Archive for July, 2012

July 16, 2012

Kenya: Rivers on Verge of Drying Up as Degradation of Chepsir Forest Soars

Mary Mwendwa
July 16, 2012

Residents of Chepsir Tea zone settlement scheme cry foul over the effects of human-wildlife conflict, logging and charcoal burning on conservation efforts of the Chepsir forest in Kenya.

The famous forest is located in the South Western part of Mau block in Chepsir village, Kepkelion district in Kericho County.

Chepsir Tea Zone Settlement Scheme came into existence in 1962 after the British colonial government sold land to Kenyan government which later sold to people through Brookbond group of companies that practice tea farming in the region.

A section of Chepsir Forest southwestern Mau

Despite the Mau restoration conservation efforts that have hit the national agenda, the forest community continues to face challenges that if not addressed urgently, the water tower will still face a threat of destruction.

From a distance, one is able to spot smoke from charcoal burning spots in the interior parts of the forest and also met several loggers packed timber on a tractors. A clear indication that some of these activities that destroy forest cover are still in existence.

This is leading to microclimate changes across the forest edges. A microclimate is the distinctive climate of a small-scale area, such as a garden, park, valley or part of a city.

Daudi Sigilai Arapmosik, a teenager and a resident here, who does part time comedy on a community Radio station nearby, notes that illegal logging and charcoal burning are common and serious and should be addressed urgently.

He confirmed that Kenya Forest Service has tried much but they have very few staff to patrol the forest. “If we had more forest guards may be the forest could not be destroyed by these charcoal burners and loggers” he laments.

Likewise, Magdaline Limo, mother of four in the Chepsir tea zone area says her biggest problem is the elephants that eat and destroy her crops. “Recently elephants invaded my small farm and destroyed maize worth one acre, my family depends on this farm, what can I do to stop these elephants coming to my farm?” she laments.

Many of the dwellers here, who are from the Kipsigis sub-tribe of the Kalenjin community, depend on ecosystem services from the forest. Many do farming, livestock rearing, beekeeping, and mixed crop farming. Chunks of maize plantations and tea dot the landscape in the area.

Being one of the Mau Complex blocks, it contains one of the largest Kenya’s water tower, located in the south western block, bordering Kericho and Bomet counties. The forest is both known for its indigenous and exotic tree species.

It is also a catchment are for several rivers including River Timbilil which serves the entire Kericho County, Birirbei, Kiplelachbei, Lelachbei among others.

Kuresoi, Chagaik, and Cheboswa are some of the neighboring forests of Chepsir. Chepsir dam and Sachoran form part of the wetlands in the region.

People living around Chepsir forest believe this is their only source of livelihood. Water from rivers, fodder for their livestock and rains of the crops are their main means of survival.

Tea plantation in Chepsir village southwestern Mau block

Since the government rolled out the Mau restoration process, many stakeholders have been involved in various campaigns ranging from tree planting exercises, education on importance of conserving the forest among others.

However for these efforts to have a lasting conservation solution, communities like the Chepsir Tea zone settlement scheme that have settled around the forest face challenges that make them resort to activities that destroy the entire mau ecosystem.

Mau is a catchment area of rivers: Ewaso Nyiro; Sondu; Mara and Njoro which feed some of the most important great Riftvalley lakes such as Nakuru and Natron and Lake Victoria in Nyanza.

Survival of all these ecosystems depend entirely on the Mau, therefore any activity that contributes to its degradation has huge local, regional and international implications.

Chepsir forest has continued to lose its indigenous tree species especially the cedar and podocarpus to charcoal burning.

Duncan Kibet, a village elder and farmer, notes that many of the illegal charcoal burners and loggers are people who don’t belong to the community around the forest. “It is sad that total strangers come to destroy this forest and we watch because we have no capacity to stop them, we only see them leave with products”.

Chanegs in the area’s microclimate are leading to favorable conditions for breeding of several disease vectors.

Now, as a community that depends of farming, many of the livestock keepers in this area face a challenge of pests that invade and transmit diseases to their livestock.

Daniel Rotich, a veterinary doctor and a member of Chepsir Environmental Conservation and protection Group, confirms that there are over twenty species of pests that transmit different strains of diseases to the livestock.

East Coast Fever, Babeosis (blue tick), Lumpy skin disease, heart water/Black quarter and rabbies are some of the diseases that are a big threat to the livestock in the region.

This spreads a huge economic impact on the farmer in terms of seeking treatment and loss if the livestock.

Mr.Rotich adds that at least one thousand livestock are lost through this annually.

However, the Kenya Forest Service has come up with mechanisms to help communities living around this forest through the Forest Act that came into force in 2007. Through this act, community based organizations have been registered as community Forest Associations (CFAs).

All these working together with Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Working Group among other stakeholders to conserve the forest. Communities pay one hundred Kenya shillings monthly to access firewood from this forest on a daily basis.

Alphonse Rotich, a farmer and a Coordinator of Save The Mau Forests Conservation project, says Chepsir community has been very committed to conservation of the forest. Many of the farmers have more than two percent tree cover in their farms. He adds that there is need for the community to benefit from the Carbon Credits Projects which have been rolled out in some parts of the country.

This will help them benefit directly from their conservation efforts and spread the benefits further to other people, a move that will promote sequestration (sucking of carbon from the atmosphere) hence help in fighting climate change effects.

As Kenya struggles to achieve its millennium development goals by 2015, conservation and sustainable development remain a top priority in restoring catchment areas like Chepsir forest which need urgent intervention both at the community level and authority level.

July 16, 2012

Zambia: Prisons owe EWSC K639 million in Water Bills

Newton Sibanda
August 16, 2012

FOUR prisons in Eastern Province have had no water for weeks after being disconnected by the Eastern Water and Sewerage Company (EWSC) for failing to settle K639 million (US$1=K5000) outstanding water bills.

The development exposed over 1,000 inmates to poor sanitation and possible outbreak of diseases.

EWSC public relations officer Kashoki Nsofwa says the affected prisons are Namuseche in Chipata, Nyimba, Petauke and Lundazi prisons.

Diseases are rife in Africa’s overcrowded prisons characterized by poor sanitation and hygiene

Mr Nsofwa said the water utility company disconnected water to the prisons because of the K639 million debt which has been outstanding since 2009.

“I want to confirm that we have disconnected water to four prisons, namely Namuseche, Nyimba, Petauke and Lundazi state prisons,” he said.

Mr Nsofwa said currently, Numuseche Prison in the provincial capital Chipata is fetching water from a nearby clinic which also has outstanding bills which should be settled not later than this week.

Eastern Province prisons deputy commanding officer Namataa Mayumbelo declined to comment on reports of water disconnections to four prisons.

Recently, EWSC said the four prisons, Chipata General Hospital and Chipata Municipal Council owe it about K3.5 billion in unpaid water bills.

EWSC managing director Wamuwi Changani urged the institutions to settle their bills, failure to which water supply would be disconnected.

And Eastern Province Minister Charles Banda said Government is aware that EWSC is owed about K3.5 billion in outstanding water bills by various government departments.

The minister said Government is committed to settling all outstanding bills it owes EWSC.
“I therefore direct all government departments with outstanding water bills to liquidate them or face disconnection by the water supply company,” Mr Banda said.

July 3, 2012

Three MDGs on Poverty, Slums and Water Achieved

UN Public Information Department
And WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 3, 2012

Three important targets on poverty, slums and water have been met three years ahead of 2015, says this year’s Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), launched yesterday by UN Secretary‐General Ban Ki‐moon. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible ─ but only if Governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.

In his foreword to the 2012 MDG Report, Mr. Ban says that further success depends on fulfilling MDG‐8 – the global partnership for development. “The current economic crises besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made. Let us build on the successes we have achieved so far, and let us not relent until all the MDGs have been attained”, said Secretary‐General Ban.

Millenium Development Goals

Progress
The MDG Report says that, for the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, both the number of people living in extreme poverty and the poverty rates have fallen in every developing region—including sub‐Saharan Africa, where rates are highest. Preliminary estimates indicate that in 2010, the share of people living on less than a $1.25 a day dropped to less than half of its 1990 value.

Essentially, this means that the MDG first target—cutting the extreme poverty rate to half its 1990 level—has been achieved at the global level, well ahead of 2015.

The MDG Report also notes another success: reaching the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of drinking water by 2010. The proportion of people using improved water sources rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010, translating to more than two billion people currently with access to improved sources such as piped supplies or protected wells.

And the share of urban residents in the developing world living in slums has declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012. More than 200 million have gained access to either improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing. This achievement exceeds the target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, also ahead of a 2020 deadline.

The MDG Report 2012 also points out that the world has achieved another milestone: parity in primary education between girls and boys. Driven by national and international efforts, many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level, especially since 2000. Girls have benefited the most. There were 97 girls enrolled per 100 boys in 2010—up from 91 girls per 100 boys in 1999.

The report says that enrolment rates of primary school age children have increased markedly in sub‐Saharan Africa, from 58 to 76 per cent between 1999 and 2010. Many countries in the region have succeeded in reducing their relatively high out of‐school rates even as their primary school age populations were growing.

MDGs 2012 Report

At the end of 2010, 6.5 million people in developing regions were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV or AIDS, constituting the largest one‐year increase ever. Since December 2009, more than 1.4 million people were being treated. “These results”, said Mr. Ban “represent a tremendous reduction in human suffering and are a clear validation of the approach embodied in the MDGs. But, they are not a reason to relax.

Projections indicate that in 2015 more than 600 million people worldwide will still lack access to safe drinking water, almost one billion will be living on an income of less than $1.25 per day, mothers will continue to die needlessly in childbirth, and children will suffer and die from preventable diseases. Hunger remains a global challenge, and ensuring that all children are able to complete primary education remains a fundamental, but unfulfilled, target that has an impact on all the other goals.

Lack of safe sanitation is hampering progress in health and nutrition … and greenhouse gas emissions continue to pose a major threat to people and ecosystems”.

Persistent Inequality
The MDG Report states that persisting inequalities are detracting from these gains, given that achievements were unequally distributed across and within regions and countries.
Moreover, progress has slowed for some MDGs after the multiple crises of 2008‐2009.

Important improvements in maternal health and reduction in maternal deaths have been achieved but progress is still slow. Reductions in adolescent childbearing and expansion of contraceptive use have continued, but at a slower pace since 2000 as compared to the decade before.

Nearly half of the population in developing regions—2.5 billion— still lacks access to improved sanitation facilities. By 2015, the world will have reached only 67 per cent coverage, well short of the 75 per cent needed to achieve the MDG target.

Opportunity to achieve more and shape the agenda for the future
While bullish on the success recorded, the MDG Report warns that the 2015 deadline is fast approaching and in order to achieve outstanding goals, Governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector need to intensify their contributions.

Gender inequality persists and women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government. Violence against women continues to undermine efforts to reach all goals. Further progress to 2015 and beyond will largely depend on success on these interrelated challenges.

The report says a new agenda to continue efforts beyond 2015 is taking shape.

With its successes as well as setbacks, the MDG campaign provides rich experience for this discussion to draw on, as well as confidence that further success is feasible.

“There is now an expectation around the world that sooner, rather than later, all these goals can and must be achieved. Leaders will be held to this high standard. Sectors such as government, business, academia and civil society, often known for working at cross‐purposes, are learning how to collaborate on shared aspirations,” said Under‐Secretary‐General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang.

The Millennium Development Goals Report, an annual assessment of regional progress towards the Goals, reflects the most comprehensive, up‐to‐date data compiled by over 25 UN and international agencies. The report is produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. A complete set of the data used to prepare the report is available at http://mdgs.un.org

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