Archive for January, 2014

January 24, 2014

Uganda: Saved by Underground Water Tanks

Paschal B. Bagonza
January 24, 2014

In Buzaya County, Kamuli district, there is Balimi Network for the Developing Enterprises in Rural Agriculture, BANDERA 2000, a land innovative agricultural community.

Their goal is to empower farmers to harvest rain water, practice conservation agriculture and sustainable land management. This group, formed over ten years back, comprises of more than 2500 community members.

Adequate resources such as these men constructing a water tank are needed to sustain routine operation and maintenance of existing WASH systems and services

Adequate resources such as these men constructing a water tank are needed to sustain routine operation and maintenance of existing WASH systems and services

This project is found in Nalimawa village, Kamuli district, approximately 80 Kilometres, East of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

Mrs Betty Tigawalana, 52, is a member of BANDERA 2000. She is one of the 12 farmers who have embraced rainwater harvesting through this project. The members learnt to harvest water in these underground tanks, after an exchange visit to other farmers in the country.

The water has fetched dividends for her and the neighbors.

“I use the water from this underground water tank for domestic purposes. I also share the water with my neighbors during the dry season,” she says as she adjusts her blue wrapper around her waist.

To harvest the rainwater from her iron-roofed house, Tigawalana uses a 15,000 litre underground water tank.

The water tank has saved Tigawalana’s family from walking long distances to the nearest water point.

Daily tasks for her and the family have now been made easier.

“I thank SLM (Sustainable Land Management). This water also helps me in irrigating my crops. I give the same water to my cows. I then use the cow dung for my biogas project,” she adds while smiling in consonance with the sun.

The satisfaction, with which her kitchen garden of a variety of vegetables dances, is a reassuring reflection of Tigawalana’s family.

Water scarcity is one of the world's leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally

Water scarcity is one of the world’s leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally

According to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification, land degradation and drought affect more than two billion people.

UNCCD adds that the situation might worsen due to the unsustainable use of soil and water under present scenarios of climate change. Thank God Mrs Tigawalana, like other members of BANDERA 2000, are trying to counter this through sustainable land and water management.

A few meters away in Tigawalana’s backyard, there is also rainwater which has been harvested in an open pit.

This water is used by farmers in this group to irrigate crops using overhead spraying and drip irrigation, on this piece of land used for training.

The piece of land was donated by Betty’s husband, Mr James Tigawalana.

The chairperson of BANDERA 2000 Mr George Mpaata explains that during drip irrigation, “the water goes directly to the plant”, thereby minimising water wastage.

After which, Mpaata says, the garden is mulched to reduce water evaporating from the soil. This, he adds is replicated in other farmers’ gardens who can afford this technology.

Apart from irrigating crops, other indirect benefits of such water tanks include, reducing domestic violence, early pregnancies and the time spent waiting for water at the few boreholes in the area.

David Ngadu, 40, a father of four also owns such a tank in his home. Ngadu gloriously talks about how this facility has saved them trekking two kilometers to the nearest borehole. That borehole serves 200 homesteads.

Ngadu says since the borehole “attracts different people”, it exposes their daughters to early pregnancies. He adds that such tanks have also helped keep their wives at home, instead of going to the borehole to fall prey to other men, thereby reducing domestic violence.

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Ali Kasadha, 48 a father of eight from Kisozi Sub County also had a water tank constructed at his home.

Kasadha lives near a lake, but he does not want his family members to fetch the lake water because of the dangers associated with it.

This husband of two wives is all praises for this underground water tank given its cycle of benefits.

Like all the other water tank owners observed, this facility has “helped keep their daughters at home and saved them from preying men.”

Kasadha says since his land had degraded, he uses the water from the tank to irrigate his crops and give it to his cows. In return, he uses the cow dung to fertilize his land to give him better yields.

An expert from the National Agricultural Research Organisation—NARO in Kawanda, Dr Onesmus Semalulu describes this as a good example of sustainable land management.

However, such technologies come with their own challenges like high construction costs, according to Dr Semalulu.

“The initial investment cost is high, but I think it is worthwhile. Then this pit is open. It is risky to children. They can harbor reptiles. But overall, the benefits outweigh the risks,” he observes.

Dr Semalulu says that a farmer can start by digging trenches to trap running rainwater which does not cost a lot.

January 15, 2014

Experts Discuss the Future of Energy and Water through Partnership

WaterSan Perspective
January 14th, 2014

United Nations experts, case study representatives, industry delegates and key professionals from around the World are meeting in Zaragoza, Spain, from 13 to 16 January in preparation for World Water Day 2014.

Held annually by UN-Water on March 22, this year focus is drawn towards the nexus of water and energy.

Missingir Dam in Mozambique

Missingir Dam in Mozambique

The inter-linkages and inter-dependencies of these two vital areas will be discussed in terms of challenges faced by a growing population and increased demand by over 100 specialists from a variety of United Nations organisations and programmes such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Non-Governmental Organizations such as Greenpeace International, private companies such as Abengoa, EDF Électricité, BP and Government bodies such as the US department of State, and the European Union.

The conference is putting emphasis on the importance of collaboration through partnerships in meeting these challenges.

All contributions will be considered in preparation for World Water Day 2014, which will be introduced by Zafar Adeel, from the United Nations University (UNU). UNU, together with UNIDO, are leading this year’s World Water Day.

Water and energy face enormous challenges that affect supply and demand of both water and energy.

Water problems in developing countries are acute and complex

Water problems in developing countries are acute and complex

With an expected population growth from 7 billion today to 9 billion by 2050, economic growth, increased standards of living in developing and emerging countries and the pressures of climate change, the burden on water and energy independently are enormous.

The World needs to provide adequate electricity to the more than 1.4 billion people who are without it and supply sustainable water to the 768 million people who do not have access.

However, the conference aims to emphasize the vital relationship between the two. The production of energy requires vast amounts of water.

In 2010 energy production was responsible for 15 percent of the World’s total freshwater withdrawals. On the other side, energy is needed to provide access to water and sanitation.

In recognizing the inter-linkages and trade-offs in water and energy the conference recognizes the solution as working ‘together.’

With a focus on the advantages and disadvantages of partnerships as well as definition of responsibilities and liabilities, benefit sharing, symmetries, long-term sustainability, negotiation and the flexibility required.

Through partnership, the conference intends to deal with the disconnection between some water and energy utilities, create opportunities for industries to operate efficiently, profitably and sustainably and allow governments and regulators opportunities to consider policies that enable and integrate both sectors.

The International Annual UN-Water Conference 2014 focuses on the philosophy “Water and Energy work together, so do we”.

It will demonstrate, through case studies, to decision makers in the energy sector and the water domain that integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues are possible and they can achieve greater economic and social impacts.

It will serve to facilitate and enable new partnerships among energy and water actors.

women cooking using biogas at a Biocentre

women cooking using biogas at a Biocentre

The Conference will achieve these objectives by analyzing and evaluating the existing partnership experience; providing a platform for exchange of experiences of effective partnerships; drawing conclusions on lessons from existing experience and deciding the way forward for effective partnerships to achieve water/energy access.

This will allow a better response to the challenges of improved access to water and energy, as well as improving efficiency throughout the life cycle of resources and contributing towards a more sustainable future.

January 8, 2014

2014 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference for Next Week

WaterSan perspective
January 8, 2014

The 2014 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference takes place in Zaragoza, Spain next week

The January 13th to 16th conference is part of the road map for World Water Day 2014 focused on the nexus of water and energy.

The Conference Banner

The Conference Banner

UN-Water, the organizers of the conference note that water and energy (W&E) are closely interlinked and interdependent stressing that W&E inter-linkages have an important role in the post-2015 development agenda and the conceptualization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

They note that there are indeed some main challenges, interconnections and opportunities for realizing synergies and benefits from joint responses on the water and energy nexus, including for the design of climate resilience and green economies. Partnerships amongst institutions, agencies and stakeholders can help in achieving some of these benefits, they note.

The Zaragoza Conference will reach beyond the “water for energy” and/or “energy for water” concept focusing on a more practical examination of how tools and partnerships help developing appropriate joint responses and the measures for managing trade-offs, identifying synergies, and maximizing co-benefits.

Discussions will center on how partnerships can help implement responses to achieve W&E efficiency, secured access and sustainability.

Michel Jarraud, the Chair of UN-Water says, “The water and energy nexus presents significant opportunities for both the water and energy sectors. Increasing collaboration and coordination in the development of policy responses for example can greatly help reduce inefficiencies and better manage trade-offs”.

Michel Jarraud, the Chair of UN-Water

Michel Jarraud, the Chair of UN-Water

Jarraud hopes that the Zaragoza Conference will bring decision- and policy-makers from both domains at the same table, help them recognize the interdependencies between water and energy and see the opportunities offered by increased collaboration and coordination.

Shaoyi Li, the Head of the Integrated Resource Management Unit, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Shaoyi Li, the Head of the Integrated Resource Management Unit, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Shaoyi Li, the Head of the Integrated Resource Management Unit, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says “More and more people are realizing that the water and energy (W&E) nexus is critical to the environment, economic development and social progress. So far the debate has been on a general level: more energy could mean more water available; energy shortage exacerbates water scarcity.

I hope one outcome of this conference is to provide an in-depth knowledge and articulate the relationship and dynamic between these two key resources and find out best ways to manage and improve.”

Annukka Lipponen , the  Environmental Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Annukka Lipponen , the Environmental Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Likewise, Annukka Lipponen , the Environmental Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) says “The Zaragoza conference can be an excellent occasion to share experiences and identify opportunities for cooperation between actors from the water management/services and the energy sector. This is helpful for improving understanding and for learning from each other.”

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