Archive for July, 2014

July 18, 2014

Cameroon: Marine Litter Threatens Aquatic Life and Human Health

Edith Achamukong
July 18, 2014

Environment experts are warning of an imminent disaster as a result of the increasing amounts of wastes along the sea and beaches of Cameroon. They are now calling for an end to bad waste disposal habits.

Over the years, the activities of fishermen, traders and tourists along the coastline of Cameroon have put the health of sea birds, reptiles, fish and sea mammals and human beings in jeopardy.

On a daily basis, waste material generally referred to as marine litter is generated comprising plastic bags, plastic bottles, cigarette stumps, old clothes and abandoned fishing gear. Most of these items are non-biodegradable in nature and sometimes are washed into the sea from residential areas or simply disposed of by ships.

Litter at Down beach,  Limbe

Litter at Down beach, Limbe

Environment experts say consumption of plastic waste by aquatic animals could lead to entanglement, bloating, poisoning and death of such faunae.

Some of these sea creatures mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. The toxic contents of these plastics have been linked to the suppressed immune systems and reduced reproductive rate of sea creatures. Also, when contaminated sea food is poorly cooked and consumed by humans, the health implications are severe.

In a bid to tackle the problem of poor waste disposal and management on the beaches of Limbe, the City Council has recruited the services of a waste disposal company to meticulously clean this tourist destination. Besides, pro-environment Non-Governmental Organizations carry out regular beach cleaning campaigns.

Unfortunately, these efforts are sometimes thwarted by the unsanctioned habits of some tourists who fail to drop rubbish mostly plastics in garbage cans. Also some commercial fishermen upon return from fishing trips litter the shores with marine debris picked up by their fishing nets.

Litter on the Cameroon beaches

Litter on the Cameroon beaches

While talking to our reporter, a fisherman, Johannes admitted that ‘at times we go fishing and end up filling our nets with more dirt than fish. When we bring our nets to the sea shore, we take time to remove such dirt and drop here because we have people who clean the beach every day. They are paid to do that’.

These fishermen are entrapped in a vicious circle of ‘catching’ litter they previously dumped on the sea shores.

While the activities of fishermen and tourists contribute to the heaps of waste, the refuse disposal habits of slum dwellers greatly amplify the problem.

The Chief of Bureau for Maritime Transport in Limbe Moki Martin says most of the litter that ends up in places like ‘Down beach’ Limbe comes from nearby creeks.

‘Some people especially fishermen have illegally constructed their houses along the creeks in Limbe and Tiko and they dispose of their household waste in these creeks. When it rains heavily, the dirt is dragged into the Atlantic Ocean as the streams empty themselves,’ notes Moki

Fishermen spend time removing litter from their nets

Fishermen spend time removing litter from their nets

Asked to comment about the waste disposal habits of sea vessels’ occupants, Moki said ‘many people think it is ships that pollute the sea, this is not the case because our office works closely with ships and we control even their waste baskets and they know that the penalties are high if they are caught polluting’.

In line with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), experts of the Divisional Delegation of Environment in Fako ensure the prevention of oil pollution through rigorous checks of ships that anchor in the West Coast. One of the officers in charge of environmental control, Tiwa Zacharie says ‘during our operations, we find out if kitchen waste is treated before being disposed of in the sea. We also control the waste oil in their slush tanks as well as the sewage. To ensure that the sea waters are not polluted by waste oil from their engines, ships that successfully anchor with such waste are hooked up to certified waste disposal companies’.

It is worth noting that each year thousands of sea turtles and sea mammals are harmed because of plastic waste and water pollution. Moreover, the human food chain is not spared as disintegrated plastics ingested by fish end up on dining tables.

July 18, 2014

Kenya: 10.7 Million Euro Injected In Developing and Conserving Mara River Basin

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 18, 2014

The Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative has launched a new public-private-partnership of Dutch, Kenyan and German partners to develop and conserve the Mara River Basin.

The four-year programme has a 10.7 million Euro budget, with 75% provided by The Netherlands Embassy in Kenya and 25% by HSBC Bank and the partners themselves.

“This public-private partnership is an excellent example of the Dutch policy transition from aid to trade”, Rose Makenzi from the Embassy explains, “and brings together a unique wealth of knowledge and expertise”.

The Mau Mara Serengeti (MaMaSe) Sustainable Water Initiative will support interventions leading to more water wise and environmentally sustainable economic development, while preserving the ecosystems and wildlife of the famed Mara-Serengeti landscape.

The MaMaSe consortium is led by UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, in close cooperation with WWF Kenya, and includes a wide range of experts from government authorities, private sector, knowledge institutes and NGOs from Kenya, The Netherlands and Germany.

The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is the largest international postgraduate water education facility in the world

The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is the largest international postgraduate water education facility in the world

Programme leader Michael McClain (UNESCO-IHE) is confident of achieving the common goal of improved water safety and security in the Mara river basin, “thanks to the strength and experience of the partners involved, the priority given to change on the ground, and the spirit of cooperation with other actors in the basin”.

Empowering the people of the basin and promoting self-reliance form the core principles of the Initiative. Activities are being planned in close cooperation with local stakeholders to address the basin’s
priority needs.

One of the identified priorities is capacity building of regional and community-based water authorities to improve integrated water resource management, a task that UNESCO-IHE and the Regional Water Authority Brabantse Delta will pick up.

The CEO of the Kenyan Water Resource Management Authority (WMRA) Philip Olum looks forward to the “assistance of the experts in the WRMA programmes, such as the revision and development of catchment management strategies”.

Furthermore, farmers in the headwaters of the basin are being helped to produce water wise and profitable products by SNV and Wageningen University and Research Centres. Key private sector partner Mara Farming Ltd connects local farmers to international markets, including major supermarket chains like Albert Heijn.

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

Also rangeland communities near conservation areas are supported by WWF Kenya to improve rangeland management and set up eco-tourism businesses. ITC-University of Twente supports this effort with new satellite-based monitoring tools supplying relevant information.

To ensure a sustainable change in the Mara basin, innovative financing mechanisms for water resources management are being developed in cooperation with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

The lessons learned and new decision-support tools developed by MaMaSe will be adapted for wider use by Egerton University, Masai Mara University, UNESCO-IHE, ITC-University of Twente and Deltares.

“Together with all partners and stakeholders we will make the Mara River Basin a model of sustainability for Kenya and the world”, McClain concludes.

July 9, 2014

Uganda: Kitgum District Embarks On Keeping Water Sources Clean

Dan Michael Komakech
July 9, 2014

Kitgum district water department has embarked on a campaign for dismantling boreholes with filthy environs temporary in a bid to let the water users maintain proper hygiene and sanitation around them.

Kitgum district water officer Peter Oryem Okema reveals that the campaign will see the affected boreholes reconnected after their soak pits and fences are erected and environs maintained clean.

He says the motive isn’t ill intended but meant to ensure that water users maintain tidiness and avoid littering the water sources so as to reduce the spread of water and sanitation related diseases in the community.

“It’s quite unfortunate that 90 percent of boreholes in the district are left in a filthy state and hence we shall still continue with the campaign to ensure proper hygiene and promote appropriate rural sanitation and hygiene practices”, says Oryem Peter Okema.

A woman draws water as animals invade the borehole in Oget village Akwang sub county in Kitgum district

A woman draws water as animals invade the borehole in Oget village Akwang sub county in Kitgum district

Oryem Toomoi, the chairperson of Tee-Bil, “A” water source committee (a committees set up to monitor the boreholes and contact hand-pump mechanics if one breaks down) in Oget village in Mura parish in Akwang Sub County attributes the vice to village members who are hesitant to abide by appeals to keep the water source clean.

He also adds that other village members do not restrain their animals leaving them to roam unattended to as they access the water points.

“Some of these village members leave their Pigs, cattle, goats and other animals to drink water at the boreholes and these livestock pollute the water making people prone to water borne relate illnesses”, says Oryem Toomoi.

Peter Oryem Okema faults the village water source committees for being negligent in observing that the water points are kept and maintained clean, and for not sensitizing the community on the importance of personal hygiene and tips for keeping water clean.

He also argues that statistics indicate that communities that do not keep their water points clean have been linked to increased cases of water borne related illnesses that include diarrhea and malaria.

Animals at an unprotected water source in Kitgum district

Animals at an unprotected water source in Kitgum district

The Kitgum district secretary for works and technical services Tabu Geoffrey supports the move saying access to a clean water sources and maintaining cleanliness at the water sources in their vicinity would reduce instances of water borne diseases.

He advises village communities to own the water sources and change attitude of thinking that maintaining, repairs and ensuring cleanliness of the water sources should be done by government.

“Lack of ownership is to blame for the vice because locals think that the responsibility for maintaining the water point lies on government other than the community”

July 9, 2014

Malawi: Pupils Rescued From Using A Grave Yard As Toilet

Ali Kalichero.
July 9, 2014

While other children attain good education from nursery and primary schools that have all necessary facilities for education, there are other pupils whose zeal to attain proper education and become productive citizens get hindered by lack of proper school blocks and other facilities.

Such was a pathetic story of pupils at Kang’oma Primary School in the area of Traditional Authority Tsabango in the central region of Lilongwe district in Malawi.

The head Teacher for the school Ernest Kafulatira Maliseni explained in an interview that pupils at the school were using a nearby grave yard whenever they wanted to relieve themselves from the ‘call of nature’ a situation that escalated the spread of diarrhea diseases and early pregnancies among girl pupils.

“The number of pupils at this school declined due to the challenges this posed… we had a large percentage of girls who were dropping out of school due to pregnancies as the graveyard was also posing as a meeting place for the girls and men” said Maliseni.

A water Kiosk in Ndirande Malawi. In places without access to clean water children and women walk long distances, use dirty water from ponds and rivers or they are charged large amounts of money by water sellers.

A water Kiosk in Ndirande Malawi. In places without access to clean water children and women walk long distances, use dirty water from ponds and rivers or they are charged large amounts of money by water sellers.

One pupil who identifies herself as Chimwemwe Mwase in standard seven, says in an interview that the challenge posed a great problem for girl pupils, who used to get absent from school as they were not comfortable to stay in class at a school that has no toilets and water.

“I was one of the pupils who used to make frequent absence from school… you know we girls, we always need privacy when answering the call of nature, I could not bear the idea of getting to the grave yard every time I need to go to the toilet” said Chimwemwe.

Through a project called Kang’oma Primary School Water and Sanitation Project, the Glabal Hope Mobilization (GLOHOMO), in January this year, started constructing six toilets and a bore hole at the school, which according to the headmaster Maliseni has served the situation.

“Education is the key to success. Every child needs to attain proper education and become one productive citizen in the future.

In achieving proper and good education for children, facilities like school blocks, toilets, and potable water are very important as they help to facilitate and motivate children to attend school,” says Caleb Sithole, GLOHOMO Executive Director.

Speaking during the handover ceremony of the toilets and a borehole, Sithole said it is sad to note that many schools in the country lack hygiene and sanitary facilities thereby contributing to the dwindling of education standards in Malawi, as many pupils and students drop out of school.

Boreholes offer the cheapest technology option for safe water supply in most rural areas of Africa

Boreholes offer the cheapest technology option for safe water supply in most rural areas of Africa

Kang’oma Primary school has a total of 2, 466 pupils and is located in the area of Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe district. This is an iceberg of many primary schools in Malawi that have no proper facilities and are in dire need of such, if education is to be uplifted in Malawi.

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