Archive for December, 2011

December 12, 2011

Zambia: US offers 300 million USD for improving water reticulation system in Lusaka Province

Newton Sibanda
December 12, 2011

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will give US$300 million to the government of Zambia under the Millennium Challenge project to enable it improve the water reticulation system in Lusaka Province.

Provincial Minister Miles Sampa says the project which will be undertaken by the public utility, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC), will take off during the first quarter of next year.

“Government is very grateful to the Americans and other cooperating partners for committing themselves to the improvement of water reticulation system in Lusaka,” Mr Sampa said.

Lusaka Province Minister, Miles Sampa

He was featuring on a Government Forum programme on the local Radio Phoenix.

Mr Sampa said the water reticulation system in Lusaka is obsolete and needs overhauling.

He noted that some pipes were installed before Zambia’s independence in 1964 and can no longer be repaired.

Mr Sampa said water is critical to development and that the Government will ensure that the water blues that beset Lusaka come to an end.

“People in Kafue do not have water yet they are next to the river (Kafue River),” he said.

Kafue is a small industrial town about 50 km south of the capital Lusaka and sits on the banks of the Kafue River, which accounts for over 40 percent of Zambia’s domestic water supply.

Hippos in River Kafue

The city of Lusaka draws its water from the Kafue river, which incidentally, is the country’s most polluted river.

Mr Sampa also said Government has set aside K600 billion (US$1=K5,000) in the 2012 budget that will be spent on various key areas of Lusaka province, including the water sector.

He said once the water reticulation system is re-done, cholera outbreaks-which are a common phenomenon during the rainy season- will be a thing of the past.

December 12, 2011

Zambia: High Court orders Konkola Copper Mines to pay 2 million USD for polluting River Mushishima

Newton Sibanda
December 12, 2011

In a landmark judgment, the Lusaka High Court has ordered Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to pay K10billion (US$2million) to 2000 Chingola residents on Zambia’s Copperbelt for polluting the Mushishima river.

The Mushishima is a tributary of the Kafue River, which accounts for about 40 percent of Zambia’s domestic water supply but is, unfortunately, also the country’s most polluted river.

Supreme Court judge Phillip Musonda sitting as High Court judge ordered that each of the 2000 residents be paid K4 million as general damages and K1 million as punitive damages.

He also ordered that the damages should attract the central bank’s long term deposit rate from the issuance of the writ to the day of judgment and later short-term deposit rate until payment is made.

The world's oceans and rivers are under immense pressure from pollution

In delivering judgment, Justice Musonda who castigated KCM for its irresponsible behavior said the development will deter would-be polluters from discharging poisonous substances without diminishing their potency to cause harm to the environment, human beings and animals.

In the judgment delivered on November 10, Justice Musonda said the polluting of the water by the mining company was lack of corporate social responsibility, criminal and a tipping point for corporate recklessness.

In 2007, James Nyasulu and others sued KCM, the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ), now Zambia Environmental management Agency (ZEMA) and Chingola Municipal Council for discharging effluent from its mining operations into the stream from which they get drinking water.

ECZ, as second defendant, was sued for allegedly failing or neglecting to carry out inspection or supervise maintenance of the pipes to meet the acceptable standards while the municipal council was sued for failing to take adequate measures to mitigate and control the effects of the pollution of water by maintaining sufficient water reserves.

But Justice Musonda did not find any case against ECZ because he found no negligence on their part, adding that ECZ did the best it could by even shutting KCM operations at one point.

He said ECZ was dealing with a truant investor and it was not too late to prosecute KCM and set an example to others.

Justice Musonda said the fact that Zambia was in dire need of foreign investment to improve the well-being of its people does not mean its people should be dehumanized by ‘greed and crude capitalism’ which put profit above human life.

He said the plaintiffs had proved their case against KCM in common law and statutory law that the mining company was reckless and had no regard for human, animal and plant life because they thought they were politically correct and connected.
“The courts have a duty to protect poor communities from the powerful and politically connected.

I agree with the plaintiff’s pleadings that KCM was shielded from criminal prosecution by political connections and financial influence, which put them beyond the pale of criminal justice,” Justice Musonda said.

He said whether human beings had died or not, there was gross recklessness on the part of KCM which must bear the moral, criminal and civil liability for the appalling tragedy because the company turned chingola residents into ‘guinea pigs’ and showed no remorse.

Justice Musonda said the plaintiffs had called victims of the pollution and expert evidence to prove that there was pollution.

Daison Mulenga, one of the affected residents who testified in the matter, told the court that in November 2006, there was no water supply for 10 days in Kabundi township and Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company supplied them with water pumped from Kafue River.

Mr Mulenga said after drinking the water, he experienced stomach pains, diarrhea and chest pains and that his sight was also affected.

Another witness Siku Nkambalume said his wife went to draw water from Kafue River for cooking, bathing and drinking but the following day, he had stomach pain and that him and the children had a runny stomach.

He was later informed by a doctor from Chingola’s Kakoso clinic that the water was polluted.

The judgment has cheered many.

Lusaka lawyer Kelvin Bwalya said he was happy that judgment had been passed in favour of his clients and that it was an important and a landmark case which can be used to pursue other offenders.

Reverend Esson Simbeye of Chingola, for example, says the K10 billion KCM has been ordered to pay for polluting the Mushishima stream is inadequate, but will at least serve as a ‘wake up call’ for mining companies to stop polluting the environment with impunity.

Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) principal information and communications officer Irene Chipili is upbeat about the judgment.

“As ZEMA, we are happy with the judgment because this has shown that we carried out our work in accordance with the provisions of the law then using the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act (EPPCA). For that reason, we were exonerated in this case,” Mrs Chipili said.

ZEMA was until April this year operating under the EPPCA which has since been repealed and replaced with the Environmental Managment Act (EMA). One of the reasons for this amendment related to the weak provisions in the EPPCA which the EMA has now taken care of.

“In comparison with the EPPCA, the EMA provides for enhanced public participation in environmental management. It provides for an option for both ZEMA and members of the public to sue for damages following pollution and this is the provision that was used by Chingola residents,” Mrs Chipili said.

“We would like to encourage more of such vigilant actions from members of the public because environmental protection should not be a preserve of enforcement agencies alone.
Effective environmental management in this country requires the active participation of all stakeholders including the general public.”

But KCM, a subsidiary of the London-registered Vedanta, whose market capitalization is more than US$4.4billion, says it is consulting its lawyers regarding its legal options following the Lusaka High court ruling.

KCM head of public relations Joy Sata said KCM is a responsible company which has adopted global best-practices and complies with all local regulatory requirements on environment, health and safety.

Ms Sata said KCM has a zero tolerance policy on any action that will compromise the health and safety of its employees or residents.

“Over the years, KCM has taken many steps, including a multi-billion dollar investment programme to address the many issues it inherited at privatization.”

December 6, 2011

African Countries Stand Firm in Climate Negotiations

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
December 06, 2011

Ministers from over 50 African countries met in Durban South Africa to reinforce their position, demanding an ambitious second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, effective action under the Bali Action Plan and scaled-up finance, ahead of the final week of the UN Climate Conference in Durban.

At a meeting on Sunday 4 December, the Ministers discussed the latest science showing severe threats to African food security; developments in the negotiations; and a strategy to ensure that the outcomes of the Durban climate conference are comprehensive enough to protect Africans from the worst effects of climate change.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson speaks during a climate justice rally as the former South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu, centre, listens

The African Common Position on Climate Change, which was agreed 15-16 September 2011, in Bamako, Mali, highlights key positions that African Ministers will be advancing in Durban at the ‘high-level’ international ministerial segment of the conference later this week.

Africa will be hit first and hardest by global climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The continent has contributed the least to climate change, and is among the least equipped to adapt its adverse effects.

More than one billion people in Africa, and millions of others living in small islands, least developed and other vulnerable countries will bear the potentially catastrophic effects of land loss, food and water shortage, crop reduction, and flooding.

In response, African Ministers will be advancing the African common position including the following positions in Durban:

A Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol

“Developed country Parties to the Kyoto Protocol must honour their commitments through ambitious mitigation commitments for a second and subsequent commitment periods. They must reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40 per cent during the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017 and by at least 95 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, as an equitable and appropriate contribution.” Seyni Nafo, spokesperson of the African group of negotiators, said.

“We stress the urgency of agreeing a second commitment period in Durban and of elaborating measures to avoid a gap between commitment periods,” he said.

Advancing the Bali Mandate

“We expect that Durban will conclude the operationalization of effective and accountable institutions under the Conference of the Parties in relation to, adaptation, technology and finance in accordance with the relevant principles and provisions of the Convention, the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun decisions,” said Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, Chair of the African group of climate negotiators.

“We reaffirm that the two tracks of negotiations under the Convention must continue as separate tracks and that a balanced outcome in Durban must include a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, and a legally binding outcome on the various pillars of the Bali Action Plan in accordance with the Bali Roadmap,” he said.

A poster during the COP17 protest in Durban

Securing necessary climate finance

“African Ministers are concerned about insufficient transparency and slow disbursement of the financial resources pledged by developed countries as “fast start” finance for the period 2010-2012 and indications that a small proportion of these resources are “new and additional”,” said Emily Massawa of the Secretariat of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment.

“Ministers have noted the pledge by developed countries to mobilize jointly $100 billion per year by 2020, and reiterate Africa’s position that developed countries should by the year 2020 provide scaled up financial support based on an assessed scale of contributions that constitutes at least 1.5 per cent of the gross domestic product of developed countries, in order to curb climate change and meet the needs of developing countries to tackle climate change and its adverse effects,” she said.

December 6, 2011

South Africa: Low carbon investments in sustainable water infrastructure must be prioritized

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
December 6, 2011

The importance globally prioritizing low carbon investments in sustainable water infrastructure has been highlighted during a side event to the COP17 Conference in Durban, Mobilizing finance and investments for water security and climate resilience, by Cameron Ironside, Programme Director, International Hydropower Association (IHA).

Cameron Ironside, Programme Director, International Hydropower Association (IHA)

“Sustainable water infrastructure is critical to global water security and to ensuring resilience to the impacts of climate change, but it requires much more investment if the full, multiple benefits of such storage are to be realized.” said Mr Ironside

“Providing robust tools which stimulate these low carbon investments must be made a priority for those serious about climate change adaptation. That’s where the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, an evidence-based assessment tool covering the full range of relevant sustainability topics, has much to offer in helping to inform policy.” he continued.

Following a introductory presentation by Alex Simalabwi, Senior Network Officer & Climate Change Focal Point-Global Water Partnership (GWP) on: Framework for water security and climate resilient development (FWA-SACRED), presentations were given by Pervaiz Amir, GWP South Asia, entitled: Pakistan after the floods – setting priorities for Investments in water security, and Mr Ironside entitled: Prioritising low carbon investments in sustainable water infrastructure – application of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

Presentations were followed by reflections from a high-level panel moderated by Professor Mike Muller of the GWP Technical Committee. The panel included: Honourable Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Water, Canada, Dr Ania Grobicki, Executive Secretary, GWP, Mr Anders Berntell, Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute, Stef Raubenheimer, CEO of SouthSouthNorth and CDKN Council Member, and Mr Bai-Mass Taal, Executive Secretary of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW).

Protesters during the COP17 protest in Durban

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, a comprehensive tool to assess the sustainability of hydropower projects globally, provides a rigorous, evidence-based assessment of between 19-23 relevant sustainability topics, covering social, economic, and environmental aspects. Topics include issues such as downstream flow regimes, indigenous peoples, biodiversity, infrastructure safety, resettlement, water quality, and erosion and sedimentation.

It is the product of a multi-stakeholder development process involving representatives from social and environmental NGOs (Oxfam, The Nature Conservancy, Transparency International, WWF); governments (China, Germany [as an observer], Iceland, Norway, Zambia); commercial and development banks (including banks that are signatory to the Equator Principles, and the World Bank [as an observer]); and the hydropower sector, represented by IHA.

IHA, as part of the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance), is actively participating in the Conference to ensure that water takes its rightful place as a core issue in climate change negotiations and that the role of hydropower in contributing to both climate change adaptation and mitigation is clearly recognised.

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place in Durban, 28 November to 9 December. It is an opportunity for world decision-makers to make positive steps towards addressing the interrelated challenges of climate change, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) was formed under the auspices of UNESCO in 1995 and addresses the role of hydropower in meeting the world’s growing water and energy needs as a clean, renewable and sustainable technology. With members active in more than 80 countries, IHA is a non-governmental, mutual association of organisations and individuals. To find out more about the work of the IHA visit: http://www.hydropower.org

December 5, 2011

Zambia: Germany offers Zambia over 87 million Euros for improving water supply and sanitation

Newton Sibanda
December 5, 2011

Germany has given Zambia K592 billion (Euro 87.1 million) as continued financial support to programmes aimed at improving water supply and sanitation, poverty reduction and decentralization of the local government system.

Out of the total amount, K219.6 billion will go towards improving water supply and sanitation while K238 billion will go towards poverty reduction budget support and K121 billion towards decentralization of the local government system.

“These sectors are critical areas of our development co-operation programme since they directly impact on the people of Zambia in remotest areas of this country,” said Ingolf Dietrich, head of the Southern Africa Division of the federal ministry of Economic Co-operation and development (BMZ).

A better water supply is essential for the future development of communities

Dr Dietrich, who was speaking during the signing ceremony in Lusaka last week said the German government decided to give Zambia K592 billion because of the confidence it has in its development programmes.

He said the funds will be used over a period of three years in areas that will directly contribute effectively to poverty reduction as outlined in Zambia’s Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP).

“It is acknowledged that Zambia has enormous economic potential and impressive macro-economic growth rates.

However, poverty levels in Zambia still remain high. It is for this reason that we have decided to give Zambia euro 87.1 million to help reduce poverty,” Dr Dietrich said.

Earlier, acting Secretary to the Treasury Danies Chisenda said the funds given to Zambia will help the government to improve people’s living standards through provision of clean water supply and sanitation and poverty reduction.

Chisenda said the funding was a result of recent bilateral negotiations in Lusaka.

The negotiations focused on the on-going and future development co-operation between Zambia and Germany.

December 5, 2011

Uganda: European Union and Dutch Red Cross inject 4 million Euros in provision of safe water in Uganda

Hope Mafaranga
December 5, 2011

Up to 122,100 people in the western Uganda districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Ntoroko are now enjoying safe and clean water courtesy of European Union and the Dutch Red Cross.

In 2008 European Union and the Dutch Red Cross injected 4 Million Euros in the rural water and sanitation project meant to extend safe and clean water to the hard-to-reach sub-counties of Mugusu, Kicwamba and Bukuku in Kabarole district; Kitwamba, Kyabarungira and Karusandara in Kasese district and Rwebisengo, Kanara and Karugutu in Ntoroko district.

The project was locally coordinated by the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS).

Now, Fred Atheno -the URCS Rwenzori regional coordinator says the target audience is now enjoying fruits of this project.

He discloses that the project has improved the water coverage in the benefiting communities.

“ The water coverage has improved from 32 percent to 65 percent in the past three years and this has reduce the water borne diseases and also saved people who were moving long distances in search of clean and safe water,” he said.

A girl collects water in Kabale district, Southwestern Uganda

However, Atheno notes that the project faced challenges of taking materials to the area because of bad terrain.

“Taking materials to the site, drilling and equipping the boreholes were not easy due to the terrain of the area and the poor road network,” he said.

Alex Mugisha, the Manager Uganda Red Cross Kabarole branch reveals that there is now sufficient water coverage in all the three districts. He urges the communities to own the project, maintain and protect the water sources so that they can serve them for a long period of time.

“I urge you to maintain and sustain the facilities to keep it functional for a long time,” Mugisha said.

Twenty eight persons from villages in the benefiting communities have been trained in pump mechanics and equipped with repairing tool kits to oversee the water collection points such as the bore holes in their colleges.

Mugisha says that the project is also targeting to form and train 730 water user committees for both new water sources and those rehabilitated.

In Kabarole district, the district chairperson there, Richard Rwabuhinga says that water coverage in the district stand at 82 percent, but was quick to add that residents of Rutete and Kasenda sub-counties still use water from creator lakes that exposes them to get Bilharzias and other diseases.

December 2, 2011

The decisions Africa needs from Durban climate conference

Kofi Annan
December 02, 2011

For smallholder farmers, climate change is no future threat. It is happening now. As I learnt on a recent visit to Mali, a smallholder farmer, Issa, talked to me about how his farming methods have been affected by the unusual changes in the patterns of rainfall in his district. The rains on which farmers depend are starting later and finishing earlier.

A similar worrying story of farmers facing more uncertain conditions is being heard in many areas on our continent. The worst, however, is yet to come.

Kofi Annan, former diplomat of Ghana and was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations serving from 1997 to 2006.

Scientists warn that temperatures could exceed the maximum which major staple crops will tolerate. Rainy seasons will become even shorter and more erratic, seriously worsening Africa’s already grave food crisis.

Given these changes and the scientific consensus over what will happen, Mali’s farmers struggle to understand why so little had been done to tackle climate change even though they amazingly managed to rise up to the challenges.

This local knowledge and wisdom must guide those in power to work towards a more balanced and sustainable world. I share their frustration. We are witnessing an abject failure of leadership which, unless urgently repaired, will leave a terrible legacy for future generations.

This is why the climate conference underway in Durban is so important. Durban sadly might not see the universal agreement we need to limit greenhouse gas emissions to the level required to hold temperatures rises to below 2°C.
But it must build momentum towards a fair and inclusive agreement both to cut emissions and to help protect communities from the impact of climate change already underway.

Putting in place proper climate finance is critical to these goals. Progress is being made in designing the Green Climate Fund, which must be launched at Durban. Yet, to become an effective tool that can meet the needs of Africa and other poor countries, the Fund must meet two challenges.

First, wealthy countries must not be allowed to break their promises to the most vulnerable on the planet who have not caused climate change. The $100 billion of commitments made in Cancun last year need to be delivered.
To this end, the Green Climate Fund must receive sustained and predictable funding in the range of several tens of billions of dollars per year.

In spite of their promises, wealthy countries are unlikely to provide adequate and predictable multi-year funding for the Green Climate Fund from their national budgets. This is why I support innovative financing solutions, such as a fair maritime bunker fuel tax, a levy on airline tickets, or the Financial Transaction Tax.

Each of these mechanisms can provide the long-term funding needed to support climate finance.

December 2, 2011

Civil Society Urges Africa: “Stand Together”

PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance
December 02 2011

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – Civil society groups from South Africa, and the wider African continent urged African nations to stand together at the UN climate talks in Durban and not to be bend to pressure to sell out.

Groups, including labour unions, farmers, faith groups and environmental activists say that the African COP must not abandon the people of Africa.

They welcomed the stated position of the African Group which calls for developed countries to commit to the greater emission reductions that climate science tells us essential if the world is to have a chance of slowing global warming and avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Africa represents only a small fraction, 3.6%, out of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year

“Africa must stand united in Durban. People in Africa are already paying the price of two hundred years of industrial pollution by the developed world. Africa must fight to ensure that developed countries deliver on their legal and moral obligation to cut the emissions that are putting the lives of millions of people at risk,” said Bobby Peek from Friends of the Earth International

PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance logo

Michele Maynard from the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance added:
“South Africa has a leading role to play, as the Chair of these talks here in Durban. The South African chair of the talks must not let South Africa down. African nations must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to deliver radical action to cut emissions, and substantial finance to allow Africa to adapt to the impacts already being felt.”

“Civil society is watching the talks here in Durban with growing concern. These talks must not ignore the needs of the African people. Africa is already feeling the impacts of climate change. The future of African agriculture, food and survival is at stake. The African nations are watching you.”
Michele Maynard said.

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