Archive for July, 2016

July 27, 2016

Nigeria: WaterAid Nigeria Calls for an End to Malnutrition through Provision of Water and Sanitation Ahead of Rio Olympics

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 27, 2016

The race to end malnutrition requires clean water, good sanitation and good hygiene, WaterAid said today, calling for action as world leaders meet in Rio to open the Olympic Games.

WaterAid’s new report, ‘Caught Short’, looks at stunting from malnutrition around the world and the links to low rates of access to clean water and good sanitation.

For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity

For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity

Currently 159 million children in the world are stunted as a result of malnutrition, their cognitive and physical growth damaged irreversibly by their inability to obtain and absorb the nutrients they need.

Some 50% of malnutrition is linked to infections, worm infestations and diarrhoeal illnesses caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and a lack of hygiene including handwashing with soap.

Nigeria ranks second in the world for having the greatest number of children under five suffering from stunted growth – 10.3 million, or 33% of children under five. About 31% of the population in Nigeria do not have access to clean water and 71% do not have access to decent sanitation.

The WaterAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Dr. Michael Ojo says, “The evidence is clear: children’s health and future potential are compromised when they have no choice but to grow up without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene practices. Even if children survive their dangerous early years, repeated bouts of diarrhoea early in life are likely to leave them stunted, leaving Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, deprived of a new generation of great leaders, thinkers and athletes. World leaders have promised to end malnutrition and deliver water and sanitation to everyone, everywhere by 2030. They must keep their promises – one cannot be met without the other.”

World leaders and prominent current and former Olympians will meet at the Second High Level Summit on Nutrition on 4 August ahead of the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to bring attention to the importance of good nutrition.

The Nutrition for Growth Summit is the biggest global event between now and 2020 to address the devastating burden of undernutrition and it is set to evaluate progress that has been made in addressing undernutrition since 2013 and build on those commitments with the necessary financial support in order to ensure the ambition of the SDGs to end malnutrition in all its forms can be realised.

WaterAid supporter, Zambian athlete and Olympic medallist Samuel Matete says, “In my work promoting sport among children, the difference between children who have clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene at home, and those who don’t, is very clear. What is most upsetting is that typhoid, cholera and malnutrition are preventable, and we have the tools to do this. Water is life, and sanitation is dignity, and we must deliver these to everyone, even the world’s poorest, as part of the race to end malnutrition.”

July 25, 2016

Africa Water Week: Experts Plot Africa’s Path to Overcoming WASH Challenges

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 25, 2016

The water and sanitation challenges that confront Africa are not new. What is new however is the growing determination by development actors to stand to the different challenges heads on.

The 6th Africa Water Week in Dar es Salam July 18-22, 2016 provided the right opportunity for researchers, civil society actors, government officials to show how determined the different actors are to find lasting solutions to the age old water and sanitation problems in the continent. It also provided the opportunity to share experiences on different pathways to sound hygiene in water management and success stories that could be replicated in other countries.

According to Pierce Cross, senior advisor USAID, the problems of access to water and sanitation in Africa are stark and cuts across the different countries. He thus called for a comprehensive plan of action to accompany demonstrated political will by different African governments and other actors to improve on the situation.

“Demonstrated political will must be accompanied by concrete action plans to move the water and sanitation commitment forward,” said Piers Cross at a side-event discussion under the theme “The AfricaSan Commitment on Sanitation and Hygiene and the SGDs.

The discussions accordingly aimed at deepening the ownership and monitoring of the commitments by different governments to improve on water, sanitation and hygiene. Experts called for heightened behavior change and the establishment of a community driven culture to ensure better treatment of water for consumption to reduce the risk of contamination and disease.

Exhibitions at the 6th Africa Water Week in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. (Photo Credit: AMCOW/atayibabs)

Exhibitions at the 6th Africa Water Week in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. (Photo Credit: AMCOW/atayibabs)

“ We have frequently advised for better treatment of water before consumption by local communities. The carrying out of frequent water tests to ensure its safety from all types of contaminants is imperative,” says Sophie Hicklings, development consultant in Kenya.

She cautions that even pipe water from public systems can pick up impurities during distribution, thus the need for effective monitoring and control. Experts recommended defluoridation process that will help reduce the possibilities of contracting waterborne diseases. Waterborne diseases experts cautioned are fast killers. According to WHO diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever are common in many countries in Africa, rooted in poor water treatment systems.

Other nasty and almost equally dangerous diseases from water include as salmonella, diarrhoea, Hepatitis A etc.

These diseases, in most cases experts say, erupt in heavily congested, unsanitary squatter areas in urban centres or in rural villages where water is drawn from unconventional places like ponds, rivers etc. The ailments accordingly are caused by pathogenic microorganisms that most commonly are transmitted in contaminated fresh water. Infections commonly results during bathing, washing, drinking or consumption of unclean, infected food.

Reason to Hope

But all is not gloomy as there are considerable efforts on the ground by development organizations working in partnership with governments and local communities to improve on water sanitation.

In a press briefing on the sidelines of the 6th Africa Water Week, July 21, Lydia Zigomo, head of WaterAid, East Africa region pointed out that efforts by WaterAid to improve on education and awareness in local communities were bringing positive results in water hygiene.

“The collective progress of any community depends greatly on the education of its people and WaterAid is leaving no stone unturned in this direction,” Lydia Zigomo said. She said emphasis is laid on education and sensitization because “the more the population receive quality education, the more benefits the communities reap especially in sanitation and good health.” She expressed optimism with better healthcare delivery that is increasingly gathering momentum in many African countries on a global scale in line with the new sustainable development agenda.

The 6th Africa Water Week, organized by African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and other development partners, seeks to lay pathways for Africa’s drive towards achieving the SDG 6, with emphases on water and sanitation

July 25, 2016

Africa Water Week: Integrated Water Resources Management Facilitates Development in Nile Basin Riparian Countries

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 25, 2016

Nzoia River within the Nile Basin

Nzoia River within the Nile Basin

A conceptual structure agreed upon by Nile Basin riparian countries for organising policies, strategies and guidelines for sustainable management and development of the Nile River Basin some five years ago has enabled speedy development within the basin region.

Talking to members of the Pan African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC) at the sixth session of the Africa Water Week (AWW6) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, John Rao Nyoro, the Executive Director for the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) said that the Nile Basin Sustainability Framework (NBSF) is now benefiting all the 10 riparian states.

This comes after government officials from other countries attending the AWW6 confessed that developing projects over trans-boundary shared resources was proving to be difficult, given the political landscape, frequent change of governments due to periodic elections in the neigbouring countries, and different prevailing policies.

“While it is not a legal framework, the NBSF which is a suite of policies, strategies, and guidance documents – functions as a guide to national policy and planning process development and seeks to build consensus among countries that share the resource,” Nyaoro told the journalists.

The skeptical leaders at the AWW6 singled out the longstanding dispute between Tanzania and Malawi about Lake Nyasa, in which an agreement for a project on the shared water resource has lasted over 40 years without a deal, and the grand mega power generating project in the Democratic Republic of Congo known as INGA, which has stalled for over 40 years.

“What we did at the Nile Basin was to bring together all the stakeholders, and then we asked them to develop a framework that was going to govern activities along the basin, with reference to existing policies at country levels” said Nyaoro.

As a result, the Nile Council of Ministers approved the NBSF in 2011, which has laid down NBI’s approach to developing guiding principles for water resource management and development across the Nile Basin countries.

“Today, a country like Uganda, which previously imported rice from Kenya may soon start exporting the product to Kenya after it developed its wetlands, and is now farming rice more than before,” said Nyaoro.

He said that the most important thing was to have all the riparian countries benefit from the basin.

“Without the NBSF, there would be no consistent guidance for the sustainable development of new investments and no coherent guidance for the achievement of cooperation in sustainable water management and development,” he said

July 25, 2016

African Water Ministers Adopt Dar es Salaam Roadmap for Achieving Water Security and Sanitation

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 25, 2016

Activities at the expansive Julius Nyerere international conference centre in Dar es Salaam hit a crescendo over the weekend as over 30 African water ministers and high-level delegations from 53 African nations adopted a roadmap aimed at achieving sustainable and universal access to safe water and sanitation all over Africa.

The adoption of the roadmap titled “the Dar es Salaam Roadmap for achieving the N’gor Commitments on Water Security and Sanitation in Africa” drew the final curtains on the 10th AMCOW General Assembly and the 6th Africa Water Week which began on Monday the 18th of July 2016 in Tanzania.

With a strategic objective of making considerable progress on water security and sanitation in line with the Agenda 2030 by improving efficiency, transparency and integrity within sector institutions to achieve sustainable services and create a conducive investment climate as well as integrating the agenda for water, sanitation and climate to improve health and nutrition outcomes, the Dar es Salaam roadmap aspires to ensure coherence in policy implementation, increase gender, equity and social inclusion, and transboundary cooperation in Africa.

Officials at the 10th AMCOW General Assembly in Dar es Salaam

Officials at the 10th AMCOW General Assembly in Dar es Salaam

African water ministers believe that by increasing transparency and accountability in the sector, governments across Africa would be able to account for financial contributions, focus on complementing existing initiatives with a view to avoiding overlap and redundancy and ensure a participatory environment for civil society and citizens in policy formulation, sector planning and monitoring.

The roadmap also recognizes the role of innovative financing and budgetary prioritisation for the water sector, sanitation and monitoring. Other aspects of the ministers’ plan of action for the continent’s water resources include provision of drinking water, improved sanitation, hygiene, effective and efficient management of wastewater, transboundary water resources, and strengthening Africa’s capacity to respond climate change.

The 10th General Assembly of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) which was held on the sidelines of the biennal 6th Africa Water Week also witnessed a change of guards as the Water and Irrigation Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E Gerson Lwenge took over the reins of AMCOW presidency from his Senegalese counterpart, H.E Amadou Mansour Faye who held the fort from 2014 – 2016 while Dr. Canisius Kanangire was officially unveiled as the new AMCOW Executive Secretary. Dr Kanangire, who hails from Rwanda, is the immediate Executive Secretary of Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) has over two decades of high level experience in water resources management and he succeeds Mr Bai Mass Taal who leaves AMCOW after 8 years of admirable leadership.

In his acceptance speech, the new AMCOW President expressed delight at AMCOW’s rotational mechanism which led to his emergence and he urged his colleagues to roll up their sleeves for the onerous but achievable task of ensuring the realisation of the SDG-6 in Africa.

“We must build and sustain cooperation among riparian countries in managing transboundary water resources as it is a fact that the more we invest in managing water resources, the more we strengthen AMCOW and the more we advance collectively towards achieving SDG-6,” Engr Lwenge said.

To serve alongside the new AMCOW President are Water resources ministers from Central African Republic, South Sudan, Egypt, Swaziland and Liberia who were elected AMCOW Vice Presidents representing central, east, and north, southern and West African sub regions.

Addressing the General Assembly, Vice President Samia Suluhu of Tanzania urged the august assembly of water ministers from across the continent to “tackle present and future challenges by diversifying our sources of water and be innovative in financing mechanisms taking into account the huge funding requirements for the sector, and the urgency of mobilizing funds to put the right infrastructure and skilled manpower to develop and manage the sector more efficiently.”

Also speaking at Africa’s flagship water event, the commissioner for rural economy and agriculture of the African Union Commission, H.E Rhoda Peace Tumusiime implored Member States to step up efforts to realize the African Agenda 2063 on the ‘Africa we want’ because water is key to reducing poverty in Africa.

“There is need for us to put in place sound policies, legal and regulatory frameworks to support investments from various sources in water, sanitation and hygiene and also promote gender equality and women empowerment,” she added.

Organised by AMCOW in collaboration with the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission alongside regional and international partners, the 6th Africa Water Week represents a political commitment at the highest level for creating platform to discuss and collectively seek solutions to Africa’s water and sanitation challenges.

July 24, 2016

Nigeria: UNICEF Constructs 280 Hand Pumps in Kaduna Local Communities

Mohammad Ibrahim
July 24, 2016

Boreholes offer the cheapest technology option for safe water supply in most rural areas of Africa

Boreholes offer the cheapest technology option for safe water supply in most rural areas of Africa

(WASH) Specialist in Kaduna State Mrs Theresa Pamma has said 280 hand pump boreholes were constructed and 16 others were rehabilitated under Phase I of Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN I) project in the three Local Government Areas of Kaduna State in Nigeria.

The communities are in Chikun, Kachia and Kubau Local Government Areas of the state.

Pamma stated this at a side line of a two-day mid-year review meeting held in the state.

“As a result, household water safety has improved in the 320 communities, with 220,000 beneficiaries having access to improved water sources.

“The objective of the project is to ensure that children and women have protected access to sufficient safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities,” she said.

The WASH specialist said that the three councils had also implemented local government wide Open Defecation Free (ODF) plans, targeting 2,512 communities.

According to her, 748 communities are targeted for attainment of ODF status, out of which 320 communities were certified ODF within the last six months.

She said that 64 primary schools in the three SHAWN council areas were currently promoting group hand washing using taps innovation.

She said 7,200 pupils in 24 primary schools in the area had access to and utilize child-friendly gender-sensitive WASH facilities.

The specialist said that 71 local government officials and teachers had been trained and had acquired capacity for promotion of hygiene practices and management of school WASH facilities in SHAWN benefiting councils.

“Based on the achievement recorded in the three council areas, eight new councils have been selected to commence the second phase of SHAWN project in the state,’’ she said.

She identified delay in the release of counterpart and operational funds, change in government, dismissal and redeployment of key decision makers and staff verification as major challenges affecting the project.

She said that 84 communities in Chikun, Kachia and Kubau council areas were under security threats, thereby temporarily limiting implementation of intervention programme in the affected areas.

She urged the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) to liase with the Ministry of Finance to ensure timely release of funds.

Pamma also urged Kaduna state government to conduct training for selected technical officials as supervisors in charge of construction of WASH facilities to improve quality of services.

July 24, 2016

Kenya: Shrinking Rivers Endanger Tionosoyiet Wetland in Kericho

Benedict Tirop
July 24, 2016

Mzee Richard Kemei has been drinking clean water drawn from the nearby river of “Kipkororiet” since he was a young man over 50 years ago.

The now elderly Kemei says his late mother Mrs. Priscila Sigilai and other women drawn from the nearby village of Keongo in Kapkugerwet ward in Ainamoi have been using the water from Kipkororiet River for the various household needs including drinking, washing utensils and bathing.

Water is an important resource and is used in many different ways.

Water is an important resource and is used in many different ways. Photo by Benedict Tirop

 

Coming from the Kipsigis community, who are largely associated with livestock keeping, the locals also utilized the clean water to quench the thirst of their animals.

“The river has served us very well in all our domestic needs for as long as we can remember,” he says.

They have also been conducting various sacred traditional ceremonies in this river.

However, Kipkororiet River, which is one of the major inflow streams for the Tionosoyiet wetland about one kilometer downstream, might very soon turn out to be a danger to the locals. This is due to the rapid pollution of the water through discharge of raw sewer by the mushrooming residential areas around the river system.

“Again, these days when we drink the water drawn from the river, it tastes and smells of the soap used for washing clothes. This makes it impossible to drink,” he adds.

He attributes the foul taste to the number of people who bathe and wash, which has quadrupled in the last 10 years.

Locals, including the family of Mzee Kemei are now forced to draw water from other smaller streams which feed Kipkororiet River to avoid exposure to diseases which are associated with pollution by the raw sewerage waste.

The area Village elder Peter Marindany says the water has been some of the cleanest in the country but now the threat of pollution was a risk to the health of the locals.

The Kipkororiet River has also shrunk greatly in the last 50 years, an incident which the locals attribute to clearing of forests, planting of Eucalyptus trees and encroachment of the town which is expanding rapidly.

As a community leader Mr. Marinday urges the locals to apply for piped water from the Kericho Water and Sanitation Company (KEWASCO) which he says was safe and reliable.

The shrinking of Kipkororiet river is not an isolated issue, since a neighboring river of Ainapbelek has also shrunk over five times its size in the last 20 years. The low volume flowing to the wetland, which acts as a reservoir is a threat to the ecosystem of the region.

Water is an essential nutrient for all livestock. It is important for both animal welfare and business profitability

Water is an essential nutrient for all livestock. It is important for both animal welfare and business profitability

Mzee Kemei and many others of his generation might know the meaning of good river water but are not well conversant with wetland conservation.

A survey done by the Ministry of Environment say Kericho town represented one of the most significant diffuse sources of pollution to the wetland, with sewage entering the wetland in the lower parts of the wetland, downstream.

It identified key areas within the town from which pollutants are likely to be derived as the market place, located about 500m from the southernmost point of the wetland, and spans about 5 hectares.

“Some of the activities at the market include open air sale of fresh food, grains, used and new clothes and household utensils. In addition, there is a terminal for public transport vehicles in the middle of the market area. The market area and matatu terminal are therefore likely to be significant sources of nutrients, sediments and gross pollutants,” it says.

The informal cottage industrial site (Jua Kali) contains artisans who fabricate a wide range of items including cooking pots, farm implements, vehicle spare parts, furniture and collection of recyclable materials among other products. Again this site is likely to contribute significant amounts of sediments, and gross pollutants into the wetland.

Other pollutants to Tionosoyiet include effluent from the KEWASCO Sewage Treatment Plant which is discharged into the wetland.

The densely populated Nyagacho informal residential area hosts a wide range of economic activities such as shops, garages, food outlets and butcheries. The area is not sewered, and has no organized solid waste collection systems. Much of the area drains into the wetland.

To save the situation, over 4,000 wetland friendly tree seedlings have been planted in the wetland by the government and other stakeholders and once they grew, the wetland will be turned into a nature trail/arboretum for recreation purposes.

Alternative livelihood activities such as fish farming and bee keeping within the wetland has also been introduced.

July 22, 2016

Africa Water Week: Lake Chad Countries Urged To Double Efforts to Save Water Body, Curb Migration

Water Journalists Africa
July 22, 2016

Countries from the Lake Chad region have been enjoined to double efforts to save the dwindling water body that is aggravating environmental degradation and migration in the region and consequently impacting on the social and economic wellbeing of the population.

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Representatives of member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, attending the 6th Africa Water Week in Dar es Salam on July 19, 2016, agreed on the need to multiply strategies towards saving the lake.

“ Countries from the lake Chad need to coordinate their multiple efforts, bringing in new stimulating perspectives to save this important lake on which the livelihood of millions of people hinges,” said Mana Boubakari, technical director of the Lake Chad Basin Commission at a side event on ground water management in the lake Chad basin.

He said restoring the water body will help reduce poverty, transform the lives of people in the region especially women and youths and drastically reduce the incentive to migrate to other regions.

Migration from the region according to reports have continued to surge as life becomes unbearable to the mostly agricultural and fishing population there in. The effect on the degrading land triggered by the shrinking lake, on migration is just stark experts say.

“We cannot ignore the huge unemployment of especially the youths in countries of the region who are left with no choice than seek for opportunities elsewhere,” said Professor Ibrahim Goni of the University of Maiduguri.

Statistics from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), estimates that over 60 million people are likely to migrate from the region by 2020 as the water from the lake continue to shrink.

The situation has been compounded by disturbing insecurity imposed by Boko Haram whose push for a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left hundreds of thousand people dead since 2009.

The surge in the marauding criminal activities of Boko Haram has led to increase poverty, loss of resource opportunities and breeding conflict and political instability. “Environmental breakdown and security threats in the Lake Chad Basin region especially in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria is increasing and so we need additional efforts if we have to fight poverty, preserve peace and promote sustainable development,’’ noted Dr Fantung Wilson Yetoh ,of the Institute of Mining and Geological Research in Cameroon at the side event discussion in Dar es Salam.

Members of the Lake Chad Basin Commission however say they were leaving no stone unturned with collective efforts to intensify security especially in the fight against the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram.

“A joint security effort is working to intensify security in the region,” Fantung Wilson said.

Development experts however agree that the campaign against degraded land like the case in the Lake Chad Basin region is the responsibility of all. They warn that the poverty situation may get to unbearable levels if nations continue to procrastinate than act forthrightly.

“The prospects of a land degradation neutral world will grow dimmer if we procrastinate. But it will shine brighter each time a country joins the campaign to restore degraded land and water bodies.” said Monique Barbur, UNCCD Executive secretary, in an address during the World Environment Day on Desertification on June 17, 2016.

She advised that land degradation neutrality should be a top policy goal for every nation that values freedom and choice.

The 6th Africa Water Week, organized by African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and other development partners, seeks accordingly, to lay pathways for Africa’s drive towards achieving the SDG 6, as well as other inter-linking SDGs rooted in water resources management.

July 22, 2016

Africa Water Week: Panel Urges Increased Transparency in Water Resource Management in Africa

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 22, 2016

CORRUPTION has been identified as one of the biggest problems that has affected the water sector not to function as expected on the African continent.

The vice which according to Transparency International (TI) is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain is unfortunately very widespread taking many forms – the small scale corruption in bribing to get connection for which one is not entitled to or quicker.

African leaders at the opening plenary of the AMCOW General Assembly

African leaders at the opening plenary of the AMCOW General Assembly

Executive Director of Water Integrity Network (WIN), Frank van der Valk during the second day technical session on “what policy shifts are needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals” on the sideline of the Africa Water Week conference in Dar es Salaam said the sum of the small scale corruption together amount to pretty large amount of money.

Valk says people taking wrong decisions which are geared to specific interest for themselves or groups they represent rather than trying to solve the challenges that SDGs require is common in many African countries.

“Diversion of funds for purposes that they are not intended to, the appointment of people that are not qualified for the job because they are friends and appointing wrong people have continued to hinder the water sector,” Valk says. He suggested it is timely to now have a broad initiative led by institutions such as African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) who are the major players on the continent to work on increasing integrity in African countries.

According to him African countries need capacity building at different stages both at government level and civil society organisations to help increase accountability in the sector.

Valk stressed the need for more involvement of civil society within major water programmes to ensure that those who execute the programmes are held accountable to the beneficiaries of the programme.

“We think that both governments and funders need to much more at the start of the project, include the right mechanisms to ensure the involvement of civil society and also to ensure proper financial management,” he says adding that financial management is lacking on the continent. Noting down some of the good examples of proper financial management on the continent, Valk says when proper mechanisms are in place before a project starts, positive results are usually visible.

In Burkina Faso, the building of the Ziga dam was documented where complete restructuring of the implementing organisation ONEA was carried out to ensure proper project delivery.
Kenya Water Trust is another good example of proper management because of proper mechanism in place to ensure project delivery.

He bemoaned the fact that too many people still do not enjoy their human rights to water and sanitation access and that the challenge is how to achieve it due to rampant corruption.

Water Integrity Network works with partners on the continent promoting water integrity and making sure governments take it serious as a subject.

Water integrity also develops tools to be used by governments and civil society organizations to strengthen the integrity in the organization and decision making.

Senegalese director of Environment and Sustainable Development Amadou Lamine Ndiaye said a new strategy for improving the management of water resources on the Senegal River basin has been launched. “Sharing good practices of different river basins helps to have shared interests and understanding of communities that are involved in the river basins.”

July 22, 2016

Africa Water Week: Africa Can Convert Waste Water into Useful Resource – Experts

PAMACC Africa
July 22, 2016

Scientists at the ongoing Africa Water Week have pointed out different innovative techniques which have succeeded elsewhere in the world, in which waste water can be converted into a useful resource for African countries.

“We have documented up to 150 different case studies in which waste water has been turned into a meaningful resource,” said Dr Kala Vairavamoorthy, the Practice Leader for Applied Research and Knowledge at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). “All we need is to change our perspectives, and create opportunity to do things differently,” he told participants at the AWW.

Dr Vairavamoorthy explained that flowing waste water can easily be used to rotate micro-turbines to generate hydro-electric power, and in the same energy sector, the water can be used in bio-digesters to produce biogas, which can be sold for income generation.

“Crop nutrients can also be extracted from waste water to be used for different purposes, and it can still be recycled for other purposes,” he said.

However, for this to happen, said Sarantuya Zandaryaa of UNESCO said that African countries need to put in place relevant policies to provide an enabling environment for reuse of the waste water. She gave examples of regulations in different countries, which have provided an enabling environment for companies to convert waste water into a resource. She gave an example of regulations governing the California use of waste water as a successful case study where policies have provided enabling environment for waste water use.

A farmer using sewage water on his farm in Nairobi,  Kenya

A farmer using sewage water on his farm in Nairobi, Kenya

So far, the California Water Recycling Criteria (encoded in Title 22 of the California Code of Administration) allow 43 specified uses of recycled water – including irrigation of all types of food crops. These criteria include different water quality requirements for irrigation of each type of crop; those eaten raw, those receiving processing before consumption, and those not involving any human contact before industrial processing.

However, the regulations are among the most stringent in the world and have been used as a model for many other countries’ guidelines and water reuse regulations. It is in the same regard that Zandaryaa pointed out that for such policies to work for Africa, there must be very reliable monitoring, reliable enforcement of the regulations and appropriate technology.

These regulations, said Zandaryaam, must be developed with close involvement of local communities, and there is need for capacity building at all levels, from the government moving down to the people. She said that the countries can start by improving the existing legal frameworks, but should develop guidelines for waste water reuse. In a different forum elsewhere, Dr Paramjit Singh Minhas, an Indian research scientist gave a different perspective on how waste water can be used meaningfully.

In a study titled ‘Potential of tree plantations for wastewater disposal: Long term use in Eucalyptus,’ the researchers argue that trees with high transpiration rate (‘thirsty’ trees) such as eucalyptus can be easily used to clean the environment of wastewater. The trees grown in wastewater will also produce fuel-wood and timber for income generation, and as well sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

The Eucalyptus trees have long been blamed for their ‘thirst’ for ground water, owing to their long tap roots, and there is scientific evidence that the species could dry up water bodies. According to Dr Vairavamoorthy, waste water has always been a burden particularly in Africa. But with new evidence based studies, it can now be put to use, thus supplementing the clean water, which is scarce in many African countries.

July 20, 2016

Africa Water Week: Water Security and Sanitation Must Be For All by 2030 – CSOs Insist

Our Reporter
July 20, 2016

Civil society organisations under the banner of Africa civil society Network on Water and sanitation (ANEW) have called for an ambitious roadmap to achieving sustainable development goals on water and sanitation as necessary for national development plans of African countries.

Presenting a statement to African Governments through the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), ANEW’s Doreen Wandera highlighted the urgent need to prioritise water sanitation and hygiene if nations are to achieve Africa vision 2063 of optimising resources for all Africans, leaving no one behind.

“We call upon governments to ensure that the commitments of the Ngor declaration are aligned to the national level goal 6 implementation plans, ”said Wandera.

She further challenged governments to ensure a stronger role of civil society at various levels for coordination, communication and improved accountability.

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

Representing WaterAid CEO Barbara Frost, Head of Region Lydia Zigomo challenged governments and stakeholders to utilise the 6th Africa Water Week to agree on a roadmap that will ensure transformational change. “It cannot be business as usual; we need to increase the pace at all levels in order to reach everyone everywhere in Africa by 2030,” remarked Zigomo.

The 6th Africa Water Week (AWW-6), organized by African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), aspires to lay the building blocks for Africa to achieve the SDG 6 as well as other inter-linking SDGs connected with water resources management. The week represents a political commitment at the highest level for creating platform to discuss and collectively seek solutions to Africa’s water and sanitation challenges.

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