Posts tagged ‘climate’

February 24, 2013

Africa: Hundreds of Thousands of People to Walk For Water and Sanitation

WaterSan Perspective
February 23, 2013

Hundreds of thousands of Africans will join with people across the world to take action to call for an end to the water and sanitation crisis on the 20th anniversary of World Water Day on Friday 22nd of March.

To mark this moment, the World Walks for Water and Sanitation campaign have released a new film to inspire the public everywhere to join the world’s largest global mass mobilisation movement for change. The video can be viewed at

wwfwas logo 2013

wwfwas logo 2013

In Sub-Saharan Africa today, 330 million Africans (39% of the population) are without access to clean water. While a staggering 600 million go without safe sanitation – 70% of the population. Every year 400,000 African children under the age of five die from diarrhoeal diseases brought about from a lack of these services.

With a month to go, over 170,000 people are already planning to take part in walks in 25 countries including in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Madagascar.

They will be walking in solidarity with the millions of Africans – overwhelmingly women and children – who walk great distances each day to collect water for their basic needs and who have no safe place to go to the toilet.

The World Walks for Water and Sanitation events are part of the Keep Your Promises campaign, which calls on governments to honor the commitments they have made to finance and provide access to these basic human needs.

In Sierra Leone, over 2,500 people will be taking part in walks across the country, including in Freetown. The Minister for the recently established Ministry for Water Resources, Hon. Momodu Elongima Maligie, has been invited to attend.

Over 300 young people will be joining a walk in Nairobi organised by the International Youth Council.

Liberia CSOs WASH Network is planning a three day sit-in and petition action at the Ministries of Health, Lands and Mines and Public Works. They’re planning to collect 15,000 signatures calling for promises to be kept.

10,000 people are planning to walk in Ghana whilst 3,000 people will walk in Malawi.

Natasha Horsfield, a coordinator of the campaign added: “It’s time to tell world leaders that it’s not acceptable for 2,000 children to be dying every day because they don’t have clean drinking water or a safe place to go to the toilet.”

The World Walks for Water and Sanitation calls on people across Africa to join the thousands of campaigners walking to demand political leaders keep their promises on sanitation and water this World Water Day. Organise your own walk or join one near you.

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

October 14, 2012

EU-Funded Water and Sanitation Projects in Africa Not Sustainable, Say Auditors

Newton Sibanda
October 14, 2012

The majority of the water and sanitation projects funded by the European Union (EU) in six African countries are not sustainable, says the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

The European Commission (EC) maintains that most of the audited projects were approved before it had implemented quality control reforms.

The ECA)- EU’s spending watchdog, reviewed 23 projects in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania. The projects represent an investment of over 400 million euro of which the EU provided 219 million euro. Total EU spending on water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa between 2001 and 2010 amounts to over 1 billion euro.

In their report, the auditors warn that the majority of projects will not be sustainable unless non-tariff revenue is ensured and institutional weaknesses are addressed. Less than half of the projects examined delivered results meeting the beneficiaries’ needs.

Vice chairman of the European Parliament’s International Development Committee Nirj Deva called the ECA report a “stinging rebuke” which “must act as a wake-up call for the Commission”. “This kind of sloppiness gives it [EU aid] a bad name”, Deva said.

Vice chairman of the European Parliament’s International Development Committee Nirj Deva

The response of the Commission, published as an annex in the ECA report, “is largely disappointing”, says IRC Programme Officer Stef Smits. The data presented in the report “would call for a more profound reflection on the approach taken”, he added.

The auditors also criticize the Commission for not making good use of its existing procedures to increase the sustainability of EU-funded projects. When asked whether projects approved after 2005, when the EC implemented quality support groups (QSG), were more sustainable, ECA Member David Bostock replied it was too early to tell.

September 10, 2012

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo’s Water Woes Not Waning Soon

Busani Bafana
September 10, 2012

Residents of Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, have since last week been going without water for 72 hours under a programme to save dwindling supplies which at current consumption rates may see the city of more than 1 million people running dry.

Though used to scarce water supplies, Bulawayo residents have a new reason to worry about poor sanitation and an outbreak of diseases. Poor water supplies and sanitation programme in a number of cities in Zimbabwe led to a major cholera outbreak which killed more than 4000 people between 2008 and 2009. This year, the country has reported more than 3000 cases of typhoid.

The Bulawayo City Council is now cutting off water to households for 72 hours up from 48 hours, in a move Bulawayo residents fear is a ticket to a health crisis as good sanitation is compromised.

City authorities citing shrinking water levels in the remaining three supply dams and high daily water use by residents, this week tighten a tough water shedding programme introduced in July 2012.

Water shedding in Bulawayo is an additional measure to a standing water rationing programme that restricts domestic consumers to 300 and 350 litres a day in the high and low income areas, respectively. But efforts meant to encourage the saving of precious supplies through a planned programme are also leading to water wastage. Residents often have disposed of previously stored water and the frequent bursts in the city’s aged pipe network which have increased by 50 percent have not helped the situation.

“At first it was hard to accepted water shedding because two days were serious, not this is worse,” complained Cuthbert Nyoni, a Bulawayo resident who lives in Pelandaba suburb which has experienced the new water shedding schedule.

Residents of Bulawayo fetch water from a borehole

The city council has also formed a multi-stakeholder Water Crisis Committee headed by the Mayor to monitor the water crisis, recommend solutions, provide materials and expertise to manage the situation. In addition, has issued a notice on the water quality, urging residents to allow water to settle depending on its quality and to boil all borehole water.

Residents and sanitation professionals warn the city could be inviting serious health problems, not to mention, hoarding as a result of new measures to save water, a problem that has dogged the Bulawayo since it was founded over 100 years ago.

The water saving regime, while meant to save the city from growing dry will in the long term expose the city in the event of disease outbreak.

Senior Public Relations Officer, Nesisa Mpofu, says the city council has provided water bowsers with a capacity of at least 7000 litres as a stand to supply residential areas with water in case the shedding takes longer than the intended three days.

“Bowsers will also serve areas that are affected by bursts or low pressure during the non-water shedding hours,” Mpofu said adding the provision of bowsers was to help prevent the outbreak of diseases.

But some residents are not sure the stringent water shedding is working.

“I am not sure this decision is indeed saving water,” Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, spokesman, Roderick Fayayo said. “To save water for three days, you need more containers and often when supplies are restored, the water is brown and people throw it away. There is need to discuss this issue further as we run a huge risk of a disease outbreaks.”

Data compiled by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme shows that Zimbabwe’s national targets are 80 percent for rural sanitation, 100 percent for urban sanitation, and 100 percent for rural and urban water supply.

Based on the most recent estimates of sanitation coverage in 2010, Zimbabwe needs to increase coverage from 52 to 77 percent in urban areas and from 32 to 68 percent in rural areas to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the eight international anti-poverty and development goals that the United Nations member states agreed to achieve by the year 2015.

The current restrictions are a reflection of the magnitude of the problem faced by the city, said sanitation expert, Lovemore Mujuru, who is also the Deputy Director of the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development, a non-governmental organisation.

“From a sanitation perspective, it [water shedding] has potential risks that will need to be managed,” said Mujuru. “Our sewer is water borne and if there is no water, we have to resort to the pour flow method-this means residents going out of their way to find alternative sources of water as a coping mechanism. Also hygiene is greatly compromised which gives potential risks of disease outbreaks.”

Mujuru urged the city council to engage the residents to understand the basis of the tough decisions regarding water provision, given the nation-wide challenges related to water.

“We are just emerging from a very difficult period where things had literally collapsed-so even if people have a right to water but if the water is not there, you take somebody to court but it will not immediately bring water on the table –what is important in the current scenario is the concept of progressive realisation of rights-dialogue is the key so that both residents, business and BCC work together towards resolving the challenges,” he said.

However, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Water Resources Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, last week downplayed the urgency of the water situation in Bulawayo, saying Harare and other cities have faced worse. Nkomo told councillors during a meeting in the council chambers that the situation did not warrant declaring Bulawayo a state of disaster.

A short term solution to the water woes remains a pipedream with a planned pipe link to the Mtshabezi Dam, south of the City which was expected to give the some water by end of July now anticipated to be complete by Christmas.

September 8, 2012

Malawi: Saving Water Kiosks from Political Interference

George Mhango
Blantyre, Malawi
September 08,2012

Each time a new political party wins a parliamentary seat, some communities in Ndirande, Blantyre know it is that time once again that ugly political bickering hogs dominance of water Kiosks in their constituency.

Communities would be denied their basic green right to portable and safe piped water at the kiosks – their political inclination can be the only unforgivable sin they have committed.

This is a community structure, which becomes politically prone and a game play at the expense of people’s health or call it life and effective service delivery.

Snap interviews with some people unveiled that among other things, once a new committee loyal to the winning MP is formed and takes over the kiosk – It runs a risk of being either damaged and or completely closed down during protests by the outgoing members who are against the regime change.

One of the water Kiosks in Ndirande Malawi where ownership is a problem

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

Blantyre City Central parliamentarian, Eunice Makanga says about 10 000 USD was left by the previous committee in her area. She however adds the present committee ensures that politics does not take centre stage.

“Through the new committee, we agreed with Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to settle the unsettled bill in bits,” she says.

In addition, there are job losses of a community loyal to the outgoing member of Parliament. However, Jim and Bettie like any other community members are the ultimate victims caught in such dirty political mudslinging prevalent in such water kiosks mainly in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.

Women depend on few boreholes

The Ndirande-Malabada saga, speaks volumes of how politics can affect service delivery, where 103 new recruited water attendants from 80 kiosks were sacked apparently by People’s Party loyalists.

Attendants Mebo Kambilonjo, Dorothy Mahefu and Grace Maganda from Ndirande Malabada confirmed recently to the media of being sacked for allegedly belonging to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The People’s Party (PP) deputy publicity, Ken Msonda did not deny attributing the trend to political change. He said however, the party was resolving the matter.

“Politicians will consolidate their power–and they will make sure their party members control kiosks. Either they employ and or give them most strategic positions,” Grace Nyimbiri, a community member says.

According to Andrew Mbewe, the Supervisor of Ndirande Malabada Water Users Association (WUA), DPP followers claim no one would stop them now because it is their time to have the benefits.
“They have been selling water at exorbitant prices. But where the proceeds go, is no body’s business,” Mbewe alleges.

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

To ensure communal water kiosks management, a best practice model under the Water Users Association (WUA) which is all inclusive of stakeholders from religious, political, traditional, and ordinary members was developed.

Under WUAs, at least 280 000 people in Lilongwe have access to potable water from the water kiosks from the initial target of 800 000. And in Blantyre, about 90 to 150 households depend on 424 water kiosks.

WUA’s run about 60 percent of kiosks in Lilongwe whilst about 18 percent are run through the Private and Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement – and 22 percent of them are run by the board.

While as Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) public relations officer, Trevor Phoya notes that political interference is minimal in Lilongwe, it is only the contrary in Malawi’s commercial hub, Blantyre.

Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) public relations officer, Trevor Phoya

“The board has engaged the community to understand that water is for everyone. And the continued public awareness on settling water bills has been critical in our messaging to ensure sustainable services,” according to Innocent Mbvundula, public relations officer for Blantyre Water Board (BWB).

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

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

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

Although, UN statistics show Lilongwe meeting MDG seven on ensure environmental sustainability which also seeks to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, local NGOs think otherwise.

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

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

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

August 31, 2012

Zambia: Harvesting Rainwater

Newton Sibanda
August 31, 2012

RAINWATER Harvesting (RWH) has been a practiced since time in memorial. It has, however, been practiced at different levels- domestic and agricultural use, which are referred to as the blue and green water use respectively.

However, Zambia Rainwater Harvesting Association (ZRHA) Secretary General Bob Muzyamba says the scale of utilization of RWH in Zambia’ leaves a lot to be desired’. “Since 1998, Zambia has been involved in many meetings, workshops, collaborations and protocols relating to RWH in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region to respond to the effects of the drought hitting the region.

The Ministry of Agriculture together with the Ministry of Local Government and Housing as well as the Ministry of Energy and Water Development were engaged by the Zambia Rainwater Harvesting Association to explore ways of enhancing the utilization of RWH as an appropriate technology for the effective use of water as a resource,” said Muzyamba.

Men constructing a water tank in Uganda for rainwater harvesting

Zambia has been experience erratic rain fall partners for the past 10 years which have affected the predictability of the rain pattern and planning.

Muzyamba says the association has tried to align itself with Government policy to ensure that the knowledge and skills reposed in it can be recognized and utilized. “There is a huge potential of Rainwater Harvesting in Zambia in all regions or zones. The potential is in flood control and drought control on one part, and water conservation on the other part,” he said.

Muzyamba is also acting president of the association following the demise of the incumbent, Joyce Musiwa, in line with the organization’s constitution.

The level of activity in rainwater harvesting in Zambia is very low and isolated, the commonest type being the traditional one where families draw water falling from roof tops in drums of 200-210 liters capacity for short term use. The families usually do this without realizing that they are actually practicing rain water harvesting. In its formal state, the technology is quite novel though it has existed for a longtime. A typical formal system involves the use of gutters on buildings like schools and hospitals.

Though its downside is limited application, institutional rainwater harvesting is quite effective. While the collection of rainwater by a single household may not be significant, the impact of thousand or even millions of household rainwater storage tanks can be enormous.

The frequency of droughts in recent years and the resultant problem of food insecurity therefore provide an imperative for scaling up rainwater harvesting in Zambia.

August 22, 2012

Ethiopia Receives New Boost of Investment in Sanitation and Hygiene

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
Water Journalists Africa Network
August 22, 2012

Ethiopia will receive an additional boost from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) which officially announced a US$ 5 million investment through its Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) to help the government of Ethiopia achieve its Universal Access Plan in Sanitation and Hygiene.

The programme announced by WSSCC is part of the country’s wider national development vision, in which it pledges to “pave the path for all Ethiopians to have access to basic sanitation by 2015”. The Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme was launched today at a high profile event in the presence of senior dignitaries, decision makers and civil society representatives, in the Ethiopian capital – Addis Ababa.

Progress made over the past decade especially on improving access to water sources, signals the political traction that the Ethiopian government and its partners have given to the development of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector – which plays a critical role in improving the quality of life of its citizens. From 2005 to 2008, access to potable water in rural areas increased from 35 percent to 52 percent. However, despite positive trends in access to improved water sources, millions of Ethiopians continue to experience difficulties in accessing clean and safe water and sanitation facilities.

Global Sanitation Fund Logo

Enshrined within the country’s Growth and Transformation Program (GTD), the Government has in the past decade increasingly recognized the hampering effects of poor sanitation and hygiene on its wider development efforts – such as community health, eradication of poverty and economic advancement. Seeking to increase the financial investment in the sector, the GSF-funded programme will support the Government’s existing national Health Extension Program (HEP) to help address health issues linked to sanitation and hygiene.

In total, the programme will help 1.7 million people to gain use of improved toilets over the next five years, and 3.2 million people will be living in open defecation free environments.

“The GSF is delighted by the opportunity to support the Ethiopian government vision of an open defecation free country by 2015. This programme will need to pay close attention to gender, physical accessibility issues due to age, illness, accident or disability, as well as geographically or otherwise excluded groups in order to ensure that no one is left unserved in GSF programme areas”, said Archana Patkar, head of the WSSCC delegation in Addis Ababa.

The three-year programme worth US$ 5 million aims to strengthen institutional capacity in forty woredas to increase access to and use of sanitation facilities. With an initial focus on four regions namely Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s region (SNNPR).

As part of the WSSCC, the Global Sanitation Fund has been established to boost expenditure on sanitation and hygiene in countries that meet strict criteria based on their specific needs and have an existing national sanitation policy and programme which requires further investment.

The GSF is supported by the Governments of Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In principle and in practice, the GSF respects national leadership, targets poor and unserved communities and expands coverage. The GSF is already actively working in Uganda, Madagascar,Senegal, Cambodia, Tanzania, Malawi, India and Nepal.

August 22, 2012

Six Journalists Win Prestigious Media Awards Geared Towards Improving Reporting On Water, Sanitation

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)
August 21st, 2012

Six journalists have been named as winners of the “WASH Media Awards” competition for their excellence in reporting on water, sanitation and hygiene-related (WASH) issues.

The journalists and their winning entries are:
• Alain Tossounon (Benin): “Access to safe water in the town of Ava-Sô, A perilous conquest for survival.” (Accès à l’eau potable dans la commune de Sô-Ava, Une conquête périlleuse pour la survie.)
• Ngala Killian Chimtom (Cameroon): “The Taps Have Run Dry”
• Berta Tilmantaite (Lithuania): “The River Runs Back”
• Francis Odupute (Nigeria): “The Strategists”
• Francesca de Châtel (Belgium): “Water Around the Mediterranean”
• Ketan Trivedi (India): “Alchemy of Earning Money through Wastes and Making a Village Clean, Hygienic and Lovely”

The winners will receive their awards during a ceremony, on 31 August 2012 at the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. During the World Water Week, the journalists will share their experiences on reporting WASH issues with leading water, sanitation, environment and development experts reporting during different session throughout the week.

Media in general and journalists in particular are key partners for sanitation, hygiene and water sector professionals in their awareness raising, advocacy and behaviour change work. Journalists play a central role in the highlighting of water and gender related issues and positioning of women as environmental leaders. They greatly contribute to bringing in the spotlight the too often neglected issues of the necessity of toilets and hand washing for a dignified, safe and healthy life for billions of people. The WASH Media Awards, organized by SIWI and WSSCC, two leading sector organizations, take a clear stand that it is not only necessary, but vital.

SIWI’s Acting Executive Director, Mr. Per Bertilsson, highlighted the importance of the WASH Awards in recognizing and promoting professional journalistic ingenuity in covering WASH stories.

“The winning entries for the 2011-2012 WASH Media Awards reflect an excellent example of how journalists could creatively bring underreported stories to the surface. These stories will inspire many in our sector to engage in new interventions, as they offer new perspectives on solving issues related to water supply, sanitation and hygiene,” he said. The winners will be able to share their stories at three different sessions during the 2012 World Water Week, which takes place between the 26th and 31st of August, 2012.

The bi-annual WASH Media Awards competition is sponsored by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). More than 150 entries from 40 countries were evaluated by a jury chaired by: Mr. Mark Tran, a notable international correspondent for The Guardian, UK. The jury included Mrs. Faz da Hall, Executive Producer Channel Africa, SABC, South Africa, Mr. Jon Sawyer, Executive Director, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, USA. Mr. Olivier Nyirubugara, Senior Trainer Voices of Africa Media Foundation, Rwanda/Netherlands and Ms. Vinaya Deshpande, The Hindu, India. The jury praised this year’s entries for their journalistic excellence, investigative ability, and originality.

August 21, 2012

Three SADC Journalists Awarded for excellence in water reporting

Barbara Lopi in Maputo
August 21st, 2012

Six winners of the 2012 SADC Media Awards have been announced and presented with a prize of US$2000.00 each during the opening ceremony of the 32nd Heads of State and Government SADC Summit in Maputo, Mozambique.

Incoming Chairperson of SADC, President Armando Emelio Guebuz of Mozambique presented the awards to the winners. Three of the Awards are for excellence on reporting on water resources management in the region, and the other three are for excellence in promoting regional integration in SADC.

Mr. Factmore Dzobo from the Chronicles Newspaper in Zimbabwe received the Award in the Print Water category, for his report on the importance of involving women in the management of water.

The Award in the Radio Water category went to Mr. Belmiro Timoteo Mangaze from Mozambique for his report on the importance of water in regional and national development.

Lesotho Times photo journalist Mr. Ramajake Walter Monamane received the Photo Water Award for his photos depicting the plight of people in a village in Lesotho for clean, safe and potable drinking water.

The Awards for excellence in the coverage of water resources management was introduced in 2007 by the SADC Water Sector programme to enhance awareness raising on water issues within the region, as well as to encourage journalists to write about Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The Awards for excellence in promoting regional integration in SADC went to Mr. Yobe Shonga from Botswana for the Photo category; Mr. Patson Phiri from Zambia for the Print category, and Mr. Jugdish Parsadee Jatoo from Mauritius for the Television category.

August 21, 2012

Zambia: Up to 4.081 Billion USD Needed to Provide Reliable Water Supply

Newton Sibanda
August 20th, 2012

Zambia’s commercial water utility companies need an investment worth US$4.081 billion in the next 29 years as a roadmap to provide reliable water supply to both urban and peri-urban areas, a latest Urban and Peri-urban Water Supply and Sanitation sector report has revealed.

In order to address the investment gap in the National Urban Water Supply and Sanitation programme, Government developed the National Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (NUWSSP).

Having access to safe water and basic sanitation is vital to everyone’s life

The programme is a roadmap to providing potable and reliable water supply and adequate sanitation services for both urban and peri-urban dwellers countrywide.

According to the 2011/2012 Urban and Peri-Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Report, NUWSSP tabulated investment needs for the water companies for the period 2011-2030 whose investment costs were estimated at US$4.081 billion.

The latest report launched by National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (Nwasco) over the weekend states that although K254 billion was invested in the sector in 2011 by Government and cooperating partners, this was less than what was budgeted for in that particular year.

“This was far from adequate when compared to a requirement of K969 billion (US$190 million) NUWSSP estimates needed to overhaul the dilapidated infrastructure countrywide,” the report indicates.

However, only K94 billion was disbursed to the 11 commercial water utilities countrywide.

The report further revealed that during the year under review, Chambeshi Water and Sewerage Company was given K3.1 billion for Nakonde water supply improvement works and procurement of pumps for Kasama, Mpika and Luwingu districts.

Eastern Water and Sewerage Company received K2 billion for supplementary works in the phase I of the Germany- funded projects which involved network extensions and metering in Petauke, Lundazi, Mambwe and Chama districts.

Southern Water and Sewerage Company got K9.6 billion for water supply improvements in Nega-nega-Mazabuka, Kashitu compound-Livingstone,Lusitu-Siavonga, Pemba and Mbabala-Choma.

And Western Water and Sewerage Company was given K5 billion for water supply network, building kiosks, setting up communal taps and drilling boreholes in Sichili and Mwandi. At the launch of the water utilities performance report, North-Western Water and Sewerage Company (NWWSC) was awarded the best performing Commercial Utility .
The 2011/2012 Urban and Peri-Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Report which highlights the comparative performance of all commercial utilities in the country and published by NWASCO, ranked North-Western Water and Sewerage Company (NWWSC) first, while Western Water and Sewerage Company is at the bottom(11th)

Several people living in such places are not aware that poor sanitation may cause lot of diseases

Launching the 2011/12 Urban and Peri-Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Report at Lusaka at Intercontinental Hotel August 2012, Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister, Yamfwa Mukanga reiterated government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for investment in the water supply and sanitation sub-sector.

Mr Mukanga noted that compared to the previous year, the sector has recorded positive trends as observed by the increase in water and sanitation coverage as well as improved metering and water quality. The national urban water coverage now stands at 81.8 percent from 77.5 percent, serving 4,596,959 people while the national urban sanitation coverage remains low at 56.7 percent from 54.1 percent.

He further noted NWASCO’s concerns of power outages that have continued to affect the operations of water utility companies resulting in poor service delivery.

And Local Government and Housing Minister, Emerine Kabanshi who also graced the event noted government’s plan to reduce the imbalances in performance of utility companies. “A situation whereby a utility company is performing better in water supply and badly in the provision of sanitation services or vice versa is not a healthy one at all.”

Ms Kabanshi expressed concern at the low sanitation coverage in the country which stands at 56.7percent compared to water coverage which is at 81.8 percent in urban and peri-urban areas. She called for comprehensive and concerted efforts and investment from all sector players.

And NWASCO board chairman Levi Zulu noted that the country had recorded an improvement in the provision of water and sanitation services and attributed the improvements to adherence to service level indicators.

Mr Zulu however observed that there is need to focus on the challenging indicators, among them, low collections especially by Government institutions, high unaccounted for water (UfW), dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure, unprecedented numerous power outages and poor customer relations and complaint resolution rate.

“The sector has continued to show positive progression in most performance indicators as can be seen from the report. One notable and cardinal improvement is the increase in the number of people with access to water supply.”

Mr Zulu however said greater leaps must be made to meet the ultimate goal of universal coverage for water supply and sanitation services.
In recognizing excellence in performance, North-Western Water and Sewerage Company emerged the Overall Best Performing water utility while Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company was the runner up.

Eastern Water and Sewerage Company was voted the Best Performing utility in Peri-Urban while Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company was the Most Improved commercial utility.
Meanwhile in the water and sanitation media awards, Zambia Daily Mail’s Violet Mengo emerged winner in the print category.

In the electronic category, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Senior Journalist Micheal Kaumba scoped the best TV package while the best Radio report went to Cynthia Mukwasa Bwalya of Christian Voice.

The most consistent water supply and sanitation reporter went to Muvi TV’s Bangwe Naviley.

August 10, 2012

Kenya: Yala Swamp on Deathbed

Mary Mwendwa
August 10, 2012

Up to some 60 percent of global wetlands have been destroyed in the past 100 years as people search for land to settle on, farm and establish several other types of investments.

Wetlands which cover 6 percent of the world’s surface provide a range of environmental services, including water filtration and storage, erosion control, a buffer against flooding, nutrient recycling, biodiversity maintenance, carbon storage and a nursery for fisheries among several others.

A woman draws water from Yala swamp in Kenya

But drainage and destruction of these ecosystems is responsible for large amounts of carbon emissions equivalent to 40 tons of carbon per hectare per year for drained tropical swamp forests as well as degradation of the other services they provide.

One of the swamps that have been seriously drained and destroyed is Yala. Yala Swamp is located in western Kenya, on the northeastern shore of Lake Victoria. Yala Swamp is the third-largest wetland ecosystem in Kenya. It covers over 200 square km of Western Kenya.

But as Mary Mwendwa, our network member reports, Yala Westland might soon be no more.

The beautiful green papyrus vegetation; women riding bicycles loaded with heavy bags of grains and charcoal as they sweat profusely; others with babies clutched on their backs; school children running home for lunch; a water body totally fenced with mesh wire; from a distance a factory emitting smoke from its chimney and tractors harvesting rice in farms are some of the eye-catching doings that attract my attention on a sunny hot and humid day.

This is none other than Yala swamp, a wetland that borders Siaya and Busia counties.

Being a breeding habitat for fish and a purifying body for the water that flows into Lake Victoria, activities that lead to destruction of the water body may largely reduce fish population in the entire region.

It is a home to thousands of rare species of mammals, fish and birds, internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) , with many papyrus endemic bird species which can be found nowhere in the world.

A bird in Yala swamp

Some of the rare species of birds found here are, Papyrus Yellow Wabler, papyrus Gonolek, White Winged Warbler, Papyrus Canary, Caruthers ‘ Cistola and Northern – Brown Throated weaver among others.

Birdlife International lists the Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek as globally threatened bird species which require urgent conservation action (Birdlife International, IBAs status Report, 2004).

Lake Kanyaboli, a satellite lake of Lake Vitoria, part of Yala swamp forms the mouth of Rivers Nzoia and Yala, also one of the most important riparian lakes around Lake Victoria.

The wetland belonged to the community through a trust land which has been managed for a long by Siaya and Bondo counties. Seje village is part of the neighboring communities that ought to benefit from the swamp; however, this is not the case.

The state of interactions of the living and non – living components at the swamp is worrying.

Mau complex which supplies water through various rivers to this wetland may be a cause to its deteriorating state. Upstream poor farming practices, deforestation and use of pesticides also have a hand in the destruction of Yala swamp.

But most people here accuse Dominion Farms Ltd, a subsidiary of Dominion Group of Companies based in Edmond Oklahoma USA.

Dominion group paper factory close to Yala Swamp

Dominion Farms Ltd moved into the Yala swamp in 2003 through an arrangement with the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA). The initial proposal was that Dominion would engage in rice production, in part of the swamp known as Area I, covering about 2,300 ha.

This land portion had been reclaimed before 1970, and previously used by LBDA for agricultural activity, mainly to produce cereals, pulses and horticultural crops. An environmental impact assessment (EIA) was commissioned for large-scale rice production, for which a license was issued in 2004, specifically for the rice irrigation.

But later Dominion Farms Ltd embarked on other additional agricultural and development activities in the swamp. It is therefore on this basis that the Friends of Yala Swamp Network was established to campaign against the threat to the livelihood of the people of the Yala Swamp Catchment area.

Dominion Farms Ltd – a multimillion company is now carrying out farming on large scale close to this wetland and also owns a paper mill.

These investments are being accused of worsening current state of the swamp. Since 2003 when the Dominion Farms Ltd came in the area, the swamp’s ecological state has been deteriorating day by day, according to Vincent Omondi Obondo, Assistant Programs coordinator for Friends of Yala Swamp Network.

He also alleges that all the effluent from the factory is channeled to the wetland. However I was not able to verify this independently because I was denied access to the factory.

Institute for Law and environmental governance (ILEG) with other partners have been involved in spearheading community participation in decision making in terms of managing their natural resources.

This is helping the community understand the importance of being part of the decision making process when managing their swamp.

Many residents here say they are suffering because they were not aware when land was leased to Dominion Farms Ltd. A selected few were part of the process but didn’t understand the implications of this to the Yala swamp.

A section of Yala Swamp

“We have no rights to access the Yala swamp and use any of its resources, we are like squatters in our land” Charles Okolla, a farmer laments. He further adds that the state of the swamp is worrying. Polluted, full of sediments that come from upstream. “People here get sick of waterborne diseases very often because of the contamination of water from the swamp”.

Charles confirms to me about the frequent community conflicts with the Dominion Farms Ltd.

There is also a problem of boundaries. Many people don’t know their boundaries and at times find themselves encroaching on the swamp land where the Dominion farms have dominated.

Such challenges made Friends of Yala Swamp Network with Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG); Kenya Land Alliance; Kituo Cha Sheria; Kenya wetlands Forum and other networks to come together and address some of the issues affecting this swamp. These multimillion agencies have fenced off a large part of the swamp where locals cannot access.

But levels of poverty are increasing day by day in this region.

Dominion Farms Ltd is involved in rice farming, fish farming and have a paper mill. All these are employing women largely as casual laborers with an average wage of 1.82 dollars per day.

Mary Atieno, a mother of eight tells me that she works from 8.00 am to 6pm everyday to fetch food for her kids. She says, “I have no choice but to work for that little money because of my kids, if I don’t work here my kids will die of hunger.”

Along the swamp, Scovincer Adhiambo, a teenage girl from Seje, washes her clothes with as other people , both women and men draw water for domestic use.

The first sight is of some smelly effluents floating and foaming scum on the water. I ask her what it is and where it is coming from.

“These chemicals are coming from the Dominion factory, they pollute our water and this makes us very sick often, we have no one to complain to,” she tells me sadly.

She further tells me that longtime ago when she was a kid; they used to have plenty of food and fish. These days they have no food, their farms don’t get enough rain and fish is very expensive for them because of its scarcity.

At the same water point Grace Akinyi, a middle-aged woman with her two sons aged 6 and 8 with their jerrycans have come for the same precious commodity, water. The sad state on their faces clearly tells one that something is not right here.

Grace is bitterly complaining about the state of the water. She says her kids get very sick when they drink the water before boiling it.

“Sometimes we boil and drink and still we get sick,” she says as she raises her arms up shouting, “ Nyasaye Konya! Nyasaye konya,” which means Lord help us, Lord help us in her local Luo Language.

“People living around Yala swamp are suffering as they watch their only resource dwindle in the hands of an investor,” I think as some sort of tears force themselves out of my open eyes.

Vincent Omondi of Friends of Yala Swamp Network, talks about some of the sample tests they have done with other stakeholders on the swamp water. The first sampling they did was in early February 2012.

He notes that the findings indicated high levels of pollution with high concentration elements of lead metal. This could be as a result of effluents from a factory that are discharged in the swamp.

A section of polluted Yala swamp water

He further tells me they tried to contact the company about it but the company officials were not willing to disclose the type of the chemicals they use which later find their way in the swamp.

No visitor of any journalistic or investigative nature is allowed in the farm premises which are heavily guarded. With my tour assistant, as we move round the fenced swamp, guards placed strategically, monitoring every step we make. I was told by my guide that no one is allowed to take any photograph at the gate of Dominion Farms Ltd.

A warning in capital letters reads, “NO VISITOR IS ALLOWED HERE WITHOUT APPOINTMENT.” Surely this prevented me from independently verifying the allegations made by the local people.

As Kenya struggles to improve on various policies on environment, the wetland policy needs to be addressed urgently to help address the issues affecting many of its water bodies.

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