Archive for December, 2012

December 16, 2012

Zambia: Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited Scoops a K10 Million Award

Julius Mandaliza Phiri and
Henry Kashoki Nsofwa
December 16, 2012

Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited scooped a K10 million award for the best performing Commercial Utility in Peri-urban category and the Company was also recognized for excellence in performance in metering ratio and hours of supply.

The award and certificates were received at the launch of Urban and Peri- Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Report 2011 and 2012 in Lusaka at Intercontinental Hotel.

Managing Director, Wamuwi Changani received the award and certificates on behalf of the Company.

After receiving the award and certificates, the Managing Director attributed the achievements to team work and looked forward to receiving the overall award if staff continued working together.

There is increased need for investing in sanitation and water supply in LDCs to end water scarcity

There is increased need for investing in sanitation and water suplly in LDCs to end water scarcity

Speaking at the launch of the Sector report, Minister of Local Government and Housing, Emerine Kabanshi said the launch of the report was very critical as it enabled commercial utilities to reflect on their contribution to the improvement of the provision of clean and safe drinking water and proper sanitation services.

The Minister said the launch also provided an opportunity to evaluate strategies in the sector and deal with the challenges that are being experienced in service delivery. She said it was the priority of the government to improve the provision of clean and safe drinking water and sanitation throughout the country.

The launch was attended by all Commercial Utilities Chief Executives and their Public Relations Managers and Officers.

Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited is looking forward to having a fully-fledged procurement department in order for the Company to be certified by Zambia Public Procurement Authority.

Managing Director, Wamuwi Changani said this when he officially opened a two day procurement workshop for Head office Management staff and tender committee members at Eastern Comfort Lodge on 20th September 2012.

Changani said that he was happy that the workshop was taking place as this was part of the fulfillment of the strategic plan of the company .

Changani said the procurement department was still in its infancy stage and for this reason needed to be strengthened. He said the Company was depending on the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to tender any procurement above K500 million.

He looked forward to the situation where the Company would be able to handle big procurements.

He, therefore called on the staff and tender committee members to take the workshop seriously as the success of the workshop de-pended on their participation.

“Let us put in all we can so that we can achieve our objectives,” he said.

He further urged the staff to share the skills with district staff so that even districts staff could have the same information.

Giving a vote of thanks , Tender Committee member, Davies Mwanamoya thanked the Zambia Public Procurement facilitators for the skills imparted in the participants. Mwanamoya said the skills received had made it clear on how the tender and evaluation committees were supposed to be working. He said with the skills given the tender Committee would handle tender procedures professionally.

December 16, 2012

Uganda: Living with Scarcity

Chris Mugasha
December 16, 2012

A woman with a Jerry Can struggling to locate where to fetch water from in the degraded Kikondera wetland in Buhweju district of Uganda. Gold mining activities in the area have left people with nowhere to fetch water from. Degradation of the wetland has disorganizing the ecosystem there. Picture by Chris Mugasha

A woman with a Jerry Can struggling to locate where to fetch water from in the degraded Kikondera wetland in Buhweju district of Uganda. Gold mining activities in the area have left people with nowhere to fetch water from. Degradation of the wetland has disorganizing the ecosystem there. Picture by Chris Mugasha

December 9, 2012

Kenya: Cassava Saves Families Living in Water-stressed Regions from Hunger

Mary Mwendwa
December 09, 2012

Large dry fields of farms, dry water wells, donkey carrying water jerry cans, women and children walking down the valleys with jerry cans and huge baobab trees dotting the landscape are what lead me to Kanzilu village in Mutomo, Eastern Kenya.

I am on a mission to meet Mutunga Mbai, a father of seven in his mid-fifties engaged in cassava farming to cope with climate change.

A woman in Kanzilu village in Mutomo, Eastern Kenya cuts cassava stem

A woman in Kanzilu village in Mutomo, Eastern Kenya cuts cassava stem

I am in a group of journalists and all we see is the dryness in Mutunga’s farm, an indicator that it has not rained in a longtime. We are welcomed humbly by the family and set for us is tea and boiled cassavas.

His loyal cat plays around the table starring at us as Mutunga picks a piece of cassava and gives him. ”This is what my family feeds on, we have no other food, every time I try and plant maize, the crop fails due to lack of rain, ” he tells us.

Mutungu is one among many farmers in Mutomo, who have turned to cassava farming as a result of severe climatic conditions that put their lives to risk. A recent study found that cassava, a traditional root crop that is a staple for millions of Africans, could help farmers deal with climate change.

“People here were so used to planting maize, in the recent past, crops like maize have failed and therefore they have turned to drought tolerant crops which are also known as orphaned crops such as sorghum, millet, cowpeas and cassava,” says Benedict Mathitu, a Divisional Crops officer, Mutumo Division.

He adds that Mutomo receives an average rainfall of 300 mm – 600 mm annually. This makes it difficult for farmers to invest in planting crops that are not drought tolerant.

“The last time I had a good harvest was in 2003, since then I have never harvest any other crop apart from cassava,” says Mutunga. He is also a leader of several self-help groups that get a lot of support from the Ministry of Agriculture through extension services. They normally receive trainings and cassava seeds.

One of the groups that he works closely with is Wikwatyo wa Kandae meaning ‘Hope of Kandae’ self Help Group. The group is involved in cassava farming.

Musenya Joseph, one of the group members says cassava farming has so many advantages compared to other crops like maize.

Being a drought resistant crop, they don’t have to worry about the rains. They also use it as food for their families. The plant’s leaves are food for their livestock too.

“We have a serious shortage of water here in Mutomo, most of the wells are dry now, we walk for many kilometers to fetch water that is not very clean and treated,” Anastancia Musenya tells me.

She shyly adds that cassava is a delicacy that they can’t miss in their homestead. “It has a special function of boosting men’s vitality,” she adds.

Cassava tubers

Cassava tubers

However, there are challenges of diseases and pests that attach their growing cassava. There is also the issue of cyanide poisoning which many farmers have knowledge about.

Dr. Cyrus Githunguri, an agronomist / crop physiologist in charge of Kari Katumani, has done several studies on cassava for over twenty years. He cites cyanite not as a big threat to cassava consumers.

He says human body has a natural way of fighting cyanide but also advises people to eat well cooked cassava.

Cassava farming is not only helping people here in fighting food security but also reducing the economic burden of farmers and Dr. Githunguri wants farmers to take this advantage to fight poverty in their homesteads.

He tips them of markets in cities such as Nairobi, Eldoret and outside Kenya only if they get the cassava in large quantities.

Mutomo climate is good for drying cassava chips which is an advantage to the farmers in the region.

Dr.Githunguri further adds that there is a need for farmers to use improved seed varieties from KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) noting that these don’t have disease strains and take only 8 months to one year to mature.

The common cassava diseases in the region include cassava mosaic and brown stalk which is commonly found in the coastal region of Kenya.

“People in Mutomo have depended on food relief for a long time, its high time we found our own sustainable ways of survival, ” Martha Mwangi, who works with over forty farmer groups in the region,” says.

She believes that cassava farming has greatly improved the livelihoods of many Mutomo families.

The groups she works with own a bakery which makes bread mixed with wheat and cassava flour. Other delicacies made from cassava are cakes, chapatti, chips and crisps which are sold in the local market.

With agriculture accounting for 29% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in developing countries and employment for 65% of population, communities living in Arid and semi-Arid Lands have no choice but to adopt to improve on their food security by farming the climate smart way.

December 9, 2012

COP18/CMP8: Doha Climate Change Talks Leave Many Disappointed

Fredrick Mugira
Doha. Dec, 2012

The UN climate talks failed to deliver increased cuts to carbon pollution, nor did they provide any credible pathway to $100 billion per year in finance by 2020 to help the poorest countries deal with climate change, according to the 700 NGOs who are members of Climate Action Network-International (CAN-I).

Official opening function for the United Nation’s two-week conference on Climate Change (COP18/CMP8). By Fredrick Mugira

Official opening function for the United Nation’s two-week conference on Climate Change (COP18/CMP8). By Fredrick Mugira

Two weeks ago, just prior to the start of these negotiations, numerous credible reports were published by an array of well-respected scientists, economists and climate change experts, all with essentially the same conclusion – we are currently on an unsustainable path which virtually guarantees the world will be faced with catastrophic effects from climate change, according to Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo.

“Two weeks of negotiations have not altered that path and that politicians need to reflect the consensus around climate change through funds, targets and effective action.”

WWF head of delegation, Tasneem Essop, said Doha was supposed to be an important element in setting up for a fair, ambitious and binding deal in 2015 and therefore needed to rebuild trust and instill equity.

“These talks have failed the climate and they have failed developing nations,” Essop said. “The Doha decision has delivered no real cuts in emissions, it has delivered no concrete finance, and it has not delivered on equity.”

Doha City which hosted the 2012 COP1/CMP8. By Fredrick Mugira

Doha City which hosted the 2012 COP18/CMP8. By Fredrick Mugira

Governments have delivered a very vague outcome that might lead to increased ambition but only if the politics shift to working for the people, our future, and not the polluters.

In particular, countries including the US, who have continually blocked progress in the talks, need to fundamentally change their positions in line with their obligation to lead on the solution to this crisis that they created.

Tim Gore, International Climate Change Policy Advisor for Oxfam, said Doha had done nothing to guarantee that public climate finance would go up next year, not down.

“Developing countries have come here in good faith and have been forced to accept vague words and no numbers,” Gore said. “It’s a betrayal.”

UNFCCC boss Christiana Figueres speaks during the function for awarding awards to winners of the UNFCCC/CDM African Radio Contest 2012 at Qatar Convention Center. By Fredrick Mugira

UNFCCC boss Christiana Figueres speaks during the function for awarding awards to winners of the UNFCCC/CDM African Radio Contest 2012 at Qatar Convention Center. By Fredrick Mugira

Wael Hmaidan, director of CAN-I, said ministers needed to go back to their capitals and work hard to put concrete proposals on the table for the next talks so that progress could be made towards to secure a fair, ambitious, and binding deal in 2015.

“The path forward is actually quite clear: we have the technology and know-how to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, protect vulnerable communities, and grow sustainable, resilient, economies.”

“But we also need people in all regions of the world to demand leadership from their governments on climate change – just like the new youth movement in the Arab region has done.”

The venue of Qatar Sustainability Expo, held at the Doha Exhibition Center, parallel to the United Nations 2012 Climate Change Conference. By Fredrick Mugira

The venue of Qatar Sustainability Expo, held at the Doha Exhibition Center, parallel to the United Nations 2012 Climate Change Conference. By Fredrick Mugira

The Doha Decision:
• An extraordinarily weak outcome on climate finance which fails to put any money on the table or to ensure a pathway to the $100 billion a year by 2020 target. The decision asks for submissions from governments on long term finance pathways, calls for public funds for adaptation but does not mention a figure, and encourages developed countries to maintain funding at existing levels dependent on their economies.
• An eight year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with loopholes that allow carry over, use and trading of hot air
• A call – though not an official ambition ratchet mechanism – for Kyoto Protocol countries to review their emissions reduction target in line with the 25-40% range by 2014 at the latest. While it could have been stronger, the decision reinforces clear moral obligation for countries to increase their emission reduction targets prior to 2020 and provides opportunities for them to do so
• An agreed work program on loss and damage to help victims of climate change will start immediately and a decision “to establish institutional arrangement, such as an international mechanism, at COP19”
• Developed countries failed to agree a way to account for their carbon in a comparable way

December 4, 2012

COP18/CMP8: Don’t Offer Leap Service On Climate Change Adaptation Cash- Activists Tell Rich Countries

Emmanuel Okella
Doha. Dec, 2012

Wealthy countries have come under attack at the ongoing climate change talks in Doha with poor countries accusing them of not walking-the-talk with regard to climate financing.

Apart from the bashing over failure to provide cash to help poor people adapt to climate change, they are also being blamed for pretense in what they have agreed to give so far.

African coalition on climate financing says much of what the developed countries have given so far has come out of existing aid budgets or in the form of loans that will need to be repaid.

Members of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change holding a press conference in Doha. By Fredrick Mugira

Members of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change holding a press conference in Doha. By Fredrick Mugira

The European Union and nine countries including the United States and Australia agreed during the 2009 climate change meeting in Copenhagen to make a down payment of $30billion by the end of this year on the eventual $100bn a year that must be raised by 2020.

But recent analysis by Oxfam shows that only about $24 billion has been committed and much of that is not new and additional to existing aid, as was agreed.

“How are we supposed to be holding repeated negotiations with people who don’t want to meet their part of the bargain? How shall we continue trusting them? ” asked Geoffrey Uwale, a member of the African coalition on climate financing.

“Most of what they have given the poor people, suffering consequences of their excesses has been in loans that have to be repaid with interest. Worse still, only 21% of it has been earmarked to support adaptation programs” he added.

A recent report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) says wealthy nations have all together failed to meet their pledges to help poor countries address climate change effects. The report singled out only Japan and Norway, it said were the only ones that have contributed a fair share of their promise.

Tim Gore, the Oxfam climate change policy adviser says developing countries are heading towards a huge dilemma without any confidence that they will be supported to adapt to climate change after 2012.

“There is a real danger that climate finance will be scaled down in 2013, at a time when it needs to be scaled up.” he said.

African coalition on climate financing is asking developed countries to find new ways of raising the funding outside aid budgets so that the $100bn commitment is met without diverting money from other anti-poverty priorities such as health and education.

December 4, 2012

COP18/CMP8: Young People Tell Climate Negotiators That It’s also about Their Future

Emmanuel Okella
Doha. Dec, 2012

While their numbers and even voices may not be as pronounced at the UN climate negotiations here in Doha, the simple presence of young people at the talks is a reminder to the negotiators that it’s not just about the energy and economic security, but also about generations to come.

While different countries and same interest blocks protectively fight for their bargain, the youths here are not interested on who takes what, all they are watching for is whether the outcome of these talks will safeguard the rights of future generations.

“All we are here for is to demand for is inter-generational equity. We want these delegates to know that it’s out future they are bargaining with” said Obiake Michael, a youth who has traveled to Doha as part of the African observer team with the United Nations.

“Whatever agreement they will reach here is a cheque that will be cashed by either us or our children and all the young people across the world”.

Youth from around the world stage a silent demonstration  at COP18?CMP8. By Fredrick Mugira

Youth from around the world stage a silent demonstration at COP18?CMP8. By Fredrick Mugira

Obiake belongs to the Nigeria United Nations of Youths, a youth movement for positive change in West Africa. The movement is mobilizing every youth in Nigeria to plant at least five trees.

The executive president of the group Prince Goodluck Obi says they are also running a campaign to encourage the youths to engage in agriculture. He says many young people in Africa have abandoned the continent’s backbone activity and remain unproductive in the wake of the soaring unemployment.

“We are lobbying governments to offer young people incentives to back to the gardens and feed the population. These could be through interest free loans, subsidies or even mechanized implements”.

Obi says the other challenge for most of Africa has been the “get rich quick” syndrome that he says has polarized the brains of young people. “Many of them are lured into the love for quick money and engage in wrong ways, but we keep telling them it’s about how far but how well” he said.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says the reduced participation of youth in agriculture production is a threat to food security considering that they form the majority of nearly 60 per cent of Africa’s population residing in rural areas.

The agency warns that this trend not only contributes to urbanization but also food shortage for the world that’s being projected to reach 9.2 billion people by 2050.

Farming practices in Africa have remained traditional for generations and failure to improve productivity and bring innovation into the sector continues to push many youths away from opportunities in agriculture.

Agriculture could play a major role in providing solutions to the current problems of food shortage and youth unemployment in Africa.

As negotiators and policymakers articulate new approaches to address climate change here in Doha, it’s important they are mindful of the aspirations and interests of the young people but also how to engage them in modern and smart agriculture for sustainable development.

The job of the negotiators at COP18 is to listen to these messages and act accordingly.

December 4, 2012

COP18/CMP8: New International Study Links Climate Change, Food Insecurity And Migration

Emmanuel Okella
Doha. Dec, 2012

At the ongoing UN-Climate Change Conference, findings of a study have been released confirming that rain variability and food insecurity are key drivers for human migration in developing countries.

The empirical research carried out by CARE International and the United Nations University in eight developing countries in Asia Africa and Latin America, links the relationship between climate change, food security and migration.

It reveals that during drought, land scarce households trying to cope with food insecurity send migrants to find food or money to buy food. The report further points out that migration was only temporary where migrants were successful, but frequently permanent in situations where options could not be found to deal with rainfall unpredictability and rural food insecurity.

Due to lack of water, constructors of the Qatar Convention Center where the COP18/CMP8 is taking place, used drip irrigation method to deliver water to the flowers around the magnificent center. By Fredrick Mugira

Due to lack of water, constructors of the Qatar Convention Center where the COP18/CMP8 is taking place, used drip irrigation method to deliver water to the flowers around the magnificent center. By Fredrick Mugira

“Even though we have seen that the levels of food insecurity vary across site, migration decisions were more closely linked to rainfall in places where the dependence on rain-fed agriculture was high” said Dr. Koko Warner, the Scientific Director of the ‘Where the Rain Falls’ project.

“When we look into the future, our modeling results for Tanzania show that migration from vulnerable households could double over the next 25 years under the most extreme drying scenario” she told a news conference at the sidelines of the Doha climate meeting.

The study gives African decision makers particularly in East African, that has recently been struggling with the worst drought in 60 years, ideas about who is migrating, under what circumstances and what needs to be done to make migration a choice and not force.

Tonya Rawe, a senior policy advocate for CARE USA, said the adaptation committee of the UN climate talks needs to find ways to help guide where and how climate finance can be targetted to help vulnerable communities adapt to the changing weather patterns and ensure food security.

She said communities that participated in the research have shaky livelihoods, and as the impacts of climate change increase- like floods and droughts, they move closer to the edge of crisis.

“They need real policy and practice solutions today, at all levels including here in the UNFCCC. As impacts increase, households grow more vulnerable and have less capacity to adapt, potentially leading to more migration driven by hunger, undertaken as last resort” she noted.

The researchers warned that if national and global policy makers do not act quickly- both to mitigate global warming and support rural communities to adapt, food insecurity and emigration from areas most affected by climate change are likely to grow in the coming decade.

Already there are efforts like by the Rockefeller Foundation that has invested millions of dollars in partnerships with African governments and civic institutions like Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) to tackle issues—from climate change to rapid urbanization—that are hindering the progress of so many people, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

December 4, 2012

COP18/CMP8: Conservation Agriculture Could Help Women Farmers with HIV/Aids to Improve Food Security

Emmanuel Okella
Doha, Dec, 2012

Women activists at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change conference in Doha, are asking for global attention towards the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on food production in Africa.

“There are millions of women widowed by AIDS in Africa, their health conditions can’t support the heavy farm labor, yet farming is the only way they can provide food and income to their families” says Mary Andiobe, the executive director for Women Coalition against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Her remarks come just days after the world marked Aids day.

She says negotiators at the climate summit should not ignore the struggles of African women in ensuring household food security. “A link has to be drawn between climate change, HIV/AIDS and food production. Mitigation measures such as promotion of conservation agriculture have to be on the African agenda” she said at the sidelines of the conference.

A Youth holds a placard at the COP18 in Doha. By Fredrick Mugira

A Youth holds a placard at the COP18 in Doha. By Fredrick Mugira

According to Dr. LindiweSibanda, the Chief Executive Officer of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), women farmers are the pillars of African agriculture because over half of all women in Africa are employed in the Agriculture sector producing nearly 90% of food on the continent.

“Yet even as the guardians of food security they are still marginalized in business relations and have minimal control over access to resources such as land, inputs such as improved seeds and fertilizer, credit and technology” she notes in the organization’s African women magazine.

Now HIV/AIDS has further worsened the precarious situation for Africa’s women. Apart from losing family support from husbands, they are themselves advised to cut back on farm labor after testing positive for HIV. While taking care of their health, crop yields continue to decline.

Andiobe says stuck in an impossible situation like this, the women farmers need to be supported to learn and implement conservation agriculture – a method of farming that calls for less tillage.

Intensive farm labor remains a challenge especially when the body’s immunity starts to dwindle. “At this point they begin to feel desperate. Life starts becoming unbearable because one becomes food insecure year after year” she remarks.

With no capital to start alternative income generating activity some feel that they have no option and contemplate defying hospital advice and spend more hours in their fields.

Conservation agriculture involves less tillage – a physically demanding and time-consuming activity. Two alternatives to tillage could be promoted. One is called basin tillage. Farmers dig small basins or pits that capture water and soil nutrients. The other is called “ripping.” Farmers use a device that breaks up compacted soil, allowing water and roots to penetrate deeply.

These alternatives to tillage reduce soil loss and erosion. They complement the other principles of conservation agriculture: leaving crop residues on the field as mulch, and rotating crops.

Conservation agriculture practices have brought hope and joy to many HIV positive farmers in Africa and it’s this kind of initiatives that African women activists in Doha are calling for to help the African woman not only ensure food security for her household but also contribute to sustainable development.

December 4, 2012

COP18/CMP8: Africa Urged To Gear up Role In Climate Change Negotiations

Emmanuel Okella
Doha Dec, 2012

Observers say Africa risks losing its essential bargains at the ongoing United National Climate Change negotiations in Qatar, if African delegates at the conference don’t play an enhanced role on a number of issues that are still hanging and need to be resolved at least by the end of the two week gathering.

“We know there are a million demands we are making, but we need to quickly reach consensus on the continent’s key ones and start collectively pushing for those right way” said Jacqueline Amongin, an observer for the Pan African Parliament at the talks.

Of immediate concern to Africa is securing a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol and ensuring that amendments to the protocol are adopted before the end of 2012.
“There seems agreement on the extension but we need it signed will out interests there in” she added.

Members of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change holding a press conference in Doha. By Fredrick Mugira

Members of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change holding a press conference in Doha. By Fredrick Mugira

The Durban Conference last year reached resolution that a second commitment period to the Protocol, which could be for a period of either five or seven years, runs from January 1, 2013.

The aim of the second commitment period is to ensure that collective emissions of greenhouse gases by developed countries are reduced by at least 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The second commitment period is critical to Africa’s interests because it commits the world’s biggest polluters to long-term temperature goals, thereby ensuring that the global temperature rise does not further expose Africa to undesirable threats.

Any gap between the first and second commitment periods would clearly signal danger for the continent in terms of mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

“Africa has many projects hinging on this protocol and not fully committing developed countries on it would mean danger for African mitigation measures such as on agriculture and energy” Amongin told a meeting of African negotiation group here in Doha.

The observers say, another outstanding issue is the Green Climate Fund which Africa wants to see sufficiently funded. The fund was decided in Cancun in 2010 and got established at last year’s Conference of Parties in Durban-South Africa.

“We need to see this money coming. Clinton made a promise of 100 billion dollars a year in 2009, but are we witnessing it. These are key areas that we need to bench on” commented Dr. Boniface Watara from Benin.

It aims to provide support to developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The developed countries have agreed to mobilize $100 billion per annum to the fund by 2020.

The fund still remains largely empty and is yet to begin meeting either mitigation or adaptation requirements. Representatives of Africa and LDCs at Doha are pushing for common position to see that financial sack swelling.

Chair of the African negotiation team Emmanuel Dlamini says he is hopeful that something tangible will come out of Doha. “It’s important that we stay focused, united and positive, even in tough situations such as at these tedious negotiations. It’s a tough terrain but am confident we shall pull off something” he said.

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