Archive for November, 2011

November 28, 2011

Ghana: Government and UN Usher Accelerated Framework for achieving MDG on Sanitation

Patrick Baidoo
November 28, 2011

Ghana is set to boost plans for achieving the 54 percent Millennium Development Goal [MDG] target on sanitation as government with support from the United Nations [UN] launches a “Millennium Accelerated Framework”, document with detailed action oriented components to tackle the huge sanitation problems confronting the country.

The document prepared by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in collaboration with UNICEF and UN-Habitat both UN agencies, and sloganned “Go Sanitation Go”, is designed essentially to make access to sanitation facilities easy and affordable and also raise the needed capital in that direction. It critically takes into account the need to streamline structures and pave a conducive path to achieve the MDGs.

This has become necessary because according to statistics published by the UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Platform, Ghana’s sanitation coverage stood at 10 percent as at the end of 2006, hence, Ghana ranks number 48 in Africa, out of the 52 countries reported and 14 out of the 15 countries in West Africa, beating only Niger to the last position.

The report further showed that both local and international reports indicate that more than four million people in Ghana resort to defecating in bushes, drains and fields, while the country was lingering with a 13 per cent threshold on the sanitation MDG ladder.

Hence, according to the UNICEF, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene [WASH], Othniel Habila, in an interview with Ghana WASH Times in Accra recently, the document has outlined practical ways to deal with the bottlenecks which has resulted in the down trend on good sanitation practices and provision of facilities and has “A big potential to help achieve the MDG on sanitation or assist in making inroads before 2015, if we do not do business as usual”.

He noted,”Concrete analysis has been done in a number of areas and priorities have been assigned to ensure accelerated growth in the provision of sanitation facilities”, thus all is set to launch the document at the upcoming National Environment and Science Conference in Kumasi, from December 6 – 9, 2011.

Despite an increase in the number of latrines, open defecation is widely practiced in several developing nations

According to the UN WASH specialist , this document takes into consideration three critical elements like Community Lead Total Sanitation [CLTS], Micro – Financing of sanitation projects to scale up the process and a system for managing waste. The CLTS, as he said was moduled for dwellers and leaders in rural communities globally to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation (OD) and take their own action to become ODF (open defecation free), after being triggered.

At the heart of CLTS lies the recognition that merely providing toilets does not guarantee their use, nor result in improved sanitation and hygiene and also focuses on the behavioral change needed to ensure real sustainable improvements – investing in community mobilization instead of hardware, and shifting the focus from toilet construction for individual households to the creation of “open defecation-free” villages.

By raising awareness that as long as even a minority continues to defecate in the open everyone is at risk of disease, CLTS triggers the community’s desire for change, propels them into action and encourages innovation, mutual support and appropriate local solutions, thus leading to greater ownership and sustainability.

“This means that the era of providing subsidies to households to construct their own latrines over the years was over because the few years of introduction of this initiative everywhere has achieved more success than the subsidy based concept”, he noted.

The sanitation micro – financing strategy had also worked in Nigeria hence it’s worthy of emulation in Ghana, Mr. Habila indicated. “This concept basically looks at revolving loan schemes where members of business associations, traders and artisans are given monies to engage in economic ventures with the agreement that a portion of the profits would be used in the construction of sanitary or toilet facilities in their homes to scale up the process at the household level”. This forms part of strategic investment fund or plan as indicated in the document.

On the third approach, he outlined that it was meant to integrate waste management into the scheme of things with practical action oriented methods and measures. “The waste management approach will look at faecal waste and how it can be turned into an economic venture; treat both liquid and solid waste and how to decentralize the whole process efficiently.”

Mr. Habila, noted that it is incumbent on all that matter to ensure that the strategies and action plans outlined in the document is implemented and made to work because it would serve as a path to achieve the MDG on sanitation and help propel total development. “We should not do business as usual to achieve the sanitation objectives or make in roads by 2015.”

November 28, 2011

African governments signing away water rights for decades

George Mhango
November 26,2011

The International Institute for Environment and Development has warned in published paper today that African governments are signing away water rights for decades with insufficient regard for how this will affect millions of local users, including fishing, farming and pastoralist communities.

The water rights often feature in the growing number of large land deals that governments are signing with investors as many of these areas require irrigation to be viable.

Such deals have already raised concerns for being rushed, secretive and one-sided. Many fail to deliver real benefits and can even create new social and environmental problems.

Now, researchers at IIED warn that governments risk signing away water rights in ways that harm the future prospects of their citizens, especially fishermen and pastoralists, who rely on the same water as the investors.

UN Water reports that by 2025, developing countries will increase their water consumption by 50 percent and 75 percent of countries will face water scarcity by 2050

Some investors in Mali and Sudan have been given unrestricted access to as much water as they need.

“Companies that acquire land for irrigated farming will want secure water rights, but long-term contractual commitments can jeopardise water access for local farmers,” says co-author Lorenzo Cotula. “This affects not only the people who have customarily used the land that is being leased, but also distant downstream users who can be hundreds of kilometres away and even across an international border.”

The Gibe III dam in Ethiopia will enable irrigation on 150,000 of land the Ethiopian government has allocated to investors, but studies suggest this project would lower the level of Kenya’s Lake Turkana – on which half a million Kenyans depend — by eight metres by 2024.

“The ‘global water crisis’ is a crisis of water management, not of water quantity,” says the paper’s lead author Jamie Skinner, a principal researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development. “Good water management in the face of climate change is only possible if it is clear who the water belongs to, who holds rights to its use and when allocations to all users are made in a transparent way.”

November 22, 2011

Competition for inventors in developing nations to create a low-cost and easy-to-use water purification device launched

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
November 22, 2011

University of South Florida’s Patel School of Global Sustainability through its Center for Global Solutions and with the support of the International Water Association (IWA) has launched the first Patel Grand Challenge, a challenge to inventors in developing nations to create a low-cost and easy-to-use water purification device that could save millions from the perils of contaminated drinking water.

The official launch took place at the IWA Development Congress & Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur where more than 600 participants attended from around the world.

Philanthropist Kiran C. Patel along with School of Global Sustainability Director Kala Vairavamoorthy announced the competition at the conference opening ceremony following a keynote address by Peter Chin Fah Kui, Malaysia’s minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water

World health officials report that one in eight people do not have access to safe drinking water, and more than half the diseases worldwide are caused by dirty water. By some estimates, a child dies every 20 seconds – some 1.5 million children each year – from waterborne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea.

Millions of people in developing countries collect their drinking water from contaminated water sources using water pots and Jerrycans

Millions of people in developing countries collect their drinking water from contaminated water sources using water pots and Jerrycans. The Patel Grand Challenge seeks the invention of a technologically-advanced yet inexpensive “Smart Pot” that would automatically disinfect water at the point it is collected.

“Those who live in developing countries know the problem; they see it and live with it each day. I’m sure that they have thought of ingenious and innovative ways to solve this problem,” Patel said. “I’m confident that next year we will have a tried and tested design of the Smart Pot. Let’s make the Smart Pot a reality.”

The challenge welcomes pre-proposal submissions through March 2012. Five applicants will be selected for a shortlist and awarded up to US $8,000. The finalists will be invited to prepare full proposals that will be reviewed by an international panel of experts at a major event. The winning proposal will receive up to US $100,000. Working alongside the Patel Center of Global Solutions, the winner will then build and develop a prototype of the Smart Pot.

More than half the diseases worldwide are caused by dirty water like the one above.

“It is wonderful that the Patel Center has initiated the Patel Grand Challenge initiative. The first of these challenges – the Smart Pot, will revolutionize lives around the world, particularly the poor and vulnerable in our society,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “USF is proud to be part of such a noble and innovative challenge. I wish all potential inventors and researchers success.”

This competition is open to applicants from academic and research institutions, consulting firms and NGOs that are officially registered and located within developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“One of the primary goals of the Patel School of Global Sustainability is to support results-oriented research solutions. We are very grateful to Dr. Patel for financially supporting this important initiative that applies to a problem encountered across so many different countries,” Vairavamoorthy said.

The Patel School of Global Sustainability houses USF’s research and education in global sustainability. The Patel School of Global Sustainability comprises the Patel Center for Global Solutions, the M.A. Program in Global Sustainability and the university’s Office of Sustainability.

November 18, 2011

Africa going backwards on continent’s biggest child killer

Abdulkarim Ssengendo
November 18, 2011

A new report Off-track, off-target, released today by the international charity WaterAid (, shows that there are more people in the world today lacking adequate sanitation services than in 1990.

Unless urgent action is taken, nearly all governments in Sub-Saharan African will fail to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) pledge they made to halve the proportion of people without sanitation by 2015.

A pitlatrine at Kitojo Primary school in Mbarara district Uganda.

On the current trajectory, it will take over two centuries for Sub-Saharan Africa to meet its sanitation MDG target. What is more, only 20 countries in the region are on track to meet the water MDG target by 2015. All of this has massive consequences for child mortality in Africa.

Released a day before World Toilet Day, the report states that to get the sanitation and water MDGs back on track, countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to spend at least 3.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) on these services.

The report also calls on donor countries to double global aid flows to water, sanitation and hygiene by prioritizing an additional US$10 billion per year.

The report also identifies that it is Africa’s poorest people who are being left behind; poor people in Africa are five times less likely to have access to adequate sanitation and over 15 times more likely to practise open defecation than Africa’s rich.

According to WaterAid, governments should tackle this inequity through better targeting of water and sanitation resources and services to the poor.

The WaterAid report highlights that the shortfall in water and sanitation services costs Sub-Saharan African countries around 5% of GDP each year ($47.7 billion in 2009), more than is provided in development aid to the entire continent ($47.6 billion in 2009).

In a coordinated move, an international group of 34 female economists have also written an open letter to the leaders of eleven donor and developing country governments, to draw attention to the international water and sanitation crisis. In it they state:
“On the day you read this letter, 4,000 more children under five will die due to diseases brought about through unsafe water and poor sanitation. This equates to more child deaths than AIDS, malaria and measles combined, making it the biggest child killer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Every $1 invested in water and sanitation generates on average an $8 return; making it the deal that will deliver for billions of the poorest people across the globe.”

Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said:
“Governments in both donor and developing countries have it in their power to save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives every year by increasing what they spend on water and sanitation. Investments in these basic services are engines of economic growth and prosperity in developing countries, but unless we grasp this opportunity we will be failing the millions of poor people whose health, livelihoods and opportunities suffer because they lack these essential services.”

The Off-track, off-target report is being published on the day WaterAid launches the Water Works campaign to urge governments across the world to do more to tackle the water and sanitation crisis. The campaign aims to show world leaders that taps and toilets are simple, effective and affordable, and that investing in these basic human needs is an urgent priority.

On World Toilet Day WaterAid will also join other members of the End Water Poverty campaign in 50 coordinated ‘Crisis Talk’ events in over 20 countries where local groups will be meeting with politicians to discuss the water and sanitation crisis.

In Tanzania, Crisis Talk events are being organised to coincide with the local government budgeting cycle; in the UK, WaterAid’s local supporter groups are meeting with their Members of Parliament; in Bangladesh regional events will be held where the public affected by poor water and sanitation provision will hold members of parliament to account.

Every day 2,000 children die due to diarrhoea brought about by a lack of safe water and inadequate sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the biggest cause of deaths of children under the age of five in the region. Four out of ten people don’t have access to safe water, while seven out of ten people don’t have access to adequate sanitation.

November 16, 2011

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor to chair the Sanitation and Water for All partnership

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Geneva
November 16, 2011

His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of Ghana (2001-2009) and former Chairperson of the African Union (2007–2008), will be the first high-level Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership.

Kufuor is a passionate global advocate for leadership, governance and development. He is widely regarded for his African and international statesmanship, and his contributions have been recognized through awards such as the 2011 World Food Prize.

John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of Ghana

In accepting the position, former President Kufuor said: “The dream of sanitation and water for every person is within reach, but it will take a great deal of political will, adequate resources, and coordinated efforts. I am committed to making this happen, because I am not content to live in a world where 2.6 billion people lack access to a decent toilet and 900 million people do not have clean water to drink.”

Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) is an alliance of governments, donors, civil society organizations, development partners and water and sanitation agencies.

It is working to increase funding, improve the efficiency of resource use and strengthen the evidence base for the water supply and sanitation sector. The partnership convenes a biennial High Level Meeting to raise political awareness, supports countries in their efforts to develop action-oriented plans and works with UN-WATER and WHO to produce the Global Analysis and Assessment of Drinking Water and Sanitation (GLAAS) report.

Kufuor will chair the next SWA High Level Meeting at the World Bank in Washington, DC, on 20 April 2012. The meeting will bring together Finance Ministers and Water Ministers from developing countries, along with their counterparts from donor countries and sector experts. It will focus on the significant economic gains that can be made from investing in sanitation and water and the costs of failing to invest.

“Former President Kufuor has long been a campaigner for better access to water and sanitation.” said Darren Saywell, SWA Vice-Chair and WASH/CLTS Director at Plan International USA. “His leadership will help bring greater political attention to this neglected development issue”.

Since leaving office, former President Kufuor has joined by invitation the global elite Club of Madrid of former world leaders; assumed the presidency of the Italian development organisation, Alliance for Africa, working in health and education sectors on the continent; assumed the Chair of the Governing Council of Interpeace, a UN-supported Geneva-based alliance organisation for peace operating in 17 countries around the world. He has also been serving as World Food Programme Ambassador of the UN Against Hunger and engaged in field work in rural Kenya and Ethiopia advocating modern farming practices and food security policies.

November 12, 2011

Asia: For South Asians, sanitation means ‘dignity’ and ‘cleanliness’

This is a special report from South Asia WASH Media Forum, our sister network of Journalists in South Asia who report on WASH issues.

Amar Guriro
November 12, 2011

KARACHI – For the people of South Asia, sanitation means “dignity” and “cleanliness”, said a report released on by WaterAid together with the Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA) and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

The report is titled “South Asian people’s perspective on sanitation”. The report – put together from interviews conducted in South Asian countries, focus group discussions held with underprivileged communities and social groups across Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – aims to bring the people behind the crude statistics into the sanitation debate.

Makeshift houses in Dharavi, the real Mumbai slum from 'Slumdog Millionaire', often described as the largest slum in Asia.

Talking about the report, WaterAid’s Mustafa Talpur said sanitation has never been on the agenda of SAARC in 16 summits over the span of 25 years. He said, “The Millennium Development Goal target for sanitation to be achieved by 2015 rests with countries in South Asia.

If South Asia makes progress on sanitation, then the world will make progress.” In South Asia, promising economic growth is countered with poor human development, poverty and disease, with almost half the region’s population without improved sanitation and over 700 million people forced to defecate in the open.

FANSA’s Ramisetty Muraili said, “The report clearly indicates that people want to live a life of dignity and health, but are frustrated by lack of effective support and failure of poorly planned and implemented projects, whereas some communities are reluctant to adopt safe hygiene practices because of sociological and cultural barriers and extreme poverty.”

Moreover, the collective voice of the people also associates sanitation with notions of happiness, pride, safety, health and education. The study appeals to policymakers to revamp institutional mechanisms that invite community participation in sanitation projects.

Above all, the study calls for greater accountability and transparency measures and a focus on human-centred development, targeting the below-poverty communities in India and the hardcore-poor of Bangladesh and Nepal.

WSSCC’s Archana Patkar said, “SAARC needs to recognise the sanitation crisis in the region and challenge the inequity in the provision and distribution of resources. Governments need to engage proactively in matters related to water, sanitation and hygiene.” She added, “The regional mechanisms for implementation, coordination, research and knowledge-sharing through the existing SAARC Secretariat is needed to strengthen the process of the South Asian Conference on Sanitation.”

When asked how sanitation is essential for life, Pakistan’s Mohammad Rafiq – an illiterate daily-wage worker from the peri-urban Choa Ganj Ali Shah, Chakwal district, Punjab – said, “Sanitation is an important part of our religion too. Cleanliness helps a person get a better education and higher position in society. Washing one’s hands with soap after defecation is very important for maintaining hygiene. Food hygiene prevents diseases and keeps children healthy.” Punitha from Chinnaviai – an urban panchayat in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu, India – said, “Sanitation is the basis for happiness and satisfaction. It urges me to get up early and my first thought of the day is to keep my home and surroundings clean. As the day starts with cleaning, the whole day then becomes very active and happy.”

Pakistan’s Sughran Bibi – a housewife from Jungle Barali, Vehari district, Punjab – said, “In the absence of sanitation facilities, people feel degraded, especially when guests arrive. Many people have migrated from this area just because of poor sanitation.”

A kid walks throgh Dharavi slum in Mumbai India.

Veerkala from Kota Dewara, Uttar Pradesh, India, said, “Everyone in the village goes to the nearby fields for defecation. It is dirty, troublesome, time-consuming and dangerous, especially for women and physically-challenged people. It is very common for pigs to attack us from behind when we are squatting in the field. We are forced to take someone along when going out to the fields.”

Ram Avtar – a prominent member of the community from Bhora village, Jalaun district, Uttar Pradesh, India – said, “We waste so much time in going to the doctor and then waste so much money on medicines. By just paying a little bit attention to sanitation, we can save all that time and money and thereby enhance our economic condition.”

HA Chandana from Uva province, Sri Lanka, said, “Considering the United Nations’ standards, it is the duty of the Sri Lankan government to ensure access to water and sanitation.” Maya Chaudhari – a social activist from Chhotipaliya, Kailali district, Nepal – said, “When people really want it, change is definitely possible. There have been incredible changes in my village. Sanitary conditions have improved in a short period of time and the prestige of the villagers has skyrocketed among the neighbouring settlements. Chhotipaliya is treated as a model for people from other parts of the district.”

November 9, 2011

Zambia: African Development Bank to increase investment in rural water and sanitation

Newton Sibanda
November 09, 2011

The Director of the Water and Sanitation Department and the African Water Facility at the African Development Bank (AfDB) Sering Jallow says the bank has decided to increase its water sector investments in rural areas because that is key to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Until 2003, more than 80 percent of the bank financing for water supply and sanitation was focused in urban areas.

We eventually realized that reaching rural dwellers was key in achieving the MDG targets, as they account for 65 percent of the population of Africa, and that rural areas are where the rate is the lowest and the situation most precarious,” Mr Jallow said in an interview from Tunis.

“In 2003, the bank took the strategic decision to increase its water sector investments in rural areas launching the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) to address this issue and accelerate the rate of coverage,” he said.

Sering Jallow, Director of the Water and Sanitation Department and the African Water Facility at the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Jallow said with the help of its partners, the bank has since been able to reach 33.5 million and 21.3 million people for water supply and sanitation respectively, aiming to reach up to 271 and 295 million people respectively by 2015.

The RWSSI was adopted by African governments and international development partners as the common framework for resource mobilization and investment in the water sector in rural areas.
It is hoped that this will be as effective in efforts to reach millions of African living in rural areas to successfully attain the MDG targets for water and sanitation.

Jallow said the AfDB annual financing for water and sanitation in 2010 was US$700 million and that based on its lending programme for 2012-2013, the bank expects to US$1 billion per annum as planned.

“The Africa Water Vision articulates the water ideal for Africa, which is shared by several international organizations and African governments. It proposes a framework with a number of targets and milestones to be reached by 2025, through a collective effort,” he said.

“The AfDB contributes by accentuating its focus on the water and sanitation sector, through increased investments, from US$ 70 million per annum 2002 to US$700 million in 2010, capacity building, and by working with governments to influence policy change and institutional reforms to create the enabling environment needed for effectively developing the sector”.

Jallow added that directly in line with the vision, the AfDB has developed an agricultural sector business plan, improved water storage capacity in Africa annually as well as hydropower generation.

“It is hoped that our contribution will give the impetus necessary for achieving the vision, that is, despite the number of challenges that call for some adjustments, such as climate change and population growth,” he said.

Jallow said the most visible impacts of climate change appear in water-related phenomena, such as droughts and floods, which also show that climate change adds an extra burden to the existing challenges Africa is facing with regard to water resources management.

He said the bank’s climate change approach for water addresses both mitigation and adaptation. “Our mitigation approach is one where we emphasize the capture of methane from waste water treatment plants, increase the use of solar energy to power water pumping systems, and develop hydropower potential, all of which can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“As for adaptation, the bank invests in increasing resilience to droughts by improving water storage capacity, with projects such as the construction of large dams and small scale reservoirs, in addition to groundwater recharge and rainwater harvesting,” Jallow said.

“We help countries better manage floods by investing in the improvement of urban drainage systems and water shed management.
“The bank has learned that certainty of water availability during drier days can be greatly improved with the adoption and implementation of a long term water resources management strategy, as well as hydro-meteorological data monitoring and sharing.
Given the high number of shared river basins and aquifer systems in Africa, this is only possible through improved trans-boundary cooperation,” he said.

The bank has therefore been supporting the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plans, water efficiency plans in trans-boundary rivers and preparation of trans-boundary water resource infrastructure and services.

In Zambia, the bank group began operations in Zambia in 1971 and has since invested over US$1 billion in all sectors of the country’s economy.

In the water and sanitation sector, the bank has to-date financed 12 operations for about US$ 340 million and has four ongoing projects in Zambia.

Jallow noted that the bank is providing a US$ 23.7 million loan to support the implementation of the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (NRWSSP) set up in 2005 to increase access to safe, reliable and convenient quantities of water supply from 37 to 55 percent of the rural population by 2010, and to increase access to proper sanitation from 13 to 33 percent of the rural population by 2010.

In support to the Nkana Water and Sewerage Company, the bank is also involved in a water and sanitation project expected to benefit 474,000 people, many of them considered urban poor of Kitwe, Kalulushi and Chambishi.

The project includes the rehabilitation and extension of their water supply and sanitation systems, and also proposes an awareness campaign on sanitation and hygiene as well as the improvement of service management.

The estimated cost of the project is US$ 61.3 million, to which the bank is contributing USD 55.3 million, covering 90.2 percent of the total project cost.

“The bank is providing financing of US$ 34.8 million for the improvement of the quality and delivery of water supply and sanitation services in eight project centres in Central Province, that is Chibombo, Chisamba, Kabwe, Kapiri-Mposhi, Mkushi, MumbwaNampundwe and Serenje, expected to benefit over 273 000 people,” Jallow said.

“Lastly, the African Water Facility, hosted by the bank, is financing a capacity building and facilitation intervention through a grant of € 719,191, which will directly benefit 5,000 traditional farmers in Mkushi, KapiriMposhi, Masaiti, and Chingola districts.
The project aims at helping farmers use improved water resources management methods and low-cost irrigation technologies, as ways to alleviate poverty and achieve food security,” he said.

“In addition, the project will seek to improve access to affordable irrigation technologies by enhancing the knowledge and capacity of microfinance institutions to provide micro-loans to traditional farmers”.

November 8, 2011

Uganda: Water shortage ravages health development

Abdulkarim Ssengendo
November 8, 2011

The lack of access to safe water at some of the heath centers in Uganda has become an insurmountable obstacle to developing health standards there.

Though water, after oxygen, is the second most important substance for human health, patients and health workers at some health centers in the country are spending days without it.

Kamwezi health center four in Rukiga sub district, Kabale district is a perfect example of such health centers as our network’s member, Ssengendo Abdulkarim found out.

Kamwezi health center four caters for three sub counties of Kamwezi, Bukinda and Muhanga town council in Kabale district. It also serves as referral health center for 11 other health centers in the area.

In a day it receives over 60 patients.

Now, over 1000 people using this health center are vowing to abandon it due to lack of safe water but unfortunately they have no alternative since Kamwezi is the only best and big health center with the required facilities in Rukiga sub district.

“We move long distance to fetch water and sometimes we leave here out patients alone yet they need our presence all time because they are in critical conditions,” Mable Bangirana, a patient’s caretaker in the labor ward says.

“Some patients have died just because the health center lacks water. The problem is not affecting this health center but even people in the villages have no water,” Verentino Ntwirenabo, a resident of Ngango village also notes.

At Kamwezi Health center, Patients have not been able to get water to wash their clothes and beddings for days and their caretakers and health workers sometimes spend a day without water. They fetch dirty water from shallow wells situated far from the health center.

A labour ward at Kamwezi health center four

“This is a public health emergency which has affected this health center for a long time and we need a quick intervention to rescue the health workers and patients, the threat of typhoid, cholera and other diseases from poor sanitation is real here,” Jean Akanwasa, supervisor Rukiga South Health sub district in Kabale district laments.

Akankwasa further notes that they are now using the health center’s vehicle to fetch water. The vehicle is however not meant for this work.

“A lot of fuel sometimes is spent on fetching water, yet that fuel should have been used to transport patients who are in hard to rich areas.” Akankwasa stresses.

He further notes that health workers sometimes contribute money meant for buying fuel for the vehicle so that it can go to fetch water for them and some patients.

The health center has only one small water harvesting tank, which cannot serve the center for a week.

The only water tank at Kamwezi health center four

Some units at this health center such as the laboratories and labor wards do not operate during the times of water shortage.

“You cannot work on blood, stool when you don’t have water, sensitive units sometimes don’t run due to water shortage,” Akankwasa stresses.

Kibanda Health center II in Kamwezi Sub County in Kabale district is also affected by the same problem according to Akankwasa.

“They need a nearby water source. They had a bore hole but broke down many years ago and it has never been repaired,” notes Akankwasa.

Besigye Kaihwa, the Kabale district chairperson says the district administration is aware of the water shortages in at these health centers. He notes that they plan to give water harvesting tanks to Kamwezi health center as a quick intervention.

He also notes that Rwenyanja gravity flow water scheme would be rehabilitated by the district so that it can supply safe water to this health center and the neighboring areas.

“We have visited the place, surveyed and we will solve the problem very soon,” notes Kaihwa.

November 2, 2011

Zambia: Government to invest in construction of water harvesting technologies

Michael Malakata
November 02, 2011

Zambia’s new president Michael Sata has announced that the new government will invest in the construction of more water dams and water harvesting technologies in order to harvest more water for irrigation in a bid to increase food production and food security in the country.

Sata was addressing Parliament.

Zambia’s new president Michael Sata

He noted that the construction of dams will provide a steady flow of water for irrigation by farmers throughout the year and will also be used as sources of drinking water for the people.

Zambia, like many other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, has been hit hard by climate change which has changed the rainfall pattern. As a result, many Zambian small and medium scale farmers have been unable to irrigate their crops due to lack of sufficient funds to construct dams for irrigation.

Sata said however, that the construction of the dams and the investment in water harvesting technologies are aimed at cushioning the effect of climate change that is affecting the country and to allow farmers to grow more food.

Sata said due to insufficient dams, there is also not enough clean drinking water in rural areas resulting in the outbreak of waterborne disease.

Zambia, Sata said is endowed with abundant surface and ground water bodies, which have not sufficiently been harnessed for national water development leaving agricultural to be solely dependent on unpredictable whether pattern as a result of climate change.

“To address this situation, my government will invest in water harvesting technologies to make water available to farmers for irrigation all year round,” Sata said.

The Zambian government, Sata said will not stop the construction of dams in the country to ensure that people in rural areas also have enough clean water. Over the years, there have been conflicts between dam owners and residents’ who draw water from the dams due to lack of enough water flow in the dams.

Three years ago, the Zambian government set aside ZMK37 billion for the construction of dams and canals and for buying peddle and water pumps for irrigation in a bid to boost agricultural production in the country.

The funds resulted in the construction of over five dams in various parts of the country including the mushimbili dam in central part of the country for irrigation and drinking water.

Additional money was also given to the small and medium scale farmers who wanted to boost their off-season food production through irrigation system.

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