Archive for March, 2012

March 30, 2012

Beyond the Garbage

Fredrick Mugira
March 29, 2012

I could hear various inept voices singing coming from all corners of the garbage pile. The singers were short of drum beats but sang with buoyancy.

They fluttered majestically; some flew splendidly as if they were military planes guarding a territory tightly. Just from a piece of rotting banana paste to the neighboring banana peels, green fluid flowing from the heap of garbage and several other hard- to-identify rotting stuffs. It was hard to keep trail of just one of these houseflies. They all looked the same.

On the jagged surface just adjacent to a footpath lay this huge heap of garbage with all sorts of agricultural wastes and a few plastic mineral water bottles; some rare metals and old looking plastic bags. A few garbage was folded in plastic bags; I did not know exactly what it was.

Slowly and carefully, so as not to anger the singers, I reached for the flesh banana peels. The peels had just been dumped there by a brown girl; probably a housemaid. I met her on the way.

The smell of rotting garbage filled the area as children and women dumped more garbage there unbothered. Some talked in low tones as they looked at me diffidently. Imaginably they were wondering what I was doing there.

I had gone to this garbage heap in Kamukuzi cell, Kamukuzi division, Mbarara municipality not to listen to the songs of houseflies nor to enjoy the bad smell from the garbage. No! Just to witness how ‘gold’ was being wasted. The gold I am talking about is the banana peels.

Banana peels which constitute a big percent of agricultural wastes in Uganda

Dumping banana peels after peeling bananas to prepare lunch or dinner is a hustle which no girl child and woman in Ankole and Buganda regions of Uganda ever forgets. But what is easily forgotten is what is dumped. The banana peels. Just because they are wastes. These wastes are a menace everywhere in the country; most especially in urban centers.

In a municipality like Mbarara, which has slightly over 83700 people, agricultural wastes mostly banana peels constitute over 80 percent of the garbage generated by the town dwellers, according to Wilson Tumwiine, the town’s mayor who wants something to be done to reduce these banana peels.

However, the mayor will not worry any more. A German lawyer has started turning these banana peels into another form of ‘gold’.

Wet Charcoal briquettes after production at Jan's company

Jan Rudolf Hass collects the peels from hotels, restaurants, schools and some households, dries them, mixes them with charcoal dusts and saw dust before crashing them to form charcoal briquettes.

Through his Uganda Green Fire Limited Company based at the former Gatsby grounds in Mbarara town, Jan Is helping to produce alternative fuel for restaurants, education institutions, refugee camps and some households in the region.

“We collect and use one ton of banana peels per day,” notes Jan further stressing that his company has been in this business since July last year.

This innovation is not only helping in agricultural waste management in the town but also conserving trees in the region which would be cut to produce wood charcoal. As Jan notes, one kilogram of charcoal briquettes is equivalent to 3 tins of wood charcoal. It takes about one medium tree to produce 3 tins of wood charcoal.

This innovation comes amidst warnings that if the current rate of deforestation in Uganda is not checked, the country will start importing firewood in five years because trees are being depleted.

Jan who says his charcoal briquettes have a “400 percent advantage over the wood charcoal,” sells a kilogram of these smoke free charcoal briquettes at 600 Ugandan shillings compared to the wood charcoal which are sold at about 1500 shillings a kilogram.

Jan's smoke-free charcoal briquettes in a stove burning

He however laments high costs of electric power which he uses in production of these briquettes. But Jan says this is a short-term problem because he intends to use the same agricultural wastes to produce his own power through gasification. Gasification is a process through which low value-residuals are converted into higher value products including power and steam among others.

Jan’s innovation that turns garbage into ‘gold’ could be a reason why some trees are still alive and the singing voices of houseflies as they enjoy garbage not common because garbage is no longer a waste to human beings.

March 25, 2012

Cameroon: Dying for Any Water in Buea

Lum Edith Achamukong
March 25, 2012

The absence of safe water is reportedly rendering many residents of the South West Region of Cameroon despondent. This comes less than a week after the world commemorated the 2012 World Water Day.

Our network member Lum Edith Achamukong has just been in Buea, the most affected area. She witnessed this unfortunate situation and took pictures. As Edith reports, in Buea, taps are completely dry.

Long queues characterize public water taps as women and children spend several hours of the day fetching and transporting water in Buea. Fights as some people attempt to jump the queue are not new in this area.

A crowded water source in Buea (Picture by the Writer)

The rationing method previously applied by the organ charged with the supply of pipe borne water (La Camerounaise Des Eaux) has not satisfied the water needs of thousands of people at the foot of West Africa’s highest mountain.

This crisis has been attributed to the complete breakdown of very old water pipes put in place during the German rule of Cameroon decades ago. Little maintenance on the infrastructure now weighs on the population not without socio economic costs.

Statistics from the United Nations say 40 Billion working hours are spent carrying water each year in Africa and that equals to a year’s labor for the entire work force of France. Moreover, households in rural Africa spend an average of 26% of their time fetching water, and this generally involves women and children.

In Buea, several children and women spend hours fetching water (Picture by by the writer)

The water crisis is heightening at the hills of the award of a contract by CAMWATER to a Belgian company ASPAC CEMAC for the rehabilitation and extension of the water scheme in Buea. The populations are definitely hoping that this two-year project will be realized on time.

Studies for the expansion of the water supply systems in the Buea municipality were carried out some years ago. And the execution of the project begins this year, 2012.

This responsibility has been given to the water corporation CAMWATER that is specialized in heavy projects for the construction and expansion of water systems in Cameroon.

The project in the Buea municipality is aimed at doubling the capacity of production of water and also to rehabilitate the existing structures and extend the water distribution.
Two main sites have been earmarked for rehabilitation in this project: the two old catchment and production areas – that is, the German source at Upper Farms and the Musole source at Great Soppo. There are two new sites to be exploited during this project: one at Wokoko (below the Fakoship neighbourhood); and the other at Small Soppo around the popular Kai catchment area.

The project, as stipulated in the contract with CAMWATER, will take a total of 24 months to be complete. The objective is to double the volume of water supply in the Buea municipality from 6-thousand cubic meters per day – which is the maximum volume obtained during the rainy season – to 12-thousand cubic meters per day. The neighborhoods in Buea to benefit directly from this rehabilitation and expansion project are those that are usually worst hit by the water crisis. They include Buea Town, Bokwango, Upper Bonduma, Molyko, Mile 18, and the Mile 17 Motor Park area.

March 25, 2012

World Marks 2012 World Water Day with Emphasise on Food Security

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
March 24, 2012

Whenever water is mentioned, what comes to the minds of most people is availability and access. Water availability and access mean a lot to everybody, particularly children who bear the brunt of water scarcity in every community; whether in the town of Neves, Lemba on the island of Sao Tome or in the hither land town of Jema in the Kinatmpo South District of Ghana’s Brong Ahafo Region. The issues of water are not related to availability and access for humans only, but also for every economic endeavor such as agricultural production and industry as well as for nature.

Against the backdrop of the Gulf of Guinea of equatorial Atlantic Ocean, this little girl fetches water from a pipe in the Neves Community, Lemba District on the island of Sao Tome and Principe (picture taken by the writer)

Scientific predictions indicate that the story of food security in the 21st century is likely to be closely linked to the story of water security. In the coming decades the world’s farmers will need to produce enough food to feed many millions more people, yet there are virtually no untapped, cost-effective sources of water for them to draw on as they face this challenge. Moreover, farmers will face heavy competition for this water from households, industries, and environmentalists.

It is to emphasise the importance of water as one of the basic essentials of life required for human existence and the sustenance of all major life forms on earth, that last Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, the international community celebrated World Water Day (WWD). The Day’s celebration was initiated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and adopted by the UN General Assembly to create global awareness on water related issues.

Each annual celebration of WWD is utilised to highlight issues on a specific water related subject. This year’s focus which was on “Water and Food Security,” drew international attention on the relationship between water and food security. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Natural Resources Department coordinated the celebration through its Land and Water Division, and on behalf of UN-Water members and partners.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life, and water is one of the fundamental input factor to food production. Research indicates that there is enough food today to feed the world. Yet, despite this, 15 % of the world population (854 million people) is undernourished, and with continuing population growth, rising incomes and urbanization, food demand will roughly double in the next fifty years. Over this period the world’s water will have to support the agricultural systems that will feed and create livelihoods for an additional 2.7 billion people. It is predicted that by 2030 the world will need to produce 50 per cent more food and energy, together with 30 per cent more available fresh water, whilst mitigating and adapting to climate change.

FAO sources say that agriculture is by far the largest user of water world-wide, at around 70% of total supplies. The FAO also predicts that the agricultural sector will increasingly need to compete with the world’s growing cities for water. As a result, it is unlikely that water will remain a ‘free’ commodity in the future. This view is shared by International Water Management Institute (IWMI), which has predicted that demand for land will progressively increase, both for food production and linked to the urbanisation and energy trends. The Colombo, Sri Lanka based IWMI is part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which focuses on improving how water and land resources are managed, with the aim of underpinning food security and reducing poverty while safeguarding vital environmental processes.

According to the IWMI, the growing competition and concern can be illustrated by increased purchases of agricultural land in the developing world by some countries with hot and dry climates, such as Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia and China as well as multinational companies.

The challenge for global agriculture then is to grow more food on the less land available, using less water, fertiliser and pesticides than has historically been done. As water becomes scarcer, there is an increasing need to find ways to produce sufficient food to feed the world’s expanding population, while using little water, protecting fragile environmental services and without any opportunity to exploit new agricultural lands.

Children fetching water from one of the several mechanised boreholes provided by World Vision International, Ghana at Jema, Kintampo South District, Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana (Picture taken by the writer)

In this direction, Science and technology can make a major contribution, by providing practical solutions. Science and technology must play a leading role in meeting increasing demand over the coming decades in a sustainable manner. On food, there is need for a new, “greener revolution.” Important areas for focus should include: crop improvement to increase yields and tolerance to stresses such as droughts; smarter use of water and fertilisers; new pesticides and their effective management to avoid resistance problems; introduction of novel non-chemical approaches to crop protection; reduction of post-harvest losses; and more sustainable livestock and marine production.

With regards to water, managing and balancing supply and demand for the resource across sectors requires a range of policy and technological solutions. Agricultural water use efficiency can be improved through the development of drought resistance crops and the use of low-cost and efficient drip irrigation systems by small farmers.

Another pertinent issue that governments and countries have to grapple with in tackling the water and food security needs is the climate change phenomenon. The demands of water and food security must be met against the backdrop of rising global temperatures, impacting on water, food and ecosystems in all regions, and with extreme weather events becoming both more severe and more frequent. Scientists say that rising sea levels and flooding will hit hardest in the mega-deltas, which are important for food production, and will also impact on water quality for many. Oceans will become warmer, more acidic, less diverse and over-exploited. Naturally, the ocean acts as a reservoir for carbon dioxide, but the resulting increase in acidity, seriously impact ocean food webs and ecosystems, on which many of the world’s poor are dependant. Continued over-fishing is expected to further pressure these delicate resources.

Countries will have to explore and make use of renewable carbon capture and storage alternatives, adopt innovative technologies and processes that can radically reduce emissions from transport, buildings and industry, as well as increase the efficiency of energy use throughout the economy.

There is no doubt, that the celebration of WWD has generated a high level of awareness on the need for governments and countries, to pay more attention to issues relating to this extremely precious resource. Previously water deprived communities are now getting access to portable water. However, efforts must be hastened if developing countries, particularly those in Africa can meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets of reducing by half the population of people without access to portable water by 2015.

Besides, much more needs to been done in the area of water availability for food security, especially in agrarian countries such as Ghana, where agricultural production is mainly rain-fed. As has been stated earlier, science and technology can contribute. However, securing this contribution requires that both research and technology on ensuring all-year round water availability for food production is made a top priority by national governments.

March 22, 2012

Zambia: Kashikishi Where Each Drop Counts

Violet Mengo
March 22, 2012

Every 22nd March, the world marks international water day, held as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Water Journalists Africa Network, joins the rest of the world to mark this day with one of our members Violet Mengo visiting Kashikishi-one of the communities in the world lacking water; just water and not safe water and now the lack of water is attracting more problems into lives of people of Kashikishi.

WITH her nine-month-old baby strapped on her back, Kaluba Chola emerges from her grass-thatched hut before daybreak to embark on a routine daily journey to fetch water about eight kilometers away.

By her side is Patience, her 12-year-old daughter who prefers carrying out this chore to going to school in this remote Yenga Village tucked in Nchelenge district of Luapula Province, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chola wakes up early despite howling nocturnal birds and animals to beat the queue at the communal borehole sunk by a charity organisation a decade or so ago.

Covering a 16-kilometre journey on foot is beyond intrigue. More so that by the time Chola treks back home after midday with 80 litres of water on a noisy screeching wheelbarrow, she is exhausted and dejected.

Her dream of having access to constant supply of clean water seems not a reality. Not only that, she has not had food since morning and has no idea where the family’s meal will come from.

“Waking up in the wee hours is now part of our life, it is only sad that my little girl misses her class most of the time to line up at the communal borehole,” Chola says, with a clear expression of regret on her face.

Patience, a grade five pupil is supposed to be in class at 09:00 hours but she stays away from school due to house chores. For her, school is optional while drawing water is mandatory. This is routine.

When she submits to fatigue or has no money to pay for the water at the communal borehole, she is forced to walk a few kilometres further to fetch water at the natural source – the crocodile-infested Lake Mweru. The risks are obvious but options limited too.

Kaluba Chola drawing water at the only communal borehole in Kashikishi

The blood-thirsty reptiles have mauled many, yet they have not been cropped and there seems to be no plans from the marine department.

Apart from that, Chola puts her life and that of her family at risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery, which are quite prevalent in Zambia as water from this body is not treated.

For her living, she runs a small shop of merchandise just at her house while her husband is a fishmonger. His business has been going down due to illegal fishing methods practiced in the area.

Between November and February every year, government imposes a fish ban to allow the stock to breed. ‘Wrongdoers’ are prosecuted and imprisoned although the sentence is short and, therefore, not prohibitive.

However, the depletion of the fish due to illegal fishing methods has forced most local people to engage in other economic activity such as charcoal burning and farming.

Despite these activities, majority of the people in Kashikishi have remained very poor. According to Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR), the food basket for Lusaka stands at K2.6 million (US$600) per month for a family of six.

But the people of Kashikishi only survive by His grace as most of the residents’ expenditure is less than US$1 per day.

The World Bank estimates that over 80 percent of Zambians live in households that lack adequate means to meet basic daily needs (over 90 percent in many rural areas).

As wages stagnate or fall in real terms, an increasing number of Zambian families are being forced to go without the normal three meals a day. Even the meals taken have no basic balanced diet.

The figures on malnourished children have a telling effect. Many families have to expand economic activities by engaging in extra trade, small-scale business or crime, corruption and other ills.

In Zambia, the story of Chola and her community is not unique. Most rural parts of the country lack access to clean safe drinking water. Sanitation is a worse off challenge.

Despite the availability of the water from Lake Mweru, Luapula River and other small dams, it has been a huge challenge for the local people to access clean safe water.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 1998, whose focus was on consumption, states: ”Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices.

Enlarging people’s choices is achieved by expanding human capabilities and functioning. At all levels of development the three essential capabilities for human development are: to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable and to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living.

The establishment of the Luapula Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) in 2009 has excited of Nchelenge. Since the company started its operations in 2010, it has been serving 280 households from the initial 400 connections, which were once under the local authority – Nchelenge District Council.

LWSC support service officer Charles Kalapa is concerned with the kind of water being supplied to clients.
“The infrastructure is dilapidated and compromises the quality of water given to our customers,” Mr Kalapa says.

The district only has one water reservoir, so the water is pumped directly from the pump house to clients after chlorination.

The treatment point where water is chlorinated before final supply to customers

As though this challenge is not enough, LWSC only supplies water to its customers for 45 minutes only in the night due to low voltage of electricity the company receives. “During the day, we are not able to supply water because electricity supply is very low and our machines cannot work. The water pump machines runs at 380 volts and the electricity we receive is only 200volts,” says LWSC Nchelenge district manager Daniel Namasuno.

As a result the company cannot expand its service to include new clients. According to the 2010 National Census Report, Nchelenge district has a total population of 148, 671.

The Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) is aware of the challenges of power supply experienced by people in Luapula province.

Director – Corporate Affairs Bestty Phiri explains: “We have embarked on installation of capacitor banks which will improve the low voltage for Luapula Province.”

Mr Phiri says the project will run for 18 months and the situation is expected to improve by June 2013.

How people manage

What people do, when LWSC supply water in the night, they are forced to store and use the following day, although it is never enough. This has resulted in many customers relying on the unclean water from Lake Mweru or Luapula River.

The dilapidated pump house where all the chlorination process takes place before water is supplied to customers

With an increase in the number of people who need water and want to be connected to the LWSC, the system has been overloaded and creating pressure on the machine.

LWSC District Manager for Nchelenge Daniel Namasumo says the increase in demand for water has created a huge problem for the utility company.

Mr Namasumo says Kashikishi is among the most prone areas in Zambia to diarrhoea because of people using untreated water from the lake.

On the shores of the lake, some people bath as others are catching fish while others wash their clothes and children playing in the water.

Disease burden

Water borne diseases are common in this part of Zambia especially in the rainy season when diseases are on the increase.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Kamoto Mbewe says diarrhoea is mostly associated with contamination of food and water.
Dr Mbewe says some viral infections can lead to diarrhoea and vomiting and the strains are highly contagious, being spread through unwashed hands.

“Shared drinks, utensils, and contaminated food also provide passage into your unsuspecting stomach. Hand washing, clean kitchens, and common sense go a long way to keep viruses under wraps,” he says.

To reduce the risk of bacteria-related diarrhoea, cook meat, poultry, and eggs completely. Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces.

The water project

But the water blues for residents of Nchelenge will soon be confined to history. A novel project has been designed to address the challenges and make the residents proud of themselves again, looking forward to a brighter future.

The initiative has been mooted by the National Water and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) through Devolution Trust Fund (DTF), which has approved a project to extend the water network, put up a water tank (100 cubic metres) and construct water kiosks at a cost of K2 billion.

NWASCO is a regulatory body for water providers ensures efficiency and sustainability of water supply and sanitation service. It works in liaison with DTF, which is a basket fund that gives water utilities money to improve water supply in urban and peri-urban areas of Zambia.

The project targets 100 families who will benefit from the 10 water kiosks and 120 individual connections. More than 2,000 people will benefit from the water kiosks in Kenani, Yenga and Malutu villages.

The project started in October 2011 and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

DTF manager Samuel Gonga is optimistic of extending the financial support to LWSC should the first project be carried successfully.

The basket fund has since 2007 been able to provide almost a million people with access to sustainable water supply in peri-urban and low cost areas. Its target is to reach 2.5 million people by 2015.

Gonga, however, says the target may not be reached by 2015 because of lack of absorption capacity of funds by the water utilities to implement projects within a short period of time.

He also attributed the limited funds to the basket fund as another hindrance to reach the 2.5 million targets. So far only Germany and the European Union are among the major donors to DTF.

In as much as the people of Kashikishi are expectant of safe clean water, the onus is on the water utility to work within the agreed time frame with DTF.

The 2,000 plus people to benefit from the project is a good start for the people of Nchelenge of better projects to come.

March 21, 2012

UN Economic Commission for Africa Wants Safe Water to Flow Allover Africa

Newton Sibanda
March 20,2012

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Abdoulie Janneh is calling for concrete actions to facilitate the delivery of safe water to millions of Africans who remain in need.

Addressing a high-level session on the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative and the Africa Water Facility at the just ended 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles France, Mr. Janneh said that a measure of success for the forum would be an agreement on renewed pledges to support African countries in meeting the millennium development goal (MDG) targets for water and sanitation, particularly in the rural areas.

The 6th World Water Forum gathered more than 25,000 participants in Marseille from 12th to 18th March 2012.

Mr. Janneh, who is also UN Under Secretary-Generalwas speaking on a panel on partnership for strengthening water security in Africa.

He urged African countries and development agencies to come up with strategies to harness the resources needed to transform Africa’s immense water potential into assets for people to grow food and save millions of lives from water borne diseases.

Other members of the panel included African Union Commission chairperson Jean Ping, Chairperson of the ; President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka,The Prince of Orange, Chairman of United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB); The Hon. , president of the African Ministers Council on Water Edna Molewa from South Africa; and AMCOW Executive Secretary. Bai Mass Taal.

Bai Mass Tall, the executive secretary of AMCOW (African Minister's Council on Water) speaking during the closing function of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille

The panel unanimously called on African governments, bilateral and multilateral partners and other key stakeholders to help raise the resources, estimated at $400 million over the next three years, required to ensure that safe water is availability in acceptable levels throughout Africa.

Mr. Janneh said that there is a clear need for a work program that would lead to the achievement of the goal African countries set for themselves by continuing to place water issues at the forefront of Africa’s development agenda.

He renewed the commitment of ECA which hosts the secretariat of UN-Water/Africa to continue providing the support that will enable the water sector in the continent to build on its pioneering role as a model of inter-Agency coherence and synergy.

Mr Janneh recalled the dire situation of water needs in Africa and underscored its perplexing nature because the continent is actually “awash with large rivers, big lakes, vast wet lands and widespread ground water resources.”

“Indeed, in the context of this 6th World Water Forum, it is notable that Africa is endowed with transboundary waters with international river basins that cover not less than 62 percent of its land area”, he explained.

A picture of a mobile water purification plant in the Village of solutions at the 6th World Water Forum

Earlier, the president of the World Water Council, Loïc Fauchon said that Africa needs to bridge the gap between availability of water on the continent and the access its people have to it by fully integrating water accessibility and food security into national health strategies.

“What use is it to feed children only to see them die for lack of safe water”, Mr Fauchon asked, adding that water is as important for health as it is for energy.

He called for future climate change negotiations, including the future Green Fund, to put water issues on top of their discussions.

The Prince of Orange lauded efforts made by individual African countries, despite obvious financial constraints to supply water to the ever-increasing city populations, though regretting the fact that not so much progress had been made in the area of basic sanitation.

He called on Africa to begin to believe in its abilities saying, “a lot of good practices do exist on the continent and Africa countries should begin to look at each other for good examples.”

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Ping related different regional initiatives on water and said that the intra-African solidarity revealed during recent draughts in Somalia shows that Africa can contribute substantially towards resolving its water problems.

Mr. Kaberuka, President of the Africa Development Bank, recalled different initiatives by the bank and called for African ownership of its water projects, even as they continue to seek partnerships with development agenciesw while Ms.Molewa, president of AMCOW emphasized on the theme of the Forum – Time for Solutions – arguing Africa is doing its best, as testified by the growing number of African countries that have increased the budgetary allocations for water provision.

“Now is the time to use water to wash away poverty and underdevelopment”, she concluded.

The entire panel agreed that “a time for solutions” should also be an important step in preparing the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

This resonates with Africa’s position which is that water must be placed at the heart of all the issues on the agenda at Rio+20: for the green economy and in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

March 13, 2012

World Water Forum opens to calls for concrete solutions to end water scarcity

Fredrick Mugira
March 12, 2012

The six global meeting on water has got underway in Marseille France with high level speakers calling for concrete solutions to bring to an end water scarcity and wastage.

“We have been moving too slowly. We now need to accelerate,” French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said as he opened the sixth World Water Forum.

“The number of human beings who have no access to clean water is in the billions. Each year, we mourn millions of dead from the health risks that this causes. This situation is not acceptable – the world community must rise and tackle it,” he noted.

François Fillon, Prime Minister of France at the Opening Ceremony 12 March

Fillon further called for sustainable water management systems saying that in some cities around the world, 70 percent of water is wasted.

He explored countries around the world to share scientific knowledge and expertise to end climate change and water wastage.

Fillon also called for creation of an international agency that oversees environment which he named “World Environment Organization,” noting that if the world can have a “World Trade Organization,” why not have a World Environment organization also.

One of the photography exhibitions at the forum dedicated to water

Speaking during the same occasion, the Mayor of Marseille Jean-Claude Gaudin stressed that choice and time for solution to addressing water scarcity and waste in the world has come.

“The time for solutions, yes, means we must meet the challenges like climate change, irresistible urban growth, population growth, the depletion of a resource subject to ever increasing pollution and uncontrolled consumption, inequalities between rich and poor and disparities between dry and wet regions throw at us together, he noted.

In his speech, Prof. Benedicto Braga, President of the International Forum Committee called for rethinking of water issues.

“Water also deserves new thinking and concrete action. It deserves clear and transparent debates and adequate solutions,” he stressed.

He also advocated for inclusion of discussions on water during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June this year. Rio+20 conference will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on from June 20-22, 2012.

“As a process, the 6th Forum, is working in perfect alignment with the UN system to bring water into the discussions of the Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20,” he noted.

Children from various schools in Marseilles perform during the opening ceremony

The one week of discussions, hot debates, solutions and best practice sharing in order to achieve concrete solutions and commitments for the cause of water has attracted over 25,000 participants from more than 180 countries.

March 9, 2012

Sub-Saharan Africa Fails to Meet Access to Clean Water Goal Ahead of Time

Cliff Abenaitwe
March 09,2012

Though the world has reached the Millennium Development Goal of cutting by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water five years ahead of the 2015 deadline, most Africa countries are not about to.

This is according to a report by the UN children agency-UNICEF and World Health organization.

The report released ahead of the 6th World Water forum in Marseilles France indicates that 89 percent of the world’s population, or more than six billion people, now use improved drinking water sources.

Between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to piped water supplies, protected wells and other improved drinking sources.

Children collecting water in Kabale district of Uganda

But according to the same report over 780 million people in the world are still without access to improved sources of drinking water. This group accounts for 11 percent of the global population and the largest fraction is in Sub Sahara Africa.

The report indicates that Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania are not on track to meet the MDG drinking water target.

The heartbreaking truth is that 605 million people will be without an improved drinking water source and 2.4 billion people will lack access to improved sanitation facilities by the turn of 2015.

Over 780 million people in the world are still without access to improved sources of drinking water

Commenting on the report the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki moon commended this achievement. “This achievement is a testament to the commitment of Government leaders, public and private sector entities, communities and individuals who saw the target not as a dream, but as a vital step towards improving health and well-being” he noted. “Of course, much work remains to be done”, the secretary general cautioned adding that achieving the MDG drinking water target is a major step, but ultimately, only one step on a long journey that we have yet to finish.

The report suggests a number of ways to help areas that are far-off the target like sub-Sahara African and Oceania. “Continued efforts are needed to reduce urban-rural disparities and inequities associated with poverty; to dramatically increase coverage in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania; to promote global monitoring of drinking water quality; to bring sanitation ‘on track’; and to look beyond the MDG target towards universal coverage”, the report recommends.

March 3, 2012

Uganda: 24 Crater Lakes Disappear

Abdulkarim SSengendo
March 3, 2012

Up to 24 Crater Lakes have disappeared in southwestern Uganda due to human development factors.

This is according to Leo Twinomuhangi, the Range Manager for National Forestry Authority in charge of South Western Uganda Region. He says all the lakes that have disappeared over the last four decades were in Rubirizi district.

Twinomuhangi notes that this is based on the 2010 geographical records which indicated that only 32 out of the 56 crater lakes that were in the area still exist.

This swamp was once a crater lake

Over decades, population levels in the region have also soared causing a dramatic demand for water and land where to stay and farm.

Most of the remaining lakes are now surrounded by local people’s gardens.

Twinomuhangi wants an immediate action taken to halt agricultural activities carried out on lake banks of the existing 32 Lakes.

Lake Kyema has had its water change from blue to brown due to human activities close to its banks

Disappearance of these lakes is also partly linked to higher evaporation rates as a result of climate change.

Twinomuhangi laments that the remaining lakes are losing their natural beauty. “Waters in Kamweru and Lake Kyema have lost their natural color and turned from blue to brown,” he says.

Twongiirwe Medard has lived in this area since he was born 70 years ago. He identifies some of the crater Lakes that disappeared twenty years ago as Nziguto; Kyabazo and Kacuba.

The places where these Lakes were are now covered by swamps but also some swamps have been cut down for crop production and cattle rearing.

“With excessive erosion, the lakes became shallow and were filled with vegetation; eventually they disappeared, all this resulted from human activities carried out on banks of these Lakes,“ he said.

According to Twinomuhangi, this will result into harsh climatic changes that could negatively affect farming in the region and also lead to poverty and disease outbreaks.

A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater or caldera. In Rubirizi district, crater lakes are not only a source of water. They attract tourists and local people there believe their waters have healing magic.

Lake Kamunzuku, is one of the remaining 32 crater Lakes that are properly conserved. The lake commonly known as Transparent Lake is about 50 kilometers deep. National Forestry Authority allows the community to carry out fishing in this lake on small scale, sport boating and other lake friendly activities. It attracts up to 5 tourists a month.

Children swim in waters of Lake Kamunzuku, one of the remaining crater lakes.

Now, Alari Gonza Kaita, the National Forestry Authority Public Relations Supervisor, wants communities neighboring these lakes to team up with their local leaders and the National Forestry Authority to conserve the existing lakes.

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