Archive for January, 2015

January 28, 2015

Opinion: Failing To Learn From Experience

Angella Naturinda and Lynna Abaho
January 28, 2015

Weather experts predict a continuation of the current hot and dry weather conditions in most parts of Uganda. This weather condition which started immediately after Christmas has come with several challenges such as food and water shortage, wildfire, siltation, soil erosion, pests and diseases which are causing devastating loss to farmers especially those in south western region.

For several decades now, the South Western part of Uganda has experienced such dry conditions during the month of January that stretch up to March. What is so surprising is that people in south western region are not learning from this annual experience.

Some of the worst affected people are farmers and residents of Kiruhura district found in the Ankole cattle corridor of Uganda.

Most of the people in Kiruhura are pastoralists and therefore the dry spell means that their livestock lack pasture and water. They are forced to move from their homes to the neighboring Lake Mburo National Park which is reserved for wild animals. This poises a danger to these domestic animals since they have to share pastures with the wild animals in the park. Livestock in the Ankole cattle corridor in Uganda make up about 17% of Uganda agricultural GDP.

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

The residents of Kiruhura are not the only ones affected since the dry spell affects most parts of the Western region and other parts of the country. The fact that the period this dry spell lasts is becoming unpredictable, it is now difficult for farmers in the region to plan for the planting season using the traditional knowledge.

Learning to Learning from Experience

There is need for farmers to form associations to enable members pull funds together to construct dams that can act as reservoirs for water to be used during the dry season.

Government should extend water schemes in villages and introduce piped water in such dry places. This complements the already existing dams and wells. Such piped water is safe considering the fact that it would be treated. The Ministry of Water and Environment should undertake this in conjunction with local governments.

Then they can also construct underground water tanks which are vital in water conservation because they are able to harvest and store water in larger quantities. Such water is also safer compared to the dirty water from wells which is shared by both animals and people.

The local people also need to take more caution since this is not a first-time happening therefore they need to make prior preparations before the dry spell.

January 27, 2015

Oxfam Aids Flood Victims in Malawi

George Mhango
January 27, 2015

With more rains expected in flood-stricken Malawi and camps for displaced people overwhelmed, Oxfam and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have launched an emergency appeal for more help to 42,000 desperate people.

Weeks of very heavy rainfall have triggered widespread flooding in Malawi.

Weeks of very heavy rainfall have triggered widespread flooding in Malawi.

The donation by Oxfam is one of the major ones an international organisation has provided to victims in the country.

Although heavy rains have ceased for now, there is a forecast that the downpour could continue for weeks, a development that Oxfam thinks needs continued care in areas of health, education and agriculture.

Figures of how many people have been displaced still need to be verified but one count suggests at least 174 000. The Malawi government estimates that in total 630,000 people have been affected.

The appeal will support emergency operations of the Malawi Red Cross Society which is already aiding thousands of destitute people in the worst-affected southern districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and urban Blantyre. It targets the immediate needs of 7,660 households for nine months.

As weather experts forecast continued rainfall, authorities lament that women are the worst affected as they fail to access medical care due to poor road networks. Women and adolescent girls in some parts of Mangochi, Nsanje and Phalombe have slim chances of getting the support they need.

Some women feel there is need for more support towards their challenges. Last week, a woman delivered at her home, enough a sign that health care has been affected by poor road network. According to her, even the hospital where she could have gone for assistance was damaged by floods rendering it useless.

Oxfam organisation has since distributed pails for drawing water and bathing, laundry soap and bath soap, two pieces of wrap-around, sanitary pads and cloth and petroleum jelly to enable them maintain dignity in the camps until they return home. The assistance is valued at 76 million Malawi Kwacha.

The initiative from Oxfam follows surveys that women and adolescent girls have special needs during disasters which should not be ignored.

According to Oxfam country finance manager Felix Muyaso, the assistance was meant to bolster their livelihoods. Muyaso adds that they are yet to secure more funding so that more people could be assisted within the catchment areas of Mulanje, Phalombe and others across the country.

“Our operations also lean towards pregnant women and young people and during disasters they ensure that pregnant and adolescent girls have continued antenatal care and clean and safe delivery,” said Muyaso, adding that, “we are geared to assisting more families even in terms of winter cropping because we believe that one’s health and sanitation is paramount.”

Floods are a capricious part of life for many Malawians

Floods are a capricious part of life for many Malawians

In all the camps, the number of affected women and girls far outnumber those of boys and men such as Nkhudzi Bay Primary School in Mangochi, where out of 227 people, 141 are women and girls.

However, other flood victims have called for equal distribution of relief support as opposed to the current situation where more aid according to them is being channeled to districts in the South leaving out the north, east and central. And Oxfam officials say they are geared at making this problem history considering the $500 000 amount they are to set aside for winter cropping and other ventures.

Floods have elsewhere in the country claimed 176 lives, injured many and destroyed property.

President Peter Mutharika declared Malawi a State of Disaster and called for international and local assistance.

Mutharika has also announced that as one way of minimizing disasters, government plans to introduce a ‘first of its kind’ national disaster policy. But that announcement comes as a shock because the country already has a draft Disaster Risk Management (DRM) that, for the past six years, has stalled waiting for cabinet approval. The draft DRM policy, in what is a great paradox, has almost all the provisions which the President—while speaking to flood victims—said will be incorporated in the national policy.

January 24, 2015

New Guidance for Companies to Help Them Respect Human Rights to WASH Launched

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
January 24, 2015

The United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate has launched the first comprehensive guidance for companies about how to meet their responsibility to respect the human rights to water and sanitation.

The Guidance For Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Corporate Water Stewardship will help companies translate their responsibility to respect the human rights to water and sanitation into their existing water management policies, practices, and company cultures.

Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact and Head of the CEO Water Mandate officially launched this all-inclusive guidance during the UN-Water’s 2015 Annual International Zaragoza Conference in Zaragoza, Spain mid this month.

Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact and Head of the CEO Water Mandate speaking during the conference

Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact and Head of the CEO Water Mandate speaking during the conference

Speaking during the conference, Gavin insisted that ensuring that people have access to water and sanitation services is vital to ensure healthy communities and vibrant economies

“This guidance helps businesses effectively meet their responsibility to respect by understanding, responding to, and communicating to stakeholders their water-related impacts. Doing so is at the cornerstone of good corporate water management practice and is the basis for any company action to support the rights.”

The guidance, developed by the CEO Water Mandate and Shift, a leading center of practice on implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, aims to provide companies with practical measures on how to bring a human rights lens to their existing corporate water stewardship practices. Its development was informed not only by project partners with expertise in water resources and human rights, but also by business representatives, civil society organizations, and UN agencies.

With the formal recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in 2010 by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, and the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011, there are increasing expectations that companies align their water management practices with their responsibility to respect human rights.

The Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation is designed to be applicable to a broad range of corporate water users, and underscores the important nature of effective stakeholder engagement throughout the process.

Some of the representatives of the youths that attended the UN-Water’s 2015 Annual International Zaragoza Conference

Some of the representatives of the youths that attended the UN-Water’s 2015 Annual International Zaragoza Conference

Jason Morrison, Technical Director of the CEO Water Mandate and Program Director of the Corporate Sustainability Program of the Pacific Institute, added, “The guidance helps translate what respecting the human rights to water and sanitation means for both water and human rights practitioners in companies. Companies will now be able to properly implement the changes necessary to ensure those rights are respected. The collaborative, iterative process in which it was developed means the guidance is accessible and feasible for companies, while remaining meaningful for their stakeholders.”

“This guidance provides real-world examples and feasible steps for companies to help them understand and take action on the impact their operations have on peoples’ access to water and sanitation.
Water and sanitation are crucial issues to both the environment and human rights and this guidance provides companies with a way to take their existing water and sanitation programs and broaden or adapt them in order to meet their responsibility to respect the rights,” said Rachel Davis, Managing Director of Shift.

Companies have increasingly recognized their water practices have environmental impacts; they are now beginning to focus on understanding how their practices impact human rights. In response, businesses can look to the guidance to provide step-by-step direction for their responsibility to respect human rights via the key procedural elements of the UN Guiding Principles.

Launched in 2007 by the UN Secretary-General, the CEO Water Mandate is overseen by the UN Global Compact, and implemented in partnership with the Pacific Institute.

January 15, 2015

UN–Water Zaragoza Conference Opens

Watersan Perspective reporter
January 15, 2015

The UN-Water Chair Michel Jarraud has highlighted the central role of water in sustainable development of communities.

In his welcome video at the opening of the 2015 International Annual UN–Water Zaragoza Conference in Zaragoza Spain today, Jarraud stressed that, “water is at the core of sustainable development.”

He told over 300 people, mostly from the United Nations Agencies and programmes, experts, representatives of the business community, governmental and non-governmental organizations attending the conference that they should, “never lose hope for water and never give up.”

Other officials that delivered speeches during the formal opening session of the conference

Other officials that delivered speeches during the formal opening session of the conference

Jarraud described the 2015 as an important year for sustainable development. He was referring to the expiring of the Millennium Development Goals deadline in 2015 and the launching of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the end of the end of the same year.

The conference which lasts till January 17 was officially opened by the mayor of Zaragoza Juan Alberto Belloch Julbe.

Speaking during the same occasion, Leo Heller, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation noted that a component of human rights should be included in all discussions related to SGDs.

There are 17 proposed SDGs and 169 targets. SDG six focuses on water and sanitation. It has eight targets.

Others five SDGs have seven targets directly or indirectly linked to water-related issues.

A high level summit to adopt the SDGs takes place in New York, USA in September this year.

January 12, 2015

Over 300 to Attend 2015 International Annual UN–Water Zaragoza Conference

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
January 12, 2015

More than 300 people converge in Zaragoza, Spain this week for this year’s International Annual UN–Water Zaragoza Conference.

The participants from United Nations Agencies and programmes, experts, representatives of the business community, governmental and non-governmental organizations will meet from 15 to 17 January 2015.

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They aim to draw conclusions based on existing practice and the exchange of views between governments and stakeholders. 2015 is the last year of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ so it is especially important for taking stock of and learning from achievements as well as planning the next steps.

The conference runs under the theme “Water and Sustainable Development” and will focus on how to bring the post-2015 international agenda on water and sanitation into action. It is part of the road map for World Water Day 2015, which will also focus on “water and sustainable development”.

The post-2015 international agenda for water will be decided this year. The UN-Water International Zaragoza Conference will therefore start the year focusing on how to bring the agenda into action; a practical event on tools for implementation (financing, technology, capacity development) and governance frameworks, for initiating the post-2015 agenda in water and sanitation.

In one of its posts, the UN Water says, “the Zaragoza Conference will provide a space for dialogue around some selected topics relevant to the implementation of the international agenda on water.
The Conference will focus on a practical examination of what the necessary transformations are and how institutional change, technology, capacity development and financing can help develop appropriate joint responses.”

Mai-Lan Ha, an official with Pacific Institute/CEO Water Mandate, who is one of the participants

Mai-Lan Ha, an official with Pacific Institute/CEO Water Mandate, who is one of the participants

Mai-Lan Ha, an official with Pacific Institute/CEO Water Mandate, who is one of the participants, says, “the Zaragoza conference provides a unique platform for the different sectors, public, private, civil society, and academia to share concrete practices that they are undertaking to help meet water related SDGs. The conference’s focus on tools and guidance will help give all actors a more concrete idea of how we can move the agenda forward.”

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