Posts tagged ‘research’

May 8, 2012

Countries Reform Their Water Laws As Pressures Mounts On Water Resources

UN-Water and UNEP
May 7, 2012

Over 80 percent of countries have reformed their water laws in the past twenty years as a response to growing pressures on water resources from expanding populations, urbanization and climate change.

In many cases, such water reforms have produced significant impacts on development, including improvements to drinking water access, human health and water efficiency in agriculture.

Water reforms have produced significant impacts on development, including improvements to drinking water access

At the same time, global progress has been slower where irrigation, rainwater harvesting and investment in freshwater ecosystem services are concerned.

These are among the findings of a United Nations survey of over 130 national governments on efforts to improve the sustainable management of water resources.

The survey focuses on progress towards the implementation of internationally-agreed approaches to the management and use of water, known as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Backed by UN Member States at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit as part of an overall action plan on sustainable development (known as Agenda 21), IWRM is a way forward for efficient, equitable and sustainable development and management of the world’s limited water resources.

Amid increasing and conflicting demands on the world’s water supply, IWRM integrates domestic, agricultural, industrial and environmental needs into water planning, rather than considering each demand in isolation.

The latest survey is intended to inform decision-making at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012. Twenty years after the Earth Summit, world governments will once again convene in Rio de Janeiro to take decisions on how to ensure sustainable development for the 21st century.

The survey, which was co-ordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on behalf of UN-Water (the UN inter-agency co-ordination mechanism for freshwater issues), asked governments for their feedback on governance, infrastructure, financing, and other areas relating to water management, to gauge how successful countries have been in moving towards IWRM.

Overall, 90 percent of countries surveyed reported a range of positive impacts from integrated approaches to water management, following national reforms.

Other key findings include:
• Water-related risks and the competition for water resources are perceived by a majority of countries to have increased over the past 20 years;
• Domestic water supply is ranked by most countries as the highest priority for water resources management;
• The majority of countries reported an increasing trend in financing for water resources development, although obstacles to implementing reforms remain;
• Progress on water efficiency is lagging behind other water management reforms, with less than 50 percent of national reforms addressing water efficiency.

Competition for water resources is perceived by a majority of countries to have increased over the past 20 years

“The sustainable management and use of water – due to its vital role in food security, energy or supporting valuable ecosystem services – underpins the transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient green economy,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“As well as highlighting challenges, this new survey also shows important successes regarding integrated water resources management, where a more sustainable approach to water has resulted in tangible benefits for communities and the environment. At Rio+20, governments will have the opportunity to build on these innovations and chart the way forward for sustainable development, where the water needs of a global population set to rise to 9 billion by 2050, can be met in an equitable way,” added Mr. Steiner.

The UN survey shows the major environmental changes that have taken place between 1992, when IWRM was firstly widely backed by governments, and today – and how water resources are managed in the face of such challenges.

The world population, for example, increased from 5.3 billion in 1992 to just over 7 billion today, with impacts being felt most strongly in developing countries. This has been accompanied by increased rural-to-urban migration and high refugee movements due to climatic and socio-political disasters.

Survey Recommendations
The survey includes a number of suggested targets and recommendations, which are designed to inform decision-makers at Rio+20. These are based on an assessment of the findings from the survey and include:
• By 2015, each country should develop specific targets and timeframes for preparing and implementing a programme of action and financing strategy for IWRM.
• By 2015, a global reporting mechanism on national water resources management should be established. This is to ensure a more rigorous reporting system on progress with IWRM, and improve the availability of information.
• More effort is needed to increase levels of financing and to improve the institutional framework for water resources management – especially focusing on low HDI countries.

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.

April 16, 2012

Risk of Sanitation and Water Supply Services Slipping Behind

By UN Water
Photos by Fredrick Mugira
April 16th 2012

While access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has considerably improved globally, services coverage could slip behind if adequate resources are not secured to sustain routine operations, warns the 2012 UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water – or “GLAAS” – released last week by WHO and UN-Water.

The report calls for additional and more targeted resources, especially for routine operation and maintenance of existing systems and services.

Adequate resources such as these men constructing a water tank are needed to sustain routine operation and maintenance of existing WASH systems and services

“Since its inception in 2007, UN-Water GLAAS has earned its place among water, sanitation and hygiene monitoring and reporting programmes and is increasingly used as the basis for better-informed decision-making,” said Mr Michel Jarraud, Chair of UN-Water and Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization. “This comes from the recognition that the scarcity of information on national sanitation and drinking-water–related policies, financing and human resources is a major barrier to progress.”

The GLAAS report presents data received from 74 developing countries, up from 43 in 2010; and from 24 bilateral and multilateral agencies covering 90% of global official development assistance funds.

Along with a chronic lack of technicians and skilled labor, countries report insufficient staff in place to operate and maintain sanitation and drinking-water infrastructure. Data suggest that funding allocations may not be sufficient to fund routine operation and maintenance. For example, one in three countries highlighted that revenues are insufficient to cover operating costs for urban utilities. Only 7% of external support is directed at maintaining services. All these factors put sustainability of water and sanitation systems at risk in many countries.

Water supply and treatment equipment

Despite the global financial crisis, the total amount of development aid for sanitation and drinking-water increased by 3% between 2008 and 2010, to US$ 7.8 billion. But only half of it is targeted to the regions where 70% of the global unserved actually live – sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and South-eastern Asia. Alignment of aid with country priorities is quite poor, with less than 5% of WASH disbursements currently made through sector budget support.

“Ultimately, this report is about optimizing the instruments we have to ensure primary prevention of a major global killer, diarrhoeal diseases, across all sectors contributing to water and sanitation progress,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment. “The major gains that have been made urgently need consolidation through investment in water services,coupled with a strengthening of financial and human resources to ensure further progress in the provision of safe drinking-water and basic sanitation”.

Political-will exists and all countries have made some form of political or financial commitment to sanitation and drinking-water since 2010. The vast majority have established transparent national targets and most have established planning and coordination processes. However, in many cases, political will has not yet catalysed the enabling environment required to spur progress and planning is not supported by adequate information and data. Despite impressive global gains, most countries are falling short on meeting their own national commitments, with 83% and 70% of countries reportedly falling significantly behind the trends required to meet their defined national access targets for sanitation and drinking-water, respectively.

The Aquaplenty, a simple and robust ‘water from air’ production device powered by renewable energy and created by H2OnSite B.V. Such a device needs experts for routine operation and maintenance

Nearly 80% of countries recognize the right to water, and just over half of them the right to sanitation. Realizing the rights to water and sanitation may help targetingresources to unserved population and avoid discrimination in the provision of WASH services. However, just one in five countries consistently applies equity criteria in funding allocations for sanitation, whereas one third applies equity criteria to drinking-water investments.

Beyond 2015 and the MDG period, achieving new targets related to the goal of universal access to drinking-water and sanitation will require a concerted efforts and the allocation of vast resources. Focusing on effectively managing assets to sustain services can be as important as focusing on new infrastructure. In order to better target and use scarce resources more efficiently, it is necessary to have a better understanding of what is being done and by whom, and to identify the critical inputs leading to success. GLAAS is increasingly used as a tool for more informed decision-making and is taking up the challenge of making necessary information available, in particular with the development of methodologies to monitor financial flows and to assess the demand for appropriately skilled people.

GLAAS is a report of UN-Water coordinated by the World Health Organization. It monitors the inputs required to extend and sustain water, sanitation and hygiene systems and services. Building on the results of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, GLAAS analyses the underlying reasons for success – or lack thereof.

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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