Archive for September, 2015

September 30, 2015

Acid Rain Threats Life in Uganda

Adella Mbabazi
September 30, 2015

Every time it rains Barbra Nyawiza, a teacher at Ngaara Primary School in Mbarara district gets reactions. She sneezes and snoots.

Scientists believe, this primary school teacher is most likely allergic to rain.

Jeconeous Musingwire, an environmental scientist believe Nyawiza is sensitive to acidic pollutants in the rain.

He says such pollutants are a result of gases emitted from industries and vehicles among others that end up leading to acid rain.

When introduced into atmosphere, substances from these industries and vehicles such as sulphur dioxide, nitrous dioxide, and carbon monoxide mix and react with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form acid rain.”

Musingwire insists that they are such chemicals in the rain water that Nyamwiza is allergic to.

He says that in the south western region of Uganda where Nyamwiza lives, acid rain is usually experienced in the month of August after the mid-year dry season.

These gases accumulate in the atmosphere during the midyear drought. They then mix and react with water, oxygen, and other chemicals as the rain season starts in the middle of August.”

Musingwire blames these dangerous gases on the people who have destroyed environment through deforestation, emission of harmful gases into atmosphere from their factories and vehicles among others.

He says acid rain is not only harmful to human health but also to plants and animals and contaminates water making it unfit for human consumption and increasing its acidity.

“A combination of climate change and acid rain threatens the future of life on the earth.”

Acid rain is not only harmful to human health but also to crops like these.

Acid rain is not only harmful to human health but also to crops like these.

One of the persons in the region who has witnessed severe effects of acid rain is Jenaurio Mazimba, a local mason.

It usual has corrosive effects on buildings we build. It ‘eats’ our limestone and then we have to use other materials or spend more money buying other limestone. ”

Ian Atamba, a PhD researcher and forestry officer with Uganda’s National Forestry Authority says it is sulfur dioxide in this rain that leads to corrosion on limestone, sandstone, and marble.

He also notes that acid rain has affected several forests in the region.

“It usually damages leaves of trees and exposes them to toxic substances. What do you expect when leaves which are the main source of food for trees are damaged? Trees die.”

“But farmers in the region have the key to ending this problem.”

Atamba says that to solve this problem, farmers should invest in afforestation and reforestation.

“Trees will absorb these hazardous greenhouse gases. They actually store the carbon in their bodies.”

Last year, a Nasa-led study found that forests worldwide absorb 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year as they photosynthesise and grow.

This story was produced under the CSE Media Fellowships Programme for Global South.

September 29, 2015

Namibia: SADC Convenes a Stakeholder Dialogue on Role of Water in Driving Industrialization

Anita Matsika Ritah
Windhoek, Namibia.
September 29, 2015

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA) has convened a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on the role of water in driving industrialization.

The dialogue that kicked off today Tuesday will end tomorrow Wednesday. It is going on at Safari Court Hotel, in Windhoek, Namibia.

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 event is being held as part of the SADC Multi Stakeholder Water Dialogue, a biennial activity which provides a platform for regional stakeholders to discuss and share experiences on different aspects of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The Dialogue is running under the theme: Watering Development in SADC: The central role of water in driving industrialization”, comes at an opportune time as the region recently approved the SADC Industrialisation Roadmap and Strategy 2015 – 2063.

Mindful of water’s critical role in driving industrialization, the Dialogue has brought together about 150 stakeholders from the water, energy, agriculture, industry, civil society, private, and the academic sectors in the region to strategize on the role that water will play in driving industrialisation.

Almost every industrial process requires water, and water demand grows in parallel with increases in the industrial base, hence the need to plan and ensure that water does not become a constraint, both in quality and quantity, in order to achieve the aspirations set out in the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap.

The 7th SADC Multi-stakeholder Water Dialogue is also serving as a platform to validate the fourth Regional Strategic Action Plan which details the five-year programme for the water sector (2016 – 2020) and supports the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Industrialisation Roadmap and Strategy.

The Dialogue is sponsored by the Government of Denmark through the Royal Danish Embassy, the Governments of Germany in delegated cooperation with the Governments of Australia (AUSaid) and the United Kingdom (UKaid) managed by Deutsche Gesellschaft für ineternationale zusammenarbeit (GIZ); and the Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility (CRIDF).

September 29, 2015

The Forgotten Story of Dams in Malawi

George Mhango, Blantyre in Malawi
September 29, 2015

Situated in between Manja and Soche East in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, Chimwankhunda Dam was lively in the 1990s and years before. The dam derived its beauty from clean water and green vegetation surrounding the facility.

The dam was also one of the tourists’ destination areas for locals and foreigners visiting Malawi.

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

It provided relief to surrounding residents each time there was water shortage. People went there to wash clothes and draw water as others engaged in casual fishing with prior notice to the security guards city council authorities placed them there.

Go there today. You will be shocked because the dam looks forgotten. It has also become a threat to residents within the dam’s vicinity. Its appalling state has also led to the drying up of Chimwankhunda River, which also used to be the source of water for home use and agricultural production.

Even the usual trade mark of first President Kamuzu Banda ‘Long live Kamuzu’ which was written inform of bricks and sometimes painted in the Malawi National Flag colors can no longer be spotted.

Malawi’s founding President, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda

Malawi’s founding President, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda

Water hyacinth locally known as Namasupuni, weeds and mere grass describe the once mighty dam at the moment. Environment experts say water hyacinth is considered a threat to biodiversity.

With bush all over the dam, Blantyre City Council (BCC) authorities agree that mosquitoes threaten lives of many residents.

Officials from the city council say:

We have tried to deal with mosquitoes before, but to no avail. We want to find a boat for the mission since clearing the bush alone is a long term plan.”

As each day progresses, the situation gets worse just like that of Chiwembe Dam in Limbe. A recent state of the environment report says water in most urban rivers in Malawi have become unusable following reckless dumping of industrial waste into them.

The report further says Chimwankhunda Dam has diminished in size due to, among other reasons, heavy deforestation of the river’s catchment area and uncontrolled shifting cultivation of crops above the dam.

Infact, the use of chemical fertiliser in gardens surrounding the dam, which is washed down into the reservoir, is also said to be endangering fish species in the water body.

This raises eyebrows whether that means the end of both dams or not in terms of giving them face-lifts. A tour to both dams showed some wastes being dumped there, enough a sign that they are forgotten stories in the minds of those who have lived longer to recall how precious such facilities were before 1990s.

Forum for Environmental communicators (Feco) Malawi during a recent visit bemoaned lack of ownership by residents and city council despite efforts by some businesspersons to investing in the public facility.

“Management and ownership of the dam remains an issue. We are lobbying the authorities to invest in the dam to improve its life span,” Lucky Mkandawire, national coordinator for Feco Malawi chapter noted.

With funds from the aegis of the CSE Media Fellowships Programme it has been discovered Martin Misoda, a resident of Chimwankhunda while people face security and health challenges due to its obsolete state, the area no longer attracts local people and foreign tourists as before.

We no longer depend on it [dam]. Look at how Namasupuni has spread and grass grown. How do we fetch water or how can water flow into Chimwankhunda River?” he wonders.

Misoda blames escalating cases of Namasupuni on some residents who grow their crops close to the banks of the river. “Despite awareness people continue farming around. It is the fertiliser content that worsens the problem of Namasupuni and other weeds,” says Misoda.

Misoda hints that residents need to be responsible and help redevelop Chimwankhunda Dam by among other things planting trees and teaming up with the corporate sector in removing weeds and Namasupuni.

Planting trees along the river (the reservoir), the only source of water for Chimwankhunda Dam could be the only means of checking on siltation from choking the dam,” he states.

Interviews with other residents show that the public works programme in 2004 by the Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf) helped to preserve the dam, but the phasing out of the project halted the initiative.

Irked by the situation some corporate institutions have over the years declared passion to revamp its natural beauty but issues of security are still a problem when it comes to protecting them.

One of them Blantyre-based businessperson Vikheshi Vanzara recently planted 500 trees around the dam. But a visit to the site showed that less than 100 trees have survived due to security reasons.

“There is need for civic education on the need to care for the dam and trees we plant. Mind you, this can generate revenue for city authorities through weddings and parties. Some people can also have a picnic to the area. At the same time Blantyre Water Board (BWB) can as well tap water from it,” he says.

Vanzara thinks it is illogical to neglect the dam just like that yet the facility can be used to harvest rainwater- a point Blantyre Water Board management ruled out, saying they have no control over the dam even that of Chiwembe except for Mudi.

The situation is different from other dams such as Mulunguzi Dam in Zomba and Malingunde Dam in Lilongwe, some of the country’s biggest dams in the country in that they are fully controlled by government through Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and Southern Region Water Board (SRWB).

The two dams which are situated outside the two cities are properly manned with security guards and extra staff that ensure that sanitation and preservation of these water boards is almost 100 percent.

While Blantyre City Council maintains that they have plans for Chimwankhunda and Chiwembe Dams, their efforts await fate of a legal battle over ownership with the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC).

To deal with Namasupuni, the Malawi Industrial Research and Technology Development Centre (MIRTDC) has come up with a concept proposing the control of Namasupuni infestation by introducing hyacinth based enterprises in communities surrounding infested areas such as Chimwankhunda and Chiwembe dams.

The communities within the project areas would be mobilised into self-help groups (SHG) that would be provided production and business skills and technologies. Among promoted products would be water hyacinth based paper, handcrafts including chairs and stools, building materials, mushroom growing and compost manure production.

But the Lions Club of Blantyre thinks it is time for the charity organisation to lobby city council authorities to do something such as civic education on the importance of the dam besides intensifying publicity.

The move is aimed at bringing sponsorship to clean up the dam and plant more trees. Talks between city authorities and Lions Club of Blantyre are on next month to see how best to improve the dams.

This article was produced under the aegis of the CSE Media Fellowships Programme

September 29, 2015

Kenya: A Water Kiosk Brings Happiness to Residents of East Pokot

Mary Mwendwa
September 29, 2015

Villagers in the small Kamurio village in East Pokot, Chemolingot District of Baringo County in Kenya’s Rift Valley can now breathe a sigh of relief after a water kiosk was constructed in their community.

A water kiosk is booth for the supply of tap water. They are common in many developing countries.

Women Fetch Water from the Kamurio Village Water Kiosk in Kenya

Women Fetch Water from the Kamurio Village Water Kiosk in Kenya

And in Kamurio village, where effects of climate change coupled with infrastructural hitches and cultural challenges continue to hinder development, a water kiosk is real a savior.

The rocky rough terrain; shrubby vegetation; scattered huts and lots of livestock are a clear indication of how life looks like in Kamurio village. The area’s hot dry climate and seasonal rivers that have very limited or no supply of water at times make it worse.

The kiosk was constructed by Mamlaka Hill chapel that runs a mission field at Kamurio Village and equipped by National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), ASAL Drought Contingency Fund (DCF) and funded by European Union (EU) through Kenya Rural Development Program.

Eunice Korir Chairlady, a mother of six and a resident of Kamurio village says the water kiosk has transformed their lives.

We are used to recurrent droughts; death of our livestock as a result of lack of water and pasture and malnourished children. But with this water kiosk, life has slowly improved. I now get more milk from my cows.”

Other beneficiaries of this project are patients at Kamurio Dispensary. Sylvia Wangui, a medic at this dispensary reveals that in the past, it was difficult to offer health services without enough water.

“It is difficult to offer health services without water. Many of the patients here need water to take drugs or for cleaning themselves after the long journeys. We are relieved now that we have water in this facility.”

Kamurio Primary School is one of the schools in the region benefiting from this water kiosk. Scholar Chemutai, a pupil of this school says before the construction of the water kiosk, they would walk miles every day to the nearest water source.

We used to walk long distances to fetch water for our school and home. We had no time to do our homework until very late in the night after fetching water.”

In Africa alone, people especially women and children spend 40 billion hours every year walking for water.

September 23, 2015

Malawi Targets Ground Water

George Mhango
Blantyre, Malawi
September 23, 2015

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has announced that tapping ground water from Mulanje Mountain would help solve the current water shortage experienced in Blantyre City.

This follows continued complaints from millions of city dwellers that Blantyre Water Board (BWB) has failed them in the provision of potable.

Surveys show that even public and private institutions are affected by the intermittent water supply, which the water board attribute to lack of proper planning.

Mutharika says: “Some Chinese and Indian companies have shown interest to help provide water in various homes and companies.

He was speaking after his recent trip to China for the 2015 World Economic Forum.

We want to get some water from Mulanje Mountain to some other areas in Blantyre. We are discussing with a company from India on how best to fasten the project,” said Mutharika.

The President further said his government was planning to expand the Walkers Ferry in Blantyre and the water sources in Lilongwe and Mzuzu Cities to ensure effective provision of potable water in the country’s cities.

A child drinking water from the tap in  Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

A child drinking water from the tap in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Recently, Lilongwe allowed various water boards in the country to increase their water tariffs by 45 percent despite the current water crisis affecting different operations.

This story was produced with support from the CSE Media Fellowships Programme for the Global South.

September 18, 2015

The Other Side of Floods

George Mhango, Blantyre, Malawi
September 18, 2015

With Malawi’s population hovering at 15 million and 80 percent living in rural areas, agricultural and environmental experts feel crop diversification and adoption of winter cropping using water harvested from floods or rainfall would help the country have abundance food.

Chrissy Chidikha, Village Head (VH) from Kadzumba Traditional Authority (T/A) Maseya in Chikwawa District and a victim of heavy flooding has lived a miserable life for the past years.

Even today, Chidikha does not hide her discontent at how crops were washed away and family squeezed in a tent or school block for shelter due to floods, a typical example of climate change faced not only in Malawi but globally.

Making matters worse, all her land was being submerged in water, leaving her with no food to feed her husband and three children.

Floods are a capricious part of life for many Malawians

Floods are a capricious part of life for many Malawians

And when the flooding period is over her land situated 100 metres from Shire River is left with many swamps, potential areas for winter cropping and the practice of climate smart Agriculture-CSA

I have lived a miserable life such that even after the floods, dependency on handouts was the order of the day,” she said.

Like Chidikha, Ronald John is another villager from the same area, who has no kind words for floods. He too has depended on relief support for a living, which is not enough to take them throughout the year.

“The relief support is not always enough and it’s a challenge for us. This is why life without food is meaningless and in fact, you cannot raise a family by begging,” he said referring to how bad it is to be a flood victim.

But such perennial problems are history for both Chidikha and John since Stephanos Foundation introduced small scale farming and winter cropping activities taking advantage of water from floods and swamps.

Communities have also taken upon themselves to ensure that once floods are over they grow crops such as rice, sweet potatoes, beans, maize to save their families from hunger through irrigation and treadle pumps.

Said John: “We missed the point as we did not think of growing crops or practice climate smart agriculture, CSA in our areas so that we harvest before the rainy season.”

Upon a visit in Kadzumba Village, John and Chidikha likewise other communities were busy watering their crops using watering canes and treadle pumps. The crops look promising.

“I have four plots of rice from which I expect to harvest more than 22 bags. At the same time we are also into crop diversification because I also grow maize and beans,” Chidikha said.

In the previous years, she used to harvest less than four bags of rice, until they were trained to use the available swamps to plant rice once floods ceases by Stephanos Foundation, which introduced the food security programme through small scale farming and crop diversification.

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

On the other hand, John has a farm where he plants trees annually whose leaves revamps fertility of soils after a thorough decomposition process.

I am also into mulching, utilisation of green manures, conservation tillage and conservation agriculture,” said John aged 48 years.

Stephanos Foundation has similar projects in Nsanje, Zomba and Blantyre to ensure that flood affected people have food.

“We want to ensure that people utilise the abundant water, swamps or waterlogged areas to plant climate friendly crops. We provide training, seeds, treadle pumps and supervision for masses to practice the correct farming,” said programmes manager of Stephanos Foundation Chimwemwe Sallie Hara.

He hinted that K15 million was pumped into the programme to alleviate human suffering in the aftermath of floods through irrigation and crop diversification.

What communities and Stephanos Foundation are doing are in tandem with a broad range of agricultural water management policies and technologies.

These policies and technologies contribute to mitigation and adaptation through sustainable land and water management (SLWM) practices championed by TerrAfrica, a component of Nepad across the Africa region.

For Nepad officials many of these practices such as mulching, green manures, conservation tillage and conservation agriculture help land users to adapt in areas predicted to receive lower precipitation.

Nepad has also discovered that under present conditions, much rainwater is lost to agro-ecosystems as, for a variety of reasons, it does not infiltrate the soil but rapidly runs-off overland, limiting water availability for plant/crop growth, removing topsoil and deleteriously affecting hydrological regimes.

Besides rainwater such initiatives, a study of Malawi’s potential for irrigation carried out recently identified 57 potential sites.

Seven are in the North, 12 in the Centre and the South has 38. The 38 sites in the South 25 are in Shire Valley, which is prone to floods annually.

With this model, 69 percent of produce more than eight different crops, 89 percent of farmers are food secure and that 75 percent of farmers engage in business.

This story was produced under the aegis of the CSE Media Fellowships Programme for the Global South.

September 18, 2015

SADC Ranks Top Position In Water Cooperation

Barbara Lopi
September 18, 2015

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has ranked the top position in a global comparison of indicators of water cooperation prepared by international think-tank, Strategic Foresight Group (SFG).

According to SFG’s Water Cooperation Quotient Index 2015, SADC has scored 100 in the Water Cooperation Quotient, which is a tool with a set of ten indicators created to measure the intensity of cooperation in the management of shared water resources in shared river basins globally.

SADC Logo

SADC Logo

The 10 indicators include legal, political, technical, environmental, economic and institutional aspects.

In the SADC region, more than 70 percent of the region’s fresh water resources are shared between two or more Member States and cooperation is facilitated by the Protocol on Shared Watercourses.

In line with SADC’s Protocol on Shared Watercourses, river basin organisations such as the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM), the permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM), the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), and the Limpopo Water Course Commission (LIMCOM) have been established for promote cooperation in the management, development and use of shared water resources.

The biggest river basin organisation, ZAMCOM, comprises eight riparian states, Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Four riparian states, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique belong to LIMCOM, while ORASECOM comprise Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa; and Angola, Botswana and Namibia belong to OKACOM.

Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) is a think – tank engaged in crafting new policy concepts that enable decision makers to prepare for a future in uncertain times. For more details, the Water Cooperation Quotient is accessible online from the link: http://strategicforesight.com/publication_pdf/28799WCQ-web.pdf

September 18, 2015

Malawi and Sadc Back Shire Zambezi Waterway

George Mhango, Blantyre Malawi
September 18, 2015

Malawi and other Sadc member states have agreed that feasibility studies into the viability of the Shire Zambezi Waterway which stalled in 2010 due to the death of the architect ex-president the late Bingu wa Mutharika should resume.

This follows news that Lilongwe and Maputo will not be the only beneficiaries of the $5 billion Shire Zambezi Waterway project once it comes into fruition.

The feasibility studies for Shire Zambezi water way project have since received the financial backing of the African Development Bank-ADB.

The initiative will further connect Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia to the Indian Ocean and help cut transportation, exportation and importation costs.

Other countries include landlocked Zimbabwe, Zambia, Rwanda and Burundi.

Malawi’s confederation of chambers of commerce and Industry (MCCCI), which is a mother body of business entities in Malawi have backed the decision to have feasibility studies conducted.

The project is good for both Malawi and Mozambique as it will cut on costs of importation goods and deal with congestion at the ports of Beira and Nacala, which are mainly used by Lilongwe,” said Lewis Chiwalo, whose business Multi.Com imports into the country.

Targets for the project
Initially, the project aims at easing transportation challenges Malawi and other landlocked countries face when they import and exports goods and services.

Considering the hypothetical nature of the project, the consultants had to work with many assumptions, hence the delay.

Based on the report, the available database turned out to be insufficient to suggest a definite decision on the issue of re-opening the waterway.

For President Peter Mutharika, the African Union (AU) , European Union (EU) and World Bank have since endorsed the project considering its impact on the transport and business sectors.

“Prefeasibility studies have since discovered that further surveys and studies would be necessary to assess the actual technical feasibility,” he said.

Malawi's leader Peter Mutharika backs feasibility studies. Photo by George Mhango

Malawi’s leader Peter Mutharika backs feasibility studies. Photo by George Mhango

He added that the fact that 90 percent of the planned route crosses the territory of the neighbouring Mozambique implies a close cooperation and common interests.

Thus the consultants recommended a pertinent dialogue between the two governments,” said Mutharika.

The project, which stalled in 2010 was launched by former president Bingu wa Mutharika, Robert Mugabe of Mozambique and ex-president of Zambia Rupiah Banda.

Mozambique’s former President Almando Guebuza boycotted the launch of the Shire Zambezi Waterway on the basis that he was in the United Kingdom.

However, the absence of Guebuza raised concerns that Maputo was against the launch of the project because feasibility studies had not yet been concluded to warrant the launch.

Setbacks to the Initiative
The Shire-Zambezi waterway was successfully used as a transport waterway by explorers and missionaries to Malawi a century and a half ago.

During that time, the port of call in Malawi was in Nsanje District formerly known as Port Herald along the Shire River.

As recent as 1970, Mawtam Ltd operated a barge service transporting molasses from Chiromo in Malawi to Chinde on the coast of the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.

Although the civil war in Mozambique not only disrupted the continuous use of the waterway, but also forced Malawi to completely reshuffle its transport options to continue its external trade, the memory of successful cargo transport on the Shire-Zambezi waterway system from Malawi to the open sea at Chinde never faded.

Studies conducted only revealed the enormous transport costs Malawi incurs by its external trade. These costs are continuously exacerbated by ever-increasing costs for fuel.

This story was produced with support from CSE Media Fellowships Programme.

September 14, 2015

Cultural Responses to Weather Related Disasters

Fredrick Mugira
September 14, 2015

Usually when someone dies in some parts of Uganda during the rainy season, mourners think of several things: the cause of death; burial place; mourners’ food and also rainmakers. Yes, rainmakers because their services are needed to make sure rain does not disrupt burial services.

And their services seem to work. They artificially induce rain. Rainmakers are common in several developing countries. But what is confusing is how they exactly induce rain.

One of such rainmakers is Betungura of Katookye, Kagango in Sheema district. He says he is hired to stop rain from disrupting burial services; parties; musical concerts and several other functions.

To stop rain from disrupting burial services, Betungura, who is usually paid for his services inform of meat, money or local brew, says he usually wraps a piece of cloth from one of the decease’s clothes around a mirror. He positions such a mirror on the roof of the house facing up.

This way, I control the heavens from releasing rain. I mention the name of the deceased and say see sunshine like you have been.”

But Betungura is worried. He says such traditions are slowly dying out because the young generation is not interested in them.

“Who will pass on these traditions and memories to future generations?”

Betungura, who has trained more than 10 people to induce rain, believes that abandonment of such cultural practices related to inducing rain is leading to the current weather related disasters.

“Our grandfathers used to control hailstorms, floods, thunderstorms. But who does it now? We are few. Sometimes we are overstretched.”

Climate-related natural disasters including floods, storms and heat waves have steadily increased across the globe over the past 40 years. Photo by Muchunguzi Emmy

Climate-related natural disasters including floods, storms and heat waves have steadily increased across the globe over the past 40 years. Photo by Muchunguzi Emmy

But Mujuni Kyamadidi, the Member of Parliament Rwampara County in Mbarara district says this is not true and misleading.

“I do not believe in rainmakers. Increased droughts hailstorms, floods and thunderstorms are effects of climate change as a result of global warming but not superstition.”

Likewise, Uganda’s water and environment minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu warns against attributing effects of climate change to superstition.

There are areas which you need scientific explanations instead of depending on these wizards.”

Most climate scientists agree that the current changes in climate across the globe are due to increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and hotter temperatures on Earth.

This story was produced under the aegis of the CSE Media Fellowships Programme.

September 14, 2015

When Water Turns Political In Malawi

George Mhango, Blantyre, Malawi
September 14, 2015

In the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe communities are the ultimate victims caught in the dirty politics prevalent in water kiosks. There are job losses of those loyal to the outgoing legislator.

Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Snap interviews showed that among other things, if a new committee loyal to the winning parliamentarian is formed and takes over the kiosk – It runs the risk of being damaged or closed down during protests by the outgoing members who are against the regime change.

They said the worst scenario can be water disconnection due to unsettled bills by the previous committee, which could have performed on assumptions, that their parliamentarian will settle the bills.

Typical Example of the Situation
With support from the CSE Media Fellowship Programme for the Global South, George Mhango discovered a typical example of political interference in Blantyre’s Ndirande-Malabada within Malawi’s commercial capital.

In the area, CSE discovered that the saga speaks volumes of how politics can affect service delivery. This is because 103 recruited water attendants from 80 kiosks were sacked apparently by the then ruling People’s Party (PP) loyalists.

Attendants Jessica Kwandama, Charles Kambwiri and Georgina Kaliwo from Ndirande Malabada admitted to being sacked for allegedly belonging to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The People’s Party (PP) deputy publicity, Ken Msonda was on record to have attributed the trend to political change. He, however, said, the party was resolving the matter.

Politicians will consolidate their power–and they will make sure their party members control kiosks. Either they employ and/or give them most strategic positions,” Josephine Kaitene, one of the household members says.

Background of Water Kiosks
Arguably, the Water Kiosks Project was rolled out to provide access to clean and affordable drinking water to low-income earners and in communities which do not have the capacity to basic domestic supply network such as water taps at household level.

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

For guidance sake, best practices model under the Water Users Association (WUA) which is all inclusive from religious, political, traditional, and ordinary members was developed.

With WUAs, there are 280 000 residents in Lilongwe who have access to potable water from the water kiosks from the initial target of 800 000. Suffice it to say that in Blantyre alone, about 90 to 150 households depend on 424 water kiosks.

Findings have shown that WUA’s run about 60 percent of kiosks in Lilongwe while about 18 percent are run through the Public and Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement– and 22 percent of them are run by the water boards.

Boards and Government Involvement
The BWB and LWB is constructing 363 and 372 Water Kiosks respectively with support from the National Water Development Programme (NWDP) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development which received funding from the European Union and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The project of water kiosks also takes place in Southern Region, Central Region and Northern Region Water Boards with a different financier and there are no cases of political interferences random interviews with management of such boards show.

Further, the rehabilitation of Walkers Ferry and Chileka pumping stations in BWB will increase production and sustainable supply to 105 million liters per day from 86 million liters per day.

The Take of United Nations
UN statistics show Malawi meeting MDG seven on ensuring environmental sustainability this year. The MDG seeks to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, local NGOs think otherwise.

It is argued that the UN statistics tend to understate the extent of water supply and sanitation challenges which is to a larger extent, hampered by insufficient monitoring strategies of either the population or its coverage.

The bottom line however is, increased public awareness against political interference will resuscitate the hope for sustainable water supply at household level and community involvement to look after their water resources and their communal Kiosks.

And that 70% of multi-sectoral efforts would have scaled up on proper water and sanitation by 2015, accordingly with the MDG goal number seven.

This story was investigated with support from CSE Media Fellowships Programme.

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