** countries. 3

It is predicted that by 2020 around 60 million people could be forced to move from the infertile areas of Sub-Saharan Africa towards Europe due to climate change (drought). 13

Examining the economics of the crisis:

For every $1 (U.S.) invested in providing clean water, the economic benefits range from $2.0 to $8.72; the Trans Africa Pipeline (TAP) represents a $14.7 billion clean water investment which equates to between $29.4 billion and $128 billion in total economic benefits. The benefits amount to $2.7 billion to $10.7 billion per PAGGW** country. These benefits accrue as 63 per cent in lost time-savings due to illness and water collection, 28 per cent in productivity increases, and 9 per cent in savings on health care costs.2

Foreign aid to the SAHEL countries:12

US AID contributed in-kind and financial aid to the PAGGW countries in the amount of $1.3 billion in 2014. Only 7 per cent was allocated to water-related projects which amounted to $91 million. Nine other western countries donated some $537 million (U.S.) in 2014. Assuming that 7 per cent is related to water projects, this amounts to an additional $38 million. Based on this data, it is clear that approximately $129 million is earmarked for water-related projects. This does not address the basic cause of food shortages which accounts for most of the aid provided. A sustainable supply of water to the estimated 28 million people who are classed as lacking "food security" in the Sahel is the key to solving this problem. TAP is the answer.

Examining key facts of the crisis:

ISSUE: Climate change leads to drought which leads to desertification:

IMPACT: Desertification is swallowing an estimated 20,000 hectares per year in sub-Sahara countries, with the attendant destruction of farmlands and livelihoods in these countries. Two-thirds of arable land is expected to be lost in Africa by 2025 due to land degradation.4

COST: Land degradation currently leads to an estimated 3 per cent annual loss in agricultural GDP* in the sub-Saharan region. This equates to $23 billion per year for the 11 PAGGW** member countries.5

ISSUE: Drought leads to water shortage and scarcity of clean water:

IMPACT: Women are responsible for 72 per cent of the water collected in sub-Saharan Africa for daily use. When a community has on-site access to clean water, women and girls get their lives back. They start businesses, improve their homes, and take charge of their own futures.10 The United Nations estimates that sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water. Assuming the PAGGW countries constitute approximately 21 per cent of the sub-Sahara, this equates to some 8.4 billion hours per year of opportunity and economic capital lost to the collection of water.

COST: Assuming the average household values the time they could save from collecting water at $0.41-$0.57/hour11, this equates to a potential economic loss of approximately $3.4 billion to $4.8 billion per year if women continue to be tasked with daily water collection. This time saved by the implementation of TAP could be used for work-related projects in agriculture for example, or starting a small business.

ISSUE: Water shortage forces people to use contaminated water:

IMPACT: Diarrheal diseases are the leading waterborne diseases in Africa and are transmitted directly through contact with contaminated water. For adults, work days gained for each averted diarrhea case is estimated at two days. With improved water supply and sanitation, approximately 240,000 lives could be saved each year in the sub-Saharan region.

COST: It is estimated that sub-Saharan countries experience economic losses of approximately 5 per cent of GDP* which equates today for the PAGGW countries to about $38 billion lost due to lack of safe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.8

It is clear from all of these facts that the social and economic costs of NOT building TAP are catastrophic, costly and globally not sustainable.


References:

*The 2014 World Bank estimates of the GDP for the PAGGW countries is approximately $771 billion (U.S.)
**Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan

  1. https://engineering.purdue.edu/~frankenb/NU-prowd/disease.html

  2. WHO/SDE/WSH/07/05; Economic and health effects of increasing coverage of low cost household drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to countries off-track to meet MDG target 10

  3. Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Bonn, Germany, Fact Sheet, May 2012

  4. UNITED NATIONS ORIGINAL: ENGLISH ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR AFRICA Fifth Meeting of the Africa Committee on Sustainable Development (ACSD-5) Regional Implementation Meeting (RIM) for CSD-16 Addis Ababa 22-25 October 2007

  5. http://data.worldbank.org/region/SSA

  6. Global cost-benefit analysis of water supply and sanitation interventions Guy Hutton, Laurence Haller and Jamie Bartram, Journal of Water and Health | 05.4 | 2007

  7. WHO Water and Sanitation program End of Year Report FY 09

  8. UNESCO, United Nations World Water Development Report: Water in a Changing World. (UNESCO Publishing, 2009)

  9. World Health Organization, UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2010: Targeting Resources for Better Results. (Switzerland: WHO Press, 2010)

  10. http://www.charitywater.org/whywater