Archive for June, 2016

June 30, 2016

Southern Africa: Record Drought Leaves over 41.4 Million People Food Insecure

WaterSan Perspective
June 30, 2016

An estimated 41 million people – 23 per cent – of the 181 million rural population in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are food insecure, and out of this figure, more than 21 million are in urgent need of assistance.

This is according to the latest Vulnerability Assessment Results released at the 10th SADC Meeting of Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) held in Pretoria, South Africa. The Report also reveals that nearly 2.7 million children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and this figure is expected to rise significantly if support to vulnerable population is not immediately provided.

“We are deeply concerned about the scale of food insecurity in the region. We are experiencing the worst drought in the last 35 years. I call upon Member States and our development partners to act now, to avoid a further deterioration of the situation. People continue to lose their means of survival and we can lose lives if we do not act now,” said SADC Director for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mrs. Margaret Nyirenda.

SADC Director for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mrs. Margaret Nyirenda

SADC Director for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mrs. Margaret Nyirenda

The SADC region has been hit by a devastating El Niño-induced drought, the worst in 35 years, following the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons. The severe drought conditions have already taken toll on lives and livelihoods and the situation could deteriorate further if urgent assistance is not provided.

Almost half a million drought-related livestock deaths have been reported in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa and Zimbabwe alone. Water sources and reservoirs are severely depleted, forcing communities and their livestock to use untreated water sources.

The severe drought conditions have resulted in widespread crop failure and a decrease in cultivated area. Cereal harvest assessments indicate a nearly 9.6 million metric ton shortfall in production, with only 72 per cent of required cereals available in the region (excluding DRC, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania). South Africa, usually the main producer of maize in the region, is facing an estimated 2.6 million metric tons of deficit. Food prices continue to spike. Zambia is the only country currently forecasting a cereal surplus (556,000 tons) during the 2016/17 marketing year.

There are concerns about the most vulnerable communities, and especially people living with HIV and AIDS, with the region being the global epicenter of the AIDS pandemic. Lack of food and other factors could aggravate the fragile nutrition situation of vulnerable groups including people on HIV or TB treatment. Similarly, the closure of health facilities due to lack of water is likely to affect ART access and may reverse the gains made in the prevention of mother to child transmissions.

The October 2016 to March 2017 lean season is projected to be the peak of the current food insecurity. While the crop harvests from April 2016 could provide some relief, this will quickly be exhausted. Meanwhile, there is an above 70 per cent chance of a La Niña phenomenon by late 2016. This may help reduce water deficits, as well as potentially improve recovery of the agricultural sector. The prediction of La Niña also implies a likely increased risk of floods.

June 21, 2016

Botswana: President Seretse Calls for an End to Energy and Water Crisis in Southern Africa

Water Journalists Africa
June 21, 2016

The President of Botswana Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is calling for an end to energy and water crisis in the southern Africa region.

Khama, who is the chairperson of the Southern Development Community (SADC), was delivering a keynote address at SADC Workshop on the energy and water crisis in the region held on 20th June 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana.

President of Botswana Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama

President of Botswana Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama

He told the delegates to the one-day special workshop to come up with an action plan to address the crisis.

The workshop was held under the theme: “Accelerating energy delivery and access to water resources in the SADC region – A collective approach”.

The high level workshop was the second in a series of three workshops called by the SADC Chairperson. The first workshop was on Food Security and Poverty Eradication, on 16th May 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana, and the third workshop focusing on Illegal Trade in Wild Life will be held in July 2016.

The meeting facilitated exchange of ideas and forged practical and sustainable solutions towards the Energy and Waters crisis in the region with a view to map out a strategic direction and agree on a way forward.

Speaking during the same occasion, the SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena L. Tax highlighted the vital role of the energy and water resources to the regional economic growth, and added that insufficient access has directly impacted on the quality of lives of people in the region.

Almost 160 delegates including Ministers and Senior Officials from the Ministries responsible for Energy and Water Sectors in the SADC Member States; representatives of national Energy and Water regulators and utilities; International Cooperating Partners, SADC Energy and Water Thematic Group members and implementing Partners; academic research and training institutions; development finance institutions, members of the diplomatic corps and independent power producers participated in the workshop.

The workshop is being followed by a meeting of ministers responsible for the energy and water sectors in the region today 21 June 2016.

June 13, 2016

Water Crisis – Spotlight on Ethiopia’s Boricha district

Zelalem Genemo in Hawassa Ethiopia
June 13, 2016

In Boricha district of Ethiopia, women and children walk up to five hours to collect water from shallow and unprotected ponds which they share with animals.

Sometimes water in these ponds is contaminated as rainwater washes wastes from surrounding areas into the sources.

Often, children are left at home while their mothers and older siblings collect water as their fathers work. This makes them miss school.

Bekele Hariso, the school director at Boricha primary and secondary school, says most students at his school miss 25-50 school days per year because of sickness; some suffering from water-borne diseases such as diarrhea.

He explains that because Boricha is located in an arid region, the district often experience “dry years,” stressing that some school children miss several months of school because their families are constantly searching for water.

With all this time away from school, some school children are forced to repeat classes.

Statistically only 45% of children in Ethiopia attend primary school. The others are put to work; collecting water each morning and helping their families earn a living.

The World Health Organisation specifies 50 liters of water per person per day as the recommended ‘intermediate’ quantity needed to maintain health, hygiene and for all domestic uses

The World Health Organisation specifies 50 liters of water per person per day as the recommended ‘intermediate’ quantity needed to maintain health, hygiene and for all domestic uses

Boricha district is situated in the Southern Nations nationalities and peoples’ region, a province that is full of beauty and culture. The region hosts about 55 nationalities excluding Ethiopians.

However it is being severely affected by water shortages. Fields are drying up and farmers are fighting over sources of water for irrigation. Also, children in villages are losing out on education and instead of going to school, they spend several days collecting water for domestic and agriculture use.

Like many other African countries, parts of this Horn of Africa nation also face poor sanitation and hygiene problems.

Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa where drought and politics are leading causes of water shortage.

A study conducted by Water.org found that only “42% of the population in Ethiopia has access to clean water supply” and only “11% of that number has access to adequate sanitation services.” In rural areas of the country, these figures drop even lower.

As a result of El Niño, droughts have affected several areas of the country, leading to ponds, wells, streams and lakes drying up or becoming extremely shallow.

Many people living outside of the cities collect water from these shallow water sources, which are often contaminated with human and animal wastes.

During months and sometimes years of drought, diseases become rampant through small villages and towns. Frequently there is not enough water for people to bathe, leading to infections. Water borne illnesses such as cholera or diarrhea, are the leading cause of death in children less than five years in the country.

June 12, 2016

Ghana: Kpale-Xorse Community is Open Defecation Free by Divine Principles

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
June 12, 2016

Long before the global community ever decided to pursue the open defecation free (ODF) agenda of ensuring responsible defecation using household toilets, a small Ghanaian community was already practicing the principles of ODF. For the people of Kpale-Xorse in the Ho West District of the Volta region, it has been a taboo to defecate and leave faeces in the open.

Poor waste management poses the greatest danger to human health and can have fatal consequences

Poor waste management poses the greatest danger to human health and can have fatal consequences

To ease themselves, each community member would instinctively dig a hole, defecate in it and afterwards, cover it up. The people of Kpale-Xorse have always consciously covered their shit not for health reasons, but for divine motivation. The guiding principle for this lifestyle was the biblical book of Deuteronomy 23:12 – 14.

“You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. You must have a spade among your other equipment and when you relieve yourself outside you must dig a hole with the spade and then turn and cover your excrement. For the Lord your God walks about in the middle of your camp to deliver you and defeat your enemies for you. Therefore your camp should be holy, so that He does not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.” (Cited from the New English Translation Bible).

While, some communities would normally construct communal latrines, the Kpale-Xorse Community established by the Christ Apostolic Faith in 1931, has never constructed a communal toilet. Rather, defecation was in accordance with the biblical provision for the Israelites when they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, following their escape from Pharaoh and Egypt, according to the biblical book of Exodus.

Open defecation (OD), known as “free range,” in Ghana, is said to be the riskiest of all sanitation practices, posing the greatest danger to human health and can have fatal consequences – particularly for the most vulnerable, especially young children. The risk lies in the fact that human contact with human excreta can transmit many infectious diseases including cholera and typhoid. It also affects the growth of children under five leading to stunting – a condition that distorts the physical growth and intellectual abilities in children.

In Ghana, open defecation is deemed the greatest sanitation challenge. Therefore, UNICEF with its sponsors, is supporting the Government of Ghana to address the problem in Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta and Central regions as well as the Ashiaman district of the Greater Accra region, where the practice is said to be prevalent.

Members of the Kpale-Xorse community say they cherish a close commune with their maker, “God Almighty,” and therefore “covet His blessings such as sound health and long life, which He has generously bestowed on us.”

The Head of the Community, Pastor Henry Johnson testified that “since we settled here, we hardly fall sick and the youngest person to have died among us three years ago, was 59.”

A sign post displaying the ODF status of the community

A sign post displaying the ODF status of the community

This is so unlike in other communities, where people are always falling sick and dying from preventable diseases that are common because open defecation is the norm.

The Kpale-Xorse community members quickly embraced the ODF concept through the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach, introduced to them by field officers from the Regional and District Environmental Health Offices In October 2012. The approach emphasizes households having their own toilet facilities.

Within three months, the community become ODF and is now aspiring to become a sanitised community where every household has its own toilet facility. But Kpale-Xorse is not the only ODF community in Ghana.

A recent regional press tour in four of the five UNICEF supported regions, revealed that more communities are gradually abandoning the norm of open defecation and embracing the ODF concept.

The regions toured are Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West. The ODF communities visited included Kusale, Tubong, Kariyata and Lijobilibu.

But some challenges are threatening the ODF status of some of these communities. For instance, Lijobilibu in the Mion District of the Northern region is completely transformed now, in terms of sanitation and hygiene. Community members now happily share their stories of transformation from filth to cleanliness, from sickness to health, and from bad oduor to a refreshing breeze.

However, these gains made are being threatened by the lack of access to safe water. There is no water facility in the community. Its only source of water is the River Dakar, which, community members say they share with their cattle. It is about four miles away and one has to trek through a rocky terrain and descend into the valley. This makes the return journey with water rather tedious, as the path is an ascent and can be very slippery at times.

Water has always played a central role in human societies

Water has always played a central role in human societies

The youth of the town are unhappy about this situation, because according to them the district authorities who promised to help “are doing nothing about our plight.” A representative, Catechist Joshua said they have decided to protest by mounting a “NO WATER FACILITY, NO VOTE,” sign post in their community.

“Unless we get water, all our efforts at maintaining our ODF status and even becoming a sanitised community will be in vain,” he added.

June 12, 2016

Nigeria: Military Rescues Kaduna Community with Borehole to Ease Water Problem

Mohammad Ibrahim
June 12, 2016

Moved by a publication on plight of residents of Kanti village a community in west of Rigasa, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis North- West part of the country, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade has constructed a borehole to the community.

This follows a story by Water Journalists Africa that reported on the plight of this community pitting emphasis on the lack of access to clean water.

Prior before the bore-hole was dug in the community, their only source of water was a pond covered with dried lives and dirt.

Women of Unguwa Kanti community dancing round the bore hole in appreciation

Women of Unguwa Kanti community dancing round the bore hole in appreciation

 

 

Commissioning the bore-hole at the village of about 20 kilometres away from Kaduna city town, the Army GOC said, he was touched by the news report about their suffering.

General Oyebade assured the villagers of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration and other state governments effort to ensure welfare of all Nigerians, but the Army having recognized that government cannot do it alone with always reach out to the needy populace.

“I read recently about your community that your major problem is lack of portable drinking water, so, I told myself that my heart will not be at peace until I give you water. So, I asked one of my officers to locate this place, so that I can give you borehole.

“I want to assure you that President Muhammadu Buhari led administration and the respective state governments are working tirelessly to ensure welfare of all Nigerians, but government cannot do everything for everybody, so we can always support the government.

“Also, the Army is not just about fighting war, we also assist the civil populace, because the Army under the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Buratai is very friendly with the civil populace.”

Responding on behalf of the community, the Village Head, Aliyu Bala expressed appreciation to the GOC for giving the community life as he also appealed for more social amenities in the area.

June 8, 2016

South Africa: Israel South Africa Water Week Shares Global Expertise and Technologies for Fighting Drought

Nantale Abbey
June 8, 2016

The first annual Israel South Africa Water Week is underway in South Africa with three main events, all free and open to key stakeholders and interested parties.

Prof. Eilon Adar, a world-leading hydrologist and one of the Middle East’s leading researchers in water sources, use and technology, is the keynote speaker at the events.

South Africa's worst drought in more than two decades is resulting into water restrictions in some South African cities. (Photo by Fredrick Mugira)

South Africa’s worst drought in more than two decades is resulting into water restrictions in some South African cities. (Photo by Fredrick Mugira)

Professor Adar is one of the brains behind’s Israel’s water solutions that have seen the country go from water scarcity to water abundance within 20 years. His speech will specifically address solutions for the South African context and he is excited to engage on these solutions with all interested stakeholders.

The three full-day event taking place June 6th in Johannesburg, June 8th in Cape Town and June 9th in Durban is also hosting a number of respected water and conservation experts alongside 15 innovative water technology companies presenting various technologies that all can be used within the South African environment to deal with water scarcity.

The experts are also in South Africa to interact with decision makers in both the public and private sectors and sharing some best practices and innovations that can be applied to the South African environment.

The three events include top experts and businesses such as IDE – winner of ‘Desalination Company of the Year’ GWI award, and a pioneer and world leader in water technologies, with particular strengths in desalination, Mapal Green Energy Ltd, a provider of innovative and proven technologies for waste water treatment plants, ToxSorb Ltd. a water technology company specialising in the development of filter media engineered to treat both organic and inorganic pollutants in water, Netafim, the global leader in drip and micro irrigation solutions for a sustainable future, and water measurement technology specialists Arad, amongst many others.

Water experts are rooting for technological solutions to the world water crisis. (Photo by Fredrick Mugira)

Water experts are rooting for technological solutions to the world water crisis. (Photo by Fredrick Mugira)

Other speakers include Itai Melchior who has 20 years of experience in the private sector, filling different business development and management positions mainly in the high-tech sector, Sharon Bar-li, a career diplomat with 20 years of experience in economic and development and Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk.

Israel today, through a combination of government-industry partnerships, ambitious national planning, innovation and a simple lack of an alternative, is no longer dependent on neighbors, rains or weather trends. Israel is recognized as a world leader in drought prevention and management as well as in water technology and often shares these innovations globally. Recently, Israel was the key partner-country at India’s Water Week and Tel Aviv University is establishing the XIN Research Center with Beijing’s Tsinghua University to research early stage and mature technologies in biotech, solar energy, water, and environmental technologies.

June 8, 2016

Nigeria: UNICEF Prepares Nigerians on How to Handle Flood Disaster

Mohammad Ibrahim
June 08, 2016

Following the commencement of rainy season in parts of Nigeria, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has sensitized stakeholders on the need to start early preparation against flood in the country.

In 2015 hundreds of houses and lives were destroyed by floods that affected more than 10 states across the country. Thousands of people in both rural and urban communities were displaced by the floods.

Participants at the UNICEF flood workshop

Participants at the UNICEF flood workshop

Some of the 2015 floods victims recently received government assistance from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)

A 3-day Emergency and Preparedness Response workshop on Flood was organized by UNICEF for emergency stakeholders in 13 states in the Northern part of the country plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and media practitioners.

UNICEF, Emergency Specialist, Olusoji Adeniyi stressed the need for people to ‎start emergency preparedness in their homes, saying rains are here and the floods are going to come whether people like it or not.

He explained that emergency preparedness and response is everybody’s business, “if we prepare, we are likely to have better chance of responding appropriately.

“So, if you know you are living in a place that was flooded before, this is the time you should know that it’s likely to flood again and you should have plan B of when you need to relocate to higher ground or to clear your drains. Make sure that sufficient provisions are made for the water to flow away rather than flow into your apartment, if your environment is clean and the drains are well taken care of you are likely not to suffer flood,” he said.

‎in his remarks, Media and External Relations Officer, UNICEF Kaduna, Rabiu Musa who delivered a paper on “Media Engagement in Emergencies” noted that emergencies are facts which is part of people’s daily lives and as such must be prepared for, addressed and responded appropriately and timely too.

He seeks for the cooperation of the media which he said has a greater role to play in sensitizing the public on emergency response.

Rabiu called on media to continue to deliver on positive reportage in constantly educating and informing the people on issues of emergencies and to also respect people’s privacy especially when it concern children and women.

June 8, 2016

Uganda: A Regional Training on International Water Law Gets Underway

Water Journalists Africa
June 7, 2016

A Regional Training on International Water Law for Improved Trans-boundary Water Management in Africa is underway in Uganda.

The week-long training at Hotel Africana in Kampala is organized Global Water Partnership (GWP) together with the International Authority on Development (IGAD), the Africa Network on Basin Organizations (ANBO), Makerere University and Dundee University. It has attracted over 50 water practitioners and professionals.

Water is the most important resource to sustain life. (Photo by Fredrick Mugira)

Water is the most important resource to sustain life. (Photo by Fredrick Mugira)

These include practitioners and professionals from River Basin Organizations and governments (Foreign affairs ministries, ministries in charge of water affairs, legislators and water management agencies among others) who have a role in negotiating, drafting or reforming treaties and legislations (regulation, control), planning and decision-making on trans-boundary waters in Africa.

It lasts up to 12 June 2016.

Officials at the Global Water Partnership (GWP) say the training seeks to raise awareness and promote the value of international legal frameworks in fostering national, regional and international cooperation and facilitate good water governance through the strengthening of technical and institutional capacities of agencies and individuals that have the potential to influence and advise decision-makers on negotiation, adoption and implementation of legal frameworks for water management.

It is expected that at the end of the training participants will have an increased awareness of the importance of incorporating Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), ecosystem-based approaches, climate change and variability and gender perspectives into water-related treaty arrangements as a strategic approach to enhance water governance at the international level in order to ensure water security and peace in Africa.

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