Archive for September, 2013

September 7, 2013

Djibouti: Geothermal Exploration in Lake Assal Region Kicks Off

Watersan Perspective
September 07, 2013

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Djibouti have signed the funding agreements, totaling to US $7.5 million, for a geothermal exploration project in the region of Lake Assal.

“The exploitation of geothermal potential in the Lake Assal region will enable the Djiboutian population to access reliable, renewable and affordable source of energy,” said AfDB’s Regional Integration Director Alex Rugamba, on behalf of the Vice-President, Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration, during the signing ceremony.

African Development Bank Logo

African Development Bank Logo

The financing scheme includes a grant and a loan from AfDB’s soft loan arm, the African Development Fund to the tune of US $5.3 million and US $0.4 million respectively. It also includes a grant of US $1.8 million from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA).

The contribution from the AfDB and SEFA will be used to continue to raise more financing and will serve as a catalyst to rally independent geothermal electricity producers.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ali Yacoub Mahamoud, Djibouti’s Minister of Energy in charge of Natural Resources, commended the African Development Bank for “breathing new life into this 20-year old project”.

With this first phase of the project, the government of Djibouti is taking the lead on the first exploration and appraisal drilling phase. The private sector will be responsible, in a second phase, for the production drilling, steam gathering system and electricity production and evacuation to the national grid.

Geothermal development has known a boost in East Africa during the past two years, and has been attracting more and more private investors, thanks to new financing schemes put in place by development finance institutions such as the African Development Bank.

“Those innovative models help overcome the several risks associated with geothermal development, among which the most important one is the exploratory drilling risk, which is related to the probability of hitting dry wells during the exploration and appraisal drilling phase,” said Youssef Arfaoui, Chief Renewable Energy Specialist.

“By providing concessional finance to the early stage and high-risk activities mainly related to exploration and drilling, the African Development Bank paves the way for private investors to step in,” he explained.

Chebara dam in Kenya

Chebara dam in Kenya

The AfDB has successfully used that innovative model in 2011, for the Menengai Geothermal Development Project, supported by concessional financing to the tune of US $150 million. The Menengai project, once completed, will increase the energy supply in the country by an amount equivalent to the current consumption needs of 500,000 Kenyan households, 300,000 small businesses and some 1,000 GWh for other businesses and industries.

At a much smaller scale, the Lake Assal geothermal exploration project will help expand geothermal development, by building regional capacities, to other Rift Valley countries in Sub-Saharan Africa such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, which have considerable geothermal resource development potential.

Currently Djibouti relies mostly on fossil fuels and some hydropower imports from Ethiopia. The majority of the country’s current generation capacity is situated in Djibouti City. The existing power stations are old, polluting and expensive to operate. In addition, fuel imports are expensive and require important foreign-currency expenditure.

September 6, 2013

Kenya: Famous Lake Bogoria Swells

Mary Mwendwa
September 06, 2013

From a distance a pink carpet of lesser flamingos and the still; quiet; smooth and serene ambiance of water welcome me to Lake Bogoria, at the beginning of Kenya’s great Northern Wilderness.

Millions of flamingos beautifully parade at the lake; some flying and other feeding on their delicacy and the abundant blue green algae.

The flamingos, which are the main attraction for tourists at Lake Bogoria

The flamingos, which are the main attraction for tourists at Lake Bogoria

A brown dog with raised ears is the only creature that seems to be available at Jonathan Tireitos homestead. His blue square iron-thatched house, sits on the shores of Lake Bogoria- deserted and closed. Water has surrounded the house and there is no indication of people living in it.

Formerly known as Lake Hannington, the lake sits on the floor of the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley at an altitude ranging from 316ft to 5000ft above sea level. The lake covers an area of 34 km2. It is an alkaline –soda lake with no outlet. It only supports microscopic algae with no fish.

Lake Bogoria is Kenya’s 3rd Ramsar site after Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha. Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance, designated under the Ramsar Convention.

Known to many as the jewel of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Bogoria has been experiencing increased water levels in the recent past.

Local people who have live around the lake say the water levels started increasing in 2011 and have been increasing drastically since then. Experts in indigenous knowledge there say the lake increases to such levels after every 50 years.

Satellite image for Lake Bogoria

Satellite image for Lake Bogoria

Jonathan narrates to me how his worst fears of water invading his compound were confirmed two months ago. “We got an early warning from the Red Cross guys, but we ignored, one night we were asleep with my family, we realized our house was already submerged in the water

This lake has shocked us, we have never experienced such high water level, people have been displaced and we have been warned by Red Cross disaster prepared team to advice people living around the lake to move to higher grounds,” says William Kimosop, the chief warden Lake Bogoria National Reserve.

’’Sometimes nature shocks us, may be it could be as a result of the heavy rains being experienced,” he added.

He notes that several families have been displaced and are now living uphill for their safety.

“This is the first time we have seen lake Bogoria displace people,” he muses.

Raphael Kimosop, a research scientist at Lake Bogoria National Reserve, says there are two hypotheses behind the increasing water levels of Lake Bogora: “the unpredicted rainfall patters which have been experienced overtime following conservation initiatives and the saturation of the water aquifers in the bed of the lake.”

This increase in water levels created a shallow shoreline for the flamingos and other birds. Flamingos now have enough time and ground for practicing nesting. The is also emergence of new biodiversity, more species especially for the crocodiles and other water birds like the African skimmer.

However, other effects on the environment have been reported, according to Raphael, “due to the increase in water levels, the initially terrestrial places are changing to be aquatic habitats; therefore terrestrial plants have been submerged in water. Some of the plant species that are being submerged are acacia trees,”

He also laments the change in PH of the lake’s water noting that this is harmful to blue green algae- the food of lesser flamingos.

Lake Naivasha, Elementaita and Nakuru are experiencing increased water levels too.

September 6, 2013

Water Demands in Cameroon

Aaron Kaah Yancho
September 06, 2013

Water is central to human existence: The former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said that access to water and sanitation is fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

But where is water?
Without improved access to clean water and sanitation the important task of defeating poverty and hunger can never be achieved anywhere in the world. Often than not the economic consequences resulting from lack of potable or clean water and better sanitation are always underrated in the developing world.

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

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

More focus is often on politics and sports. Yet Hygiene related illnesses have a direct impact on the economic growth of any nation. The cholera outbreak in Cameroon in 2011 costed the state not only billions of money to combat but also resulted into loss of many lives, time spent by women to collect water through long distances prevent them from doing other beneficial activities for their livelihood and girls from attending school.

In the Far north Regions of Cameroon the issue is even worse as only 5% of households have access to water according to Heifer International Cameroon report in 2010.

Nonetheless improving access to clean or safe water and sanitation is significant not only to reducing poverty and misery in the rural communities of north Cameroon but also in achieving the millennium development goals for good health including maternal and child mortality, fight against HIV and AIDS, water related diseases and malaria.

In Sub Sahara Africa, more than 2 million of children die annually from water related diseases, poor sanitation and hygienic conditions. But the word water appears nowhere in the Millennium Development Goals of UN.

Having access to safe water and basic sanitation is vital to everyone's life

Having access to safe water and basic sanitation is vital to everyone’s life

Today, a Millennium Declaration includes a commitment to empowering women and achieving the gender equalities in our societies. Improving water and sanitation is a vital task on empowering women anywhere in the continent.

Water and Sanitation Go Together
Experience shows that women and girls suffer a lot due to lack of access to good drinking or portable water and private sanitation at homes. Women and girls must fetch water for domestic use and other needs at home.

In the far north regions of Cameroon on average, girls and women must walk 4miles carrying 5 gallons of water or tend 20 to 30 litters on a Carmel back. If homes lack water these young girls will not attend school, this explains why majority of the affected when water related diseases breaks out are girls and women. In this region, poor water management has often led to the spread of dangerous diseases like dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis, polio and even tape worm.

This is also an underlying factor for the death of many children in these rural communities each year. Repeated episodes of these diseases have left children and their mothers only at a brink of survival “malnourished and too weak to engage in any farm activity”, an Oxfam report on the area remarks.

Water scarcity also leaves families at the mercy of contaminated water. In high times of need people drink from the same sources where animals drink and bathe under the soaring heat? The growing number of HIV and AIDS patients in these areas is very susceptible to diseases due to these bad water sources.

This social concern has left most families orphaned and in abject poverty. Limited water sources is also a breeding conflict among grazers, farmers and with unsustainable land management many needy families are becoming “environmental refugees” as they move to find farming land every year.

Agricultural production depends on water so people, who depend on land, depend on water as well. The loss of water sources as a result of climate change affect women too severely as they depend on land property to survive in these rural communities of Cameroon.

The Lake Chad River basin with 42 million people is one of the poorest regions in the world today. The shrinking of Lake Chad river basin that was once a mighty source of water has put the region into chaos.

Women make over 80% of those in want. Looking at the importance of fresh water and its increasing demand in the Agricultural industry in this region and beyond, the need by governments around this River basin to protect and manage this water source is very crucial. Through according to the UN millennium development goals, many states around Africa and the world are committed to ensuring environmental sustainability and to fight the vanishing of environmental resources to climate change.

One way in doing this adequately is by addressing unsustainable water consumption patterns or uses’, this can be very vital in halting environmental degradation patterns for development and peace. According to a UN water report, 3.4 million people are will be living in places defined as water scarce by 2015 with lake Chad River Basin topping the list. This is a call for urgent action.

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

%d bloggers like this: