Archive for April, 2016

April 20, 2016

La Signature de l’Accord de Paris marque une étape critique pour un avenir durable

WaterSan Perspective
April 20, 2016

Le nombre record de pays engagés à signer l’accord de Paris à New York le 22 avril annonce la prochaine étape vers l’entrée en vigueur de l’accord et un moment critique de l’effort mondial visant à assurer de solides espoirs pour un développement humain sûr et pacifique.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

La maxime du responsable de l’ONU Ban Ki-moon qui énonce que notre génération est la première qui peut mettre fin à la pauvreté, mais la dernière qui peut agir pour éviter les pires changements climatiques illustre le fait que la réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre à temps pour éviter des hausses ingérables de la température assure la légitimation de ces espoirs.

Plus de carbone dans l’atmosphère équivaut à plus de pauvreté. Nous ne pouvons pas assurer un développement durable sans lutte contre le changement climatique, et nous ne pouvons pas lutter contre le changement climatique sans aborder les causes profondes de la pauvreté, les inégalités et les modèles de développement non durable », a déclaré Christiana Figueres, Secrétaire exécutive de la Convention-Cadre des Nations Unies sur les Changements Climatiques (CCNUCC).

Mme Figueres animera un débat avec Ségolène Royal, ministre française de l’Écologie, du Développement durable et de l’énergie et Présidente de la 21ème Conférence des Parties à la convention sur le climat des Nations Unies, devant un public invité, en marge de la réunion de l’Assemblée générale sur les Objectifs de développement durable (ODD) le jeudi 21 avril.

La prise de conscience que le changement climatique et le développement ne peuvent être résolus que s’ils sont considérés de manière inséparable est articulée dans le programme de développement durable 2030, adopté par les Nations en septembre dernier à l’ONU à New York.

La réalisation des objectifs de l’Accord de Paris sur le climat appelle à des taux de décarbonisation sans précédent. Les 15 courtes années à l’horizon de 2030 devront produire des résultats sans précédent en termes de bien-être mondial et d’éradication de la pauvreté.

Rien de moins ne sera efficace qu’une transformation massive à l’échelle mondiale vers l’énergie propre, la restauration des terres et des économies et des sociétés pré-sécurisées contre les changements climatiques existants.

« Les acteurs-clés au sein des gouvernements, du secteur privé et de la société civile façonnent leur vision sur la façon dont ils peuvent contribuer au mieux à cet objectif. Nous avons un créneau très court pour harmoniser les stratégies et mettre davantage l’accent sur l’urgence de la mise en œuvre. Les approches stratégiques développées cette année vont modeleront la voie globale pour les années à venir », a déclaré Mme Figueres.

Les ODD contiennent non seulement un objectif distinct pour le climat (#13), mais l’action climatique fait également partie intégrante du succès de la mise en œuvre de la plupart des 16 autres ODD à l’ordre du jour.

Cela fonctionne de trois manières fondamentales qui sous-tendent la relation entre la nature de la menace des changements climatiques et les aspirations à un avenir meilleur, plus sûr et plus juste.
Le climat et le développement sont verrouillés ensemble tout d’abord par la cause et l’effet, par la nécessité d’une transformation sans précédent vers une économie bas carbone, et puis et par le calendrier exigeant des mesures qui sont nécessaires pour rester bien en dessous d’une hausse de la température de 2 degrés Celsius, voire 1,5 degrés identifiés dans l’Accord de Paris comme ligne de défense encore plus sûre.

April 20, 2016

Paris Signing Marks Critical Next Step to Sustainable Future

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
April 20, 2016

The record number of countries set to sign the Paris Agreement in New York onApril 22 signals the next step towards the Agreement coming into force and a critical juncture in a global effort to ensure lasting hopes for secure and peaceful, human development.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s dictum that our generation is the first that can end poverty but the last that can act to avoid the worst climate change speaks to the fact that cutting greenhouse gas emissions in time to prevent unmanageable rises in temperature is the one assurance of keeping those hopes on track.

“More carbon in the atmosphere equals more poverty. We cannot deliver sustainable development without tackling climate change, and we cannot tackle climate change without addressing the root causes of poverty, inequality and unsustainable development patterns,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Ms Figueres will moderate a debate with Segolene Royal, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and President of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN climate convention in front of an invited audience, on the margins of the General Assembly meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Thursday, April 21.

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

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

The realisation that climate change and development are solvable only when seen as inseperable is articulated in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, agreed by nations last September at the UN in New York.

Achievement of the Paris Agreement’s climate goals calls for unprecedented rates of decarbonisation. The short 15 years to 2030 will need to deliver unprecedented outcomes in terms of global well-being and poverty eradication.

Nothing less will do than a massive global transformation to clean energy, restored lands and societies pre-proofed against existing climate change.

“Key actors across government, the private sector and civil society are shaping their vision on how they can best contribute to that objective. We have a short window of opportunity to align strategies and to sharpen the focus on the urgency of implementation. Strategic approaches developed this year will shape the overall path for years to come,” said Ms Figueres.

The SDGs not only contain a distinct climate change goal (#13), but climate action is also integral to the successful implementation of most of the other SDGs under the agenda.

This works in three fundamental ways that underpin the relation between the nature of the climate change threat and aspirations for a better, safer, fairer future.

Climate and development are locked together through basic cause and effect, by the need for an unprecedented transformation to a low-carbon economy and through the demanding timetable of action necessary to stay well below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise, with 1.5 degrees identified in the Paris Agreement as an even safer line of defence.

April 19, 2016

Nigeria: Government Lobbies for United Nations Environment Assembly Vice Presidency

Water Journalists Africa and PAMACC Africa
April 19, 2016

Nigeria’s aspiration for the vice presidency of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) received a major boost as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) was officially informed Monday.

Speaking to over 40 Ministers of the environment and heads of country delegations at the 6th special session of the conference in Cairo Monday, Alh. Ibrahim Usman Jibril, Nigeria’s Minister of state for Environment who represented the senior minister, expressed the country’s delight to present Mrs. Amina Mohammed for nomination as one of the two Vice Presidents from Africa on the bureau of the UNEA 2.

Alh. Jibril hinged his senior minister’s nomination on her eminent status as one of the architects of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and her focal commitment to the African cause in the global effort to achieve sustainable development as well as the environmental dimension of Agenda 2063.

The Minister of State further expressed Nigeria’s support for the AMCEN process aimed at presenting a unified African position at the forthcoming UNEA2, May 2016 year in Nairobi, Kenya.

Alh. Ibrahim Usman Jibril, Nigeria's Minister of state for Environment

Alh. Ibrahim Usman Jibril, Nigeria’s Minister of state for Environment

Nigeria, according to him, believes that the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) and the African Adaptation initiative (AAI) are veritable tools for sustainable development on the continent in the near future.

“Nigeria considers building capacity and retooling the youths of Africa through education and employment as a necessary and urgent requirement for sustainable development in Africa. The continent is well endowed with enormous human resources and is still growing. We should invest in this precious resource for Africa’s renaissance,” he said.

Welcoming the Paris Agreement and encouraging its implementation especially as it relates to African realities taking into account respective nationally determined contributions, Nigeria called for investments in Africa’s green growth as a catalyst to achieving the climate SDGs and the Agenda 2063

On their own part, the African civil society coalition under the aegis of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) believe that UNEA should be the rallying point for Africa’s environmental consciousness, and called for all stakeholders to continue supporting UNEP-RoA which hosts the AMCEN Secretariat.

UNEA was formed following a call by world leaders at the UN conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June 2012. The aim of the UNEA was to strengthen and upgrade UNEP as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and by establishing universal membership in its Governing Council – a 58-member governing body of UNEP in place since 1972.

April 18, 2016

Ethiopia: Civil Society Groups Root for Decentralised Renewable Energy Initiatives in Africa

Water Journalists Africa and PACJA
April 18, 2016

African Civil Society Organisations have called for the need to decentralize renewable energy and make it people centered.

The CSOs echoed their voices today at the sidelines of the sixth special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) holding in Cairo, Egypt.

In his remarks during the presentations on Post-Paris conversations on climate change, renewable energy, energy transformation and access in Africa, Mithika Mwenda who represents millions of African farmers, women and youth groups under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance urged African governments to work towards ensuring that energy is decentralized and not concentrated on urban areas only.

Participants at the CSO workshop on climate change and renewable energy

Participants at the CSO workshop on climate change and renewable energy

Mithika added that initiatives such as the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) need to consider how local communities can benefit from energy instead of focusing on big corporations whose profit-oriented actions favour the urban areas.

Reinforcing the same line of thinking, Augustine Njamnshi from Cameroon stated that “there is need to invest in decentralized production and use of renewable energy and to make it community-driven if we are serious about transforming people’s lives with energy.”

Civil society actors from across Africa also stressed the need to correct the erroneous impression that energy only means lighting up people’s homes. It is for this reason that the CSOs agreed that there is need for AREI and indeed other renewable energy initiatives on the continent to look at energy in a much broader context.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, representing Mbororo pastoralists in Chad and co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, said there is need to look at energy as veritable means to food security, job creation, poverty reduction among other several key social-economic developments that come with availability and accessibility to energy.

“The most urgent need for someone in rural area is food, lighting up the home only comes as a secondary need. We therefore need to take into account how energy can bring food to Africans and that is energy for agricultural production. Energy is more than just lighting up homes,” she said.

Dr Ahmed Hegazi, head of Water Engineering and Renewable Energy Unit at the Nuclear Research Center in Egypt added that energy is a catalyst for development without which there can never be development.

The CSOs’ meeting resolutions will be shared with the African Ministerial Conference of Environment (AMCEN) which opened today and is expected to end on 19th April 2016.

The nagging issue at both the CSOs’ meeting and AMCEN is the issue of renewable energy and how it can transform people’s lives in a continent that is reeling under perennial energy gap.

Statistics from the African Development Bank (AfDB) show that over 640 million Africans have no access to electricity. Africa is known for its darkness, not for its light. Also, over 700 million Africans have no access to clean cooking energy. The bank further reveals that Africa loses 600,000 people every year through indoor pollution as a result of relying on charcoal, kerosene and fuel wood.

Dr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister of Environment of Egypt and President of AMCEN believes that “It is of paramount importance that this AMCEN session addresses the way forward for swift implementation of the African Renewable Energy Initiative as well as the African Adaptation Initiative.

April 15, 2016

Ghana: Water Minister Calls for Strategic Repositioning of Water Issues

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
April 15, 2016

Ghana’s Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah notes that the quantity and quality of water can change lives and livelihoods of workers and even transform societies and economies.

The Minister calls for a strategic repositioning of water issues noting that the way they are addressed “will affect the successful achievement of the country’s Medium Term and the Planned Long Term National Development Agenda.”

He in particular stresses that world water day celebrations should “serve as enough inspiration for us to intensity our commitment and awareness drive at reversing the deterioration of our waters … developing a preventive based culture, involving our women, children and youth … in ways that they can contribute effectively to resolving the country’s issues.”

Mensah was recently speaking during the World Water Day celebrations that were crowned with a stakeholders dialogue at the palace premises of the James Town Mantse (Chief) at James Town in British Accra. The area boasts of some historic colonial structures including Ussher Fort, James Fort, the two light houses and the building of the Ghana Bible Society.

Nii Oblempong Ababio addressing the gathering. Seated on his left hand side is Ghana’s Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah

Nii Oblempong Ababio addressing the gathering. Seated on his left hand side is Ghana’s Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah

Speaking during the same occasion, the Managing Director of the Ghana Water Company Limited, Fredrick Lokko expressed regret at how the Company loses significant volume of water produced daily to illegal activities of some consumers.

“This,” he said “impacts negatively on the capacity of the company to sustain the supply of this vital resource without which there is no life.” Mr. Lokko mentioned some of the illegal activities as connection to distribution lines; and perforation of pipe-lines by gardeners, farmers and cattle herdsmen.

He urged Ghanaians to be “patriotic and do the right things to support the Ghana Water Company to serve you better.”

These sentiments were also expressed by the Ashiedu Keteke Sub Metro District Environmental Health Officer Rev. Chris Gawugbe. He said damage to pipelines expose treated water to communicable diseases, which affect the health and well-being of most of the people. The Vice Chairman of the Coalition of NGOs on Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), Bishop Nathaniel Adams said, “The issue of water in this country is about safety… we need to change strategies and bring in new methods to make our water safe…”

For his part, the Chief Executive of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Clement Bugase noted that “there is a cost and responsibility to safe water.” He said his Agency currently has a huge challenge to provide about 450 thousand small and rural communities with safe water, saying, “the need is huge and it requires urgent measures to conserve our water resources.”

The street procession of school children marking 2016 World Water Day in Ghana

The street procession of school children marking 2016 World Water Day in Ghana

The James Town Mantse Nii Oblempong Ababio who was chairman for the function said, “it has been a lesson learning event,” and called on Ghanaians to protect water bodies and stop dumping refuse in them. He urged the children who participated in the event to educate their parents about the messages on water.
The durbar was preceded by a street procession of school children carrying placards with inscriptions such as “water is life, save water save life,” and the health of our water is our responsibility.”

As part of the activities marking national World Water Day, a School’s Tree Planting Competition was launch at the Ayalolo Cluster of Schools in Accra. The Chairman of the Planning Committee for World Water Day, Mrs. Adwoa Dako explained the rationale for the competition saying, “it is a way of involving school children in the celebration and educating them on the importance of trees as a buffer against erosion and storms.”

A Tree Validation Auditor of the Greater Accra Regional Forest Services Division, Frank Ankomah, reminded the children of the importance of trees for sustaining lives. The Ayalolo Circuit Supervisor Mrs. Christiana Maclean was hopeful that the children will take good care of the seedlings and nurture them into matured trees, so that the premises will become shady and beautiful.

The participating schools are Asia Mills Primary and Junior High, Ayalolo 1 & 2 Primary, Akoto Lante Junior High, and Central Mosque Basic Primary and Junior High. They will be evaluated and awarded at the next celebration of World Water Day.

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

April 11, 2016

U.S Artists, Engineers and Activists Develop Atmospheric Water Generator

Fredrick Mugira
Appril 11, 2016

The openAWG project based in Oakland, California, USA has successfully completed a prototype atmospheric water generator (AWG), called BlueIce.

A team of Bay Area artists, engineers, scientists, and activists developed the BlueIce prototype as the first step towards developing a machine capable of generating drinking water from water vapor in ultra­low humidity conditions (<30% relative humidity).

The openAWG project is working to improve and open up low­humidity AWG technology to everyone, which currently has limited access and is prohibitively expensive.
For the openAWG team, atmospheric water generation is the first module of a larger concept.

openAWG project logo

openAWG Project Logo

openAWG is an open source project that focuses on atmospheric water generation (AWG). Water is essential to life and economy, yet 663 million people on this planet don’t readily have access to clean water.

“We want to help solve that problem by building an open source AWG system that is designed to pull water from the air in dry environments so it can provide drinking water for communities all over the world,” notes openAWG.

The vision is “civilization­in­a­box”, an open source collection of machines that not only pulls water from thin air, but has modules that can also distill and filter drinking water from urine and contaminated water, process human waste for algaculture fertilizer, provide industrial gases, generate power, and provide Internet connectivity.

The BlueIce prototype uses dehumidifiers and reverse osmosis to convert water vapor and generate 12 liters of pre­filtered water every 24 hours with an efficiency of 1.4 kilowatt hours per liter.

Initial testing at an EPA­certified laboratory confirmed the generated water is within safe thresholds for tested contaminants, but further testing is needed to fully comply with California and US federal regulations for potable water sources and bottled water plants. Aluminium, iron, mineral content, and bacteria are within safe drinking range.

The water was slightly alkaline at a pH of 9.10, which is outside of optimal guidelines but remains safe. The team is currently evaluating the re­mineralization filter due to higher than expected levels of turbidity.

The openAWG project is funded by contributions through Indiegogo and will next focus on testing prototypes in desert conditions to maximize performance in ultra­low humidity.

Progress and updates can be found at: https://openawg.github.io/
The designs and data for the openAWG models will continue to be open source as the project evolves and can be found at: https://github.com/openawg/openawg

April 11, 2016

Water in Newsroom: How Did Ghanaian Media Contribute To World Water Day Celebrations

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
April 11, 2016

Every year, the world marks Water Day on Mach 22. In this article, one of the founding members of WaterSan Perspective, Ama Kudom-Agyemang based in Accra, Ghana, asks and responses to the question of whether there is any reason to celebrate water in Ghana?

To some Ghanaian media persons who hosted radio and television discussions in relation to celebration of World Water Day, there is absolutely no reason to do so. Their contention is that some Ghanaians still lack access to safe water.

One of the television discussions was done against the background of a news story from a community in the Volta region, where the people are just fetching water from a filthy stream, because there is no other source of water. In some instances, the water source is just a murky pond that community members share with cattle. Besides, the periodic outbreaks of cholera and other diarrhoea diseases, which are all water related are blemishes in the country’s water status.

To these media personalities, as long as a cross section of Ghanaians still lack access to safe water, there is no cause for celebration.

Dry season rice cultivation through water supplied from the Tono Irrigation Scheme along the Wa – Navrongo road in Ghana. Water availability through major and small scale irrigation schemes is empowering small scale farmers to shift from total dependence on rain-fed farming. Thus, during the dry season productive farming can still take place especially in Ghana’s savannah zone. (By Ama Kudom-Agyemang)

Dry season rice cultivation through water supplied from the Tono Irrigation Scheme along the Wa – Navrongo road in Ghana. Water availability through major and small scale irrigation schemes is empowering small scale farmers to shift from total dependence on rain-fed farming. (By Ama Kudom-Agyemang)

But upon sober reflection, these bothersome water related issues also provide the basis for Ghanaians and the world at large to celebrate water. In 1992, the United Nations instituted March 22nd as World Water Day, to draw global attention to the importance of water as a vital resource to life. The celebration is also used to remind people everywhere that scarcity and misuse of fresh water, pose a serious and growing threat to sustainable livelihoods and development. Furthermore, the celebration is an opportunity to learn more about water related challenges and be inspired to take action to make a difference.

Consequently, since 1993, World Water Day has been celebrated annually to highlight an aspect of water that requires urgent attention. Themes such as water for life, water for the future, coping with water scarcity, clean water for a healthy world, water and food security, the world’s water is there enough, and women and water, have been the focus for past celebrations.

The international celebration for this year’s World Water Day focused on “Water and Jobs,” while the Ghana’national theme was, “Improved Safe Water Access for Sustainable Livelihoods.” Both themes highlighted the two-way relationship between water and the decent work agenda in the quest for sustainable development.

The celebration made water the subject of media reportage and debates throughout the country. The media engagement brought to the fore, the issue of how water scarcity and shortages in supply are undermining job sustainability, livelihood opportunities and socio-economic development in some parts of the country.

If you consider that Ghana is an agrarian nation with significant number of people engaged in agriculture, then, the issue of sustainable water availability becomes crucial. Water availability for agriculture becomes urgent especially in the face of dwindling farm lands, competing land uses, soil erosion and degradation, and climate change impacts. So, improved safe water access for sustainable livelihoods is not just about water for domestic use, but also water for agriculture, industry and the environment.

Therefore, we celebrate water because it is about the – 1.5 billion people – including farmers and all other workers whose jobs depend on the availability of freshwater.

Woman watering her onions farm along the Bolgatanga – Bawku road in Ghana(By Ama Kudom-Agyemang)

Woman watering her onions farm along the Bolgatanga – Bawku road in Ghana(By Ama Kudom-Agyemang)

In his statement to commemorate the Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon noted that, “all workers can be harmed by poor water and sanitation.” The statement said “of two million work-related deaths every year, nearly one-in-five are caused by poor quality drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.”

According to the statement, the Secretary General was concerned about the fact that people with the least access to water and sanitation often also lack access to health care and stable jobs, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty. The statement said the Secretary General was convinced that “the basic provision of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services at home, at school and in the workplace enables a robust economy by contributing to a healthy and productive population and workforce.”

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

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