Posts tagged ‘nature’

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 www.worldwalksforwater.org.

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

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.

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 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 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.

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 19, 2012

Zambia: Germany Supports Water Infrastructure Improvement

Newton Sibanda
June 19, 2012

The Germany government will provide Zambia’s Eastern Province with K106.5 billion under the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation programme.

The three-phase project will utilize K46.5 billion towards the improvement of the water infrastructure in the towns through the Eastern Water and Sewerage Company (EWSC).

Germany ambassador Frank Meyke disclosed the development during the handover of the EWSC water treatment plant in Petauke that his government would provide the funding in three phases to the programme being implemented by the provincial water utility.

Mr Meyke said the K46.5 billion will be made in the first phase towards the water infrastructure in the towns of Petauke, Lundazi, Mambwe and Chama respectively.

Germany ambassador to Zambia Frank Meyke

The works will include the drilling of boreholes, installation of pumps, construction of storage reservoirs, laying of pipes, and construction of water kiosks. They will also include rehabilitation of sanitation facilities in schools and hospitals as well as maintenance works on Lundazi Dam.

Mr Meyke notes that the project would benefit 100,000 people many of whom would enjoy such services for the first time.

“In Eastern Province, a total of K106.5 billion will be made available in three phases to the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation. At the end of the first phase, K46.5 billion will be disbursed to improve water infrastructure in the towns of Petauke, Lundazi, Chama and Mambwe,” he said.

The project would soon go into the second phase in the towns of Chadiza, Nyimba, Katete and Chipata.

Mr Meyke said besides the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation programme in Eastern Province, German also supported the rural sector where close to 2000 water points were constructed, reaching approximately 600,000 rural people and that the value of the projects in the province amounted to a total sum of K177 billion.

He said at the recent Government negotiations on development cooperation between the two governments in November last year, a total of K215 billion was committed for future support to the Zambian water and sanitation sector.

Mr Meyke also said 880 million Euros had been provided under the German-Zambia Development Cooperation for over 40 years, saying the bulk of this had been allocated to the water and sanitation sector.

He said German would continue supporting Zambia in increasing access to safe drinking water and to improved sanitation facilities.

He said through the improvement of water and sanitation, Zambia would be assisted to achieve some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Eastern Province Minister Charles Banda commended Germany for the support being rendered to Zambia.

Mr Banda said he was happy that the cooperation between the two countries in the water sector dated back to the 1990s when the Government of Zambia commenced the water sector reform programme.

“The Germany Government has been key to the success of the water sector through the support it has given to Southern and North-Western Water and Sewerage Companies, the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) and to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing,” he said.

Mr Banda said the Zambian Government was committed to continuing the steadfast water sector reforms of 1994 and implementation of the concept of commercialization.

He however said the Government was aware that EWSC was owed K3.5 billion in outstanding water bills by various departments and directed all Government departments with outstanding water bills to liquidate them or face disconnection by the water supply company.

June 16, 2012

Kenya: Human Waste turns into Gold

Mary Mwendwa
June 16, 2012

Did you know that up to 60 percent of the population in Nairobi- Kenya’s capital lives in slums? Extremely limited access to water, sanitation and adequate housing characterize most of these slums. However, there are agencies that are working towards making sure human waste no longer lies on paths and drains. They are turning this waste into gold as our Mary Mwendwa found out.

Umande Trust, an NGO based in Nairobi, has rolled out a project for constructing biocenters in various informal settlements in Kenya. The move is aimed at improving sanitation, providing renewable energy (bio-gas) and income generation.

The initiative will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It involves diverting human waste into a digester which generates biogas. Biogas is a natural gas which is used for cooking in a gas stove.

Kibera, Africa’s largest slum

Paul Muchire, a communications manager at Umande says, “We came up with this idea because there were many pit latrines in slums and many times they were full and no proper mechanisms of disposing the waste were in place, this resulted in many people to use flying toilets.”

The centers are found in Kibera, Korogocho, Mukuru Mji wa huruma – a slum within one of the high class residential areas in Nairobi, Runda, and Kisumu.

“ Life here in Katwekera has really improved, I no longer use flying toilet with my family, I can also access gas at 20 ksh , which is cheaper than charcoal that goes for 50 ksh per 2 kg tin,” Mary Akinyi, a mother of five aged 36 , caretaker at Muvi – Biocetre in Katwekera Kibera says.

The biocentre is one of the many that Umande trust has built in partnership with Water and Sanitation For The Urban Poor, Nairobi City Water and Sewage Company among others. Multi Vision Self Help Group runs the Biocenter.

Toilets, bathrooms, rental spaces, water and a biogas unit (A mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by bacterial degradation of organic matter and used as a fuel) are main services provided by this facility. One pays 5ksh for toilet, water 3ksh per 20litres, shower 10ksh warm and cold 5 ksh to cook with biogas 20 ksh shillings per meal.

Muvi Biocetre in Katwekera, Kibera

Mary adds that life has become easier and environment is very clean, before there was a terrible stench from the human waste that was thrown allover the place. As a mother she is able to cook for her family of five meals cheaply using biogas from the human waste, this could cost her a lot with charcoal energy.

“Nyoyo” in her Dholuo language, a mixture of maize and beans takes a lot of charcoal and time to prepare, but with biogas she can cook faster and cheaper.

A beehive of activity goes on at the Muvi biocenter, the gas heater is on with water boiling for a client to bath, Githeri a Kikuyu language word, mixture of maize and beans are lined up waiting to be cooked by Susan Wanjiku who runs a small kiosk around.

Huge tanks of water and toilet papers are what one glances at first. Mary, the caretaker is with a broom in her hands and water ready to wash the facility. No smell of any form from human waste smells here.

Kennedy Gaya and Charles Otieno, some of the members I found at the facility, comment on the facility in terms of improved hygiene standards in the slum. Through the technical support from Umande Trust, a biodigester is dug underground to help processing of the biogas which produces energy for cooking at the biocenter.

Kibera one of the largest slums in Africa with an average population of 1 million, has biocentres in Lindi, Soweto, Kianda and Kichinjio villages.The biocentres are constructed by Umande and other partners and then handed over to self-help groups within the villages to run and generate income from them.

Michael Francis, a technical service manager with Umande notes that self-help groups are best placed to run the centre because they are able to acquire land for the project and also represent community. Through Umande Trust, members can access microfinance services such as loans to empower them economically.

women cooking using biogas at a Biocentre

Paul Muchire, a communications manager at Umande Trust, emphasizes self help groups are very key in this project. They decide on the design of the biocentre depending on the needs of a specific community they represent.

However, this project faces stigma from some community members especially the men who at times oppose the use of biogas from human waste, but through training from Umande, people are slowly changing and accepting biogas from human waste as energy like any other and with no side effects.

A bagging method to help address this challenge is at the pilot stage .Through the bagging method where people can get gas in canvas bags at 20 ksh for hiring and 20 ksh for the gas will help those who are not near the biocentre to access the gas for use.

Michael Francis, a technician service at Umande confirms that a bagging system is still at the pilot stage and they believe it will really help once it is rolled out fully.

The gas bags cost 11,000 shillings each and therefore individuals from the slums may not be able to afford therefore hiring is best suited for them. They have ten bags already which they intend to use soon.

Biocentres have come as a savoir to water and sanitation challenges facing people in informal settlements.

“Flying toilets” as commonly known among many slum dwellers, have drastically reduced. People in informal settlements like Katwekera in Kibera, had no access to clean water and sanitation.

An easy and available option was to use plastic bags to help themselves then throw the human waste within their surrounding. This contributes to many environmental and health hazards to the communities living in the slums. Waterborne diseases, pollution of the environment through plastic bags pose a great risk to children who don’t have powerful immune systems to fight infections.

Biocenters, through services of biogas and supply of clean water is an option which can help communities improve on their livelihoods in a “green” way.

June 15, 2012

Uganda: Government Allocates 355 BN/= to the Water Sector

Paschal B. Bagonza
June 15, 2012

The government of Uganda has allocated Shs. 355 billion to the water sector in the 2012/2013 financial year.

In last year’s budget, the government earmarked Shs 271 billion to the same sector.

The minister of finance, planning and economic development, Maria Kiwanuka said the increase is necessary because “the component for bulk water supply previously under the agricultural sector has now been transferred to the water sector.”

Uganda’s finance Minister, Maria Kiwanuka

While presenting the national budget in Kampala, Kiwanuka said the government’s priority in the water sector is to avail it for production.

She noted that the government plans to have an emergency rehabilitation and upgrading of Gaba I and II intake to increase water production capacity to 300 million liters per day and construction of a four million liters reservoir at Namasuba-a city suburb.

Kiwanuka revealed that in next financial year, gravity flow schemes supplying Nabweya, Lirima and Kanyampaga and small piped water systems for Luanda, Kabumba and Ongino Rural Growth centers will be constructed, for improved rural water supply.

She added that piped water systems will also be built in Lamwo, Agago and Nwoya, among many others. The ongoing construction of piped water systems in Paidha, Patongo, Opit, Omugo and 25 other township townships will be completed.

About a quarter of Uganda’s population lack access to safe water

The government will also start constructing new systems in Moyo, Ibuye, Kalongo, Purongo and Akujo, she said.

She also revealed plans for further investments in urban water supply and drilling of boreholes.

Through the National Water and Sewerage Corporation, she added, the government will undertake a number of projects of constructing a water treatment plant, rehabilitation of Bugolobi Sewage treatment plant and construction of waste water management plant.

In order to address constraints in water for production, the government plans to rehabilitate windmills in Karamoja Region, construct Kitasi-Sanga-Kanyaryeru bulk water scheme in Kiruhura district, design the Rwengaaju irrigation scheme in Kabarole and Kulwodong dam in Abim District.

About a quarter of Uganda’s population lack access to safe water.

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