Posts tagged ‘environment’

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.

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

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.

August 1, 2012

Tanzania: Severe Water Shortage Hits Parts of the Country

Paul Mallimbo
July 31, 2012

Severe shortage of water in small town of Maganzo, in Songwa ward, Kishapu District in Shinyanga region, has caused residents to carry water when they are going for treatment at Maganzo Clinic.

Patients are forced to carry between one and three 20 liter gallons, depending on the need of water to that particular patient.

Pupils collecting water in Uganda. In every society, water , health and education are closely inter-related

The survey conducted by our reporter in most parts of the district established that most patients carry water and kerosene when they go to this dispensary.

Speaking to journalists, the Maganzo Village Chairman, Lwinzi Kidiga said, it is true that this dispensary has no water and all people who are going to seek treatment from this clinic should carry their own water.

“We have instructed all the Maganzo residents to carry their own water when they are going for treatment at the Maganzo dispensary, “he said.

However, the village chairman said that, residents have also been instructed to carry their own kerosene when they go for medical care at night in order to light when patient is receiving treatment, because the clinic has no electricity.

A girl child returns from collecting water in a shallow well in western Uganda.

The acting Kishapu District Executive Director, Lucas Said, acknowledges the situation, adding that, water problem is a big problem to the entire district.

“Water shortage is not only in Maganzo District, but in most of the areas of Shinyanga region but efforts are being done to ensure that there is availability of water in all areas of Kishapu District, he added.

Said explains that, experts are now doing research in various villages within the district to find out where they can find water, while a big plan to bring water from Lake Victoria is in pipeline.

Meanwhile the Maganzo Village Chairman says that they had discussion with the investor of Williams Diamond Mines, to help them bring water in the village, and has accepted to start the project end of July this year.

July 16, 2012

Kenya: Rivers on Verge of Drying Up as Degradation of Chepsir Forest Soars

Mary Mwendwa
July 16, 2012

Residents of Chepsir Tea zone settlement scheme cry foul over the effects of human-wildlife conflict, logging and charcoal burning on conservation efforts of the Chepsir forest in Kenya.

The famous forest is located in the South Western part of Mau block in Chepsir village, Kepkelion district in Kericho County.

Chepsir Tea Zone Settlement Scheme came into existence in 1962 after the British colonial government sold land to Kenyan government which later sold to people through Brookbond group of companies that practice tea farming in the region.

A section of Chepsir Forest southwestern Mau

Despite the Mau restoration conservation efforts that have hit the national agenda, the forest community continues to face challenges that if not addressed urgently, the water tower will still face a threat of destruction.

From a distance, one is able to spot smoke from charcoal burning spots in the interior parts of the forest and also met several loggers packed timber on a tractors. A clear indication that some of these activities that destroy forest cover are still in existence.

This is leading to microclimate changes across the forest edges. A microclimate is the distinctive climate of a small-scale area, such as a garden, park, valley or part of a city.

Daudi Sigilai Arapmosik, a teenager and a resident here, who does part time comedy on a community Radio station nearby, notes that illegal logging and charcoal burning are common and serious and should be addressed urgently.

He confirmed that Kenya Forest Service has tried much but they have very few staff to patrol the forest. “If we had more forest guards may be the forest could not be destroyed by these charcoal burners and loggers” he laments.

Likewise, Magdaline Limo, mother of four in the Chepsir tea zone area says her biggest problem is the elephants that eat and destroy her crops. “Recently elephants invaded my small farm and destroyed maize worth one acre, my family depends on this farm, what can I do to stop these elephants coming to my farm?” she laments.

Many of the dwellers here, who are from the Kipsigis sub-tribe of the Kalenjin community, depend on ecosystem services from the forest. Many do farming, livestock rearing, beekeeping, and mixed crop farming. Chunks of maize plantations and tea dot the landscape in the area.

Being one of the Mau Complex blocks, it contains one of the largest Kenya’s water tower, located in the south western block, bordering Kericho and Bomet counties. The forest is both known for its indigenous and exotic tree species.

It is also a catchment are for several rivers including River Timbilil which serves the entire Kericho County, Birirbei, Kiplelachbei, Lelachbei among others.

Kuresoi, Chagaik, and Cheboswa are some of the neighboring forests of Chepsir. Chepsir dam and Sachoran form part of the wetlands in the region.

People living around Chepsir forest believe this is their only source of livelihood. Water from rivers, fodder for their livestock and rains of the crops are their main means of survival.

Tea plantation in Chepsir village southwestern Mau block

Since the government rolled out the Mau restoration process, many stakeholders have been involved in various campaigns ranging from tree planting exercises, education on importance of conserving the forest among others.

However for these efforts to have a lasting conservation solution, communities like the Chepsir Tea zone settlement scheme that have settled around the forest face challenges that make them resort to activities that destroy the entire mau ecosystem.

Mau is a catchment area of rivers: Ewaso Nyiro; Sondu; Mara and Njoro which feed some of the most important great Riftvalley lakes such as Nakuru and Natron and Lake Victoria in Nyanza.

Survival of all these ecosystems depend entirely on the Mau, therefore any activity that contributes to its degradation has huge local, regional and international implications.

Chepsir forest has continued to lose its indigenous tree species especially the cedar and podocarpus to charcoal burning.

Duncan Kibet, a village elder and farmer, notes that many of the illegal charcoal burners and loggers are people who don’t belong to the community around the forest. “It is sad that total strangers come to destroy this forest and we watch because we have no capacity to stop them, we only see them leave with products”.

Chanegs in the area’s microclimate are leading to favorable conditions for breeding of several disease vectors.

Now, as a community that depends of farming, many of the livestock keepers in this area face a challenge of pests that invade and transmit diseases to their livestock.

Daniel Rotich, a veterinary doctor and a member of Chepsir Environmental Conservation and protection Group, confirms that there are over twenty species of pests that transmit different strains of diseases to the livestock.

East Coast Fever, Babeosis (blue tick), Lumpy skin disease, heart water/Black quarter and rabbies are some of the diseases that are a big threat to the livestock in the region.

This spreads a huge economic impact on the farmer in terms of seeking treatment and loss if the livestock.

Mr.Rotich adds that at least one thousand livestock are lost through this annually.

However, the Kenya Forest Service has come up with mechanisms to help communities living around this forest through the Forest Act that came into force in 2007. Through this act, community based organizations have been registered as community Forest Associations (CFAs).

All these working together with Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Working Group among other stakeholders to conserve the forest. Communities pay one hundred Kenya shillings monthly to access firewood from this forest on a daily basis.

Alphonse Rotich, a farmer and a Coordinator of Save The Mau Forests Conservation project, says Chepsir community has been very committed to conservation of the forest. Many of the farmers have more than two percent tree cover in their farms. He adds that there is need for the community to benefit from the Carbon Credits Projects which have been rolled out in some parts of the country.

This will help them benefit directly from their conservation efforts and spread the benefits further to other people, a move that will promote sequestration (sucking of carbon from the atmosphere) hence help in fighting climate change effects.

As Kenya struggles to achieve its millennium development goals by 2015, conservation and sustainable development remain a top priority in restoring catchment areas like Chepsir forest which need urgent intervention both at the community level and authority level.

July 3, 2012

Three MDGs on Poverty, Slums and Water Achieved

UN Public Information Department
And WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 3, 2012

Three important targets on poverty, slums and water have been met three years ahead of 2015, says this year’s Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), launched yesterday by UN Secretary‐General Ban Ki‐moon. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible ─ but only if Governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.

In his foreword to the 2012 MDG Report, Mr. Ban says that further success depends on fulfilling MDG‐8 – the global partnership for development. “The current economic crises besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made. Let us build on the successes we have achieved so far, and let us not relent until all the MDGs have been attained”, said Secretary‐General Ban.

Millenium Development Goals

Progress
The MDG Report says that, for the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, both the number of people living in extreme poverty and the poverty rates have fallen in every developing region—including sub‐Saharan Africa, where rates are highest. Preliminary estimates indicate that in 2010, the share of people living on less than a $1.25 a day dropped to less than half of its 1990 value.

Essentially, this means that the MDG first target—cutting the extreme poverty rate to half its 1990 level—has been achieved at the global level, well ahead of 2015.

The MDG Report also notes another success: reaching the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of drinking water by 2010. The proportion of people using improved water sources rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010, translating to more than two billion people currently with access to improved sources such as piped supplies or protected wells.

And the share of urban residents in the developing world living in slums has declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012. More than 200 million have gained access to either improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing. This achievement exceeds the target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, also ahead of a 2020 deadline.

The MDG Report 2012 also points out that the world has achieved another milestone: parity in primary education between girls and boys. Driven by national and international efforts, many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level, especially since 2000. Girls have benefited the most. There were 97 girls enrolled per 100 boys in 2010—up from 91 girls per 100 boys in 1999.

The report says that enrolment rates of primary school age children have increased markedly in sub‐Saharan Africa, from 58 to 76 per cent between 1999 and 2010. Many countries in the region have succeeded in reducing their relatively high out of‐school rates even as their primary school age populations were growing.

MDGs 2012 Report

At the end of 2010, 6.5 million people in developing regions were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV or AIDS, constituting the largest one‐year increase ever. Since December 2009, more than 1.4 million people were being treated. “These results”, said Mr. Ban “represent a tremendous reduction in human suffering and are a clear validation of the approach embodied in the MDGs. But, they are not a reason to relax.

Projections indicate that in 2015 more than 600 million people worldwide will still lack access to safe drinking water, almost one billion will be living on an income of less than $1.25 per day, mothers will continue to die needlessly in childbirth, and children will suffer and die from preventable diseases. Hunger remains a global challenge, and ensuring that all children are able to complete primary education remains a fundamental, but unfulfilled, target that has an impact on all the other goals.

Lack of safe sanitation is hampering progress in health and nutrition … and greenhouse gas emissions continue to pose a major threat to people and ecosystems”.

Persistent Inequality
The MDG Report states that persisting inequalities are detracting from these gains, given that achievements were unequally distributed across and within regions and countries.
Moreover, progress has slowed for some MDGs after the multiple crises of 2008‐2009.

Important improvements in maternal health and reduction in maternal deaths have been achieved but progress is still slow. Reductions in adolescent childbearing and expansion of contraceptive use have continued, but at a slower pace since 2000 as compared to the decade before.

Nearly half of the population in developing regions—2.5 billion— still lacks access to improved sanitation facilities. By 2015, the world will have reached only 67 per cent coverage, well short of the 75 per cent needed to achieve the MDG target.

Opportunity to achieve more and shape the agenda for the future
While bullish on the success recorded, the MDG Report warns that the 2015 deadline is fast approaching and in order to achieve outstanding goals, Governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector need to intensify their contributions.

Gender inequality persists and women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government. Violence against women continues to undermine efforts to reach all goals. Further progress to 2015 and beyond will largely depend on success on these interrelated challenges.

The report says a new agenda to continue efforts beyond 2015 is taking shape.

With its successes as well as setbacks, the MDG campaign provides rich experience for this discussion to draw on, as well as confidence that further success is feasible.

“There is now an expectation around the world that sooner, rather than later, all these goals can and must be achieved. Leaders will be held to this high standard. Sectors such as government, business, academia and civil society, often known for working at cross‐purposes, are learning how to collaborate on shared aspirations,” said Under‐Secretary‐General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang.

The Millennium Development Goals Report, an annual assessment of regional progress towards the Goals, reflects the most comprehensive, up‐to‐date data compiled by over 25 UN and international agencies. The report is produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. A complete set of the data used to prepare the report is available at http://mdgs.un.org

June 29, 2012

Uganda: Experts Warn of Disease Outbreak Due to 18% VAT on Water

Paschal B. Bagonza
June 29, 2012

Three women are each carrying a 20-litre empty jerrycan. They look scared, and are running away from a locked water tap. The padlock reads “18% TAX.” It is a sweaty run to the well to collect water. One of the women has a baby strapped on her back; of course, they are barefooted. The well where they are running to has some very happy, but thorny members therein. These members include cholera, hepatitis, dysentery, typhoid, polio, guinea worm and scabies. One of the members (Cholera) in this well shouts, “Long live the budget.”

This is a cartoon in a local daily, The New Vision, talking about how the minister of finance, planning and economic development, Maria Kiwanuka, reinstated the 18% Value Added Tax (VAT) on piped water in the 2012/2013 Financial year national budget. She said the reinstated tax will contribute over Shs 24 billion to the national treasury

People including a child collect water for domestic use in a rural part of Uganda

The reinstating of the tax has generated debates in taxis, amongst boda boda riders (riders of commercial motorbikes), cooks, washing bay operators and schools among many others. This is because water as a resource, is the very basic of being, just like life.

In one of the debates in a commuter taxi a woman quips, “Balalu okwongeza omusolo kumazzi” (are they [Government] mad to increase water tax).

A 20-litre jerrycan of water was being sold at between Shs 150 and Shs 200, depending on the location and scarcity of the resource. There are fears that water prices are going to double or hit Shs 500 per 20-litre jerrycan. Certain boarding schools and landlords are planning to shift the burden of the tax to their students and tenants respectively.

There are fears that manufacturing industries are going to heap the burden on the final consumer by increasing commodity prices.

According to Water Aid, 33% of Uganda’s population does not have access to safe water, and 52% of people are without sanitation. Infant mortality stands at 130 in 1,000, and 26,000 children under the age of five die every year die from diarrheal diseases.

The ministry of water and environment says access to safe water in urban areas (mainly through piped water supplies and boreholes, as well as shallow wells in small towns), currently stands at 66%.

In an exclusive interview with Water Journalists Africa, at Makerere University, a PhD Research Fellow at the UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education), Ezrah Natumanya said the tax means that more people will not be able to access water, thereby reducing the water coverage in the country.

Ezrah Natumanya, a PhD Research Fellow at UNESCO-IHE

Natumanya said what would have been done is to “increase the fares for the industries and rich people, but not for the poor people.”

He said given the anticipated price increment of water people are going to start consuming untreated water and from local sources.

Natumanya said it would also be “good for the government to review the issue of reinstating VAT on water.”

He is worried that since people are going to avoid using tap water due to anticipated price rise, they are going to suffer from many water borne diseases. He added that people are also going to resume using pit latrines instead of flushing toilets because of the water costs. The use of pit latrines, he said, will expose the environment to more diseases and bacteria.

Natumanya has been working at Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources since December 2006. He is currently the chairperson of WaterNet Alumni.

He has previously written papers, supervised students and has research interests in hydrology, water supply and sanitation, integrated water resources management and climate change – impacts and adaptations in the water sector.

According to Natumanya, scientific studies show that every Ugandan uses over 25 cubic metres (about five 20-litre jerrycans) per day.

A private environment consultant in water resources management, Danson Asiimwe, told me that the government didn’t take due diligence in reinstating the tax.

Asiimwe said the tax is going to increase everything and that with time, a common person will feel the pinch. He said consumers will have to shoulder the tax load through high prices levied by manufacturing industries, because they want to meet their huge water bills.

He said the reinstating is also like the government is “legalising water borne-diseases. Saying that it is ok we can have water borne diseases as long as we collect our money. I think it is not okay,” Asiimwe observed.

80% of diseases in developing countries are caused by contaminated water.

Like Natumanya, Asiimwe is also worried that the moment the cost of a jerrycan from piped water source increases, people will resort to unsafe sources/wells. “Rather than pay Shs 2 per 20-litre jerrycan, people would instead go to fetch water from unsafe sources. In the end, the diseases we have been trying to eliminate will come back, especially in urban centres.”

MPs vow to fight the tax

The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga said Parliament is going to fight the reintroduction of VAT on piped water.

Kadaga said the previous parliament rejected this proposal and wonders as to why the government is reintroducing it, Kfm reported.

“In the seventh and eighth parliament, we rejected that proposal. We had a big battle over it with the ministry of finance. We defeated them that time, but now they have brought it back. I am sure the members of parliament are getting ready for another battle,” Kadaga said.

Uganda’s speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga

She said parliament is ready to fight the proposal, which is likely is to have a negative impact on the lives of many Ugandans.
“I don’t know what reason she [minister of finance] is going to give now for justifying it, because we defeated it logically. But let’s see what she has to say this time.

Other MPs opposed to the tax are John Ken Lukyamuzi and Ronald Reagan Okumu. The legislators said the reintroduction is going to make it hard for an average person to access clean water, especially those in rural areas.

Lukyamuzi echoed Natumanya’s worry that the reinstating of the tax on piped water will lead to an increase of water born diseases as people look for alternative sources of water, because they can’t afford it.

The opposition Forum for Democratic Change spokesperson Phillip Wafula Oguttu said his party cannot accept that tax.
“You don’t increase taxes on beer, but put VAT on water for poor people. Water is life, and we hope we shall mobilise our colleagues in parliament…that that tax is defeated.”

However, Gomba County MP Rosemary Najjemba Muyinda defended the reinstating of the tax saying this will be used to extend clean water to rural areas.

According to the UN, about 1.1 billion people the world over cannot access safe drinking water, and still 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation.

The UN adds that because of this massive sanitation figure, 1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases, including 90% of children under the age of five.

June 26, 2012

Brazil: Rio+20 Summit Paves Way for Sustainable Development Goals

UNEP
June 24, 2012

The Rio+ 20 Summit ended with a range of outcomes which, if embraced over the coming months and years, offer the opportunity to catalyze pathways towards a more sustainable 21st century.

Heads of State and more than 190 nations gave the green light to a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Nations agreed that such a transition could be ‘an important tool’ when supported by policies that encourage decent employment, social welfare and inclusion and the maintenance of the Earth’s ecosystems from forests to freshwaters.

Rio+20 Logo

The decision supports nations wishing to forge ahead with a green economy transition while providing developing economies with the opportunity for access to international support in terms of finance and capacity building.

Meanwhile the Summit also gave the go-ahead towards a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to bring all nations—rich and poor– into cooperative target setting across a range of challenges from water and land up to food waste around the globe.

The SDGs are expected to compliment the Millennium Development Goals after 2015: they reflect the reality that a transition to an inclusive green economy and the realization of a sustainable century needs to also include the footprints of developed nations as well as as developing ones as they aim to eradicate poverty and transit towards a sustainable path.

Other potentially positive outcomes include a ten year framework on sustainable consumption and production with a group of companies announcing at Rio+20 initiatives to already move forward including in the area of sustainable government procurement of goods and services.

A decision to work towards a new global indicator of wealth that goes beyond the narrowness of GDP; encouragement for governments to push forward on requiring companies to report their environmental, social and governance footprints.

After some four decades of discussion and calls for the environment programme of the UN to be strengthened, governments agreed on an upgrading of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Meanwhile the World Congress on Justice, Governance, and Law for Environmental Sustainability, hosted by the Brazilian Supreme Court and UNEP in partnership with a number of international organizations, committed to use international and national laws to advance sustainability, human and environmental rights and the implementation of environmental treaties.

The Congress, involving some 200 delegates including chief justices, senior judges, attorney-generals, chief prosecutors, auditor-generals and senior auditors, called on governments to back an Institutional Framework for the Advancement of Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability in the 21st Century backed by UNEP.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, said: “World leaders and governments have today agreed that a transition to a Green Economy—backed by strong social provisions—offers a key pathway towards a sustainable 21st century”.

“Several other important agreements were also forged that can assist in enabling that transition ranging from assessing the potential of a new indicator of wealth and human progress beyond the narrowness of GDP to increasing the level of accountability and transparency of companies in respect to reporting their environmental, social and governance footprints,” he added.

“The outcome of Rio+20 will disappoint and frustrate many given the science, the day to day reality of often simply surviving as individuals and as families, the analysis of where development is currently heading for seven billion people and the inordinate opportunity for a different trajectory. However if nations, companies, cities and communities can move forward on the positive elements of the Summit’s outcome it may assist in one day realizing the Future We Want,” said Mr Steiner.

“Meanwhile after almost four decades of discussion , governments have decided to upgrade UNEP including in key areas such as universal membership and improved financial resources—this is welcome as one important way for improving the authority, the influence and the impact of the world’s minister responsible for the environment in terms of moving development onto a more sustainable track,” said Mr Steiner.

Cover photo of the publication Rio 92, what did it lead to?

Beyond GDP
Rio+20 addressed growing concern that Gross Domestic Product may have out lived its usefulness in a world where natural resource scarcity, pollution and social exclusion are also becoming drivers of whether a nation’s wealth is truly going up or running down.
The Summit’s outcome document requests the UN Statistical Commission to work with other UN bodies including UNEP and other organizations to identify new approaches for measuring progress.

The Commission’s work will draw on a range of assessments and pilot projects ongoing across the globe.

Inclusive Wealth, which is based on the World Bank’s Adjusted Net Saving indicator, is developing a more inclusive indicator of national wealth, covering not only produced capital, human capital, and natural capital, but also critical ecosystems –and through the UN, a new Systems of Environmental and Economic Accounts has been proposed for use by member states.

UNEP and the UN University’s International Human Development Programme at Rio+20 presented findings from an Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) looking at several countries including Brazil.

Other pathways towards a new indicator include:-
The EU effort to go “Beyond GDP” – launched in November 2007 its aims to come up with a broader set of macro-level indexes other than GDP and provide information on how economic growth affects its own foundation (stock of all assets)

Several countries including Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India and the United Kingdom have or are now carrying out national assessments of the value of their ‘natural assets’ drawing on those done globally by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity hosted by UNEP
Consumption and Production

Another potentially significant step forward was the adoption of a 10 year framework on sustainable consumption and production covering several sectors ranging from tourism to government procurement.

During Rio+20 over 30 governments and institutions including Brazil, Denmark, Switzerland and UNEP announced a new global International Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative (SPPI) aimed at scaling-up the level of public spending flowing into goods and services that maximize environmental and social benefits.

Studies indicate that sustainable public procurement, which represents between 15 and 25 per cent of GDP, offers a tremendous opportunity towards green innovation and sustainability.

Examples from around the world show that sustainable public procurement has the potential to transform markets, boost the competitiveness of eco industries, save money, conserve natural resources and foster job creation.

In India, for example, government procurement is worth about US $300 billion and is expected to grow by more than 10 per cent annually in the coming years

Across the OECD group of countries, public procurement represents close to 20 per cent of GDP (over US $4,700 billion annually), while in developing countries the proportion can be slightly higher

Japan’s Green Purchasing Policy, has contributed to the growth of the country’s eco-industries, estimated to be worth about €430 billion in 2010.

Europe could save up to 64 per cent of energy – or 38 TWh of electricity – by replacing street lights with smarter lighting solutions.

In Brazil, the Foundation for Education Development succeeded in saving 8,800 m3 of water, 1,750 tonnes of waste and 250 kg of organohalogen compounds, providing the equivalent of one month economic activity to 454 waste pickers, through its decision to replace regular notebooks with ones made of recycled paper in 2010.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff welcoming world leaders to Rio+20 Summit

Sustainability Reporting
An estimated 25 per cent of the 20,000 companies tracked by Bloomberg are reporting their environmental, social and governance footprints—but 75 per cent are not.

Such in-depth data offers the opportunity for pension funds to invest in companies with a long term perspective of profits through sustainability reporting while assisting governments in measuring the contribution of multi-nationals towards national sustainability goals and progress beyond GDP.

On 20 June several countries including Brazil, Denmark, France and South Africa–several of whom already have stock exchanges requiring better reporting– announced they would move forward on the issue with support from UNEP and the Global Reporting Initiative.

UNEP Upgrade
Rio+20 also agreed to strengthen and ‘upgrade’ the UNEP in order to strengthen the environmental pillar of sustainable development.

The decisions include addressing the limited membership of UNEP which currently stands at 58 member states into a body with universal membership of its Governing Council while increasing UNEP’s financial resources by an increased allocation from the UN’s regular budget.

The Rio+20 outcome also calls on the next General Assembly of the UN to strengthen UNEP’s ability to assist member states at the regional and national level and to build on its science-policy interface including through UNEP’s flagship Global Environment Outlook process.

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