Archive for February, 2015

February 22, 2015

Zambia: Government gets AfDB and World Bank loans for Water and hydroelectric power projects

Newton Sibanda
February 22, 2015

Zambia has contracted a loan of US$15 million from the African development Bank (AfDB) for implementation of a water supply and sanitation project in 16 districts of Western Province.

Chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili says government has prioritized the region in accordance with its pro-poor policies.

“The project will contribute to poverty alleviation and improve the health of Zambia’s rural population through the provision of sustainable access to water supply and sanitation,” he said.

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

The decision was made in order for Government to remain focused on its pro-poor policies,” he said.

The project, under the national rural water supply and sanitation phase two, will see 16 districts of Western Province have piped water.

And cabinet has approved the contraction of a loan of US$114 million from the World Bank and AfDB for the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam which has developed cracks.

The rehabilitation will be undertaken by the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe which co-own the facility.

Kambwili, who is also minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, said that that rehabilitation of Kariba Dam is vital to the economy of Zambia and the sub-region and should urgently be undertaken
to avoid potential emergency situations.

He said of the US$114 million, US$75 million is from the World Bank and US$39 million is from AfDB.

“Given the large reservoir capacity of the dam, its collapse would result in a catastrophe of huge consequences to economies in the sub-region,” Mr Kambwili said.

He said the funds shall be lent to the Zambezi River Authority to facilitate the commencement of the project.

A better water supply is essential for the future development of communities

A better water supply is essential for the future development of communities

Kambwili says the walls of the Kariba Dam have cracked posing a serious threat to humans and the economy.

He also said cabinet has approved the appointment of nine members of the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) governing board.

The tenure of the previous board which was appointed in 2011 expired in October last year.

And Kambwili has defended Government’s borrowing saying it has the capacity to pay back.

“We are borrowing within our limits to pay back. World Bank or AfDB are serious financial institutions which cannot lend money anyhow,” he said.

February 17, 2015

Danish Government Boosts Safe Water Access in Zambia

Newton Sibanda
February 17, 2015

The Danish government has granted Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company (KWSC) a US$104 million grant to improve water supply in its areas of operation on the Copperbelt.

KWSC board chairperson Sydney Matamwandi says the loan obtained is in line with the firm’s objective of improving service provision to all consumers in area of operations through various projects.

“With the assistance from Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, we have acquired a grant and soft loan of US$104 million from the Danish Government to achieve our objective,” he says.

He was speaking during the commissioning of Kamuchanga water supply project in Luanshya.

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

KWSC supplies water and provides sanitation services in Ndola, Luanshya, Masaiti and Mpongwe districts on the Copperbelt. And the company in partnership with the Devolution Trust Fund (DTF) has commissioned water supply projects in Luanshya’s Kamuchanga and Mwaiseni townships at a cost of K1.5 million.

Matamwandi says the scope of work will include replacement of most equipment and network infrastructure for water and sewerage systems.

He further notes that the commissioned project is part of the firm’s commitment to ensure that water supply is improved.

Matamwandi says the plan for Kamuchanga is to intensify the programme of connecting more households within 30 meters from the laid water mains.

Speaking during the same occasion, Victor Muyemba, the Devolution Trust Fund (DTF) Manager said the project will benefit 18,000 residents in Kamuchanga and Mwaiseni townships.

Muyemba says that apart from financing the Kamuchanga and Mwaiseni projects, the fund has to date funded KWSC over K8 million for 10 projects in Ndola.

He, however, appeals to Government to avail more resources to the water sector to improve supply for low income urban residents.

February 11, 2015

Africa: Ministers Meet over Extreme Weather Hazards

WaterSan Perspective reporter in Cabo Verde
February 11, 2015

Ministers responsible for meteorology in Africa are meeting to coordinate and accelerate regional efforts to strengthen resilience to extreme weather hazards and adapt to climate change.

The Third Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) is being hosted by the government of Cabo Verde from 10th -14th February.

Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa

Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa

It focuses on improving weather and climate services which are vital to food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health, as well as key economic sectors like transport, energy and tourism, among others.

“Every African country should be involved in the collective effort towards the transformative socio-economic development of the continent to build The Africa We Want envisaged in the African Union Agenda 2063,” says African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime.

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture

“National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are critical actors in supporting sustainable development. There is today increased awareness of the socioeconomic benefits delivered by weather and climate services,” says World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

The ministers are discussing the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology (Weather and Climate Services), one of its aims is to increase recognition and funding for NMHSs. They will approve a new regional climate centre for Central Africa to consolidate research and forecasting capabilities. They will also consider input from the meteorological community to a pan-African Space Policy and Strategy.

“Knowledge, research and innovation are all vital to the competitiveness of the African economy and to allow us to meet weather, water and energy challenges,” says Dr. Antero Veiga, Minister for Environment, Housing and Territorial Planning

“The recent devastating flooding in many parts of Africa, particularly Southern Africa, has highlighted once again how weather-related hazards undermine and disrupt social, political and economic development,” says Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate of Zimbabwe and the outgoing Chair of AMCOMET. “There is no doubt that the vagaries of weather and climate will play a critical role in shaping Africa’s development agenda. This requires a collective approach, unity of purpose based upon the shared vision on climate proofing of our beloved continent, genuine partnerships and commitment.”

February 7, 2015

Cameroon: 26 Years after Lake Nyos Disaster, Memories Still Fresh

Aaron Kaah Yancho
February 07, 2015

On August 26th, 1989, Cameroon’s remote village of Nyos witnessed a strange scientific occurrence in lake water history.

A volcanic mountain cracked and sunk into Lake Nyos, causing a volcanic eruption that left over 2,000 people and animals dead in one night, leaving West Africa with the worst natural disaster of all times.

Lake Nyos after the disaster

Lake Nyos after the disaster

The Five for National Geographic Channel reported that the tragedy was a complete mystery as victims both young and old collapsed dead besides the many unconscious survivors that badly needed medical attention. The dead were swollen with rashes and burns all over their bodies.

On that fateful day, as the residents were getting set for sleep, a heavy down pour weakened the already fragile rock walls over the lake, forcing it to give way, killing people who were 25KM away from Lake Nyos. A survivor recounted how they heard big rocks falling into the lake area.

Gilbert Kihmah, a survivor described the atmosphere before the disaster as a mixture of gun powder and rotten eggs. But as dawn approached, the smell had escaped into the atmosphere. Kihmah recalls that there was overwhelming shock and anxiety in the air.

As the news spread, the whole nation began counting its dead and Africa faced a difficult crisis in modern day Lake history. Survivors like Fr. Antony Bangsi were weak and unconscious with an urgent need for medical attention. “In our unconscious state, death was unavoidable,” Bangsi said.

As the village of Nyos witnessed the death of 600 people in addition to more 500 deaths in the villages of Soa Mbum, Fonfuka and Buabua , this lake that provided a lifeline to these communities had become their worst enemy.

Unanswered Questions

This disaster has since left many unanswered questions about what could have led to this tragedy.

Scientific researchers, lake experts and volcanologists reasoned that although crater lakes near the equator like Nyos do not have seasonal and temperature changes, lake water circulates releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a faster rate as the world temperatures change.

Prof. Haraldur Sigurdsson, a volcanologist at the Rhodes Island University in South Africa said that these volcanic lakes are too deep and are sheltered by high imposing rocks. Therefore, water at the bottom of the lake hardly mixes with water at its surface. “Any carbon dioxide that accumulates at the bottom is trapped there”.

He adds that any massive rock falls into the lake triggers the carbon dioxide saturated water beneath to overturn. This, according to him is what happened on that day.

Prof George Kling, a lake expert at the University of Michigan in USA confirmed Sigurdsson’s theory and concluded that a dead densely cloud of carbon dioxide had spread over the lake.

Controversy Still Prevails

Today, controversy still prevails between Scientists, Lake Experts and Volcanologists whether such carbon dioxide in the lake could have been able to cause such unbelievable death and destruction.

The Cameroonian government took advice and installed self-powered vent tubes to prevent another deadly buildup of carbon dioxide at the bottom of the lake. An automatic alarm system was also installed at the lake’s gateway to alert residents of any potential dangers.

Degassing Lake Nyos to mitigate the effects of future disasters

Degassing Lake Nyos to mitigate the effects of future disasters

Impending Danger

Recently volcano logical research has being blowing a new alarm on a looming disaster over the Lake Nyos.

In 2005, the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the United Nations Environment Program UNEP issued a joint report warning that the lake wall had seriously sagged and could crumble within a decade. The report recommended that the walls of the lake be solicited with concrete or some of the lake waters be released to ease the pressure on it.

An official with Cameroon’s Institute of Mining and Geological research which monitors the Lake has however refuted allegations of any dangers around this Lake. “But our government has the project under consideration, but it’s not a priority issue” He said on conditions of anonymity because he lacked authority to speak for or behalf of the Cameroon government.

If the lake wall collapses again it could kill far more people than the incident of August 1986 according to the Five for National Geographic TV channel. Carbon dioxide might travel as far as 50km to the Cameroon boarders with Nigeria. “The dead toll could be much more devastating and alarming,” the channel reported.

Engineers think that it’s no longer the Questions as to whether the worse will happen by the question is when that will be.

February 1, 2015

Malawi: Residents Count Losses, As Floods Wreak Havoc

George Mhango
February 01, 2015

Lilongwe is expected to achieve economic growth lower than 5.8 percent projected earlier for 2015.

President Peter Mutharika said in his state of the nation address regarding the current floods that preliminary assessment shows that the damage caused to the economy is estimated in million dollars, excluding the cost of the relief programmes.

The President of Malawi Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika

The President of Malawi Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika

Figures from Capitol Hill are enough evidence that business operations in Malawi have come to a halt due to heavy rains and floods. Problems of electricity, water and public infrastructure are huge and companies are feeling the pinch. While aid is being channeled to flood victims, the private sector is caught in untimely delivery or provision of goods and services.

The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has since said floods have adversely affected businesses. It further says agriculture and mining sectors have been affected most as they are likely to experience low productivity in the 2015.

MCCCI chief executive officer chancellor Kaferapanjira said the damage to water supply has culminated into water shortages in cities and towns, electricity blackouts have led to companies using fuel generators. The private sector body adds that floods have also jeopardised irrigation systems, food storage and processing facilities of the various companies.

He added that insurance companies are likely to spend more on insurance claims. Suffice it to say that they have an obligation to assist the need through relief items.

“Some of this donation has come in kind, for example, Carlsberg donated water worth K80 million kwacha the time the city had no water in Blantyre and they had to use Mulunguzi Dam because there was no water in town,” said Kaferapanjira.

Field observations and follow-up rapid assessments by an Inter-Agency assessment team that comprises government UN agencies and others have shown that livestock and farmlands have been affected. This is enough a sign to economists that output in the sector will be reduced.

In his state of the disaster address last week, President Peter Mutharika alluded that heavy rains and floods will, therefore, bring many negative socioeconomic effects to the Malawian economy. Mutharika said the growth for Malawi is largely driven by agriculture, manufacturing, electricity, water and mining sectors.

“In essence, this means that the problem of food insecurity among households is heightened to levels that will put a lot of pressure on the budget, to assist the households affected by the floods across the country. In this case, the budget in excess of K3.6 billion will be required for replanting. Concerns of further flooding are high as rains are forecast to continue for some months,” he said

Meanwhile members of the private sector have predicted doom for their business as companies and people will not be able to pay back credits or insurances fees timely or else such companies will have to pay out insurance claims.

Prakash Patil, chief executive officer of the General Alliance Malawi, an insurance company explains that despite such developments, they would assist their clients and victims.

“We are saddened by the floods and we join the concerned families by donating the amount through the VPs office so they buy basic needs,” he said

The Malawi Government said it is estimated that around 116, 000 farmers country-wide have been affected with 35, 000 hectares of cropland impacted.

The President said maize, rice, groundnuts, cotton, and fish has been lost. It is also estimated that a total of K2.9 billion worth of livestock has been lost.

He added that total food production of households will be reduced during the 2014/15 agriculture season unless farmers re-plant their fields, meaning that a special budget would be needed for replanting.

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

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

Meanwhile, Malawi’s Response Plan is seeking US$81 million to address immediate needs of people who have been affected by the floods and the United Nations funds totaling US$150,000 are being utilised to strengthen the operation and coordination capacity at district level.

It remains a fact that heavy rainstorms and floods hit 15 out of the 28 districts in Malawi such as Rumphi, Balaka, Karonga, Nsanje and Chikwawa, among other districts. The floods have killed at least people and rendered more than 638 000 people homeless.

However Lilongwe says, these numbers are expected to rise as more information is received and analysed, and rains continue to fall.

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