Archive for October, 2011

October 28, 2011

ZAMBIA: WASH Stakeholders to Meet over Water Management

NEWTON SIBANDA
28 October, 2011

STAKEHOLDERS in the water and sanitation sectors through an initiative dubbed ‘The Zambia Water Forum and Exhibition (ZAWAFE)’ will be hosting a forum on ensuring sustainable and sound water management in Zambia through stakeholder participation.

The forum, to be held at Lusaka’s Golfview Hotel from 7th to 8th November 2011 will seek to identify scientific and policy options to adapt to a new reality

Water supply and management remains a problem in several developing countries

This is in recognition of the fact that water plays an important role in all sectors of the economy and is critical to food and agriculture, energy, health, industry, transport, tourism development and other sectors. It is also in recognition of the fact that despite Zambia’s water sector reforms having resulted in the development and implementation of institutional and regulatory frameworks, the country still faces challenges in bringing together different stakeholders to share and build networks in the management and use of water.

The key stakeholders working in the water and related sectors include government ministries such as Lands, Energy and Water Development; and Local Government, Housing Early Education and Environmental Protection.

The forum is envisaged to become an annual event.

The objective of the forum is to bring together various national and international stakeholders, to discuss and share best practices on water management and mainstreaming water as a core component of economic development.

Issues to be addressed include knowledge and research, policy formulation and implementation, adaptation of strategies that would ensure sustainability and sound water management in Zambia.

In addition, the roles of government, private sector, non-governmental organizations and cooperating partners will be addressed.

Several speakers have been identified to tackle critical thematic areas during the forum.

They include Lands, Energy and Water Development minister Chris Yaluma who will be addressing ‘Policy, Institutional and Legal Frameworks governing water in Zambia: Status and plans for the future.’

Finance and National Planning minister Alexander Chikwanda will address the ‘Economic Benefits of Water in Zambia’s Development: Status and Plans for the future.

October 28, 2011

UGANDA: High population threatens wetlands

Hope Mafaranga
28 October, 2011

Uganda has extensive wetland coverage, although information on the exact size and distribution is yet to be documented.

Current estimates put the total area of Uganda’s wetlands at 33,000 Km2; about 13% of the country’s total area.

However, Uganda’s wetlands are faced with threats of degradation especially resulting from population pressure and economic development. To give you a deep analysis of this problem, one of our members Hope Mafaranga talks to a Ugandan environmental scientist who also works with the government about the current status of this issue, innervations and recommendations.

Sam Mugume, an environmental scientist, says that wetlands throughout the country are increasingly being encroached on and reclaimed mainly for agriculture and settlements.

Wetlands throughout Uganda face many threats, including dam construction, upstream catchment degradation, farming and oil exploration

Mugume, who is also the Kabarole district natural resources officer, says that the impact of human activities is far-reaching and threatens the integrity and sustainability of the vital wetland resources.

He explains that the current and potential impacts include increased floods, shortage of building and crafts materials and reduction in fish productivity, decline in water quantity and quality, reduced ground water recharge and a decline in the water table as exemplified by the disappearance of springs and non-functionality of shallow wells in some areas.

“Changing climatic conditions has also forced people to look for wetter and cooler areas for their crops during dry spells,” further notes Mugume

He notes that the situation in Kabarole district is not any different from the national scenario; wetlands are continuously being degraded through various ways despite the availability of regulations and policies at national and district level.

Encroachment and destruction of wetlands due to a growing population looking for more agricultural land, settlement, excavation for construction materials; and pollution by slaughter slabs, pit latrines, car washing bays and markets, remains a big in wetland protection according to Mugume.

Findings and current status
Mugume says that wetlands in Kabarole district are home to a number of endemic species of both flora and fauna, adding that wetlands are also a source of medicinal plants and human food nutrients like fish and small game.

The bird species include the ibis, egrets, crested cranes, hornbills, herons, and guinea fowls among other many various type of small and bigger ones.

“Fauna found in these wetlands are among the leading tourist attractions in the district. These include Colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, bushbucks, baboons, porcupines, sitatunga, bush pigs, duikers and edible rats,” he explains.

The 2011 wetland inventory established the following regarding the wetlands in the district: the major dominant vegetation in most wetlands is papyrus (60%), water reeds (25%) and sedges (15%).

He says that most of the wetlands had all the three aquatic plants and a few were being invaded by invasive shrubs but it is also evident that those being invaded by shrubs have also been heavily silted.

The other activities recorded included, sand mining, fish farming, and collection of firewood, collection of handcraft materials, recreational activities and settlement.

“Subsistence farming and animal husbandry were the most significantly dominant activities around and inside wetlands,” he remarks.

Despite the knowledge among community members that there is need to conserve wetlands, communities are not aware about ownership of wetlands and water bodies.

Some people in Uganda think it is not illegal to reclaim wetlands

Interventions to end the current situation by district

Mugume says that the district has enacted the production and environment ordinance which has specific sections for wetland management.

He adds that they have established environment committees and trained environmental monitors at a community level to serve environmental restoration orders and notices.

Mugume further explains that they also supported one community wetland management plan, to mobilize the community and create awareness on environmental related activities.

He however explains that despite the efforts by government and her partners, degradation of wetlands still goes on, unless a strategy is intensified and changed to involve the community as much as possible so as to take up responsibility of their resources; then there won’t be positive results.

Recommendations
Mugume notes that supporting community wetland management system through development and implementing of wetland management action plans, providing alternatives for best utilization of wetlands, sensitization and support to community policing, restoration of the degraded wetlands, law enforcement and strong dedication of government in conserving and protecting wetlands from depletion.

He however, discloses that the 2010 wetland inventory for Burahya County and Fort Portal municipality in Kabarole district recommended the need to restore wetlands and gazette the inventoried wetlands as provided under the wetland and riverbank management regulations.

“There must be a deliberate effort by government and her development partners to promote community wetland management and policing through the administration at sub county level,” he says.

He notes that the community should do a day to day monitoring of wetlands and regularly submitting a list of degraders to the sub county and the district for legal prosecution.

October 28, 2011

UGANDA: ingestion of contaminated food and water remains a problem

Hope Mafaranga
28 October, 2011

A local leader in Uganda has lamented that ingestion of contaminated food or water which leads to typhoid fever has remained a big problem in his district.

Typhoid fever is caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria, and it is most commonly transmitted through the fecal-oral route. Patients with typhoid can contaminate the water supply with their stool, where the bacteria flourish. The food supply can become contaminated by infected stool, poor sanitation, or someone who fails to wash his hands after using the toilet.

The World Health Organization (WHO) deemed typhoid fever a serious problem in endemic areas (India, Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America) where there are between 16 and 33 million cases each year that result in over half a million deaths.

The map showing the endemic (light geen) and the highly endemic (dark green) regions of the world

Now in Uganda, the disease has killed at least 10 in Bundibujo district according to the district chairperson there Jolly Tibemanya.

“Washing and bathing in rivers and streams must stop now. We have so far buried ten people in Kirumya sub-county who died of typhoid those results from poor hygiene,” she says.

In November last year, typhoid also killed eight people and left 17 other affected in Kasitu sub-county causing panic of re-occurrence of Ebola in the mountainous area.

The victims had symptoms of high temperatures, stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and were urinating blood.

Tibemanya says that over 4,000 households in Bundibugyo district lack pit latrine.

She however notes that government is committed to giving the people of Bundibugyo in the western region clean and safe water in order to reduce water borne diseases.

Launching the rehabilitation of Nyaruru gravity scheme and Ndugutu gravity scheme in Harugare sub-county, Tibemanya said that water coverage in the district stands at 64 percent, compared to 21 percent in the past years.

“Water coverage has improved from 21 percent in 2007 to 64 percent and our target is to make to 80 percent in the next two years,” he says.

He discloses that Sirafford Uganda Limited was given the contract of rehabilitating both Nyaruru and Ndugutu gravity flow schemes at a tune of 133 million shillings.

The chairperson urges people to stop washing dirty clothes and bathing in running water which he says poses a health threat to the people using this water.

She also says that the district is the process of passing a bylaw to punish the culprits who are found washing in the rivers and streams where people draw water from for domestic use.

Speaking during the same occasion, the district’s community development officer in charge WASH project Caesar Olega disclosed that each community where the tap will be erected will be contributing 50,000 shillings once for the maintenance of the gravity flow scheme.

Olega urges the beneficiaries to observe 100 percent hygiene as one way of remaining health.

October 17, 2011

INDIA: The 6th World Water Forum to attract 25,000 people in Marseille, France

WJA Reporter
15th October, 2011

The world’s largest meeting focusing on water takes place in France in March next year.

The 6th World Water Forum, co-organized by the French Government, the City of Marseilles and the World Water Council, will be held in Marseille, France in March 2012.

This is according to the organizers of this forum. They were briefing participants at this year’s Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene in Mumbai India.

The 6th World Water Forum's Logo

The World Water Forum takes place every after three years. It is meant to mobilize creativity, innovation, competence and know-how in favor of water.

The 6th World Water Forum intends to mobilize the entire water community and also “out of the water box” especially on strategic issues related to food, health and energy. To achieve this, it will facilitate an open dialogue with all stakeholders, with a special focus on citizens and civil society.

About 25,000 visitors are expected from all countries of the world. The forum will last 5 days from 12th to 17th March and will include political, thematic, regional and local agendas.

Nearly 1 billion people suffer needlessly without access to safe, clean water worldwide.

October 17, 2011

India: Sanitation and Hygiene Should be as Prominent as Immunisation

WJA Reporter
15th October, 2011

The Executive Director Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council Jon Lane wants issues of sanitation and hygiene to be as prominent as immunisation worldwide.

He however laments that this might take long.

“There is still a long way to go before sanitation becomes as prominent as immunisation,” notes Lane.

Jon Lane, Executive Director Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

He was speaking at the closure of this year’s Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene in Mumbai India.

Lane highlighted the importance of improved sanitation and hygiene in economic development of countries and called for finding political and social solutions to sanitation and hygiene issues.

“We need to spend time persuading politicians that sanitation is important for them,” he stressed.

Lane suggested that for sanitation for all to be achieved, there is need for working hard, speaking plain language for everybody to understand, strong leadership and thinking big.

Earlier, while speaking in one of the breakout sessions, Nomathemba Neseni, Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of Zimbabwe noted that all people have a right to improved sanitation and hygiene. She termed these rights as, “the second generation rights.”

Likewise, throughout the week, participants at this forum who totalled to close to 500 called for working together to ensure sanitation and hygiene for all people.

Participants listen attentively during the Forum

In one of the breakout session, the participants resolved that punishments alone may not motivate people to change behaviours but community involvement. They were referring to the use of punishments and sanctions to end open defecation and enforce construction and use of pit latrines in rural communities.

However, Julian Kyomuhangi, assistant commissioner, ministry of Health, Uganda noted that the role and use of rewards and sanctions to motivate people to change behaviours was working effectively in Uganda.

Kyomuhangi disclosed that this method had helped to motivate people to construct pit latrines and stop open defecation in most parts of northern and central Uganda.

The 2011 Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene offered to the participants a crucial opportunity to share ideas on leadership, skills, knowledge, behavior change and actions that can improve the lives of the 2.6 billion people in the world without safe sanitation and hygiene.

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) was the conference host and organizer.

October 10, 2011

INDIA: WASH journalists told to mind about the impact

WJA Reporter
October 10, 2011

Over 500 people from across the world are in Mumbai, India attending the global forum on sanitation and hygiene.
The forum which kicked off on Sunday at Mumbai convention centre hotel has attracted participants from various sectors in countries where sanitation and hygiene are issues these days.

The participants include over 25 journalists who had a one-day workshop that focused on reporting on water, sanitation and hygiene.

The journalists were addressed by various important people including Amanda Marlin, the programme Manager Advocacy and communication at Water Supply Collaborative Council (WSSCC)

In her address, Amanda urged the journalists to be advocates for “transparency and accountability.” This, she noted would compel service providers in the sanitation and hygiene sectors to provide the right services to the people.

Amanda Marlin, the programme Manager Advocacy and communication at Water Supply Collaborative Council (WSSCC) on the extreme left. On the extreme right is Jon Lane, Executive Director, WSSCC

Amanda further stressed the need for feedback mechanism in the process of reporting on WASH issues to ensure the necessary impact.

The other speaker at this journalists’ workshop was Jon Sawyer, the Director of the US-based Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Jon Sawyer, Director , Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

He briefed the journalists about the West Africa reporting on water and sanitation initiative of the Pulitzer Center’s on Crisis Reporting. This initiative, as Sawyer noted, aims at improve the quality of reporting on WASH by drawing on the knowledge, skills and experience of the West African journalists while giving them a global voice.

Babatobi Babatope- the General Secretary for the West Africa Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Journalists Network also address the journalists. He noted that the network has helped WASH journalists in West Africa to overcome various challenges in reporting on WASH issues.

Babatobi Babatope,General Secretary, West Africa Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Journalists Network

He encouraged the journalists to report on other sectors in their countries apart from WASH issues to ensure that their countries achieve Millennium Development Goals.

The international journalists were also introduced to Water Journalists Africa- a network of water journalists in Africa who report on water by Fredrick Mugira, the editor for the network’s site http://www.waterjournalistsafrica.wordpress.com
Mugira encouraged African journalists to be part of this network.

He briefed them on the pleasing achievements the network has been able to achieve in just 6 months after it was started by African journalists who report on water. Journalists from Asia expressed interests to be part of this network.

The workshop goes on till Friday.

October 5, 2011

Mumbai/Geneva: Experts gathering in Mumbai seek toilet-powered economic, educational, health and social gains

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council
4 October 2011

A generation after man walked on the moon, a billion people on earth still defecate in the open and another billion use unsafe holes in the ground. Now sanitation is becoming much more prominent: as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said recently: “It is time to put sanitation and access to proper toilets at the centre of our development discussions.”

Some 500 activists, business leaders, health professionals, governmental officials and others will do just that by focusing on the topic at next week’s first-ever Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene (www.wsscc-global-forum.org) in Mumbai, India.

Anna Tibaijuka Chair, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

Arranged 9-14 October by the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the Governments of India and Maharashtra, the Forum aims to highlight how to save millions of lives around the world through handwashing, how to build educational opportunities for teenage girls through separate latrines, and how to “invest in waste” through biogas-generating toilets and other entrepreneurial innovation.

Of the 2.6 billion people living without safe and clean toilets, roughly a third live in South Asia, a third in sub-Saharan Africa and a third in China. These people are unable to fulfil their daily needs with safety, convenience and dignity. There are good reasons to turn this situation around, including evidence that points to the negative economic impacts of poor sanitation.

“Poor sanitation is costing developing countries between 3 and 7% of GDP,” said Anna Tibaijuka, chair of WSSCC. “Improved access to toilets has the potential to reduce healthcare costs, improve productivity, increase earnings from tourism and promote greater educational attainment, especially among girls. When a school has separate toilets for girls, with doors that lock, their attendance rates improve, especially once they reach menstruation.”

“Governments of developing countries need to continue to place a high priority on supporting improved access to sustainable sanitation services, while prioritizing sector investments and providing a clear roadmap to ensure comprehensive coverage to the poor and underprivileged, in particular,” added Jon Lane, executive director of WSSCC.

He said one aim of the Forum is to help put sanitation higher at the national, regional and global political levels, in part by building links between practitioners and policymakers.

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