Archive for June, 2011

June 24, 2011

Uganda: Pictures to Tell the Dilemma; Adah and Shakira’s Story

Fredrick Mugira
June 24, 2011

Adah and Shakira are all girls aged below 15. They live in Kakatunda Parish in Bukinda Sub County of the mountainous district of Kabale in south western Uganda.

The two girls collect water for their families from a shallow well at least twice a day. They collect water of questionable quality from unprotected surface water source at a great distance from their homes.

Apart from deterring them from collecting sufficient quantities, it wastes their time so sometimes they have to skip school.

This problem is significantly worse during the dry season, when the water table drops, and rivers and shallow wells dry up.

Adah and Shakira's shallow well. It is situated in Ibasyo village, Kakatunda Parish in Bukinda Sub County, about a kilometer from their homes. The water's quality is questionable and the well is unprotected.

This unprotected shallow well often collapses and fills up with soil due to soil erosion which is common in the hilly Kabale district

The girls arrive at the well; they weigh in the mind with thoroughness and care. Do we collect the water or leave it. They also know its quality is questionable.

All the dirt from the hills usually flows into this well. Surprisingly some people in this village do not know that something is wrong. After all, their grandparents had been drinking from these wells and they survived.

Take it or leave it. The girls risk and collect the water. After all they have no option.

It is such unsafe water that kills. In his message to the world during the 2010 World Water Day, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamented that unsafe water kills more people than war plus all other forms of violence combined.

Adah takes home, the water she collected. She is not bothered about the quality of the water she is carrying

Like Adah, many children in Uganda spend hours each day collecting water instead of going to school.

Shakirah carries home the water. She used this water to wash her family’s plates and saucepans

Instead of going to schools, millions of children in rural parts of Uganda spend almost half a day collecting water for their families. Others spend weeks at home suffering from unsafe water-related illness or attending to their parents suffering from unsafe water- related illnesses.

Extension of safe water to such homes would help these children study uninterruptedly, live healthy and became prosperous in future.

June 20, 2011

Malawi: Public water utility provider Posts US$60 million loss in its water provision operations.

Our Reporter in Malawi
June 20, 2011

One of the three Malawi’s public water utility providers, the Northern Region Water Board has posted US$60 million loss in its water provision operations, government authorities have revealed.

The authorities attribute the loss to poor management of water resources such as failure to repair broken pipes and leakage of water pipes.

The loss is despite government’s annual financial allocations to aid the smooth operations of the water parastatal.

However, government has in the 2011/2012 national budget under debate in the capital Lilongwe introduced a 16.5 percent value added tax on water.

Finance minister Ken Kandodo during the budget presentation justified the tax introduction on water to huge costs of equipment on the international market.

Malawi's Minister of Finance Ken Kandodo

This however, is being refuted by the public as they think government wants to collect more revenue for its zero deficit budget.

This means that consumers should forget having improved water delivery as the board will not be able to procure new equipment for expansion projects.

“This is bad as it translates into high its tarrifs already.” Said Mary Mkandawire, a mother of three children.

The northern region water board provides water to more than 3 million Malawians in the northern region districts like Rumphi, Karonga, Mzimba, Chitipa, Karonga and Likoma.

Main opposition, Malawi Congress Party, Financial Spokesperson Joseph Njovuyalema says the loss is pathetic since the authorities are bankrolling the utility without any profits at all.

According to Njovuyalema there is need for a complete overhaul of the board.

Meanwhile, the Blantyre Water Board which provides water to Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre with a population of 2 million people has been lauded for making K30 million profits respectively.

The board has since launched an intensive rehabilitation of its infrastructure to increase water production capacity.

The Board’s acting Chief Executive Billy Kamphinda: “The exercise is going to take 16 months; beginning August this year.”

“After a lengthy and rigorous procurement process, last week we signed a contract with a contractor called Gammon- Technofab Joint Venture of Mumbai in India to commence the rehabilitation and upgrading of our main pumping stations– the Intake and High Lift pumping stations– at the Walkers Ferry and rehabilitation of the twin pipeline to Chileka,” Kamphinda Banda said.

He added that the contractors would start mobilising themselves so that the works on the Walkers Ferry starts by August this year.

The Rehabilitation includes treatment works at Walkers Ferry and Chileka Pumping Station as well as construction of additional storage reservoirs in the city.

“Our desire is to have these projects implemented as concurrently to each other as possible to yield maximum benefits from them and the Board is making all efforts to achieve this. We’re, therefore, appealing to our customers and all stakeholders to continue being patient with us for a while as we implement this project and will continue to update the public through you because there will be a lot of activities being carried out during the implementation period,” Kamphinda Banda said.

The Board further stated that these works would cause some interruptions but as part of the signed agreement with the contractor, they would ensure that the interruptions are minimized.

June 20, 2011

Uganda: Rivers dry up as water scarcity hits the country

Hope Mafaranga
June 20, 2011

Water scarcity has continued to hit several parts of Uganda as some rivers, lakes and wetlands dry up causing a drastic reduction in the water levels.

An example of such rivers is Mpanga in the western part of the country.

River Mpanga is the eighth biggest river in Uganda as listed in the National Environment regulation 2000 of the National Environment act. It originates from Rwenzori Mountain, an area which is currently under high pressure mainly due to deforestation of steep hills. It feeds in Lake George covering a distance of approximately 250 kilometers.

The River meanders through three local Governments of Kabarole, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge serving a population of approximately five million people who directly or indirectly depend on it for survival. It also serves domestic and industrial water to Fort Portal and Kamwenge towns. A hydro electric power dam to supply electricity to the region is being constructed at the lower end of this river as the river approaches Lake George. An irrigation scheme has also been planned on this river in the parts of Kamwenge.

However all is not well with this river.

“It has been established that the amount of water in the river has reduced significantly in the last ten years; the major cause for this decrease is increased reduction in the vegetation cover of the water catchment area, indigenous trees species along the river and the Rwenzori mountain slope that are part of the water catchment area have been cut leaving the hill tops and slopes bare and prone to heavy erosion and landslides,” notes Sam Mugume, the Kabarole district natural resource officer.

Mpanga River which is drying up due to mining of sand and stones on its banks

He further notes that eucalyptus trees- the high water consuming exotic tree species have been planted by many people along the river for economic gains despite the government’s regulation of preserving 100 meters width from all big river banks for natural vegetation.

“Eucalyptus is a fast growing tree species which is well known for its capacity to drain and dry wetlands and rivers and therefore it advised that Eucalyptus be planted on hilltops as opposed to valleys. However this is not the case in most locations along river Mpanga,” he added.

Mugume further notes that another major cause for reduction of the water in this river is the high level of wetland degradation in the catchment area.

He notes that wetlands in the three districts of Kabarole, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge that are remnants of the mosaic wetland system of Western Uganda in the Albertine rift valley are being turned into farmlands by private developers despite the governments’ regulation on wetland use that forbids turning them into farmland.

“The degraded wetlands have therefore lost their capacity to act as water refining systems and water catchment areas leading to less water being preserved,” Mugume added.
Mugume says that Mpanga River and its tributaries are heavily polluted with waste from towns and trading centers which are located nearby it.

He says that the main visible wastes in the river are plastics and polythene papers and the major cause for this is the improper disposal of waste generated in various trading centers and towns close to it. The riverbed is also being silted as a result of erosion from gardens and poor soil management practices along the river.

Likewise, the Kamwenge district environment officer Nickolas Magara says that the pollution and reduction of water from Mpanga River is having a significant impact on the quality and standards of life for people in Kabarole, Kamwenge and Kyenjojo districts.

He notes that the cost of purifying water for Fort Portal town, Kamwenge and Kyenjojo has been increasing every year since 2000 due to increased pollution and silting of the river and in some areas there has been an increase in water borne diseases.

Some local population along the river use water directly got from the river for drinking, cooking and other domestic needs.

“The contamination of river Mpanga is highly affecting the health of these people and it is in their interest to ensure that the river is protected and water is clean,” Magara said.

Magara stresses that there is need to protect the water catchment area for River Mpanga from further abuse. He also calls for restoration of wetlands which are a major source of water for the river.

He contends that protection of the river will lead to increased forest cover and subsequently lead to soil protection, reduction in landslides and conservation of biodiversity including endemic species both flora and fauna.

June 17, 2011

Zambia: New Power Company sets up water, sanitation infrastructure

Michael Malakata
June 17, 2011

A new power utility company, Itezhi-tezhi Power Corporation is setting up a US$5 million water and sewerage infrastructure in the Southern part of Zambia. It becomes the first private company to be allowed to provide piped water to the community.

Itezhi-tezhi Power Corporation, a joint venture between India’s TATA Africa Holdings and the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation said the water and sewerage infrastructure is part of the company’s social responsibility. The water and sewerage infrastructure is expected to minimize water problems in the province that is currently serviced by one water company, the Southern water and Sewerage Company. The Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation is a government run power utility company.

Itezhi-tezhi Dam in Zambia

Itezhi-tezhi Power Corporation director Robert Nsamba announced last month the construction of the project is underway. Nsamba said the new water and sewerage infrastructure will provide water and sewerage to houses in the district and the new houses that are being constructed in Itezhi-tezhi by the company.

“The power company will give 0.5 percent of its annual total revenue to the community to support sanitation among other things,” said Nsamba.

The Itezhi-tezhi Power Corporation is the first private company in Zambia to be allowed to provide water and sewerage services by the Zambian government. The Zambian government has been refusing to give water licenses for piped water to private companies claiming the quality of water will be compromised despite many communities still facing water shortages.

Nsamba said the development will also minimize water shortages currently being experienced in the district. Currently, only 200 houses have access to piped water and sanitation services in the district.

The new water and sewerage infrastructure comes on the heel of the Zambian government’s call for the private sector to assist the government in the provision of water and sanitation services by funding government water projects. Major donors in the water sector in Zambia including the German government through German Technical Assistance (GTZ) have minimized their support to the Zambian water sector while the Danish government through Danish Association for International Development (Danida) has permanently withdrawn its support.

The new power company is expected to build 50 new houses for its staff and a US$250, 000 commercial guesthouse that will also be connected to the new water and sanitation infrastructure.

Local housing in Zambia

Nsamba said the water and sewerage infrastructure will be completed by the beginning of the second quarter of next year.

June 14, 2011

Kenya: Water for African Cities Initiative Still Limps

Joseph Ngome
June 14, 2011

More than 10 years ago, United Nations conceived an idea of providing several African cities with adequate water.

Seven cities in African continent were selected to serve as demonstration cities in the dream to provide the precious commodity, water to the residents.

The cities selected to serve as the project demonstration were Accra (Ghana), Abidjan (Cote Devoire), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Dakar (Senegal), Lusaka (Zambia) Johannesburg (South Africa) and Nairobi (Kenya).

The lingering question now on the lips of many African populations is: what has water for African cities initiatives achieved so far? The idea was mooted by the African Ministers for Water Affairs (AMCOW). One fact still stands to date that most of the rapidly growing cities are either located in water stress or water scarce regions.

Logo for African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW)

In Kenya, little has been heard of the project. Whether it has reached its target or fell on the way side because, for example, the agony and anguish the women and children suffer searching for water in Nairobi city, Kenya is still enormous. Nairobi city, according to water experts, outgrew the capacity of local sources of water and has forced the city fathers to supply water from several kilometers away from the city.

The programme was undertaken in collaboration with United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UN Habitat), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) within the framework of the United Nations system-wide special initiative on Africa. The initiative was mooted as a follow up of the Cape Town, South Africa Declaration of 1997. It was funded by the United Nations Foundation for International Partnership, known as Turner Foundation, a source at the UNEP headquarters said.

The programme was well thought and could have spearheaded water provision in many African cities but listening how water ministers from different African states were presenting their countries’ water status, during the just ended World Water Day in Cape Town, South Africa, one is inclined to think on the contrary.

In Kenya, water issues have remained thorny among the population’s everyday lives as the country receives a lot of rains that wash everything to the oceans and lakes during rainy season but after three months, lack of water grinds some industries to a halt. The reason has remained that the country’s policy makers have totally failed to unlock the water vicious circle that has plagued the country since time immemorial.

“Why should we have rain water that kills human beings, cause havoc and destruction of property and after a short while, even the hydro- electricity energy powered performs below the set standards”, an energy expert asked.

The government of Kenya has annually allocated millions of dollars to provide its population with water but two things come into play year in year out. Corruption among the projects’ implementers may be one of the reasons while insufficient funding could be another. In some parts of the northern part of the country, livestock are dying due to lack of water while in some areas even human beings are dying because of water related problems.

Kenya’s Minister for Water & Irrigation, Mrs. Charity Ngilu, was on the teenter-hooks for a long time to remove the tag of corrupt deeds that threw her into the hands of the Kenya Anti Corruption czars known as Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC). There have been allegations and counter allegations that some contractors awarded the tender to undertake the work were her relatives and that compromised the quality of work output. She was eventually cleared of the charges of corrupt deals but it looks there are still skeleton in her cupboard, sources observed.

Kenya’s Minister for Water and Irrigation, Mrs. Charity Ngilu

Other cities in Kenya that are always faced with insufficient water challenges are Mombasa and Kisumu. However, in the past years French Development Agencies in conjunction with Kenya government have made some breakthrough in providing water in some selected cities in Kenya. Kisumu and Mombasa cities have registered some achievements through funding by the French Government.

June 14, 2011

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam residents resist increase in water tariff

Gasirigwa Sengiyumva
June 14, 2011

Stakeholders and citizens in Dar es Salaam have aired their resistance to the proposed water tariff hike by the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA).

The concerns were raised on during an enquiry meeting organized by the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (EWURA) to get people’s opinions on the matter before it made a final decision.

DAWASA submitted a proposal to EWURA to increase water tariff in order to meet infrastructural and operational costs and offer reliable and quality services to its clients.

Sewerage Project from Dar es Salaam Tanzania

The water utility wanted to raise its tariff for metered customers from the current 850/- to 2,416/- per cubic meter of water. A cubic meter is equivalent to 1000 litres.

According to critics, the rise is over 180 per cent, something that the people and other stakeholders said would not be practical because DAWASA never considered the consumers’ willingness and ability to pay.

Abdalah Hari, a city resident said, “This is too much for the common person. It will be difficult for people to live in this city.

There is a need to be careful when it comes to increasing water tariffs. This is a basic necessity and the government should see to it that people get access to it at an affordable cost.”

Said Abeid, Chairman of the EWURA Consumer Consultative Council, said his organization did not believe that chronic problems currently facing them and DAWASA such as lack of accountability, inefficiency and thefts would be solved by increasing tariff as was proposed.

“The percentage of water unaccounted for was over 50, which meant that more than a half of what was produced is lost. Billing efficiency of the little that remained was only 70 per cent. Collection was only 50 to 70 per cent of what is billed,” Mr Abeid informed.

He argued that a different strategy needed to be adopted because under the circumstances, quality and sustainable water and sewerage services for Dar es Salaam, Kibaha and Bagamoyo would never be attained no matter how much more tariff was increased.

His council’s stand was that, many of the city’s water supply and sewerage services problems were to a greater extent a result of the existing institutional setup, which affected both DAWASA and DAWASCO.

This makes accountability a difficult thing between them, since one should make the other accountable.

The Government Consultative Council (GCC) through its representative Ms Magreth Ikongwe, echoed its comments on the matter.

According to her, the increase asked by DAWASA was too big. She advised the DAWASA, if possible, to divide the cost into three years’ payment pattern to give relief to water users.

“However, despite the fact that the increase shows DAWASA’s aim to improve its services, GCC advises EWURA to establish first how DAWASA will meet the challenge as its implementation seems to be long termed,” she said.

Dar es Salaam City

Speaking on behalf of EWURA’s Director General, prior to the discussion, Engineer Mutaikulwa Mutegeki, who is the Director of Water and Sewerage services, said the last time his authority approved DAWASA’s increase of tariff was in 2009.

By then DAWASA met all the instructions put forward with regard to the proposed tariff. “This is the fourth proposal to be tabled by DAWASA to EWURA.

We need to make an informed decision on this matter and that is why we value and welcome any opinion by word of mouth, letters or email from all stakeholders in the sector,” added Eng.

Mutegeki. Engineer Boniface Kasiga from DAWASA, pointed out that water waste was a longstanding problem. It cannot be solved over night.

“We need enough funds to deal with this problem by putting in place modern infrastructure, exploit new water sources and offer reliable and quality services to our customers,” said the engineer.

According to him, water demand for Dar es Salaam, Kibaha and Bagamoyo was fast increasing due to growing population, but the infrastructure in place could not meet it.

Production capacity of water was 300,000,000 litres per day while the need was 450,000,000 litres.

June 11, 2011

Ghana: The Country to Miss 2015 MDGs Deadline

Patrick Baidoo
June 11, 2011

With barely four years to the 2015 United Nations deadline for the achievement of provisions outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sub-Saharan Africa’s beacon of democracy Ghana would still need about 40 years to reach at least a 50 percent MDG target.

The country according to the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) sector in Ghana sources is the second behind Mali another West-African country on the ladder of countries which were performing poorly in the attainment of the MDGs on sanitation.

IFESH Volunteer Conducts Sanitation Campaign in Ghana

Without significant improvements in water and sanitation access and hygiene practices the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to child mortality, primary education, disease reduction, environmental sustainability and poverty eradication will not be achieved.

Hence media experts who attended a “Right to Water and Sanitation” workshop, have urged government and its allied agencies in the water and sanitation (WASH) sector, to provide the needed finance, logistics and managerial competence to enhance peoples accessibility to potable water and good sanitary conditions in rural and urban Ghana.

The participants believe that these factors harmonized with technology would alleviate the about five million Ghanaians who do not have access to potable water and the over 19 million persons without sanitation facilities from their current quagmire, respectively.

During plenary in Accra on Friday June 10, 2011, the WASH experts mainly from the Ghana Water and Sanitation Network (GWJN), also identified the deepening of knowledge to the citizens for them uphold their right to proper water and sanitation facilities always as the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reaches its 2015 deadline.

These goals are a set of agreed UN benchmarks that global leaders have rectified to serve as guide towards development in their various countries. For instance Goal 7 on “Ensuring Environmental Sustainability” calls for the halving of human population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities by 2015.

Access to safe drinking water is paramount

The objectives of the workshop as indicated by the Executive Secretary of the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), Ben Arthur was mainly to solicit views from participants on how best to improve the WASH sector in Ghana and also share knowledge.

In his opening remarks he said that Ghana has rectified all international treaties which uphold government and stakeholders to make water accessible and affordable to all hence there was no excuse for the low projections and outcomes in the sector.

“Statistics available indicate that Ghana was the second country in Sub-Sahara Africa with the poorest sanitary conditions.” This situation the CONIWAS boss said was uncalled for and needed to be averted.

“Ghana has achieved only 13 percent out of at least a 50 percent MDG target on sanitation,” to say and as such Mr. Arthur believed noted that the country would need about 40 years to critically avert the situation entirely.

He therefore called for increase budget and monetary allocation to the sector from government to improve conditions.

A WASH consultant, Patrick Apoya also encouraged the media to propagate the issues related to the sector to address the enormous problems so as to make potable water and good sanitary conditions and facilities to all and sundry.

“The citizens should be educated about their right to water to enable them advocate for it at all cost,” he said.

He noted that CONIWAS and other stakeholders would not relent on their ores to achieve the WASH agenda hence the collaboration with the media.
“The right to water requires that all stakeholders take steps to the maximum of available resources to progressively realize the right,” he indicated.

The workshop was organized by CONIWAS and sponsored by Water Aid in Ghana and the Center on Human Rights and Eviction.

June 10, 2011

Kenya: Conservation Efforts by Locals Help Change Local Landscape

Evans Wafula
June 10, 2011

The current crisis of global warming has far-reaching consequences for different people in various parts of the world. Indeed due to this phenomena, areas which otherwise enjoyed predictable weather patterns now receive erratic and more often unreliable rainfall.

On the outskirts of Nairobi, a self-help group consisting of 27 women and 6 men is trying to conserve the environment in a seemingly small but causing impact. The Ngeyu self-help group was founded in 2006 after the locals discovered that the soil erosion that was taking place in their area could be curtailed.

Soil erosion is a major global environmental problem

The massive erosion of the landscape was due to the unabated deforestation that had taken place for close over two decades. This necessitated the formation of the group to try to save their community since the resultant massive landslide during the long rains caused some members to lose their homes.

The first step in fulfilling their mission was to first, get advice from the Forest Service especially on the establishment and maintaining of tree seedlings. After a series of trainings from the government agency, the group was further given training on which tree varieties was suitable for that kind of environment.

In 2007, the group through its chairperson Mrs. Wanjiru planted 16,000 seedlings in their nursery, which were later transplanted on the surrounding hilly side. This particular range of hills that surround the village is very prone to mudslides and so it was a huge relief when during the third year there were no mudslides reported in spite of the heavy rainfall.

Since the program started, the group has been able to plant over 60,000 seedlings across the Kunai Hill and the surrounding area. Other seedlings have been transplanted in schools and hospitals.

The various varieties of trees that are planted by the group as the secretary insists are the Amaranths, eucalyptus, mango, paw paw and blue gum and the passion fruit tree. The seedlings are put in the seedbed that is protected from the sun by shades locally constructed. Each seedling is placed on its own polythene paper bag with just a little amount of fertilizer and water everyday. Depending on their growth, they can be ready for sale or transplanting from between six and eight weeks.

To protect the seedlings from being damaged, the group members on rotation guard the kunai hill, and this has bore fruits since local farmers used to graze their livestock around the area. The environment here now looks green with various tree varieties taking root and changing the vegetation cover.

The Ngeyu group sells the seedlings at about $2 per tree, after which the money is collected and put into the members group account. About 30 seedlings are sold per day, thanks to increased awareness about conserving the environment throughout the country.

From the sales members can get to get a monthly allowance of about $100 to cater for their basic needs. The rest can be loaned to members at a minimal interest rate of one percent, repayable within a month. This has enabled members to take their children to school while others have started their own business to supplement their earnings.

Some of the benefits, which the group can boast of, are improved livelihood for the members. This is especially so from the earnings derived from the sale of the tree seedlings, which they deliver to the local community, schools and the neighbouring districts.

Besides Ngeyu Group’s conservation efforts, the members also engage in educating other self-help groups with a view of empowering them to change the environment and make a living out of it. The trainings essentially involve how to start tree seedlings, maintaining them and looking for markets to sell the various varieties.

Slowly by slowly, the Ngeyu self-help group has managed to tame the effects of deforestation that was harming their village and in the process have been able to get their daily bread from their conservation efforts.

June 10, 2011

Tanzania: Almost half water supply is wasted through leaks

Gasirigwa Sengiyumva
June 10, 2011

Given its current economic situation, Tanzania cannot afford to spend its constrained resources on producing water that is allowed to go to waste.

Yet much water is wasted, stakeholders have argued. Complaining to the writer, on various occasions, residents of Ubungo expressed their concern over wastage of water due to leakage of pipes in the area.

“You see, we get water on ration basis here, and each time it flows in most cases it doesn’t reach where it is supposed to go.

A leaking water pipe

All the pipes along this street are either punctured or cut. Much of the water just flows uncontrollably; making the area look like it has just rained.

I really feel bad about this, considering that people spend money that they could otherwise use on other purposes to purchase gallons of water from vendors,” laments a stakeholder who wished to be referred to as Mangi, a resident of Rombo street in Ubungo.

He added that the water they buy from vendors is sometimes not safe since it is fetched from wells and it is saline.

“Whenever construction activities are carried out (road rehabilitation), these caterpillars sever all our pipes, and it is even worse if the road levelling is taking place at the same time when water is flowing.

The roads turn muddy and pose a problem to pedestrians,” argued Mama Leyla, a fruit vendor in Kimara Kona. She said each time it happens, it takes time for authorities to solve the problem and sometimes they don’t repair the pipes at all.

“That is why it is always easy to know when water has been distributed to our area, since it will be flowing all over,” she added.

When approached for comment, an official from the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) said once they get the information on leaks, they work on the news and take action to rectify the problem, though they agreed that it might take a bit longer, sometimes due to several challenges, such as procurement procedures.

DAWASCO is a sole provider of water supply and sewerage Services in Dar es Salaam city and parts of Coast region.

The Corporation is responsible for the management, operation, and maintenance of water supply and waste water disposal services.

“Some of these people contribute to this problem; they cut pipes especially when they are doing illegal connections.

It is true that other pipes are worn out due to road maintenance activities, and those pipes laid along the roads are the ones mostly affected,” said Ms Theresia Mlengu from the Public Relations department.

She said because of these problems, not only does the company lose income due to unpaid bills because many people get water for free from illegal connections, but the organisation also suffers loss from leaking pipes.

“We lose 45 per cent of water through leaks, but I’m glad to tell you that we have a project called ‘non-revenue water’, which is supposed to identify all places where water is wasted through leaks and suggest possible solutions. Believe me, we are working on it,” Ms Mlengu informed. She said the community has a role to play in this matter.

“Once you see a leak, try to take care of it first by either using rubber or anything suitable before you call us.

This way it will help reduce the amount of water wasted,” she appealed. Stakeholders argue that water education programmes that focus on formal education to educate children, youth and the community in general on the principles of management, protection and conservation should be put in place.

This will enable them to become better water managers of tomorrow. The average level of unaccounted for water is about 50 per cent in urban areas, and as much as 70 per cent of the water used for irrigation is lost and not used by plants, according to UN Water/Africa.

The report says these high levels of water wastage may be attributed to the existence of perverse incentives or to the use of inefficient technologies.

In case of water supply, a major contributory factor is the neglected maintenance of installed equipment.

The report adds that in many African countries, limited resources borrowed for water supply goes to rehabilitating installed technologies instead of expanding services.

June 3, 2011

Volta Basin: Phase Two of Challenge Programme on Water and Food Launched

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
June 3, 2011

Experts on water and food production in the dry areas of Ghana and Burkina Faso and representatives of Development Partners, have noted the importance of small reservoirs in serving multiple purposes including domestic water supply, livestock, small scale irrigation, and limited aquaculture for communities.

Such reservoirs are common property resources that also help communities to cushion themselves against intense dry seasons.

The experts agreed that the sustainability of these small reservoirs depends on improved rain water management, which has the potential to reduce the vulnerability of the poor to dry weather conditions. They observed that the effectiveness of these reservoirs has often been undermined by poor institutional and technical mechanisms required to build, maintain and sustain them for optimal socially equitable benefits.

Volta Basin

These issues were the focus of discussions at a three-day workshop in Accra, which was climaxed with the launch of the second phase of the Challenge Programme on Water and Food (CPWF) in the Volta Basin.

A cross section of participants at the workshop held in Accra

The CPWF is one of the challenge programs on the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and it is being hosted by the Volta Basin Authority (VBA) in Ouagadougou.

The first phase of the research based project was implemented over a five year period from 2003 to 2008 and involved about 12 activities including improving varieties of crops for cultivation, rain harvesting and water management.The current phase is a three-year project spanning 2010 to 2013, and involves a number of research based projects aimed to improve rainwater and small reservoir management, contribute to poverty reduction, and improved livelihoods resilience in the dry lands of Burkina Faso and Northern Ghana.

They will also take into accounts the implications of the activities for the environment including ecosystem services.

At the launch of the programme, the Basin Leader of the Project Dr. Olufunke Cofie gave an outline of the five major projects to be implemented. She said the first research project will develop a web-based “decision-support tool” that will identify likely sites to introduce agricultural water management (AWM) interventions for smallholder farming systems based on assessments of social, economic and biophysical conditions.

The second will identify, evaluate, adapt, and disseminate best-fit integrated rainwater management strategies. The third focuses on integrated management options and multiple uses of small reservoirs. These include sustaining infrastructures, protecting and improving the water quality for the various uses and enhancing water productivity potentials.

The forth research project will include issues that govern Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policy-making and practice in the basin and identify demand-driven opportunities for the management and the governance of rainwater and small reservoirs at the watershed (sub-basin) level. This will enhance impacts of on-going policy initiatives in the Volta basin.

While the fifth project will ensure coherence amongst the four projects and manage their interdependences in order to integrate and align the research activities to stakeholders needs so as to contribute to poverty reduction and improved livelihood resilience in the Basin.

Dr. Cofie said the success of these research projects, will make available decision support tools to guide the out-scaling of successful agricultural water management interventions in appropriate locations in Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso. It will also ensure that rainwater is managed more appropriately leading to positive impacts on crop and livestock productivity, farm profitability, environmental resilience, and human well-being in the longer term.

Dr. Olufunke Cofie making her presentation

She stressed that the success will further engender stronger community-level institutions to manage and maintain small reservoirs to maximise the benefits from multiple uses, while it will ensure that the interaction between local and higher level institutions will be strengthened and mutually supportive.

The Director –General of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Baba Salifu noted that Ghana stands to benefit from the project. He however expressed concern about the lack of appreciation on the part of Ghanaians for resources such as water and urged engineers in the country, “to design road networks that harness water resources,” and said, “current designs tend to waste water resources.”

Representatives of the Minister of Agriculture of Burkina Faso,
Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Research and Innovation and Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science and Technology noted that this programme would improve the quality of lives of the local people throughout the basin.

The Executive Director of the Volta Basin Authority, Dr. Charles Biney described the meeting as an encouraging platform that will contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the region.

The Volta basin lies predominantly in Ghana and Burkina Faso, with small areas in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo. These countries rank amongst the poorest in the world. The basin is inhabited by about 19 million people, 70 per cent of whom are rural. The economies of the area are basically reliant on agriculture, mostly rain-fed crossing four agro-ecological zones, with rainfall varying between 500 to 1100 millimeters per year. Highly variable rainfall during the growing season presents problems of short season droughts, even where total rainfall appears adequate.

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