Archive for March, 2016

March 30, 2016

La Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée envoie le premier plan climat en vertu de l’Accord de Paris

WaterSan Perspective
March 30, 2016

Le secrétariat de l’ONU aux changements climatiques a créé une nouvelle page sur son site Web pour saisir les plans officiels d’action climat des pays dans le cadre de l’Accord de Paris sur les changements climatiques. La première de ces contributions déterminées au niveau national (NDC) est venue de Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée.

Les NDC exposent publiquement l’action climat que chaque pays entreprendra dans le cadre de l’Accord de Paris pour contribuer à l’effort déterminé de la communauté mondiale d’assurer un avenir durable pour toutes les nations, en maintenant sous deux degrés Celsius l’élévation des températures depuis l’époque pré-industrielle.

«Je félicite la Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée pour cette première NDC. Avant la conférence de l’ONU sur les changements climatiques à Paris, la communauté internationale avait déjà prévu une réponse sans précédent, presque chacune des nations sur Terre ayant présenté un plan d’action préliminaire pour lutter contre les changements climatiques. Ils fournissent la base à partir de laquelle le monde renforcera, avec le temps, sa capacité de maintenir l’élévation des températures mondiales sous 2 degrés Celsius, sinon 1,5 degré Celsius, et de bâtir des sociétés résilientes. Davantage doit encore être fait mais les NDC, dans le cadre de l’Accord de Paris, représentent l’une des prochaines étapes clés en plus de l’ouverture de l’Accord pour signature à New York le 22 avril, en route vers son entrée en vigueur rapide», a déclaré Christiana Figueres, Secrétaire exécutive de la Convention-Cadre de l’ONU sur les Changements Climatiques (CCNUCC).

L’Accord englobe aussi les voies et moyens de fournir un soutien financier et technologique de plus en plus robuste aux pays en développement pour qu’ils atteignent leurs objectifs climat nationaux déterminés.

Un total de 195 pays sous l’égide de la Convention-Cadre de l’ONU sur les Changements Climatiques (CCNUCC) a ouvert la voie vers ce but à la conférence de l’ONU sur les changements climatiques à Paris, en décembre dernier. Cela signifie l’atteinte bientôt d’un pic d’émissions mondiales – en mettant fin à leur croissance annuelle – et ensuite un renversement très rapide, le plus tôt possible au cours de ce siècle, à un niveau où les émissions restantes de gaz à effet de serre seront absorbées de l’atmosphère par la nature ou la technologie.

One of the placards at the conference creating awareness about the need for everybody to get on board and fight climate change

One of the placards at the 2015 Paris Climate Change conference creating awareness about the need for everybody to get on board and fight climate change

Avant Paris, presque tous ces pays ont soumis ce qui étaient appelées des contributions prévues déterminées au niveau national (INDC). L’Accord de Paris fournit maintenant le fondement juridique pour ces INDC, sous la forme de NDC.

L’impact de ces INDC, pleinement mises en œuvre, serait déjà de maintenir l’augmentation mondiale à 3 degrés – ce qui n’est pas encore assez mais constitue une progression énorme comparativement aux 4 ou 5 degrés vers lesquels nous nous dirigerions autrement, alors que chaque degré ajoute des pertes humaines, de niveau de vie et d’investissement exponentiellement plus grandes.

Le secrétariat de la CCNUCC se prépare à lancer un nouveau registre officiel des NDC dans environ un mois.

March 30, 2016

Papua New Guinea Sends in First Climate Plan under Paris Agreement

WaterSan Perspective
March 30, 2016

The UN climate change secretariat has created a new page on its website to capture countries’ formal climate action plans under the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the first of these nationally determined contributions (NDCs) has come from Papua New Guinea.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

NDCs set out publicly the climate actions that each country will take under the Paris Agreement to contribute to the global community’s determined effort to secure a sustainable future for all nations by keeping the global temperature rise since pre-industrial times well below two degrees Celsius.

“I congratulate Papua New Guinea on this first NDC. Before the UN climate change conference in Paris, the international community had already envisioned an unprecedented response with almost every nation on Earth setting out their preliminary action plans to address climate change. These provide the foundation upon which the world will over time strengthen their ability to keep a global temperature rise well under 2 degrees C if not 1.5 degrees C, and build resilient societies. Much more remains to be done but NDCs under the Paris Agreement represent one of the next key steps alongside the opening for signature of the Agreement in New York on April 22 en route to it swiftly coming into force,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

The Agreement has also encompassed the ways and means to provide increasingly robust financial, and technology support to developing countries to achieve their nationally determined climate objectives.

A total of 195 countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set a clear path towards this goal at the UN climate change conference in Paris, last December. This means peaking global emissions soon – stopping their current annual rise – and then reversing them very rapidly to a point as soon as possible later this century when remaining greenhouse gas emissions are absorbed back from the atmosphere by nature or technology.

Before Paris, almost all these countries had submitted what were called intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). The Paris Agreement now provides a legal foundation for these previously communicated INDCs, in the form of NDCs.

The impact of the INDCS, fully implemented, would already keep the world within around a 3 degree rise – not yet near enough but a huge advance from the 4 or 5 degrees or more we would otherwise be headed towards, with each extra degree adding exponentially larger losses to life, livelihoods and investments.

The UNFCCC secretariat is preparing to launch a new and formal registry of NDCs in about one month.

March 29, 2016

Ghana: Experts Root for Research on Water, Land and Ecosystems

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
March 29, 2016

Ghana’s savannah ecology zone is well endowed with a large expanse of land, which under normal circumstances should have better served the people. But the harsh environmental conditions including the dryness of some areas, threats of desertification, water scarcity, land degradation, soil erosion and climate change impacts, have hampered development in the area and entrenched poverty among majority of the people. The area covers Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.

Research institutions and development organisations working within the savannah zone, are seeking evidence-based solutions built on actual understanding of these issues to create awareness among local stakeholders and implement appropriate development projects in the zone. The Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research Programme on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) is spearheading the process.

Women in Ghana engaged in dry season rice farming through irrigation

Women in Ghana engaged in dry season rice farming through irrigation

CGIAR WLE in collaboration with the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), as well as USAID’s sponsored projects in the zone, among other organisations, have begun discussing ways of tailoring research to meet the needs of the people. They want to ensure that agriculture and natural resources oriented research provide sustainable solutions to poverty and underdevelopment in the area.

Under the auspices of the SADA, the concerned bodies as well as others have held a two-day Knowledge Sharing Fair in Tamale, Ghana. The Fair provided a platform for discussing issues pertaining to how research can inform policy, planning and practice. It was also an occasion for exhibiting over 10 research for development projects on-going in the SADA zone.

It was the right timing for development organizations and donors to deliberate on research for development related issues. It enabled the WLE program to show case its research contributions to the SADA objective of ensuring accelerated, integrated and comprehensive development of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone.

The Fair facilitated the sharing of experiences and learning on current research and development projects across locations and subjects; and set the pace for better coordination and networking of actors across projects.

The main discussions focused on the means of promoting the expansion of improved land and water management technologies and practices in the SADA zone; positioning SADA to effectively monitor all development efforts to ensure synergy and desired impacts; and how to strengthen the alignment between research, policy and practice within the SADA zone.

The Chief Executive Officer of SADA, Charles Abugre, said the research on water, land and ecosystems was very timely and paramount to the aspirations of SADA. He acknowledged that unique opportunities exist in harnessing the water in the Volta basin, its values and ecological goods and services to provide livelihoods and transform the economy of the SADA zone.

The Upper East Region Commissioner of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Ambassador Donald Adabre called for the pooling of efforts to narrow the poverty gap between the SADA zone and the rest of the country. He said, “This can be done by translating research and incorporating it into policy, planning and implementation of activities within the zone.”

The representative of the Vice-Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS) and board member of the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP), Professor George Nyarko, told the participants that UDS has the potential to assist in accelerating the development of the SADA zone with quality research. He therefore urged SADA to support the university’s research activities.

The Chief of Party for the USAID/ATT project, Dr. Micheal Dockery said in the SADA zone, his organisation was implementing projects such as “Secure Water” aimed at ensuring water availability for dry season farming and increase yields. He said most of the USAID related projects were geared towards nutritional outcomes, improved seed development and water for irrigation.

The Head of Office of IWMI West Africa, Dr. Olufunke Cofie said in order to deliver its core mandate of providing a Water Secure World, IWMI works with several partners from academia, research institutions, NGOs and Development Partners. She noted that Research by the CGIAR centres such as IWMI, “aims to achieve the four strategic outcomes of reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving nutrition and health, and ensuring enhanced sustainable management of natural resources.”

In a presentation on “Informing the Development of Innovative Agricultural and Water Management Solutions,” Dr. Cofie highlighted the priority WLE projects in the SADA zone. “These projects,” she said “are focused on intensifying sustainable agricultural production through: improving smallholder irrigation, flood recession farming and enhancing rain fed production systems and related ecosystems services.”

Additionally, there is another set of projects focused on “managing water variability &climate change at catchment scale through enhancing adaptation to climate variability; enhancing public and private investment in agricultural water infrastructure.” A third category of projects are aimed at recovering useful resources from waste materials; while the last group of projects are centred on integrating ecosystems solutions into policy processes.

All of these projects as well as the others are geared to improving agricultural production through integrated water and land management. The ultimate goal is to make farming in the SADA zone attractive, viable and sustainable. According to Dr. Cofie, within the sub-region, IWMI is working as a think tank that drives innovative research and solutions.

The writer can be reached at:kudomagyemang@yahoo.com

March 29, 2016

Ghana: Agricultural Resources Dwindle as Water Crisis Heighten

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
March 29, 2016

In Ghana, small scale farmers are national assets. They form the bulk of the workforce in the agricultural sector, which is totally dependent on water availability and are the ones feeding the nation.

But the sector is no longer as productive as it used to be due to shrinking land for farming as population soars; evolving competitive land uses; soil degradation; water scarcity; desertification and climate change. Farming methods and practices are still at best rudimentary.

Thus, the tradition of generational farming in farming communities is gradually dying out and threatening the country’s food security. This attest to the fact that the country’s agri-food systems are not sustainable nowadays.

But sustainable food systems are crucial in providing a healthy and productive future for young people in Ghana and the Africa continent as well as around the world.

The situation calls for radical transformation. And according to the CGIAR Consortium, “analysis of food system challenges shows that radical transformation is urgently needed. Such transformation requires accelerated innovation and that, in turn, requires increased investment in agri-food research to power the engine that drives innovation.” That is, innovation specifically targeting agri-food systems.

CGIAR’s Initiative
To this end, CGIAR has launched the second generation of Consortium Research Programmes (CRP). It is focused on improving coordination and collaboration among CGIAR related institutions and organisations within selected geographical areas known as Site Integration at country levels. Here, activities are within specific field research sites with a clear mechanism to produce outcomes in line with national agriculture development priorities. This approach has the potential to accelerate productivity in prioritised areas of agriculture.

This CGIAR supported initiative is being implemented in 20 countries including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, DR Congo, Mali and Niger, have been selected as Site Integration areas. Other countries are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. The rest are Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Vietnam.

A Steering Committee consisting of representatives of all CGIAR Centers and CGIAR Research Programmes (CRP) operating in Ghana has been formed, to drive the country collaboration process under the auspices of the International Water Management Institute.

The National Consultative Process in Ghana
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a member of CGIAR Consortium has been assigned the coordination responsibility for the planning and the organization of the National Consultation for Ghana.

The idea is to establish a network of CGIAR related research institutions and organisations in Ghana for effective dialoguing, information generation and sharing, integrated planning and collaborative research. The goal is to institute a system for ensuring cost effectiveness, governance and scaling of research impacts.

To ensure that all partners in Ghana are abreast of these issues, IWMI in collaboration with MoFA and CSIR on the 2nd – 3rd March, 2016, organized a two-day National Consultation Workshop in Accra. They discussed how the integrated efforts of CGIAR Centres can be aligned and made to complement national priorities and those of other partners, to support the overall national development agenda. They also devised plans for tracking, monitoring and assessing the impacts of implemented activities.

They have additionally advanced a mechanism for enhancing the knowledge base that will support the dissemination of best practices in institutional development, policy development and capacity building for agricultural research. The network is expected to make significant contribution to CGIAR’s work in Ghana.

Participants at the National Consultative Workshop

Participants at the National Consultative Workshop

Initial CGAIR supported programmes in Ghana have produced tangible results. These include serving as a source of information and tools on a range of issues in the agriculture sector feeding into policy processes and development of medium term plans. Another is the development of a National Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Security Action Plan (2016 – 2020) to promote climate-smart agriculture and operationalize the national climate change policy of Ghana.

Other achievements are establishment of rice sector development hubs in various ecological zones; and creation of Innovative Platforms that provides a forum for dialoguing among farmers, service providers, input dealers, aggregators, processors, millers and retailers; contribution to the development of enhanced varieties of root tubers and banana crops. The programme is also involved in recycling urban liquid and solid waste by developing waste-based organo-mineral fertilizer that can enhance agricultural yields.

The CGIAR Centres in Ghana are also implementing several activities on agricultural water management for dry season farming. This is building the capacity of farmers to move away from total dependency on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation based farming, thereby ensuring sustainable agricultural production year round.

The writer can be reached at: kudomagyemang@yahoo.com

March 22, 2016

Joan Rose, Water Quality Champion, Wins 2016 Stockholm Water Prize

Tusiimire Eunice
March 22, 2016

Professor Joan Rose of USA has been named the 2016 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for her tireless contributions to global public health; by assessing risks to human health in water and creating guidelines and tools for decision-makers and communities to improve global wellbeing.

Professor Joan Rose

Professor Joan Rose

Professor Joan Rose holds the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research at Michigan State University. She has dedicated her professional life to water quality and public health, and is a leading world authority on water microbiology.

On receiving the news, she said: “I am very honoured to be part of a list of such distinguished past winners. The Prize calls attention to the most important issues around water in the 21st century, and for me, that is water quality”.

In its citation, The Stockholm Water Prize Committee says: “The nexus of water-related microbiology, water quality and public health is rife with theoretical and practical uncertainty. There are few individuals who can tackle the increasing and changing challenges to clean water and health; from state-of-the-art science and original research, through professional dissemination, effective legislative lobbying, guiding practitioners, and raising general awareness. Joan Rose is the leading example of this extraordinary blend of talents.”

“I have always been motivated by the principles of public health, how to prevent disease. A key barrier, our water infrastructure, is crumbling or non-existing in many parts of the world. The global population unserved by sewage treatment is counted in the billions,” says Professor Rose.

“Professor Rose is on a quest to secure the health of all human beings and aquatic ecosystems. She has continuously shown great leadership in making the world a better place.” says SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren.

Joan Rose is the world’s foremost authority on Cryptosporidium, presenting its widespread occurrence in water supplies in 1988. In 1993, the microorganism affected over 400 000 people, killing 69, in Milwaukee, US.

H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Patron of Stockholm Water Prize, will present the prize to Joan Rose at a Royal Award Ceremony on 31 August, during the 2016 World Water Week in Stockholm.

March 21, 2016

2016 Water Day: African Aquifers Can Protect Against Climate Change

WaterSan Perspective
March 22, 2016

Floods and droughts, feasts and famines: the challenge of living with an African climate has always been its variability, from the lush rainforests of the Congo to the extreme dry of the Sahara and Namib deserts.

In north western Europe, drizzle and rain is generally spread quite evenly across the year, as anyone who has gone camping in British summer will tell you. But when annual rainfall happens within just a few months or weeks of the year then it is a massive challenge for farmers, towns and industry to access enough water through long dry seasons and to protect themselves and their land from flooding and mudslides when the rains come.

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

New research suggests that Africa’s aquifers could be the key to managing water better. Professor Richard Taylor at UCL explains: “What we found is that groundwater in tropical regions – and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular – is primarily replenished from intense rainfall events – heavy downpours. This means that aquifers are an essential way of storing the heavy rain from the rainy season for use during the dry season, and for keeping rivers flowing.”

Many African climates are variable now, but are becoming even more unpredictable with climate change. So how can heavy rain be directed underground more effectively?

Award-winning UPGro research found a way, in Tigray Regional State in Ethiopia. MetaMeta of the Netherlands, together with its partners Mekelle University and Tigray Government looked at ways and means of collecting water with the roads – from culverts, drains, borrow pits, road surface, river crossings, as these have massive impact on how rain run-off moves across a landscape.

The idea then scaled up quickly – in 2014 the Tigray Government implemented road water harvesting activities in all its districts. The results have been spectacular in increased water tables, better soil moisture, reduced erosion from roads, less local flooding and moreover much better crop yields. Their guidebook “How to Make Water Wise Roads” helps others who want to apply these methods in their own areas.

Professor Taylor: “Having a buffer is essential to protect people and livelihoods from extreme hydrological events; groundwater can play an important role, but aquifers need to be well understood, well managed, and this needs good data and competent hydrogeologists in each of these countries. This is what GroFutures , and the other UPGro research projects, are working on.”

The GroFutures project will be hosting a workshop 31st March 2016 in Iringa, Tanzania to examine the potential of groundwater to expand irrigation and increase access to safe water in Tanzania.

March 21, 2016

2016 Water Day: Celebrate Water, Promote Its Sustainability

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
March 22, 2016

Celebrate Water!!! Water is life, water is good, water is simply relaxing. Water is the first thought that comes to one’s mind when one’s throat is parched, or when one is extremely tired, or when one feels hot and sticky. While other liquids, can easily be replaced, water does not have that quality and it is this attribute that makes water so unique. And in the state when one’s entire being is seeking for water, nothing can ever satisfy that urge, like “simple wholesome water.”

water day today

So, when water is simply not available in the form that can meet a particularly need, there is chaos for the individual, household, community, industry and nation at large. Lives may be lost, jobs are affected, productivity comes to a standstill, socio-economic gains made are eroded, healthy lifestyles are compromised, poverty is entrenched and development is undermined.

Therefore, concerns about water should go beyond having the resource available and being able to access it. People should become much more concern about the source of water, the processes it goes through for distribution, the system that ensures such distribution, jobs that makes the all-inclusive structure function and the sustainability of every part of the whole chain or cycle.

It is against this background that the global community has dedicated this year’s celebration of World Water Day (WWD 2016) to “Water and Jobs,” and the national theme is: ““Improved Safe Water Access for Sustainable Livelihoods.” Both themes provide important opportunities to highlight the two-way relationship between water and the decent work agenda in the quest for sustainable development.

World Water Day is marked on every 22nd of March. The Day’s celebration was instituted by the UN to draw attention to the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

The focus of the celebration this year, touches on sustaining the system of production and distribution; while, efficiently identifying and addressing problems that affect the sustainability of the resource and distribution. Another point is ensuring equity in the distribution process so that no user – be it individual, household, industry, businesses, agriculture or the environment suffers.

Sustainable water supply refers to the sufficient availability of and access to water into the foreseeable future. It also means the availability of sustainably functioning water systems that provide adequate water quantity and appropriate water quality for a given need, without compromising the future ability to provide this capacity and quality.

Yet, ensuring sustainable supply of access to water is an increasingly critical challenge. The challenge arises from the fact that globally, water as a resource is changing due to population growth and migration, land use pressures and energy choices, and the changing climate. These factors are causing changes in water quantity, availability, and quality. The changing of the water resource is evidenced by its scarcity that afflicts poor people the most.

Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Meeting the water challenge through “building a sustainable water future,” will require a national effort that incorporates recognition of the cause of the problem and measures developed to mitigate the drivers, where possible. The mitigating measures should include designing water infrastructure to meet the needs of a people in a changing water environment; and developing adaptation strategies for the changing water environment. Additionally, the measures should also embrace sensitising communities to make better choices about water resources. Industries and manufacturing companies should endeavour to incorporate wise water use management practices; while the agricultural sector should adopt best practices that eliminate wastes and abuse, adapt to the impacts of climate change and enhance productivity.

Furthermore, measures must be put in place to ensure better monitoring, modeling, and forecasting of the national water future, so that stakeholders and decision makers have better information upon which to act.

However, ensuring water supply sustainability requires investing in water infrastructure in ways that can create jobs, reduce pollution, improve human health, and promote economic growth. A Study on Sustainable Water Jobs undertaken by the Pacific Institute, identified as many as 136 different kinds of jobs involved in implementing sustainable water strategies, from plumbers to landscapers, engineers to irrigation specialists.

The study indicates that 37 of these job types can have high growth in an overall economy, with each projected to have more than 100,000 job openings across industries by 2020. The Pacific Institute identifies numerous sustainable water occupations that are accessible to workers without advanced degrees. Most of these jobs, generally require on-the-job training, with some requiring previous experience and associate’s degrees or technical training, but not bachelor’s or graduate degrees. This translates to a more feasible pathway to employment for adults without formal education beyond high school.

Even though the study was conducted within the context of the USA, the results have bearings for a country like Ghana. As the national unemployment rate rises, and with unemployment and underemployment rising especially among low income earners, family-supporting jobs are greatly needed. Creating good green jobs in the water sector that reduce both pollution and poverty can, and should, be a national priority. These jobs are in many industries, such as the manufacturing of water conservation products and the installation of water infrastructure. Importantly, many of these jobs can provide career path- ways and good wages while promoting regional economic development.

But then, the issue is not just about sustainability of the resource. It is also about household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS). Granted that the water sources and supply system are sustainably managed and functional; how water is handled and stored at the household level can promote or endanger the lives of the people.

According to a UNICEF Report “at the household level, contamination of stored water is common. Citing a WHO source, the Report “Promotion of Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage in UNICEF WASH Programmes,” says studies in a number of pilot countries revealed that more than half of household samples from stored water showed port-source or after collection contamination.

This, according to the report is consistent with a large body of research worldwide that has shown that even drinking water which is safe at the source is subject to frequent and extensive faecal contamination during collection, storage and use in the home. This means that in areas where the practice of open defecation is widespread, faecal contamination could easily occur at the point of collection or even storage.

What is worrying about this situation is that unsafe drinking water, along with poor sanitation and hygiene, are the main contributors to an estimated 4 billion cases of diarrhoeal disease annually, causing more than 1.5 million deaths, mostly among children under 5 years of age. It further results in malnutrition and other health hazards.

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Research has established that treating water at the household level is one of the most effective and cost-effective means of preventing waterborne disease in development and emergency settings. Promoting household water treatment and safe storage helps vulnerable populations to take charge of their own water security by providing them with the knowledge and tools to treat their own drinking water.

Because it prevents recontamination of water in the home, treating water at the household level is more effective than conventional improvements in water supplies in ensuring the microbiological quality of drinking water at the point of consumption. This translates into improved health outcomes. Household Water treatment methods include disinfection by using approved chemicals or boiling, and filtration through slow sand, ceramic or membrane filters fitted in a container.

To this end, the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate and Community Water and Sanitation Agency of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Ghana, is being supported by UNICEF to implement the Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage programme. The current focus of the programme includes the implementation of WASH activities in five regions in the country namely – Central, Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions. The associated activities are being implemented in collaboration with THE Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS).

In Ghana, World Water Day, is being observed with a number of activities including a schools tree planting competition among the Ayalolo Cluster of Schools and a Stakeholders Dialogue at the Mantse Agbonaa Park, James Town, Accra.
(The writer can be reached on kudomagyemang@yahoo.com/kudomagyemanf@gmail.com)

March 16, 2016

Experts at the Second India-Africa Dialogue in Accra Root for Decentralised Excreta Management

CSE and Mhango George in Accra, Ghana
March 16, 2016

Experts expressed strong disapproval against centralised wasterwater or excreta management which was the norm the world over, particularly in urban areas of India and other parts of the world.

“Centralised wastewater management means excreta is not managed locally but is only transported through pipelines and dumped somewhere else,” said Dr Suresh Rohilla, Director of Centre for Science and Environment’s Water Programme. He was speaking at the Second India Africa Dialogue and Media Briefing Workshop held in Accra, Ghana, which was attended by leading science, water and sanitation reporters from around 15 countries of Africa.

A latrine in rural Uganda.  The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

A latrine in rural Uganda. The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

The workshop, Sewerage to Sanitation, Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Sanitation Solutions for Future, was organized by CSE in partnership with MESHA Kenya and SATCGO, a Ghana-based association of science journalists.

Experts at the workshop said that large quantities of water – a precious natural resource – was used in carrying human excreta. “This is not the best use of water,” said Dr Sudhir Pillay, a scientist with South Africa’s Water Research Commission. Pillay said the number of people defecating in the open was increasing in 26 of 44 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, only 15 per cent of people used an ‘improved’ sanitation facility.

Pillay said the current technology – using water to flush down excreta and carry it away – was not sustainable. The solution, he said, was on-site faecal sludge management using modern septic tanks and other technologies so that the excreta did not use contaminate water bodies.

Pillay and Patrick Apoya, a water and sanitation expert, advocated for DEWATS – Decentralised Wastewater Management Systems – which used advanced systems including septic tanks, biogas digesters, anaerobic filters and other methods to convert wastewater into clean, usable water.

“The current piped sewerage systems do not treat sewage but merely transport it away. They are toxic and extremely polluting for the rivers and lakes where they are dumped,” said Rohilla. Apoya shared detailed suggestions on decentralised models which communities could adopt.

The participants in the workshop included Aghan Daniel from MESHA, Maxwell Awumah, president of SATCGO, senior journalists Maina Waruru; Linda Sante; Mandi Smallhorne , Fredrick Mugira and George Mhango of Water Journalists Africa network

Some of  the leading science, water and sanitation reporters in Africa who met in the Ghanaian capital Accra for the second India-Africa dialogue and media briefing workshop about sewerage and sanitation

Some of the leading science, water and sanitation reporters in Africa who met in the Ghanaian capital Accra for the second India-Africa dialogue and media briefing workshop about sewerage and sanitation

CSE analysis
A CSE analysis says that in the corresponding period when the world population increased by three times, water consumption increased six times. The ‘modern’ lifestyle and processes required much more water than before, leading to water shortage. Currently, around 75 per cent of the world faces water scarcity. It is necessary that wasteful practices are discarded. “It is not prudent to create water and sanitation systems that are wasteful in design later which we will want to make efficient later,” he said.

CSE analysis says that earlier communities had a role to play in water and sanitation management in their areas. However, colonisation created systems and structures where the participation of local people in making decisions was completely eliminated while the systems also became more and more centralised.
While water supply systems were centrally controlled and relied on long transmission lines and transportation of water from distant locations, sewage disposal, too, was done in a centralised manner in most towns and cities. As much as 20 to 50 per cent of water was wasted during the supply process.

The analysis showed that the per capita (per person) consumption of water increased when the sewage systems became more ‘modern’. For example, data from India shows that in towns, the per capita consumption of water was 70 lpcd (litres per capital per day), it increased to 135 for cities. For the metros, it was as much as 150 lpcd. “Only 20 per cent of this water is consumed. The rest is wastewater – indicating an urgent need to curb wastage of water through wasteful sanitation and other practices,” said Rohilla.

CSE workshop with Ghana government
CSE also organised a workshop between March 14 and 16 on decentralised wastewater management for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Government of Ghana. Officials from the Environmental Sanitation department of the MLGRD were the key participants in the capacity-building workshop.

Speaking about CSE’s engagement with Africa and Asian countries, Rohilla said, “CSE has strong local roots as well as regional experience. We believe we can play a role in interlinking local and global action on water and sanitation.” Ghana is one of the two countries in Africa (the other is Rwanda) where CSE has “deep dive engagement”, indicating the intensive nature of CSE’s involvement in the water and sanitation programme of Ghana.

Describing the current situation which is common across countries and continents, Rohilla said the most used method of managing excreta was using water to wash it away. It did not amount to treatment. “Septic tanks treat excreta while the ‘modern’ methods simply rely on water carrying it away. This is unsustainable as water is too precious to be wasted in carrying faecal matter.

Moreover, the sewage needs expensive treatment and, if that is not done, can contaminate and pollute,” he said.

Speaking about the need for the workshop, Henrietta Ose-Tutu from the Department of Environmental Sanitation, MLGRD, said that the current discussion and effort around waste management was more focussed on solid waste.

“It is necessary that we lay emphasis on liquid waste or wastewater management as well,” she said.

The participants, she said, comprised officers from the ministry, the regions and assemblies of Ghana. This workshop, she said, was one of the several steps her department had taken in equipping officers technically to work on wastewater management.

March 11, 2016

Water Man of India Urges Disciplined Use of Water in Africa

Fredrick Mugira
March 11, 2016

South Africa’s extreme drought has dried up water supplies for millions of people living in rural parts of the country. Some of the affected people live in Mpumalanga, a rural province in the eastern part of the country. In Mpumalanga, the drought has led to vanishing of water in Crocodile River, forcing water officials in Mbombela municipality – the main city of Mpumalanga – to start implementing water restriction to consumers targeting swimming pools and vehicle washing bays according to Linda Carol Zulu, the municipality’s general manager for water and sanitation.

Water suppliers in Mbombela municipality rely on the Crocodile River for water, but due to the drought – the worst in 30 years – river flows have plummeted this season.

Drying up of rivers, wells, springs and lakes in Africa is not new. Several lakes including Lake Chad, the formerly world’s 6th largest lake have had a rapid decline leading to water shortfall. In fact in Africa, one in three people endure water scarcity and this is being worsened by climate change.

Similarly, in Uganda, over 100 shallow wells, streams, rivers and lakes have dried up in the south western region in the last five years according to the region’s focal person for the national environment watchdog – NEMA, Jeconeous Musingwire. Eastern Africa countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania are suffering even worse problems.

But in some parts of India, things are a bit different. And this difference is a result of Dr. Rajendra Singh efforts.

The water conservationist and the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize winner, Dr Rajendra, has been recognized for his innovative water restoration efforts and steady attempts to improve water security in villages of India.

He shared his thoughts with Fredrick Mugira about replicating the same innovative water restoration efforts in Africa to improve water security in the continent’s villages. This was during the week-long knowledge exchange organised by the 2030 Water Resource Group (2030 WRG), a global public-private-civil society partnership based in Washington USA in collaboration with Stockholm International Water Institute and the Water and Sanitation Department of South Africa.

Dr. Rajendra Singh (L) chats with Fredrick Mugira (R) in Pretoria, South Africa

Dr. Rajendra Singh (L) chats with Fredrick Mugira (R) in Pretoria, South Africa

Dr. Rajendra was one of the water activists, professionals and authorities from India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Tanzania and South Africa that took part in this knowledge exchange in Pretoria, South Africa last week.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

Question: Why should people care about Rivers in their communities?

Answer: The people should understand that if their river is not healthy, they also can’t live healthy. So the health of a river and the health of people are interlinked. So the people should try the rejuvenation of the river and they make it a clean river and they should safeguard the river land and the clean flow. This way they get clean water.

Question: Several rivers, lakes and wells in Africa are drying up as a result of climate change. What should be done to stop this?

Answer: You know what is very important is water conservation and harvesting and also making a decent use of water. If they can make a disciplined use of water so they can conserve and make a sustainable way of water management and a sustainable way of water resource management.
So if we can get success in Rajasthan, so that model can be replicated in Africa. The same model we can replicate. On one hand we start with realization of the community and on other hand, we get social corporate responsibility and also government intervention. So change is possible.

Question: Who should bear this responsibility?

Answer: The people and the government, and the private sector should all realize the responsibility of cleaning the river. You know the most important are the local people. The local community should realize the site selection of the work for the water harvesting, reduce corruption, and reduce the pollution, and reduce the wastage of the money and the wastage of resource. So it is very much necessary that the community takes the lead of that work.

Question: Will water-stressed communities in developing countries ever have enough water?

Answer: You know the rain water is enough for the world but we are not really managing it properly. If we can manage this water in a good way, we can create prosperity and peace. You know now, the scarcity of water and the flashfloods create tension within communities and that tension creates conflict and that conflict makes the situation of war. So now the third world war is coming if we are not doing the water conservation and water harvesting and disciplined use of water. So if we are really to have a prosperous and peaceful common future, we should start the community driven decentralized water management now. You know the one water, one planet slogan? The community should start this. The community role is very important. If the community starts that work, the government follows and the private sector also comes in.

Question: I understand you are organizing a river walk in Mumbai, India that is likely to attract over 10,000 people to walk for 5km alongside the four rivers of Mumbai. How will these rivers benefit from the walk?

Answer: The river walk is a practical involvement of all stakeholders of the river. So after this walk, we make GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) and the rejuvenation starts. (GPR is geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface. It can be used in the detection of voids and incoherence in hydraulic defense structures such as river embankments and levee systems.)

Question: When will you walk for rivers in Africa?

Answer: I am very much interested in holding water walk in Africa but African communities should initiate this. I am coming. I can join and help in mobilization and organization and we can make a system for river rejuvenation. I can come.

March 7, 2016

DR Congo: Government Threatens To Open World’s Second Largest Rainforest to New Industrial Loggers

Annitah Matsika
March 07, 2016

A tropical rainforest more than twice the size of France is at risk of being cut down, following news from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that the government is considering re-opening its forest to new logging companies.

This comes at a time when the governments of Norway, France, Germany, the UK, and the European Union, are assessing whether to support a billion-dollar plan proposed by the DRC government to protect the country’s 1.55 million square kilometers of forests.

Several tropical rain-forests in developing countries are at risk of being cut down to pave way for new developments

Several tropical rainforests in developing countries are at risk of being cut down to pave way for new developments

A coalition of environmental and anti-corruption organizations is calling on the DRC government to maintain its moratorium on the allocation of new logging licenses, which has been in place since 2002.

Irène Wabiwa Betoko of Greenpeace Africa, says: “The large-scale logging of DRC’s rainforest was and is a disaster. It not only harms the country’s environment, but also fuels corruption and creates social and economic havoc.”

Lars Løvold of Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) says: “At a time when the global community is working together to protect the world’s last rainforests, a vital defense against climate change, the DRC government seems to be undermining the commitment to reducing emissions that it presented in Paris.”

The DRC Environment Minister Robert Bopolo Bogeza recently stated that measures are being undertaken to lift moratorium on the allocation of new logging licenses, while outlining his priorities for 2016, citing the financial benefits this could bring. (1)

Joesph Bobia of Réseau Ressources Naturelles (RRN) said: “The argument that logging can significantly contribute to government revenues is completely unfounded. Around a tenth of the DRC’s rainforest is already being logged. And yet, in 2014 the country obtained a pitifulUSD8 million in fiscal revenues from the sector – the equivalent of about 12 cents for every Congolese person,”

Simon Counsell of the Rainforest Foundation UK said that “Expansion of industrial logging in Congo’s rainforests is likely to have serious long-term negative impacts on the millions of people living in and depending on those forests. We urge the government of DRC to instead promote community based forest protection and alternatives to logging that will help the country’s population prosper.”

Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is an international effort under the UN climate treaties to combat carbon emissions by protecting the world’s forests. DRC’s national strategy for REDD has been under negotiation for six years and will be submitted to international donor governments for approval this year.

“We call upon the DRC government to keep the present logging moratorium in place” ,” Ms Wabiwa Betoko concluded.

The moratorium on the allocation of new logging titles was issued by Ministerial decree in 2002, in an attempt to regain control of the country’s timber industry, which was riddled with illegal logging and corruption, which came at a significant social and environmental cost.

DRC’s forest accounts for around one tenth of the world’s remaining tropical rainforests. Many species, such as the bonobo and okapi, are only found in these ecosystems. Some 40 million people in the country rely on these forests for their livelihoods, including food and fuel.

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