Posts tagged ‘vacation’

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 10, 2012

Kenya: Turning Kibera’s Garbage into Gold.

Mary Mwendwa
August 10, 2012

A hub of economic empowerment is growing in Kibera slum through recycling some used garbage. Kibera slum is located in Nairobi, Kenya. It is the biggest and the poorest African slum

Shiriki Foundation, a Non – government organization founded by a group of Rastafarians, has tapped into unutilized Kibera’s garbage mostly used tyres.

Located in Kibera , one of the largest slums in Kenya with a population of 170,070 according to census report (2010) , Ministry of State for Planning National Development and Vision 2030.

Kibera Slum in Nairobi, Kenya

In a slum, vegetation is scarcely seen; crowded narrow paths, dirty drainage and temporary sheet houses are common sceneries.

But at shiriki, things are different. Green vegetation, yellow, Green and red colored flag paintings by the roadside, are what meets my eye first, as I get to Shiriki Foundations art room in Kibera near, the Kibera Law courts next to Karanja estate.

Outside, I meet Ras Nganga, dressed in a black turban covering his long dreadlocks, wearing a necklace made of seeds with Rastafarian colors (red, yellow and green) added onto it. Next to him, nice sandals made of rubber from old tires, woven scurf, bracelets, sweaters and mosaic paintings dot the ground.

He is busy making the shoes chanting praises to Jah (God) and gluing a strap of Rasta colors on the sandal to make it more attractive. Am told the word Ras means mr,an adherent of the Rastafarism culture.

Arts and Crafts displayed for sell in Kibera Slum

I stretch my hand to greet him, and he folds his wrist, “Give thanks and praises, welcome sister, he greets me humbly.

He then leads me to the art room where I had earlier booked an appointment with Ras Beniah a member of Shiriki foundation. A narrow path of flowers and different types of trees lead me inside the room.

A huge portrait of Emperor Haile Selassie , wooden stools with three legs, different paintings hanged on the wall, cans of paint, dry seeds, painting brushes and threads are scattered in the room.

Ras Beniah welcomes me and next to him is a young man holding a brush and his cloths soiled with different colors paint.

He excuses himself to go upstairs where he is working on a mosaic painting for a client. I get to learn the organization is based at a former dumping site that they rehabilitated.
“This was a big dumping site just on the roadside; we had no land and decided to rehabilitate the site into something constructive,” Ras Beniah adds.

Next to the foundation is a natural well which has water that never dries. Car washing business booms here, the water is not fit for domestic consumption but for cleaning purposes which shiriki uses in their art work.

“This is just part of what Shiriki foundation is involved in , I and I (a chant of words that Rastafarians use) in these words we believe there is power and get spiritual uplifting when we chant them,” Ras Beniah tells me further noting that these words can also mean me and soul where the almighty Jah dwells.

We are joined by Ras Lojuron Nyabinghi, founder member of Shiriki. Inside the room, a beehive of activities goes on.

Ras Beniah starts by explaining different ministries within Shiriki foundation. First, spiritual ministry which believes in Haile Selassie the 1ST as their spiritual father. They follow the holy Sabbath teaching which falls on Saturdays. On this day they don’t involve themselves in any activities.

The second ministry is Agriculture; they have a project in Maragua, a town in central Kenya.

Rastafarians don’t eat any animal products, through farming organically; they are able to grow their own vegetables and fruits which form part of their daily meals.

In Maragua they have a group of youth who are involved in farming, all are volunteers and have projects like tree planting which they involve Maragua community. All members belong to the Rastafarian group of believers who believe in Rastafarians also believe in Emperor Haile Selassie who was the Savior sent by Jah to free the black people from colonialism and Racism just the same as Jesus was sent to free the Jews. This is the corner stone of The Rastafarian Faith. Jah being an active God who sympathizes with his Children who struggle to live in Babylon.

Ras Lojuron Jaden one of the founder members of Shiriki who is now based in Sudan believes through art, youths who come to the center, are able to connect with their nature.

He further explains the art work is of great benefit to the youth who most of the times find themselves in the world of less employment opportunities.

Kibera being a slum, many young people have struggled through thick and thin to make both ends meet. With lack of access to most basic needs like water and sanitation, many of them get into crime related activities.

Shiriki offers free training to all youth who come to the center. They also train children in schools and this helps them establish clubs where children collect seeds from various parts and in return they get bracelets from the team.

Ras Beniah echoes similar sentiments from his colleague; he tells me how all the youth who are trained in art work make a living from the art. Sandals made out of recycled tires go for a minimum of 300ksh and a maximum of 1500ksh depending on the material used for decorations and labor. Scarves from a minimum of 800ksh to 1000ksh, jeweler 200ksh -1500ksh. All these products are made from natural seeds which are collected and recycled material.

“Tires are a menace to the environment because they are not biodegradable, but now we use them hence making the environment cleaner,” says Ras Beniah.

Sandals made of recycled tires in Kibera slum

Ras Lojuron confirms to me that there is no proper drainage system in Kibera and old tire pieces block the existing ones making it impossible for dirty water to flow.

Ras Nganga is able to feed his family though the art of making sandals decorated with Rasta colors, he confirms to me. They are able to market their products both locally and internationally.

They use Agricultural Shows forums to showcase their products and creativity through art. Something that many appreciate in Kibera where they are based. Interestingly, Shiriki foundation never suffered post-election violence which hit Kenya in 2007.

Hand bags made in Kibera slum

Kibera was one of the hotspots, but due to what they had contributed to the community through free trainings and tree planting exercises, nobody attacked them.

The foundation is non-partisan, they welcome all youths who are willing to be trained and it is upon the trainees to decide whether they want to become members or leave after they have gained the skill. This has made them stand out among the youths in Kibera who many times have no money to train in art institutions which charge money for their trainings.

Kenyas Economic Pillars anchored on economic, social and political governance of Vision 2030 seeks to improve prosperity of all regions of the country and all Kenyans by achieving a 10% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate by 2012. This can only be achieved if many Kenyans are involved in incoming generating activities both in formal and informal sectors. Shiriki foundation is one trying to meet part of vision 2030 objectives.

However, they face some challenges, one of them being lack of access to clean water from the well that is just next to them. The water is polluted and therefore they are forced to buy water from the Nairobi water and Sewage suppliers who sell to them a 20 liters container at 5 ksh.

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.

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 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

Zambia: Call-Boys Urinate against Poor Sanitation

Newton Sibanda
June 15, 2012

In a bizarre way of demonstrating, call-boys at the main commuter station of Zambia’s tourist capital Livingstone have urinated against poor sanitation during a visit by the parliamentary committee on local government.

Call-boys are the rowdy youths who earn their living by shouting for customers and wooing commuters at bus stations or bus stops.

The peculiar incident happened when committee members led by Eustackio Kazunga visited the Livingstone bus station to familiarize themselves with the challenges being faced by the Livingstone City Council in terms of sanitation last week.

Poor Sanitation and hygiene remains one of dangerous threats to good health in most Africa’s towns

Determined to raise the profile of their plight, albeit in a unique way, the call boys invited the cameraman from the public broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) who was covering the tour and led him to a caravan situated next to a makeshift restaurant commonly known as ‘Savage Restaurant’ where they openly urinated.

“We want to show you how we go about our daily lives. This is our only toilet and behind this caravan is a restaurant,” said one call boy as others joined him in the urinating mission.

As the committee bypassed the caravan, the call boys shouted while pointing at the heaps of garbage and their makeshift ‘toilets’.

Three other boys urinating as Kazonga, who is former local government minister, hurriedly walked on.

Earlier, a minibus driver pushed his way through the councilors who accompanied Kazonga to brief him on the bad state of the station.

“This place is very bad, especially during the rainy season. We want it to be worked on,” said.

In response, Kazonga said “The council management is here with the Town Clerk and the mayor and they are listening. We want this place to be a decent one with toilets and running water.”

May 18, 2012

Malawi: Aquatic Weeds and Silt Lead to Power Deficiency

George Mhango
May 18, 2012

Two things are clear in Malawi, especially at night: blackouts and the sound of generators in various workplaces. Power interruptions continue to affect both private and public sectors including people. These blackouts are also attributed to effects of weeds and silt.

Latest findings by Malawi Business Climate Survey (MBCS) cuts in power transmission have contributed to losses beyond the minimum acceptable level of seven percent.

The growth of water weeds has a significant impact on rivers and hydropower generation in many countries in Africa

The Millennium Challenge Account-Malawi (MCA-M) estimates that the country is losing 215.6 million dollars a year due to the power outages.

With transmission and distribution losses pegged at about 20 percent, according to Escom, the Consumers Association of Malawi says poor Malawians bear the cost of losses through hiked tariffs.

Tedzani Hydro Power Station is one of the affected apart from Nkula and Kapichira.

Visits to Tedzani which generates close to 90 megawatts of power proved that in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the onset of floating aquatic weeds on the river so much so that electricity generation has been greatly affected especially during the rainy seasons.

However, the intake was previously provided with a course-screen that runs across the pond to catch and divert any oncoming trash and weeds. The equipment suffered damage at its base foundations and some screens got washed away during the 2001 similar operation.

For Escom power stations operated without any major environmental problems until 1990s when there was an increase of floating aquatic weeds and debris in addition to silt deposition at the intake ponds.

Knowing that they already use equipment to deal with weeds and silt, Escom officials think it is high time they engaged communities in sensitization meetings at Tedzani so they stop cultivating along the river banks.

Public relations manager, Kitty Chingota confirmed this to media practitioners during a recent tour to the site that communities are crucial since farming along the river has side effects on their head-ponds.

“Soils that are being eroded are full of soil nutrients, in addition to this, almost all farmers use artificial fertilizers which are eroded together with top soils before finding their way into the river,” she says.

The awareness is expected to involve the agricultural officials and the forestry department.

Shire River Bridge, Mangochi Malawi

In a paper presented during the International Conference on Hydro Power in Malawi held in Sri Lanka three years ago, Escom officials alluded that when these soils and their nutrients are deposited into the river they provide necessary nutrients to the aquatic plants and they then grow and multiply.

The paper states that the weeds among others comprise of water hyacinth (eichhornia crassipes) known as Namasupuni, Red water fern (Salvinia molesta), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and elephant grass

Engineers say that as aquatic weeds float, the river currents then cuts them off from the main firm grounds of the river banks and they are carried away downstream which affects power generation.

She states that Escom’s priority is to ensure that Malawians have power hence the decision to work on the machines. “Silt and aquatic weeds are a major threat to power generation because most of the equipment cannot pump water as a result of the two problems,” says Chingota.

Rex Muhome, head of Tedzani Hydro Power Station shares his input saying that through flooding, crops are washed away and as such weeds are emptied into the river while forming silt.

During the tour it was observed that the screens are cleaned by trash rakes but at certain instances the trash rakes have been overcome by the inflow of the weeds so much so that the whole power station could be shut down to allow for the weeds to be cleared out at the intake.

It is against this background that during the Easter Holiday, Escom repairs equipment from the head-ponds. “We lose revenue once we halt operations but such repair works on Easter Holidays are crucial to us as Escom. Just this year, we first closed Tedzani on Friday and Sunday and then Nkula later to ensure that most parts still have power,” said Chingota.

Muhome, head of the power station hints that the shutting of production at the site is routine considering that on the Easter Holiday, not many companies are in production.

“In this project of maintaining and removing weeds and silt we always target all Hydro Power Stations but in phase. However, communities have got to be sensitised having observed serious repercussions on our machines,” Muhome says.

He says the civic education for communities not to cultivate along the river banks is likely to start soon. “We are working on modalities for the whole project for it to be a success,” Muhome says.

Such decisions by Escom to involve communities would ensure that power generations projections by the (MCA-M) for 2010, 2015 and 2020 estimated at 408MW, 603MW and 829MW are achieved inclusive of new power plants establishments.

Statistics by the power utility company and economists vindicate that the concealed demand for power in Malawi for about 180 000 clients is about 300MW. However, the available power generation capacity as at now is 266MW not in line with the overgrowing demand of power.

Up to 98 percent of electricity is obtained from power plants located on the Shire River in Chikhwawa South of Malawi, except for Wovwe mini hydro plant in Karonga situated. Escom authorities point out that the country’s hydro potential is estimated at over 1,000MW.

May 18, 2012

Kenya: Death on the River

May 18, 2012
Mary Mwendwa

September 13th 2011, was one of the darkest mornings in Kenyan history. Sinai slum, found in Nairobi’s Industrial area lost over 100 people in a fire tragedy.

Located in the eastern part of Nairobi, Sinai slum has a Nairobi River tributary that passes nearby. Residents here build their sheet house close to the river, when it rains some of the houses on the riparian land get washed away.

Kenya Pipeline Company, responsible for oil supply in the country has a transport corridor for the petroleum products within the Sinai slum. With no proper sanitation services, the river here is full of human waste and chemical waste from the factories. National Environment Management Authority, NEMA, has been conducting a cleaning program of the river but due to increasing population among many slum dwellers the river still faces pollution.

A section of the Sinai- fire tragedy scene on Ngong River

On this jinxed day, people were scooping super petrol from a burst pipeline .With less knowledge about the high flammable condition of the oil, many celebrated it as a blessing of getting money after selling the product.

Men, women and children joined in the scramble for scooping oil.Little did they know things would take a tragic turn even before they could sell the petrol. Josephine Atieno a mother of five lost her teenage son and her husband, who both had gone to scoop the oil. She has never been able to trace their bodies. ‘Fire broke out after a man with a cigarette went to get oil from the pipe’ she sobs.scores of people died and many are still nursing serious wounds they sustained on that material day.

According to Jasper Opati, a resident at the slum for the last 20 years, ‘people here have low income levels, and whenever they see something they can get money from, never think of the danger it poses’. On that day when fire broke, some people jumped into the polluted river to put off fire on their bodies but it dint work. Many burnt to death in the river. The river got double pollution because it had remains of decomposing body parts that were not retrieved during the search exercise.

Sinai slum along Ngong river tributary

River pollution in slums is a major concern, sewers in slums are drained in rivers, all types of waste dumped in them. In Nairobi, some of the slums that are near Nairobi river are, Mathare, Kibera, Majengo ,Kwa Njenga among others. All these contributing to the pollution of a river that originates from Ngong , Dagoretti Forests and Ondiri/Kikuyu wetlands.

Professor Kenneth Mavuti, A Hydrologist and a Senior lecturer at Nairobi University attributes human encroachment on raparian land as one of the major contributing factors to river pollution. Large populations of people occupy slum with no access to water and sanitation.

The fire tragedy at Sinai fueled another tragedy of pollution in the Nairobi River Basin, although life may have gone back to normal, other related disasters loom as people still occupy slums for a survival in the name of a livelihood in the city.

May 8, 2012

Kenya: Saved by Borehole 11

Mary Mwendwa
May 8, 2012

Northern Kenya is generally hot and dry. The people of Northern Kenya are mostly pastoralists and living in dry harsh terrains. Our network member Mary Mwendwa has been there. She now takes us on an exploratory journey of the dry and dusty drought-ridden plains of North Eastern Kenya in search of water.

Women and children carrying jerry cans on their backs, donkeys with water on their backs, flocks of cattle, goats and camels are just some of the regular images one sees along the dusty and dry roads of a village town – Elwak, located in the North Eastern province of Kenya, Mandera Central District.

No tarmac road exists here; it’s a rough terrain with dust and bushy thorny plantations which are drought resistant,
A community known for its nomadic lifestyle and pastoralism, the harsh climatic conditions here of scotching heat and no rainfall has left many residents in need of water.

People waiting for water at borehole 11 -elwak

This precious commodity is shared amongst the people and their livestock which is part of them. People here belong to the Garre community who speak both Somali and Borana language and are Muslims by religion.

Drought and famine here are so severe to a level that people and livestock lose life and children get malnourished as the situation worsens.

Last year’s drought was a bad one; they lost lots of livestock, having no place to take their livestock as their neighbor Somalia was in the same situation.

Claudio Siotum, the livestock officer in the District, shortage of water and pasture is the main problem facing people here, it gets worse when there is drought and people start feeding their cows on cotton paper mixed with sugar and some water.
“Rainfall here is never our vocabulary, two years can pass without a single drop of rainfall’’, says Halima Boru, a mother of four aged 32 who has lived here her entire life.

A region close to the porous Somalia border seven kilometers away from Somalia. Life here is never a bed of roses. People walk for so many kilometers to get access to clean water. Amaney Fatuma, a teenage girl here walks for seven kilometers every day to get to a borehole that serves the entire community.

Borehole 11 –As they call it, is just a savior to the people here, the wells they have dug in their villages produce saline water and only borehole 11 has clean and sweet water.’’ Maji Tamu” loosely translated in English ‘’sweet water’’.This borehole was constructed with the help of Kenya Red Cross Society .

March 25, 2012

Cameroon: Dying for Any Water in Buea

Lum Edith Achamukong
March 25, 2012

The absence of safe water is reportedly rendering many residents of the South West Region of Cameroon despondent. This comes less than a week after the world commemorated the 2012 World Water Day.

Our network member Lum Edith Achamukong has just been in Buea, the most affected area. She witnessed this unfortunate situation and took pictures. As Edith reports, in Buea, taps are completely dry.

Long queues characterize public water taps as women and children spend several hours of the day fetching and transporting water in Buea. Fights as some people attempt to jump the queue are not new in this area.

A crowded water source in Buea (Picture by the Writer)

The rationing method previously applied by the organ charged with the supply of pipe borne water (La Camerounaise Des Eaux) has not satisfied the water needs of thousands of people at the foot of West Africa’s highest mountain.

This crisis has been attributed to the complete breakdown of very old water pipes put in place during the German rule of Cameroon decades ago. Little maintenance on the infrastructure now weighs on the population not without socio economic costs.

Statistics from the United Nations say 40 Billion working hours are spent carrying water each year in Africa and that equals to a year’s labor for the entire work force of France. Moreover, households in rural Africa spend an average of 26% of their time fetching water, and this generally involves women and children.

In Buea, several children and women spend hours fetching water (Picture by by the writer)

The water crisis is heightening at the hills of the award of a contract by CAMWATER to a Belgian company ASPAC CEMAC for the rehabilitation and extension of the water scheme in Buea. The populations are definitely hoping that this two-year project will be realized on time.

Studies for the expansion of the water supply systems in the Buea municipality were carried out some years ago. And the execution of the project begins this year, 2012.

This responsibility has been given to the water corporation CAMWATER that is specialized in heavy projects for the construction and expansion of water systems in Cameroon.

The project in the Buea municipality is aimed at doubling the capacity of production of water and also to rehabilitate the existing structures and extend the water distribution.
Two main sites have been earmarked for rehabilitation in this project: the two old catchment and production areas – that is, the German source at Upper Farms and the Musole source at Great Soppo. There are two new sites to be exploited during this project: one at Wokoko (below the Fakoship neighbourhood); and the other at Small Soppo around the popular Kai catchment area.

The project, as stipulated in the contract with CAMWATER, will take a total of 24 months to be complete. The objective is to double the volume of water supply in the Buea municipality from 6-thousand cubic meters per day – which is the maximum volume obtained during the rainy season – to 12-thousand cubic meters per day. The neighborhoods in Buea to benefit directly from this rehabilitation and expansion project are those that are usually worst hit by the water crisis. They include Buea Town, Bokwango, Upper Bonduma, Molyko, Mile 18, and the Mile 17 Motor Park area.

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