July 3, 2015

Water Extraction Outstripping Water Recharging

Fredrick Mugira
July 03, 2015

Every day, Evelyn Nimusiima’s family uses at least three 20-liter jerry cans of water for domestic purposes. Yet, the last time they planted a tree in their village of Rwenshanku, Bubaare parish in Uganda’s southwestern district of Mbarara was four years ago. And due to severe land shortage, they have extended their crop garden into a nearby wetland.

For a single jerry can of water that Evelyn draws from the shallow well, she does not know what it takes and how long it takes that same volume of water to be regenerated into the same well.

“We virtually never think about such things. All we want as a family is water,” says Evelyn, as she draws water from the shallow well, using a yellow plastic jerry can.

Evelyn Nimusiima and her sister fetch water from a well in Rwenshanku, Bubaare parish in Uganda’s southwestern district of Mbarara. Water availability and sustainability is dependent on the way catchment areas are managed and subsequently how surface water is recharging deeper into the soil so that it can be retained by the aquifers. And yet, most water users in developing countries seem not to know this. Photo by Tushabe Andrew

Evelyn Nimusiima and her sister fetch water from a well in Rwenshanku, Bubaare parish in Uganda’s southwestern district of Mbarara. Water availability and sustainability is dependent on the way catchment areas are managed and subsequently how surface water is recharging deeper into the soil so that it can be retained by the aquifers. And yet, most water users in developing countries seem not to know this. Photo by Tushabe Andrew

Evelyn is one of the millions of people, companies, business entities, and organisations worldwide that abstracted water from water bodies such as wells, rivers, lakes and underground sources for various purposes but do not complement in recharging them. And yet, water availability and sustainability is dependent on the way catchment areas are managed and subsequently how surface water is recharging deeper into the soil so that it can be retained by the aquifers.

Jeconeous Musingwire, an environmental scientist with Uganda’s environment watchdog-NEMA thinks this is partly the reason why such communities in Uganda — and the rest of developing countries are facing water shortage problems.

Some 663 million people worldwide are living without an improved source of water according to the just released joint monitoring programme by UNICEF and WHO.

“Granaries of water such as wetland resources, tropical forests must be conserved,” notes Jeconeous, stressing that this is the best way to attain, “water sustainability.”

Contrary to this, wetland resources worldwide are being subjected to massive destruction.

In sub-Saharan Africa, many wetland resources have been converted into crop gardens. In southern Asia, they have been turned into plantations of oil palm.

In a country like Uganda, over cultivation, over abstraction of water for domestic use, overgrazing and industrialization have seen wetland resources such as — marshes, swamps, peat bogs, river deltas, tundra, mangroves and river flood plains — perish. Such resources used to cover over 13 percent of the total area of the country but have now been reduced to just 11 percent.

Recently Uganda’s government vowed to cancel land titles issued in wetlands but this is yet to be implemented.

A few people, mostly women and children in Uganda — and in several developing countries who are the majority that fetch water- know how important it is to recharge the water bodies that give them water.

Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, Ugandan’s minister for water and environment, says this is a mindset problem.

“The problem is that people think water comes as rain, and rain comes from heaven and it is God given,” notes Prof. Ephraim. “Water users must create a balance between demand and supply. The needs should not overstretch the supply.”

Prof. Kamuntu says the balance can be achieved through environmental conservation such as — conservation of wetlands resources, planting more trees, protecting water sources and extracting underground water carefully.

Ian Atamba, the Director Integrated Actions Network, an NGO that works closely with farmers to conserve environment maintains that there is still room for change.

“People perish because of ignorance. It is important to sensitize water users on such issues and this is what our network is doing,” notes Ian. “With time water users will get to know that they cannot only extract water from environment. They need to contribute towards its realization.”

July 3, 2015

Shocking Figures Reveal Nearly 2.4 Billion People in the World Have No Basic Toilets

Achwamu Brenda Ashey and
Twesiime Catherine
July 02, 2015

Some 663 million people are still without an ‘improved’ source of water and some 2.36 billion do not have a basic, hygienic toilet, a joint monitoring programme by UNICEF and WHO has revealed.

The regular update is the last report on progress and access to drinking water and sanitation ahead of the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals, a set of lofty UN ambitions which set out in 2000 to halve the proportion of people without access to water and sanitation, among other goals.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to poor sanitary facilities.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to poor sanitary facilities.

As these goals expire this year, the goal on water has been met overall, but with wide gaps remaining, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The goal on sanitation, however, has failed dramatically. At present rates of progress it would take 300 years for everyone in Sub-Saharan Africa to get access to a sanitary toilet.

At the last update, in 2014, 748 million people were found to not have access to an ‘improved’ water source and 2.5 billion were without basic, sanitary toilets.

For an interactive, embeddable map with projections to 2030, please see www.washwatch.org. ‘Improved’ water sources are protected from contamination and usually safe to drink.

UNICEF and the WHO have also warned that as many as 1.8 billion people are still at risk of going without access to water that is both safe and affordable.

Nearly 700 million people in Africa alone don’t have a basic toilet, and over 200 million defecate in the open. Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation and its largest economy – has actually shown worsening trends, with decreasing access and increasing open defecation.

Nigeria has recorded practically no progress in the area of sanitation. In 1990, 38% of the population had access to improved sanitation. In 2015, this figure is now a woeful 29% (up just a meagre 1% from 2014’s figure of 28%). The proportion of Nigeria’s population that has gained access to improved sanitation since 1990 is only 9%.

And for water access, this year, 69% of Nigeria’s population now have access to safe water – an improvement of 5% from last year and an increase of 30% since the MDG goals were set in 1990. The proportion of the population that has gained access to safe water since 1990 is 48%.

Dr. Michael Ojo, WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative

Dr. Michael Ojo, WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative

WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative, Dr. Michael Ojo says, “It is true that a lot has changed in the 25 years since the World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme began to document the world’s access to drinking water and sanitation; the picture for Nigeria however has for the most part remained quite grim.”

June 20, 2015

Cameroon: Water Scarcity Hinders Inland Fish Farming

Aaron Yancho Kaah
June 17, 2015

Fish is a source of high quality protein for most households across Cameroon. The low cost for fish products some years back attracted high demand in the local markets which encouraged several people to join fish farming. But as our reporter Aaron Yancho Kaah narrates below, several farmers are running away from the once lucrative venture.
…………………….
Over the years dug-out ponds have been the commonest and the most convenient enclosures for fish farming.

But the recent water scarcity in the country has put more than 50% of small scale fish farmers out of business and production. Many ponds have dried out as a result of the rising temperatures, poor land and water conservation methods.

The few who depended on pipeline irrigation systems to supply water to their ponds have also suffered a setback. The drop in the water level in these ponds as a result of the too much sunshine has also severely affected production.

This has subsequently led to poverty in several homesteads and unemployment. The price for fish has increased drastically in the local markets.

One of the Numerous Fish Ponds in Cameroon

One of the Numerous Fish Ponds in Cameroon

The average Cameroonian who depended on fish farming for survival has to turn to other ways of making ends meet.

With the climate changes and the seasonal uncertainties that have brought about this water scarcity it is not very clear when these poor fish farmers will remain in this business for long.

June 1, 2015

Africa to Eliminate Open Defecation By 2030

Babatope Babalobi
June 1, 2015

Africa’s Ministers of Water Resources and Sanitation have fixed 2030 as the terminal year to end open defecation, presently practiced by 233 million Africans.

According to the ‘Ngor declaration’ issued at the end of a recent three day meeting, the Ministers aligned themselves with the aspiration of the draft Sustainable Development Goals which targets to “by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and an end to open defecation, paying special attention to the need of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”.

A pit toilet at a public school in Mbarara, Uganda. Up to 2.5 billion people -- one in three people in the world -- do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation

A pit toilet at a public school in Mbarara, Uganda. Up to 2.5 billion people — one in three people in the world — do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation

Of the 233 million people in Africa still practicing open defecation, Nigeria takes the lead with 39 million people still defecating in the open, 34 million in Ethiopia, 17 million in Sudan, 13 million in Niger, 10 million in Mozambique, 9 million people in Burkina Faso, 9 million in Madagascar, 8 million in South Sudan, 8 million in Chad, 6 million in Tanzania, while the rest of Africa has 80 million people, according to WHO//UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) figures.

The issue of access and lack of access to safe and improved sanitation facilities came to the fore when Water and Sanitation professionals convened in Senegal, a West African country for the 4th edition of the triennial Africa Sanitation and Hygiene Conference, popularly known as AfricaSan, May 25 and 27 2015.

Organized by the Africa Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) the largest inter-governmental body on Water and Sanitation in Africa comprising 54 Ministers of Water Resource ministries in Africa, AfricaSan4’s theme was ‘Making Sanitation a reality in Africa’, and took place in King Fahd Palace Hotels in Dakar, Senegal.

The kernel of discussions of the three day conference that attracted close to 1000 participants from the government, civil society, media, donor bodies, private sector, and development community, was how Africans can have sustainable access to improved sanitation facilities, which the WHO//UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for water and sanitation defines as a ‘sanitation facility that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact’.

May 15, 2015

African Countries Told to Help Enrich the Continent’s Position on Climate Change

George Mhango
News Analyst
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
May 15, 2015

State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ethiopia, Ato Sileshi Getahum urged Malawian delegates and those from other African countries to come up with good recommendations to enrich Africa’s position on climate change ahead of the next Conference of the Parties (COP) in the next few months. This in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during a three-day meeting aimed at launching the first-ever climate smart agriculture (CSA) alliance forum organised by the NEPAD Agency and the African Union Commission.

The forum is part of an integral part of Comprehensive Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in relation to attaining the productivity, food security, prosperity and resilience goals as said in the 2015-25 Results Framework endorsed at the Malabo African Union (AU) Summit held in June last year in Equatorial Guneau.

Climate change as a result of global warming continues to cause havoc in various parts of the world, drying up farmlands that livestock used to depend on.

Climate change as a result of global warming continues to cause havoc in various parts of the world, drying up farmlands that livestock used to depend on.

Getahun also urged Africa to continue to pressurize industrialized countries to step up their efforts and save humanity from imminent catastrophe that climate change and variability is leading to.

“As we learnt from the recently published IPCC reports, no matter how well some of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol performed, to this day, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have not stopped rising. Parties therefore must make substantial progress this time in COP21,” she said.

Getahun said this, therefore, needs a bold 2015 agreement which should include necessary means of implementation, capacity strengthening, appropriate technology transfer and the finance required to manage ecosystems to ensure food and nutrition security, sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

“With agriculture the mainstay of Africa’s economy, it is important that we invest in and practice climate smart agriculture. We need to show the rest of the world our adaptive capacity and remain positive that more development partners will come on board to help Africa upscale all the various CSA investments on the continent,” she explained.

But in her remarks, Minister Councilor Ms Tove Stub of the Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa backed the launch of the CSA Alliance Forum, saying it shows that African countries are committed to championing positive agricultural production in view of climate change effects, a point NEPAD Director of Programmes and Coordination Estherine Fotabong alluded to.

Stub stated that Africa through NEPAD is the first continent to develop such an agenda which is also aimed at sharing knowledge, new farming technologies and developing policies to promote CSA.

“The launch of the CSA Alliance Forum is a crucial step to the African agenda of promoting CSA considering that agriculture remains central to development on the continent. In fact NEPAD is to chair a global alliance and this experience from this first-ever alliance on CSA will assist globally,” she said.

Speakers from Malawi indicated that Lilongwe has developed policies that are meant to move in tandem with initiatives of NEPAD and African Union on how to mitigate effects of climate change thereby boosting agriculture production.

With Malawi’s economy described as agro-based experts and farmers are likely to use the session as a tool to boosting agricultural production considering that the model is in line with sustainable land and water management (SLWM) also championed by NEPAD.

May 13, 2015

Ethiopia: NEPAD Launches Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance

George Mhango
May 13, 2015

In what could be described as major breakthrough in bringing farmers, agricultural experts, policy makers and members of the private sector together, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has launched the Africa Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).

Speaking during the launch on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Estherine Fotabong, NEPAD programs director said the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance is the first such continental platform following the 2014 Malabo Declaration for mainstreaming climate change in agriculture.

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience and adaptation, as well as contributes towards reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.
It therefore leads to overall food security and nutrition in the face of climate change.

Fotabong emphasized the importance of building capacity at all levels, especially for smallholder farmers and institutions in order to attain the goal of 25 million African farmers practising climate-smart agriculture by 2025.

Fotabong also stated that the Africa CSA Alliance needs to recognize interventions that respond to both the challenges and opportunities that climate change brings.

“In order to make rural transformation attainable, climate change needs to be also mainstreamed in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Africa’s instrument for agricultural growth and economic development,” said Fotabong.

At the 31st African Union Summit held in Malabo in June last year, Heads of State and Government were clear in their resolve to commit to action on the agriculture-climate change nexus issue.

In the Summit decisions on NEPAD, the Heads of State and Government endorsed the NEPAD programme on agriculture climate change, including its components on women empowerment, intensified support to small-holder farmers and the setup of an African Climate Smart-Agriculture Coordination Platform as means in pursuit of what was endorsed as the African Union Vision to have at least 25 million farm households practicing CSA by 2025.

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

To achieve this, Africa is leading a country-driven and regionally-integrated Initiative that will provide the tools for action and platform for partnerships that will deliver results. Centred on Nepad, the initiative will be fully aligned with and an integral part of the CAADP framework, as well as cultivating the necessary multi-sectoral engagements, including the environment, natural resources and climate change policies and programmes.

“To support countries, a virtual and physical African Alliance was established where knowledge is exchanged to identify best practice and partnerships across stakeholder groups are catalysed,” she said.

Fotabong said the alliance will also foster a coherent African CSA Agenda as well as sustaining the collective power and urge for action. It will also facilitate assessment of individual (country, region, sector, etc.) performance against continental and even global benchmarks.

Ethiopian State Minister for Agriculture, Sileshi Getahun stated that the Africa CSA Alliance provides an opportunity to take concrete action in climate change for the benefit of African agriculture.

“The field trip for participants at the Forum to Ethiopian projects will enable them to witness first-hand the interventions in climate-smart agriculture in the Ethiopian national strategy. We need to show the rest of the world our adaptive capacity and up-scale such practices,” Getahun said.

Ethiopian Minister for Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Zenevu Tadesse called on all stakeholders, including governments, civil society and private sector, to support local systems and expand to scale up climate-smart agriculture. The Minister stressed that the Africa CSA Alliance is an important instrument towards achieving climate-smart agriculture in Africa.

Minister Councillor Tove Stub of the Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa, maintained that the Africa CSA Alliance is an important milestone following the 2014 Malabo Declaration in dealing with the challenges of climate change for the benefit of smallholder farmers.

Launched as Africa’s Strategic Approach for Food Security and Nutrition in the Face of Climate Change, the Africa CSA Alliance was attended by about 150 representatives and participants from governments, regional economic communities, farmers’ organisations, private sector, civil society, specialised agencies and development partners.

May 8, 2015

Malawi: Government Rehabilitates Water Plant

George Mhango
May 8, 2015

The Malawi Government has completed rehabilitation of Mudi Pumping Station and Walkers Ferry Treatment Plant as well as the construction of three reservoirs, each with a capacity of 5 000 cubic metres together with their booster stations, pumping and supply pipelines in Blantyre.This is according to the President of Malawi Peter Mutharika.

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

Mutharika says such works will go a long way in alleviating acute water shortages in the city of Blantyre.

“Government further is commenced to upgrading works on Kamuzu Barrage in Liwonde in order to address the structural stability concerns of the barrage and to improve its water regulatory capacity

“We finalized construction of Songwe Water Supply System; and undertook integration and expansion of Salima Lakeshore and Kasungu Water Supply Schemes,” he says.

Mutharika also notes that government will rehabilitate and expand twelve gravity fed schemes that will entail construction of 600 cubic metres localized storage reservoirs and break pressure tanks and 2,925 Communal Water Points.

“In addition, we will commence construction of 450 new boreholes and 166 sanitation facilities at public institutions such as schools, health and market centres,” he says.

May 6, 2015

Kenyan Pastoralists Shift to Crop Farming As Drought and Water Shortage Hit Harder

Mary Mwendwa
May 06, 2015

Meet Diba Jibalo, a father of seven from Merti Division, Isiolo County Eastern Kenya who has suffered a lot while rearing livestock due to water shortage and has lost many when droughts strike.

In this radio feature, produced in Kiswahili language by Mary Mwenda, Diba narrates how his life has been transformed since he started farming maize, water melon and vegetables.

His family is now food secure as a result. He is among many Kenyan farmers in dry land who have adopted by practicing agropastoralism which has proved successful as they can now save lives and keep grains for future use.

Also in the same feature below, Alex Alusa climate change expert gives insights on why policy is important on climate change adaptation.

April 27, 2015

Cultural Turn to Biodiversity Conservation

Fredrick Mugira
April 27, 2015

Summary
Indigenous people have a broad knowledge of how to live sustainably. However, formal education systems have disrupted the practical everyday life aspects of indigenous knowledge and ways of learning, replacing them with abstract knowledge and academic ways of learning.

Suggested introduction
The dominance of the western culture in Uganda and several other developing countries has drawn the young generation away from their culture. This has undermined the potential of indigenous knowledge in solving social problems such as environmental degradation. And yet it is apparent that even with rapid advancement in western science and technologies, the global environment of the twenty first century is still being degraded.

This feature by Fredrick Mugira calls for a cultural turn to biodiversity conservation.

CUE IN: “While I was growing up …
CUE OUT: …sustainable biodiversity and ecosystems.”

April 25, 2015

University Of Florida Boosts Visualization of Water Purification Designs

George Bradley and University of Florida
April 25, 2015

Did you know that up to 748 million people rely on contaminated or unprotected water sources and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities worldwide?

World Health Organisation estimates that 1.8 billion people use a fecally contaminated drinking water source, 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation facilities and more than 840,000 people die from water related diseases annually.

Contaminated water is the number one cause of death in developing countries, causing diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, typhoid fever, malaria, ascariasis, dengue fever and many other deadly illnesses.

In fact, contaminated water is the number one public health concern globally based on its impact to society, according to the WHO. Fortunately, the WHO estimates that 10% of the global disease burden could be prevented with improved water supply and sanitation.

In light of this, a number of innovations and technologies are providing growing solutions to this problem.

The University of Florida in USA has created an infographic that can help people to visualize five water purification designs that would greatly benefit third world communities.

UF Online Infographic: Five Water Purification Designs for Third World Communities
UF Online B.S. in Environmental Management

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