Posts tagged ‘politics’

October 14, 2012

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

Newton Sibanda
October 14, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 8, 2012

Malawi: Saving Water Kiosks from Political Interference

George Mhango
Blantyre, Malawi
September 08,2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women depend on few boreholes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 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.

July 16, 2012

Zambia: Prisons owe EWSC K639 million in Water Bills

Newton Sibanda
August 16, 2012

FOUR prisons in Eastern Province have had no water for weeks after being disconnected by the Eastern Water and Sewerage Company (EWSC) for failing to settle K639 million (US$1=K5000) outstanding water bills.

The development exposed over 1,000 inmates to poor sanitation and possible outbreak of diseases.

EWSC public relations officer Kashoki Nsofwa says the affected prisons are Namuseche in Chipata, Nyimba, Petauke and Lundazi prisons.

Diseases are rife in Africa’s overcrowded prisons characterized by poor sanitation and hygiene

Mr Nsofwa said the water utility company disconnected water to the prisons because of the K639 million debt which has been outstanding since 2009.

“I want to confirm that we have disconnected water to four prisons, namely Namuseche, Nyimba, Petauke and Lundazi state prisons,” he said.

Mr Nsofwa said currently, Numuseche Prison in the provincial capital Chipata is fetching water from a nearby clinic which also has outstanding bills which should be settled not later than this week.

Eastern Province prisons deputy commanding officer Namataa Mayumbelo declined to comment on reports of water disconnections to four prisons.

Recently, EWSC said the four prisons, Chipata General Hospital and Chipata Municipal Council owe it about K3.5 billion in unpaid water bills.

EWSC managing director Wamuwi Changani urged the institutions to settle their bills, failure to which water supply would be disconnected.

And Eastern Province Minister Charles Banda said Government is aware that EWSC is owed about K3.5 billion in outstanding water bills by various government departments.

The minister said Government is committed to settling all outstanding bills it owes EWSC.
“I therefore direct all government departments with outstanding water bills to liquidate them or face disconnection by the water supply company,” Mr Banda said.

June 6, 2012

Tanzania: WSSCC Offers 5M USD to Tanzania for Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion

WSSCC
June 06, 2012

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has officially announced its support for a Sanitation and Hygiene programme investing US$ 5,000,000 from its Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) to help more communities in Tanzania increase access to and attain improved sanitation.

Known as the Usafi wa Mazingira Tanzani (UMATA) in Kiswahili, the programme announced by WSSCC is part of the country’s broader National Sanitation Programme, also unveiled by the Government at the national World Environment Day celebrations.

The GSF funded programme was announced at a high profile event hosted by President of the United Republic Of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete in the presence of senior dignitaries, decision makers and civil society representatives, in the central area of Dodoma – where the programme will commence.

Global Sanitation Fund logo

Unlike in neighbouring countries, basic sanitation coverage in Tanzania is relatively good, as many people have latrines. However many latrines are either unused or unhygienic, as highlighted by a recent baseline district data which revealed that only 28 % of the rural population have access to improved sanitation and less than 25% of the total population is estimated to have a designated place for hand-washing with soap.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 70% of diseases in Tanzania are water related and it is estimated that these cost Tanzania close to US$ 600 million annually. As such the case for proper sanitation and hygiene as an effective preventative intervention is strong and has gained political traction recently.

Enshrined within the country’s development Vision 2025, the Government has increasingly recognized the hampering effects of poor sanitation and hygiene on its wider development efforts – such as eradication of poverty and economic advancement.

It therefore pledged to provide improved sanitation to 95% of its population by 2025. As part of the solution, the GSF-funded programme is supporting the Government in its landmark sanitation initiative “Go to Zero”. “The tide is really turning in favour of sanitation and hygiene,” said Mark Willis, Programme Manager for WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund. “The funds we are providing will mean that another 0.8 million Tanzanians will have better sanitation by 2015.”

The five-year UMATA programme worth US$ 5,000,000 aims to increase access and use of improved sanitation facilities and seeks to positively change behaviours related to sanitation and hygiene on a wide scale for communities. With an initial focus on three districts namely Bahi, Chamwino and Kongwa, the programme builds upon the National Sanitation Programme and existing country strategies.

It also aims to instigate significant change through strengthening existing national knowledge, skills and systems and the development of a National Information Education and Communications (IEC) strategy.

At a practical level, a pool of well-trained national facilitators will be deployed across the country to roll out sanitation and hygiene initiatives in Tanzania. The GSF-funded UMATA programme will contribute to poverty reduction through reducing healthcare expenses, increasing productivity, and improving attendance in schools amongst other benefits.

April 21, 2012

High Level Meeting Sets Course Towards Water and Sanitation for All

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
April 20th, 2012

Government ministers from almost 40 developing countries met with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, UK International Development Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell, Chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation HRH the Prince of Orange, and major donors and water and sanitation sector organizations, to discuss speeding up global access to water and sanitation yesterday

The April 20 Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting came ahead of the World Bank’s Spring Meetings this week.

One of pictures that were exhibited during the 2012 World Water Forum in Marseille France showing Women meditating in water.

It brought together the SWA Partnership of donors and agencies with 69 ministers responsible for finance, sanitation and hygiene portfolios.

The meeting was the second of its kind, and came against the backdrop of an announcement in March from UNICEF and the World Health Organization that the world had met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for improved drinking water sources, but that many still lack safe water, and that the target for improved sanitation is lagging far behind and will not be met at current rates of progress.

“Forty years ago exactly, in a triumph of science, engineering, and technology, Apollo 16 landed on the moon. It was the fifth mission to do so,” Lake says, “yet today, 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation because they lack the most basic sanitation facilities.” He continues: “If, two generations ago, we landed men on the moon, we can and we must afford people here on earth their most basic needs.”

His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana and newly appointed chair of the SWA partnership, emphasizes the need for governments to act urgently.

“It is time to focus our energies on neglected areas and neglected people. The dream of universal access to sanitation and water is within our reach, but a tremendous increase in political will, adequate resources and coordinated efforts is required to get us there,” Kufuor says.

The High Level Meeting was moderated by Ambassdor Jan Eliasson, who has recently been named by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the United Nations’ fourth Deputy Secretary-General. Currently Chair of WaterAid Sweden, Eliasson is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advocates Group for the Achievement of the MDGs. He notes that sanitation and hygiene are now being recognized as a cornerstone of development, security and well-being, and key to the welfare of the citizens of the world.

Eliasson says, the Minister, “are mindful of the economic value of sanitation and water to developing economies, but also of the human value.” “They have in mind the children who must be protected from illness, the boys and girls who must go to school, the women who must be freed from back-breaking labor. I know that the world is watching us – and I think those people are applauding.”

One of pictures that were exhibited during the 2012 World Water Forum in Marseille France showing children bathing.

According to UNICEF, at least 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea occur in children under five years of age every year, and an estimated 3,000 children die from it daily. The World Bank says huge savings in health care costs and gains in productive days can be realized by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene and could amount to over 7% of gross domestic product, depending on the country. The economic gains to be made from investing in sanitation and water are estimated at US $170 billion per year. If everyone had access to adequate sanitation and water services, the world`s health sectors would save around $15 billion every year.

Organizers were hoping to build on the success of the first High Level Meeting in 2010, also convened by UNICEF at the World Bank, which led to increased focus and commitments from countries and donors. The 2012 meeting was greatly expanded, with 40 countries taking part, up from 18 in 2010. Of those present in 2010, nine countries have confirmed that they are meeting their commitments of increased budget allocations; and seven of the 13 donors present in 2010 have met or exceeded the targets they set for funding. Countries have also reported improved coordination and accountability among different institutions and almost half the donors have increased alignment with national planning processes.

March 9, 2012

Sub-Saharan Africa Fails to Meet Access to Clean Water Goal Ahead of Time

Cliff Abenaitwe
March 09,2012

Though the world has reached the Millennium Development Goal of cutting by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water five years ahead of the 2015 deadline, most Africa countries are not about to.

This is according to a report by the UN children agency-UNICEF and World Health organization.

The report released ahead of the 6th World Water forum in Marseilles France indicates that 89 percent of the world’s population, or more than six billion people, now use improved drinking water sources.

Between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to piped water supplies, protected wells and other improved drinking sources.

Children collecting water in Kabale district of Uganda

But according to the same report over 780 million people in the world are still without access to improved sources of drinking water. This group accounts for 11 percent of the global population and the largest fraction is in Sub Sahara Africa.

The report indicates that Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania are not on track to meet the MDG drinking water target.

The heartbreaking truth is that 605 million people will be without an improved drinking water source and 2.4 billion people will lack access to improved sanitation facilities by the turn of 2015.

Over 780 million people in the world are still without access to improved sources of drinking water

Commenting on the report the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki moon commended this achievement. “This achievement is a testament to the commitment of Government leaders, public and private sector entities, communities and individuals who saw the target not as a dream, but as a vital step towards improving health and well-being” he noted. “Of course, much work remains to be done”, the secretary general cautioned adding that achieving the MDG drinking water target is a major step, but ultimately, only one step on a long journey that we have yet to finish.

The report suggests a number of ways to help areas that are far-off the target like sub-Sahara African and Oceania. “Continued efforts are needed to reduce urban-rural disparities and inequities associated with poverty; to dramatically increase coverage in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania; to promote global monitoring of drinking water quality; to bring sanitation ‘on track’; and to look beyond the MDG target towards universal coverage”, the report recommends.

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