The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)  presents 



9 April – 3 May, 2003

Compiled by Richard Sherman

Edited by
Kimo Goree 

Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Download PDF ~ Download Text

Editor's note: Welcome to the second issue of WATER-L News ©, compiled by Richard Sherman. WATER-L is a collection of new articles, editorials and research updates addressing the implementation of the water-related Millennium Development Goals, the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the further implementation of Agenda 21. It is distributed exclusively to the WATER-L list every 2 to 3 weeks. If you should come across a news article or have a submission for the next issue, please send it directly to WATER-L News © is an exclusive copyrighted publication of IISD for the WATER-L list and may not be reposted or republished to other lists/websites without the permission of IISD (you can write Kimo for permission.) If you have been forwarded this issue and would like to subscribe to WATER-L, please visit or contact our On-Line Assistant, Diego Noguera at

Funding for the production of WATER-L (part of the IISD Reporting Services annual program) has been provided by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the United States (through the US Department of State), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID), the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Germany (through German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU, and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ). General Support for the Bulletin during 2003 is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Norway, Swan International, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES) the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI), and the Ministry for Environment of Iceland. If you like WATER-L News, please thank them for their support.


1)      LIKELY SITES OF WATER WARS IDENTIFIED, The Olympian, May 3, 2003



4)      WATER A PRIORITY FOR RETURNING U.N. IN IRAQ, Reuters, May 2, 2003

5)      ADB APPROVES $350,000 GRANT FOR ENVIRONMENT PROJECT, Daily Times, May 2, 2003

6)      WATER AID FOR IRAQ, The Evening Chronicle, May 2, 2003


8)      PEOPLE POWER CAN AVERT WATER WOES', Express News Service, May 1, 2003










18)  WATER SCHEME GETS WORLD BANK 'OKAY', The Guardian (Tanzania), April 27, 2003

19)  WORLD'S WATER POOL GETTING DRIER, Times Union, April 22, 2003


21)  DRY KENYA TAPS WATER-SAVING MEASURES, Reuters, April 24, 2003

22)  GREEN VILLAGE PROGRAMME LAUNCHED, Jamaica Observer, April 24, 2003


24)  VICTORIA GETS NORWAY GRANT, The Monitor (Kampala), April 23, 2003

25)  MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF WATER, World Bank, April 23, 2003


27)  CSE LAUNCHES WEBSITE ON RAINWATER HARVESTING, Press Trust of India, April 23, 2003




31)  EARTH DAY SEES DIRE OUTLOOK ON WATER, Scripps Howard News Service, April 22,2003




35)  SMALL FARMERS BUYING INTO GRAVITY DRIP SYSTEM, Jamaica Observer, April 22, 2003



38)  BILHARZIA INVADES WORLD, 85% CASES FOUND IN AFRICA, New Vision (Kampala), April 21, 2003

39)  BUJAGALI DAM GETS GO-AHEAD. New Vision (Kampala), April 21, 2003

40)  UGANDA SIGNS $31M WATER DEAL, New Vision (Kampala), April 21, 2003

41)  WORLD MAY FACE WATER CRISIS, Disaster News, April 20, 2003



44)  CLEAN WATER SCARCE IN INDONESIA, Asia Times, April 18,2003

45)  IRAQI WATER UTILITY AFFECTED BY LOOTING, Edie weekly summaries, April 17, 2003


47)  POOREST REGIONS RECEIVE LEAST WATER AID, Edie weekly summaries, April 17, 2003

48)  BAGHDAD WATER BACK ON TAP, BBC, April 16, 2003

49)  SUSTAINING WATER ECOSYSTEMS, World Bank, April 16, 2003

50)  SOUTH WEST : WOMEN REITERATE MILLENNIUM GOALS, OBJECTIVES, Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé), April 16, 2003

51)  PRIVATE INVESTORS TO SUPPLY WATER IN KENYA, The East African (Nairobi), April 14, 2003

52)  SOMALILAND WARNS OF WATER AND FOOD SHORTAGES, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, April 9, 2003


53)  WATER DIVIDES, BUT CAN IT UNITE? By Ana Ruth Jerozolimski, IPS, April 23, 2003

54)  FRESH WATER GETS U.N. NOD FOR EARTH DAY 2003, Manchester Times, April 23, 2003

55)  BUSH WATER FOLLIES by Roger T. Rufe Jr, Christian Science Monitor, April 23, 2003

56)  THE REFORMS PLANNED IN WATER SERVICES by David N. Stower, The Nation (Nairobi), April 17, 2003

57)  BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS by Koïchiro Matsuura, The Hindu, April 16


59)  THE WORLD WATER FORUM IN KYOTO – JUST ANOTHER CONFERENCE? by Johan Kuylenstierna, Stockholm International Water Institute, April 2003






64)  WSSCC: WASH Media Guide




The Olympian
May 3, 2003

SAN DIEGO -- Some of the West's biggest cities likely will experience conflicts over water by 2025, according to a study by the U.S. Interior Department.  The department issued a color-coded map Friday that marked in red areas of highest priority where conflict is "highly likely" over the next two decades: Las Vegas; Reno, Nev.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Denver; Houston; Salt Lake City; and Flagstaff, Ariz.  "Everything that we saw in last year's hot, dry summer season when we had record drought, we are concerned we may see in an average year ... if we don't take steps now," Interior Secretary Gale Norton said.

Explosive growth across the West has been straining waterways that also support billion-dollar farm economies and are crucial to the survival of a host of endangered species. Over the next two decades, overtapped water supplies could spark political and legal battles and, in the worst-case scenario, a repeat of the turmoil that erupted in 2001 in the Klamath Basin in Oregon, Norton said.  "It may simply be a situation where people want to water their lawns or irrigate their fields and there simply is not enough water available," Norton said.  Two of the West's main waterways, the Rio Grande and the Colorado River, are also considered as highly likely sources of future conflict.

There was a lesser, but still "substantial" possibility of water wars in other Western cities, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Phoenix and San Antonio among others, according to the department's map.  A third level of cities had a "moderate" chance of future conflict, including Seattle; Dallas; Casper, Wyo.; Boise, Idaho and Salem, Ore.  The map was produced by a review of population trends, historic rainfall records, water capacity and storage and habitats of endangered species, said Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley.  Interior Secretary Gale Norton ordered her staff in August 2001 to develop the map of potential future hot spots to determine where "the next Klamath might be over the next 25 years," Raley said.  In 2001, armed federal officers were called in to protect the Klamath River from farmers angry over the Interior Department's decision to cut off their water to protect fish protected by the Endangered Species Act. The basin had a "substantial" possibility for sparking conflict again by 2025, according to the Interior Department.

Another water war erupted this year in California when the state failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to sign a deal aimed at reducing the state's historic overdependence on the Colorado River.  In response, Norton reduced the amount of water California can draw from the Colorado River this year by 600,000 acre-feet, enough water for 1.2 million people.  "Crisis management is not an effective solution for addressing long-term systematic water supply problems," Norton said in a statement.

As part of her program, dubbed Water 2025, Norton wants to focus federal dollars and technology in key Western watersheds to promote water conservation, increased efficiency and water banks for insurance in dry years.  President Bush's budget calls for an initial investment of $11 million in such efforts.

The secretary said her initiative could help stretch existing supplies through maintaining and modernizing her department's network of dams, reservoirs, pumping stations and pipelines. Investments in research and development could help provide more affordable ways to boost water supplies through desalination and other technologies.  Norton said the department would not look to curb explosive growth in the West.

"Water 2025 provides a basis for public discussion of the realities that face the West, so that decisions can be made at the appropriate level in advance of water supply crises," Norton said.

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May 3, 2003

TEHRAN, 3 May (United Nations Information Centre) - Some 600 Heads of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, ministers, senior officials and representatives of meteorological organizations are heading to Geneva, Switzerland, for the Fourteenth World Meteorological Congress, which will take place from 5 to 24 May 2003.   The meeting will open on Monday 5 May at 10 a.m. at the International Conference Centre of Geneva (CICG).  In conjunction  with the Congress, a major international exhibition of meteorological and hydrological instruments and equipment, called Meteohydex 03, will take place from 6 to 8 May, at the CICG.

The Congress - WMO's supreme body - brings together  every four years the representatives of the Organization's 185 Members to determine the general policies and approve the long-term plan of WMO, to appoint the Secretary-General of WMO, elect the Officers of WMO and to decide on budgetary and other programme matters. The Secretary-General of WMO, Prof.  Godwin O.P. Obasi, stated that Congress will be invited to place greater focus on the following four key areas in the Organization's activities over the next four years: natural disaster prevention and mitigation; climate change and its impacts; the development of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services; hydrologyand water resources.                                                 

The appointment of the Secretary-General of the Organization is scheduled to take place on 14 May.  Elections of the WMO President and three Vice-Presidents are scheduled for 15 May and those of the other members of the Executive Council for 19 May. Plenary will be chaired by Dr John W. Zillman, President of WMO and Head of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Plenary is expected to set up two Working Committees to assist in the examination of activities undertaken within the WMO Programmes on the World Weather Watch, World Climate, Atmospheric Research and Environment, Application of Meteorology, Hydrology and Water Resources, Education and Training, Technical Cooperation, and within its Regional Programme. The consideration of other major issues will be attributed to a Committee of the Whole.

Congress subsidiary bodies will elect their own chairpersons. Congress participants and other interested experts will have an opportunity to learn about the latest developments in meteorological and hydrological instruments and equipment, which some 64 companiens from 16 countries will display from 6 to 8 May at Meteohydex 03. The exhibition will be inaugurated by Prof.  Obasi, on Tuesday, 6 May at 12h30.                           

Throughout Congress,  public information products of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will be displayed at the CICG. In addition, an exhibition of artworks on water initiated by an international group of artists from different regions  with the aim of raising awareness on the occasion of the International Year for Freshwater will take place from 12 to 23 May at the Palais des Nations, Door 40,  second floor.                                                     

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The Hindu
May 2, 2003

CHENNAI MAY 2. Management of water bodies is best left to local communities, Ramon Magsaysay awardee, Rajendra Singh, who was in the city on Friday as part of his "Rashtriya Jal Chetna Yatra" said.

The Jaipur-based rural development campaigner won the international award in 2001for his initiative in transforming the water scarce Alwar district of Rajasthan into a water rich zone. The participation of the local villagers in water conservation measures was pivotal to the success in Alwar. Mr. Singh's organisation, Tarun Bharat Sangh mobilised support and resources for the campaign.

"If the villagers of Alwar can create a success story in one of the most water scarce regions of the country, why not the people of Tamil Nadu", asks Mr. Singh.  "Water is a common resource and it is the right of every person in the community to conserve it. Every citizen has the right to question commercial exploitation of the common resource. We all talk about food security but nobody is bothered about water security", he said.  Tamil Nadu is the 17th State in his itinerary of his awareness (`Chetna' in Hindi) rally that commenced December last in New Delhi. So far, he claims that more than 37 lakh people whom he met en route had taken oath not to use bottled water. Also the yatra claimed a major victory in Chattisgarh where they mobilised public support against private exploitation of Sirnath River, and community-driven decentralised water management works were launched in 45 places.

On Friday, Mr. Singh visited several villages in Tiruvallur district where he held meetings with the leaders of the local panchayat unions and urged them to take up water conservation efforts and oppose private exploitation of water resources. "If the management of water resources is decentralised and handed over to the local community, they realise their moral responsibility to conserve the resources. Once this is achieved, commercial exploitation of groundwater resources by multi-national companies will be naturally brought to a halt," he added.  "The government is only paving way for multi-national companies to set up water bottling units. Several years before it seemed improbable, but today we pay more for water than milk".

He was also of the view that inter-linking of rivers was not feasible and should not be done. Among other villages, Mr. Singh visited Kuttambakkam village in Tiruvallur where he inspected rainwater harvesting measures taken up by the local community. The local panchayat head, R. Illango, accompanied him.

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May 2, 2003

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.N. humanitarian officers newly returned to Baghdad will move quickly to assess the water system damaged during the U.S.-led war on Iraq and make food warehouses secure, a U.N. official said on Friday.  "Water at the moment is critical," said Veronique Taveau, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, who arrived back in the capital with a team of 21 international staff on Thursday.  Some water purification stations were looted or damaged during the war, preventing them from working properly. Intermittent power supply was also disrupting their operation.  "We will try to bring a broad picture of the situation, the humanitarian picture, and see what is most needed. That is our first step here," Taveau told Reuters at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad at the Canal Hotel.

Humanitarian teams would start assessment work in days, once overall security is evaluated, she said. Some preliminary work has already been done by national staff who remained in Baghdad during the war.

The last of the U.N. international staff in Iraq left two days before the conflict that toppled President Saddam Hussein began on March 20.  Taveau said a poorly working water system could lead to the spread of disease and experts were also concerned that problems with the system could be exacerbated by the approaching summer.  "I would say that at the moment it is probably the water (that is the most important issue). Our guess is that people will still have food until mid-May," she said.

The U.N. teams will examine the security of food warehouses and the food distribution network set up under the oil-for-food program, which aimed to ease the suffering of Iraqis under U.N. sanctions.  "If they (warehouses) are not safe, what is the use of bringing food if the food is looted?" she said. U.N. staff would be liaising with U.S. forces in its relief work, she said.  About 60 percent of Iraq's population was dependent on food baskets handed out under the oil-for-food program. The United Nations handled distribution in northern Iraq, but a local Iraqi network of offices distributed supplies elsewhere in the country. Many people stockpiled supplies before the conflict.  The U.N. team that returned on Thursday included officers from the World Food Program, World Health Organization, U.N. Children's' Fund and U.N. Development Program.

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Daily Times
May 2, 2003

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a Technical Assistance (TA) grant of $350,000 for the Rawalpindi Environment Improvement Project.  The TA will be implemented over five months from July. Rawalpindi is the third largest city of Pakistan and has over 1.5 million people. To address the scarcity of safe drinking water and poor drainage in the city, the ADB approved a $72 million loan in 1993 for the Rawalpindi Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project, the first of a proposed three-phased programme to improve the water and sanitation services in the city.

At the completion of the first phase of the programme in the later part of 2003, Rawalpindi's water supply should rise from the current 192,000 cubic metres per day (CMD) to 256,000 CMD, with the considerable rehabilitation and extenuation of its water supply network.  The improvement of the Nala Lai draining system to mitigate the recurrent flood problem is also an important intervention under the first phase.

The TA will prepare the second phase of the programme, which focuses on the further improvement of sewage and draining, the provision of a sewage treatment plant and solid waste management.

Expanding on its objectives, ADB Country Director Marshuk Ali Shah stated that the project would improve living conditions and the quality of life, reduce poverty among locals in the city where the water supply is inadequate, and environmental conditions are hazardous.The TA will prepare the overall project design, scope and financial plan and will make recommendations for strengthening the TMA (Tehsil municipal administration) for sustainable operation of municipal functions after the planned take-over of from the Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA) under the devolution. The TA is envisaged to be in two phases. The first phase will involve a detailed situation analysis, while the second phase will prepare the proposed project. Project interventions will specifically focus on low-income communities. The project will be prepared using community participation, including women's groups and involving implementation through community-based organisations. The TA will review governance issues relating to beneficiaries and local government participation, especially devolution.

The housing, urban development and public health engineering department of the Punjab government (HUDPHED), and the Rawalpindi TMA will be the executing agencies for the TA. Overall guidance for TA implementation will be provided through a steering committee to be chaired by the HUDPHED secretary, with the Rawalpindi tehsil head and director general as vice chairmen, and with representatives from the TMA, WASA, key project management unit staff of phase one project, capital development authority and SDO as members. The steering committee will meet monthly.

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The Evening Chronicle
May 2, 2003

A Tyneside business is working with the charity Christian Aid to help thousands of Iraqi civilians.

AquAid North, based at the Premier Business Development Centre in Scotswood, Newcastle, is helping to send supplies out to Iraq. After weeks of war and the collapse of law and order many people are without adequate water supplies, food and medical care. AquAid is donating 40p from every 19-litre bottle of water sold to Christian Aid to fund overseas development work and to help Christian Aid respond to emergencies.

With AquAid's financial assistance Christian Aid is funding a mobile water treatment unit being operated by Norwegian Church Aid, which provides water to 150,000 people a day.

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May 1, 2003

NAIROBI/BEIRUT, May 1st, 2003 - Lebanon, a country whose fabled cedar trees have been revered since the sea-faring days of the Phoenicians, will host this year's World Environment Day on June 5th, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today. It will be the first time in the 30-year history of this awareness-raising event that the main celebrations will be held in the Arab world. This year's theme, Water - Two Billion People are Dying for It! echoes one of the most pressing environmental issues facing the planet and its 6 billion citizens. The theme for World Environment Day also supports the celebration of 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater.

Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's Prime Minister, said: "We are very honoured to have been chosen as this year's World Environment Day hosts. Over the past decade, Lebanon's challenge has been to rebuild its infrastructure after the tragedy of the 1975 to 1990 civil war. In doing so, we have tried to rebuild a country that cherishes the environment and respects nature. We are fortunate in having a youthful population that recognizes the importance of environmental issues. I hope that, by hosting this special day, Lebanon can build on this enthusiasm in our quest for a healthier, cleaner and more equitable nation that can act as a beacon in the region and the world."

Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: "One person in six lives without regular access to safe drinking water. Over twice that number - 2.4 billion - lack access to adequate sanitation. Water-related diseases kill a child every eight seconds". He added that the international community had, at the Millennium Summit and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, set "measurable, time-bound commitments" to provide safe water and sanitation.  "These targets must be met and surpassed if the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality, combating malaria, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, empowering women, and improving the lives of slum dwellers are to be achieved", said Mr. Annan.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, said: "We couldn't be more delighted that Lebanon has agreed to host this important United Nations day in the International Year of Freshwater. West Asia, the region in which the country lies, vividly highlights the threats and challenges people across the globe face in their search for that most basic and fundamental element of life."  "Trees, forests and water are inextricably linked. So it is fitting that a country whose national flag is the majestic Cedar tree, is hosting this year's World Environment Day celebrations", he added.  The celebrations, to be held in Beirut and around Lebanon under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment, led by Fares Boueiz, will include the presentation of UNEP's Global 500 Awards. These are made to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the protection and conservation of the environment. A total of eight winners will be honoured in 2003.


The latest Global Environment Outlook, GEO-3, estimates that more than half the people in the world could be living in severely water-stressed areas by 2032.  West Asia, which includes the Arabian Peninsula and the Mashriq countries of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories, is likely to be the worst affected. Well over 90 per cent of the population are expected to be living in areas with "severe water stress" in less than 30 years unless urgent action is taken, the report concludes. GEO-3 says rapid population growth is now, in some areas of the region, running at three per cent a year triggering water stress and scarcities in many countries. Over 80 per cent of the water used is for agriculture. Demand is outstripping supply, especially on the Arabian Peninsula where the water stress index (expressed as a percentage of the water used to available water resources) is more than 100 per cent for five of the seven countries.

Ancient, often irreplaceable, supplies of ground water are being "mined" to meet demand. In some areas an influx of seawater into underground aquifers is becoming an increasing problem. Groundwater salinity in some coastal aquifers in the Lebanon has risen from 340 milligrammes per litre to 22,000 milligrammes per litre in recent years.  Attempts to boost the efficient use of water have recently begun in several countries. Measures include support for modern irrigation systems, and quality control and management of groundwater supplies. Re-use of wastewater in the Mashriq countries has risen from zero in the early 1970s to about 51 million cubic metres a year by the early 1990s.

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Express News Service
May 1, 2003

New Delhi, May 1: UNION Water Resources Minister Arjun Charan Sethi said that communities should come forward to preserve the water resources.  Decentralisation of water have been made part of the National Water Policy, the Minister said. Government has many programmes to preserve water and people can contribute a lot, the minister added.  The water crises is basically a problem of water management. The governance of water by stake holders is an important way of dealing with the crises. ''India's economic independence depends greatly on the management of its water resources,'' the Minister added. He was addressing ''Water is Life,'' seminar organised by Evangelical Fellowship of India's Commission on Relief (EFICOR). Empowering local communities to manage their water resources is a key to solving India's perpetual water scarcity, said Rev Dino L. Touthang, the general director of EFICOR.

According to an estimate, 1.2 billion people world-wide don't have access to safe drinking water and close to 2.5 billion are in need of basic sanitation. In this ''Year of Freshwater'', India's goal of providing safe-drinking water to everyone by 2007 should be properly put into perspective and acted upon, Touthang said.

Ashok Khosla, President of Development Alternatives said: ''Mankind is winning its battle against nature but losing its water.'' India was renowned as a water country but due to mismanagement of resources and clashes in policies between the various authorities in India, water has become too scarce. In some parts of India women have to walk 4-5 kms to fetch water. Khosla said that the 21st century is the century of ''water wars''. In India,our states are already clashing on the water front, including Delhi. Some parts of Delhi get only 15 minutes of water a day while some parts of Kutch get that much in a week, he said.

Systems of governance in which people, communities are in charge of their resources should be adopted. Programmes by the government like the interlinking of rivers across India should be implemented after a lot of deliberation and research, he added.Instead of big dams, small structures which don't have long gestation periods should be adopted. These structures have negligible impact on the ecology, provide work to the locals and leave less room for corruption, he added.  Manager for development projects of EFICOR said that a war gains publicity but deaths due to ''lack of water'', go unnoticed by the media. UN has warned that India, if does not start taking care of its water resources would be a water stressed country by 2007, he said.

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United Nations
May 1, 2003

1 May - Top government ministers and key United Nations officials meeting in New York have sketched out a two-year work cycle for the UN forum charged with helping countries integrate and, ultimately, implement the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic growth, social development and environmental protection.  Summing up the three-day high-level segment of the eleventh session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Chairman Mohammed Valli Moosa of South Africa praised the ministers' "positive" contributions and said that their main objective had been to nail down a plan towards the implementation of global development goals. The Commission will continue meeting at the UN Headquarters through next Friday.

Speaking at a press briefing, Mr. Moosa said the high-level segment's success proved that the spirit of the last year's World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, had "carried through." Senior ministers had devised a two-year work plan - focused on water and energy - that would allow the Commission to help countries realize the targets and goals agreed at that landmark conference.

Echoing that sentiment at the briefing was Nitin Desai, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who said the ministers had a "much more positive outlook now than the morning after" the Summit. Successful elements from the WSSD, like Johannesburg's "partnership fair," had been revived for the present Commission session. As a result, a total of $1.2 billion had been committed to partnerships, and not just between governments, but also between them and private sector or trade partners, as well as labour unions and other organizations, he said.

Implementation had been at the core of the high-level segment, Mr. Moosa emphasized, recalling that the main outcome document from Johannesburg had been a Plan of Implementation. There was no need to focus on policy since sustainable development was now building on "Agenda 21" - a blueprint for sustainable development agreed upon at the 1992 UN Conference for Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "No new definition of sustainable development is needed," he said, "we must now work out how to implement agreed measures."  Responding to a question on what had changed in the years between the Rio Summit and Johannesburg, Mr. Desai said the aid climate was better now. After Rio, aid for sustainable development activities had declined. Now, more aid was coming in for projects, such as for partnerships. He added that Johannesburg had come out with an action plan rather than with concepts - some 30-plus programmes with timetables had been agreed.

Asked to comment on the choice of water and energy for the theme of the Commission's first two-year theme, Mr. Moosa said freshwater had been seen as a central issue impacting on other issues. For example, a shortage of freshwater affected women in a particular way. The issue was crosscutting, involving issues of health, sanitation and development. Likewise, energy was linked to questions of natural resources and others so that all could be handled in a comprehensive way, he added. This was in line with a major message the ministers had delivered during the high-level segment.

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Daily Nebraskan
May 1, 2003

According to Peter Gleick, there is good news when it comes to water conservation. People are paying more attention to water problems, Gleick said Wednesday night in the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The global freshwater expert spoke at the last E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues. His talk, entitled "Water and War: Issues for the 21st Century," covered issues on climate change, sustainable water use and international conflicts on water resources. Gleick is co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, Calif. He also is a member of the International Water Academy in Oslo, Norway.

But despite the good news, Gleick said the future of water problems was still questionable. Water per capita continues to decrease as the demand for water and economy of the world continues to grow, he said. "Billions of people lack clean sanitation and drinking water," Glieck said. "This leads to diseases."

Glieck said 2 million to 5 million deaths each year were related to water disease. "Ten thousand people died yesterday, 10,000 died today, and 10,000 will die tomorrow," Glieck said. And most people don't even know about these deaths. "People have estimated there have been under 400 deaths from SARS," he said. "But thousands die a day from water-related diseases." Glieck said the improvement of efficiency and quality of water would help improve conditions in countries that lack a sufficient water supply.

Gleick said another water problem was irrigation. "Sixteen percent of land on earth is irrigated," he said. "But irrigation is important because 40 percent of the world's food comes from this irrigated land."

A third concern relates to the environment, climate changes and the greenhouse effect. "These problems were human induced," Glieck said. "People are not ready to deal with these changes but it needs to be done.

"This is the time to make basic needs for our environment," he said. "Not just humans." Glieck said there were other aspects that created water concerns. He said water was the source of opposition and conflict between states and countries. He said water conflicts between states and countries arise when boundaries share a water resource. One example, he said, was the 10 countries that share the Nile River in Africa.

Problems with the sharing water resources could occur when countries do not have negotiations, Gleick said. Only two of the eight countries have a treaty over the water. Gleick said two ways to reduce water conflicts were through water laws and treaties over rivers. But he said these measures were still imperfect because principles of laws and treaties are "used for guiding discussion but are not binding." For example, Gleick said, the United States and Mexico have treaties over the Colorado River and the Rio Grande. In the 1970s, he said, the treaty negotiating the water of the Colorado River said nothing about the quality of the water.

"The water to Mexico had gotten so salty because of depleting elements the United States used for farming," Gleick said. "They couldn't even use it." He said the treaty had to be amended. In addition, he said, other countries also needed to improve laws about water quality. Although 97 percent of the earth's water is salty and can be desalinized (the salt taken out), Gleiek said this was not the solution. "It is expensive," he said. "Water needs to be more important, more integrated and have better water management."

Despite his concern, Gleick suspects desalinization is likely. "That's where we are going on this current path," he said. "If I had a choice I would not want to go." Gleick said water is a human right. "We need to know about water problems so humans can be mobilized to action," he said. Chancellor Harvey Perlman said Glieck's talk on the present and future water crisis was also Nebraska's problem. Jamie Oltman, an environmental studies junior, said the Glieck's talk was important because water is a major part of everyday life. "If we don't conserve water, there's going to be a consequence," she said.

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May 1, 2003

New Delhi, May 1, IRNA -- India's Minister of Water Resources on Wednesday stressed the need for the rainwater harvesting on rooftop on a large scale and the revival of traditional sources of water. According to IRNA reporter, outlining the water problem in the country in general and Delhi in particular, Arjun Charan Sethi remarked that the situation in Delhi is particularly alarming on the water front.                                                         

While inaugurating the one day seminar here, Sethi said, that the falling ground water levels, reduced supplies from Haryana, uneven distribution, leakage and pilferage by unauthorized colonies and increased demand in summer have all contributed in no small measure to water problem. In order to put water situation in Delhi under microscopic examination and to evolve an integrated and concerted approach towards sustained water management in Delhi, Indian Association of Hydrologists (IAH), Delhi Regional Center organized a brainstorming session on Water for Delhi under the aegis of India's Ministry of  Water Resources to sensitize the decision makers, experts and NGOs on one platform to discussed various aspects of water management and evolve long term sustainable development for fulfilling water needs of Delhi.                                                               

Sethi advised the Delhi Water Board (DJB) to take necessary steps to conserve and augment resources available. Metered supply to all consumers in household tanks to help in conservation was emphasized.     India receives the highest rainfall among countries comparable to its size but one part or another of India has continued to experience drought conditions. The rivers have been drying up and getting polluted. The underground water tables are shrinking rapidly. According to some experts, if water management is not accorded the importance it deserves, India can very much expect to find itself in troubled waters as the years roll by.                                

Estimates of the Central Ground Water Board are that the reservoir of underground water will dry up entirely by 2025 in as many as fifteen States in India if the present level of exploitation and misuse of underground water continues. By 2050, when more than 50 percent of the Indian population is expected to shift to the cities, fresh drinking water is expected to get very scarce. India which has 16 percent of the world's population, 2.45 percent of the world's land area and 4 percent of the world's water resources already has a grave drinking water crisis. The reservoir of underground water, estimated presently at 432 billion cubic meters (BCMs) has been declining at a rapid rate of 20 cms annually in as many as fifteen states with major metropolitan centers including Delhi, being estimated to go dry as early as 2015 on account of over-exploitation and misuse.                              

The annual inter-state feuds over water are becoming more and more common in India. Per capita water availability in the country which was 5,000 cubic meters earlier, has dropped to 2,200 cubic meters.   

This is against the world figure of 8,500 cubic meters. As a result,  India is fast approaching a phase of stressed water availability conditions. Eighty-five percent of India's urban population has access to drinking water but only 20 percent of the available drinking water meets the health and safety standards.                               

Furthermore, there are serious inequities in the distribution of water. Consumption of water ranges from 16 liters per day to 3 liters per day depending on the city and the economic strata of the Indian consumer. India's rainfall is temporal (with as much as 70 percent rainfall occurring in four months) and the rain is also unevenly distributed. 

On account of inadequate awareness or planning, excess rainfall water has been getting discharged into the oceans after coursing its way through the drains and rivers. In effect, it is possible to prevent this wastage of water by storing it during the rainy season for use as drinking water during the dry seasons. Or for allowing it to seep underground in the dry areas as a measure of maintaining adequate levels of ground water. This water can subsequently be 'recharged' or pumped up for irrigational or drinking water purposes. And this is what rainwater harvesting is all about. In India, now emphasis is on rainwater harvesting. There is a method of what is known as rooftop harvesting in which the rainwater  is allowed to get collected in built-up tanks. This water can be used for direct consumption as also for recharging groundwater through simple filtration devices. Water can also be collected in tanks that have cement slabs built at their base to prevent the water from seeping underground. This method was initially employed in the desert areas of western Indian state of Rajasthan which often face drinking water problem.          

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United Nations
April 30, 2003

30 April - The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met today with UN agency chiefs and government representatives to open talks on ways the international community can launch a coordinated approach to rural development in the face of mounting crises such as food insecurity, disease and failing social services in many parts of the world.  Growing recognition that the rural areas - where 75 per cent of the world's poor live - are key in the fight against poverty is coupled with rising levels of international assistance, said Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). He added that accelerated rural development is important not only for poverty eradication but for ensuring sustained growth that could benefit society as a whole.

Today's meeting at UN Headquarters in New York brought together ECOSOC and UN officials with development experts and national ministers to review plans for integrated rural development - particularly towards implementing the Millennium Development Goals - in preparation for the high-level segment of the Council's annual substantive session, set to open in Geneva on 30 June.  The discussions were led by Mr. Båge, who highlighted the UN's three-pronged plan to address the development crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. He stressed that providing support for farmers, health care systems and public institutions would address the vicious cycle in which AIDS is decimating both farmers and civil servants, sapping the ability to improve food and nutrition and to mount a public sector response.

Mr. Båge added that agriculture must be the basis for the development agenda of the poor countries, as it was normally the biggest employer and the largest export earner. He also stressed the importance of access of the rural poor to land and water, as well as to markets and credit. Appropriate technology was also important for them, as were the creation of institutions to support them.  Noting that if current trends continued, the goal of halving poverty would only be achieved by 2050 instead of 2015, Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), emphasized the need to focus on sustainable rural development. It was not possible to achieve poverty reduction targets, he said, without focusing on the 75 per cent of the population. In that regard, priority must be given to water management to create a solid basis for rural development.

For his part, Ibrahim A. Gambari, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, focused on the role of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as a vehicle for enhancing and strengthening coherence in development cooperation in Africa. UN organizations should work together more closely by using existing country-based programming and regional level coordination mechanisms in delivery of assistance to African countries, he stressed. African governments, as well as their development partners, should build on the strong convergence of priorities between NEPAD and the Millennium Development Goals.  As part of today's programme, a number of roundtables were convened. Hosted by United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, the discussion addressed themes of critical importance for achieving rural development. Among those leading the debates were the Executive Directors of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Thoraya Obaid.

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Associated Press
April 30, 2003

GENEVA - Water supplies in southern Iraq could be undrinkable within weeks because of a shortage of chlorine gas needed for purification, leaving millions of people - especially children - vulnerable to disease, UNICEF said Tuesday.  Although many pumping stations that were knocked out during the U.S.-led war on Iraq have now been repaired, they are facing dwindling supplies of chlorine gas needed to purify the water they draw from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, said Marc Vergara, a spokesman for the U.N. children's agency.

Only a small proportion of raw sewage is treated in Iraq, with most being dumped in the country's rivers. With the stations set to run out of chlorine gas within two weeks, completely untreated water could soon be pumped directly to Iraqi homes. UNICEF urgently needs US$3 million to buy enough gas to purify water for 4 million southern Iraqis over the next three months, Vergara told reporters. He also urged coalition forces to accelerate gas deliveries to the stations.

UNICEF also plans to boost the number of tanker trucks it is sending to the region from neighboring Kuwait, from 20 to 50 a day, Vergara said. Aid agencies are concerned that drinking unsafe water could cause outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea. "Diarrhea, which is annoying in the West, is deadly in this part of the world," Vergara said. The illness, which causes dehydration and accelerates malnutrition, already is one of the biggest killers of Iraqi children.

Vergara, who returned recently from the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, said he saw doctors in a city hospital register 40 cases of children with diarrhea in one morning - the same number admitted during the entire month of April 2002. One severely dehydrated 6-month-old girl weighed just 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) - around the same as a newborn. Her mother already had lost three babies to diarrhea, Vergara said.

Aid groups have so far been unable to collect accurate numbers of cases in other southern cities, including Basra, but fear the situation is much worse there because of problems trucking water.

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April 29, 2003

PARIS, France, April 29, 2003 (ENS) - The environment ministers of the G8, the eight major industrialized countries plus the European Union, met in Paris over the weekend and issued a communique that sets the stage for the full G8 heads of government meeting scheduled for Evian-les-Bains in France from June 1 to 3.

The G8 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Commission is represented at the environment ministers meeting by Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom.  French Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin chaired the meeting of the G8 environment ministers who referred often to the commitments made eight months ago at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), and in March at the Third World Water Forum, which they said "guided" their work.

The discussions focused on least developed regions and countries, particularly in Africa, water security, sustainable production and consumption, strengthening environmental governance and cooperation, as well as oceans and maritime safety.  The environment ministers said that "the universal provision of safe drinking water is a complex global challenge requiring our ongoing attention."  They paid specific attention to the issues of transboundary river basin management and integrated water resource management in Africa, water efficiency, governance principles for access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and disaster prevention and mitigation.  The ministers stated that they consider access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, access to energy, reducing air and water pollution, combating climate change through mitigation and adaptation, desertification and deforestation, as well as biodiversity conservation to be "priority fields for action."  Commissioner Wallstrom said, "We are fully committed to turning words into deeds."

In advance of the G8 environment ministers meeting, the European Commission April 24 proposed to commit €1 billion to a new EU Water Fund for partner countries in the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) regions. As a first priority, Wallstrom said, the fund would be orientated towards achieving the WSSD targets of halving, by 2015, the number of people across the world without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, within the framework of integrated water resources management.  But the ministers remained silent on the top divisive issues at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan - water as a human right and the role of the private sector.

Despite no open endorsement of the Camdessus report "Financing Water for All," which advocates privatization of water supplies, France is expected to include support for this document within the Global Water Plan President Jacques Chirac will present to the G8 leaders at Evian. The plan, written by former International Monetary Fund chairman Michel Camdessus of France, aims to achieve the WSSD target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe water and sanitation by 2015.  The environment ministers continued their support for sustainable development in Africa begun at the G8 meeting in Canada last year.

In their 2003 communique, the ministers stated their support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) adopted last year which defines a framework for sustainable development on the African continent. They particularly welcomed NEPAD's recognition of the close relationship between environmental management issues and poverty reduction efforts, and the need to integrate these issues into economic development through the action plan implementation.  Encouraging cooperation between African riparian states on transboundary and/or boundary watercourses, the environment ministers said, "Particular attention should be paid to transboundary river basin management in African river basins including the Niger, Senegal, Nile, Okavango and Congo."

The ministers said they are focusing on sustainable forest management in the Congo Basin and will "work with developing countries to help them fight illegal logging."  The ministers pledged to "take action to improve access to energy services." At the same time they stated their intention to promote the deployment of renewable energy sources and cleaner and more efficient fossil fuels, in a way that is compatible with sustainable development. "We will work in accordance with NEPAD and, among others, through WSSD partnerships to deliver this and promote innovative market mechanisms," they stated.  The wording of their communique reflects the opposition of the United States and the OPEC countries at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to moves by the European Union and others to set targets and timetables for renewable energy. The proposed targets and timetables were not retained in the final WSSD Action Plan.

The G8 Renewable Energy Task Force was not mentioned at all. Its ambitious targets and timetables to provide two billion of the world's poor people with energy within 20 years were not endorsed at the G8 Genoa summit in 2001 - mainly due to U.S. opposition. The future of this group, headed by Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, chair of mining giant Anglo American and a former Shell CEO who chaired the Business Action for Sustainable Development group at the WSSD, is still unclear.  Germany firmed up Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's offer at the WSSD for a world conference on renewable energy, announcing it for Bonn in June 2004. It will be preceded by a series of regional multi-stakeholder conferences on renewable energy.

Russia promised to make every effort to enable President Vladimir Putin to tell the G8 Summit in June when Russia would ratify the Kyoto climate protocol, which would bring it into force. But the Kyoto Protocol was not mentioned in the Paris communique, in view of continued U.S. opposition to the pact to limit the emission by industrialized nations of six greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

The environment ministers said they will take the lead at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development now underway in New York on encouraging countries to adopt 10 year framework programs in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift to sustainable consumption and production patterns.

"We will encourage sustainable local production and consumption patterns which can help preserve landscape diversity and biological diversity, and contribute to poverty eradication. Tourism, sport, recreation and leisure activities, if consistent with environmental protection and social development, can also be engines for local sustainable development," the ministers said.  The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to "actively promote corporate environmental responsibility and accountability and support continuing improvement in corporate practices in all countries."

They "strongly support" the successful completion of the World Trade Organization negotiations, the ministers stated, and noted specific opportunities in the negotiations on environmental goods and services.

"The greening of government at all levels is imperative," they said, and pledged to work towards public procurement policies that encourage development and diffusion of environmentally sound goods and services; and "where appropriate, on a voluntary basis, effective, transparent, verifiable, non-misleading and nondiscriminatory consumer information tools to provide information relating to sustainable consumption and production, including human health and safety aspects, bearing in mind that they should not be used as disguised trade barriers."  The ministers underlined their support for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and advocated strengthening the scientific base of UNEP by improving its ability to monitor and assess global environmental change; as well as the current efforts to strengthen compliance with and enforcement of multilateral environmental agreements.

The ministers noted that UNEP remains hampered by insufficient and unpredictable resources, and said they are seeking ways of providing it with more predictable funding, a broadened base of contributions, more efficient and effective use of available resources, and greater mobilization of resources from the private sector and other major groups.  France failed to win support for its three year old proposal for a World Environment Organization (WEO), as a balance to the World Trade Organization.  France proposes to build a WEO on UNEP. It would centralize environmental activities of numerous international agencies and programs and manage the dozens of multilateral environment agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, now served by separate secretariats.

Other G8 industrial nations, which would have to contribute most of the WEO budget, are still against any new international organizations, as they were at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and they have enforced budget cuts in a number of UN bodies and programs.  "Life on our planet is dependent upon the oceans," the environment ministers stated, and said they will continue their efforts in ocean and coastal protection, including sustainable fisheries, the conservation of biodiversity, the strengthening of marine science, the reduction of marine pollution, control of invasive alien species, and greater maritime safety.

 "Despite the measures taken during the last years, the serious accident of the oil tanker Prestige has again demonstrated that the existing rules on tanker safety and pollution prevention need to be further improved. The damage to the marine and socio-economic environment and the threat to the livelihood of thousands of persons are of serious concern," the ministers said.  "A premeditated flop and abdication of responsibility," is how Italy's leading environmental group, Legambiente, described the G8 environment ministers' meeting in Paris.

In a statement, Legambiente's spokesperson Roberto della Seta assailed the G8 group for dodging difficult issues, ending up with "no concrete result, no targets, no commitments." "They passed the buck to the G8 Summit in Evian, and the WTO summit in Cancun, Mexico," said della Seta. The WTO meeting is scheduled for September 10 to 16.  "Prospects for sustainable development are dim," della Seta concluded, reflecting the beliefs of many environmentalists in G8 nations.  Extensive demonstrations and alternative conferences are planned in French and Swiss towns near the G8 Summit venue by dozens of Europe's environment and anti-globalization groups.  Key points of the communique will be reviewed by senior officials for inclusion in the draft for the final declaration of the heads of state and government meeting at the G8 Summit at Evian.

Meanwhile, the communique is under review by participants at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development now meeting in New York to hammer out a work program and to carry out recommendations of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.  The meeting of the 53 member Commission opened Monday and will continue through May 9. It will follow up decisions from Johannesburg to agree upon its new methods and organization of work and renew the focus on practical implementation of sustainable development.

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The Vanguard
April 29, 2003

The 33rd World Earth Day which focused on the theme "Water for Life" was marked across the globe last week, with Nigerian environmentalists calling on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to avoid introducing unhealthy politics and complications that could lead to complications in the nation's water sector.  The environmentalists, who gathered in Lagos for a one day lecture and symposium under the auspices of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), canvassed the harmonization, review and modification of existing regulatory framework to improve the efficiency of protection and sustainable utilization of the country's marine environment.

Speaking on "Water for Life: what do we need to manage it effectively for sustained development in Nigeria", a professor of Hydrology at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Prof Lekan Oyebande, said the Federal Government has no business getting involved in borehole drilling in states and local government areas without the knowledge and involvement of such entities which according to him "are better placed to carry out such activities effectively and in a sustainable manner by ensuring ownership of such projects by the local communities".  Prof Oyebande lamented that in Nigeria, "boreholes are drilled without assessing the sustainable yields of aquifers, and the problem of over-exploitation and the resultant intrusion and lowering of the water table in areas that are well known hot spots are being exacerbated".

The adverse effect according to the UNILAG don is although boreholes are meant to be in productive use for decades, in Nigeria, many of them do not outlive the day or week or month of their commissioning. He attributed this ugly scenario to the fact that those who authorize and execute such projects do not have concern for both the art and science of borehole drilling, development, maintenance and redevelopment.

Canvassing the decentralization of water to the lowest appropriate level, Prof Oyebande  explained that the proper role of the Federal Government should be the provision of leadership initiative and support to the various water agencies at both the federal and state levels to enable them perform their functions of providing adequate quantity and quality of water for different requirements.

"The major aspects of this role are appropriate laws, codes and regulations as well as comprehensive policy guidelines. Another is the assessment of water resources of the country through the provision of adequate resources and to enable responsible agencies such as the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs), Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA) and the state water agencies to monitor water resources in order to facilitate their quantitative assessment and planning", the university don said  Prof Oyebande called on the government to promote the activities of research and training institutions. He specifically called on the government to build and give proper visibility to the Nigerian Water Resources Institute (NWRI) in Kaduna.

Said he: "An important capacity building institution such as the Nigerian Water Resources Institute (NWRI) in Kaduna should be built up and its activities given proper visibility.

The Institute housed the Nigerian Water Data Bank commissioned in the late 1970s by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. The Institute has been recognized and chosen as one of the three leading water-related capacity building institutions in West Africa to jointly lead the ongoing development of the West African Network for Capacity Building in Integrated Water Resources Development. In addition to capacity building and advanced hydrological analysis, it is strongly advised that the function of water data bank be restored to NWRI".  The guest lecturer also tasked the three tiers of government to promote private sector participation in water development and delivery.  "It is clear that the public sector management is far from efficient, and yet adequate funds are no longer available for extending either the coverage or service level in terms of per capita use. The private sector has advantage in these two areas: ability to mobilize funds and to manage more effectively", he said, adding however that the modality of involving the private sector must be discussed so as not to jeopardize the interest of the poor.

Prof Babajide Alo, the National President of NES noted that the theme of this year's Earth Day was intended to draw attention to the ideals of protecting, preserving and use of the global waters both surface and underground in a sustainable manner. Prof Alo who noted that 705 of planet Earth is covered by water, explained that the theme of the Earth Day is one that touches everybody. Also speaking during the symposium, Messrs T. O Ajayi and E. A. Ajao both of the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, Lagos, posited that the ocean deserves a specific place when issues on sustainable environment are discussed. They stated that the ocean is "necessary for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the climate which we live in".   The duo explained that although no country has the necessary resources to study and monitor the whole ocean, each country should have the capacity to address at least their own near shore area.

Messrs Ajai and Ajao in the joint paper titled "One Planet, One Ocean", regretted that the regulatory framework for water management in the country is only fragmentary. "There are Federal enactments with subsidiary instruments as well as equally obsolete state laws, since each state is autonomous within the sphere of its legislative competence. The scattered sectoral legal texts deal with forestry, petroleum, fishing and environmental pollution. Such regulations and laws have been more concerned with economic aspects than protection", they said.  They called for continued monitoring and management of wastes, agriculture and commerce that flow from man's activities into the rivers and seas.  The Earth Day is celebrated every year at the United Nations and by environmentalists to instigate increased attention to environmental protection. The event dates back to 1970 when about 20 million Americans trooped to the streets to protest the seeming unabated environmental degradation at that time.  That protest led to the 1972 first world gathering on the environment: the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) the predecessor to the Earth Summit held in Rio, Brazil and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johannesburg, South Africa, last year.

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April 28, 2003

Countries without enough water are increasingly having to strike deals with neighbours, creating the potential for conflict. The Swiss Peace Foundation, Swisspeace, is working in Africa and central Asia to try to prevent water disputes from boiling over into war. "The problem is that everyone needs water and the main issue will be how to share it," said Eva Ludi, projector coordinator for Swisspeace's environmental conflicts department. It is a long time since countries went to war over water. The last full-scale conflict directly linked to water was 4,500 years ago over the Tigris-Euphrates river in present-day Iraq. Yet growing pressure on the ever-dwindling resource is prompting fears that future wars will be fought over water. In fact, experts say water will replace oil as a major source of conflict in future.


One potential flashpoint is the Nile Basin. Egypt is almost totally dependent on water the River Nile carries from Ethiopia and would like to use any excess rainfall to irrigate its agricultural lands further downstream.

"The problem from Ethiopia's point of view is that rainfall is irregular and that in drought years they experience famine. They would like to develop their water resources," Simon Mason, a Swisspeace researcher, told swissinfo. "Now if Ethiopia develops its water resources in a manner that does not take Egypt's downstream interests into consideration, and uses a lot of water, that could potentially lead to an escalation of the conflict."


Mason arranged for water experts from both countries as well as Sudan to meet in a series of workshops where delegates were presented with Swisspeace's assessment of the issues at stake. Communication is central to the Swisspeace formula for identifying and dealing with water disputes. Delegates could interact to get to know each other's perceptions better and work on clarifying of the issues at stake. "The aim was to create a joint publication... on where there is consensus and where there are points that still need to be worked on," he said."Up until now, there have been several assessments of water issues in the Nile Basin but they have often been from one side only."


The Nile Basin marks a new, higher level of intervention in water conflicts for Swisspeace, which has been working on environmental conflicts together with the Centre for Security Studies at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich since 1992.  The Bern-based non-governmental organisation hopes to replicate this form of direct involvement in other water disputes it is involved in around the world. "I think we can try to take up the role of mediator," said Ludi. The United Nations' education, scientific and cultural organisation, Unesco, has published a list identifying 17 river basins which could be future sources of conflict. These include the Okavango and Limpopo rivers in southern Africa, and the Salween which runs through China, Myanmar and Thailand. Also on the list is the Aral Sea in central Asia where Swisspeace is also engaged, looking at how governments and NGOs are intervening to mitigate the conflict.


The problems of the Aral Sea exploded when the Soviet Union disintegrated, leaving Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to tackle environmental problems and share the water. Agricultural practices, industrial waste and water diversions have resulted in the drying up, salinisation and pollution of the Aral Sea. Armed conflict has been averted by international agreements and Swisspeace is convinced similar accords provide a model for future conflict resolution. Ludi says disputes are more likely to break into violent conflict at an internal rather than international level. "I think at the moment at least, the tendency is still towards cooperation at the international level. But this does not mean that at the sub-national level, conflicts over water will not erupt in violent conflict," she said. The United Nations has turned the spotlight onto water, designating 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater. Throughout this year, swissinfo will provide special coverage on the threats this natural resource is facing, as well as the importance it plays in all aspects of life.

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April 28, 2003

One of the world's wettest places is suffering from a shortage of water.  The Khasi Hills, in a remote part of north-east India, usually experience torrential rains.  Famously, the area once recorded more than 1,000 inches (2,540 centimetres) of rain in just one year - a global record.  But villagers in the region, which was named after the rain-filled clouds that supplied the waterfalls and streams, now have to bring water from other areas.  Increases in pollution and deforestation have been blamed for the environmental changes.

When the Khasi Hills were carved out from Assam in 1972 and a separate state created, India had no problem deciding what to name the new state.  Through an act of parliament it was promptly named Meghalaya, which means "Home of the Clouds" in Sanskrit and Hindi.  Meghalaya enjoys the distinction of having two of the world's wettest places: Cherrapunji and Mawsynram. But Cherrapunji is drying up.

Cherrapunji residents are worried because the small town and the villages around it have received less and less rain over the years during monsoon.  During winter, the rains almost stop and the springs dry up.

Long rows of trucks loaded with drums of water can be seen travelling up to Cherrapunji from the plains.

Some tankers, normally in the business of carrying oil, load up with water as well and enjoy huge success in selling supplies in Cherrapunji.  "We buy a bucket of water for six or seven rupees during the winter. The city's water supply collapses because there is hardly any water left in the soil of Cherrapunji that can be pumped out," says Julia Kharkhongor, a teacher with one of the town's leading schools.

When I reached Cherrapunji earlier this month, I was shocked to find no rain or clouds anywhere on the way.  Ten years ago, when my wife and I first visited Cherrapunji in early summer to escape the heat of the Assam plains, we drove on the road that gradually rises to the town through a picturesque landscape.

We drove above the clouds that were clinging to the mountains through which the road passed. And it was raining.


SC Sahu, deputy director of the Central Meteorological Department in Meghalaya's capital, Shillong, says Cherrapunji received less rain in the whole of 2001 - only 363 inches (922 cm) - than it got in just one month in 1861.  He said: "In July 1861 alone, Cherrapunji had 366 inches of rain. Between August 1860 and July 1861, Cherrapunji got a record 1,042 inches of rain - a world record. But now the annual rainfall there has sharply fallen to less than a third of that."  Mr Sahu blames it on the deforestation in the area and environmentalists agree.  "Ever since Meghalaya became a separate state, there has been a rise in deforestation," says Ba Mark West, convenor of the Cherrapunji Soil Research Society.  "Tree felling is rampant and the loss of forest cover around Cherrapunji is more serious than ever before," he says.

In 1960, Cherrapunji was still a town of just 7,000 people.  Now, there are 15 times that number and a cement plant at Mamlukcherra, a few kilometres away, was built 20 years ago.


"The cement plant polluted the environment and added to the population pressure in the area. And if there are more people, the pressure on the forests will increase," says Mr West.  The owner of a small cafe at Cherrapunji, John Nongrem, is worried that without rain tourists will stop coming.  "Tourists come here to see rain, not sun and if there are no rains, no clouds, why should the tourists come?" he asks.

However, tourists may appreciate the fact that the waterfalls at Nokalikai are more clearly visible to the tourist from Nongrem's cafe on the hilltop.  It will remain a stunning view unless it, too, dries up in the next few decades.

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The Guardian (Tanzania)
April 27, 2003

The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank has unanimously endorsed a new Water Resources Strategy aimed at providing more effective assistance to countries, using water as a vehicle for increasing growth and reducing poverty in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. According to the WB's news release that was made available to the Sunday Observer yesterday, by providing water access to unserved millions through more efficient use of existing resources and the strengthening of capacity in poor countries, the new strategy will make a significant contribution to the international development goal of halving poverty by 2015. "There is a large and growing for greater WB engagement with water," said Richard Uku, one of the organisations' media resource personnels.

The Executive Directors commended the new strategy for its focus on poverty and for its balanced approach to supporting both better water resource management as well as priority new infrastructure, said Uku.

Quoting Ian Johnson, the WB's Vice President for Sustainable Development, Uki said,''we need to assist poor and middle income countries in confronting the financial hurdles affecting the water sector if we want to avert a crisis, caused by water stress,". The newly released strategy reflects the demand from poor countries for a balanced approach in which better management of existing resources is complemented by investment in priority water infrastructure.

The WB's concern is that, during the past century, while world population tripled, the aggregate use of water has increased six-fold.  Irrigation, industry, and municipal use account for 70 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent of global water withdrawals respectively. Without appropriate action taken to address the situation, four billion people-one half of the world's population-are expected to live under conditions of severe water stress in 2025, particularly in Africa, the WB warns.

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Times Union
April 22, 2003

Syria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority all share a single water source, the Jordan River. This one fact has the potential to be more politically explosive than conflicts past and present.  Water is quickly becoming the most valuable of natural resources in these countries. As they and the rest of the world come together to assist with the rebuilding of Iraq, special attention needs to be given to the fact that these countries must achieve a sustainable balance between population and consumption of water to avoid a future disaster.

Earth Day provides us with an annual opportunity to focus attention on the environment and the need to preserve and protect our planet.  This year's spotlight is on the problem of water scarcity. As the world's population continues to grow, the amount of fresh water available for each person continues to decline alarmingly, while consumption continues to increase. In fact, global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years with no leveling off in sight.  The amount of fresh water available for use has more or less remained constant, but the global population is growing by about 77 million people annually. Of all the water on our "blue" planet, only three-hundredths of 1 percent is realistically available for our use. This tiny percentage is further reduced by the pollution of lakes and rivers.

To illustrate how small a percentage of water is available for use, imagine placing all of the world's water in a bathtub.  The portion of water in the tub available for use during one year barely equals a teaspoon. This means that the world is dry and getting drier by the year.  The Middle East is the driest region on our planet. Nine out of 14 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan, suffer from water shortages. Despite the millions of dollars spent every year in that region on water prospecting and desalinization, water remains a scarce resource.

In "The Last Oasis," Sandra Postel predicted, "By the end of the '90s, water problems in the Middle East will lead either to an unprecedented degree of cooperation or a combustible level of conflict."  Many clashes in the Middle East have either arisen from or been intensified by disputes over water rights and availability.

Other experts agree with Postel. James Moore, a specialist from the Canadian Department of National Defense, writes, "Contrary to a widely held view in the West, the most highly prized resource in the Middle East is not oil, but water." With the long history of regional turmoil, the rich water supply of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and others has become even more valuable as the region's population continues its rapid growth. Dr. Wally N'Dow, a U.N. official predicted, "In the past 50 years, nations have gone to war over oil. In the next 50, we are going to go to war over water. The crisis point is going to be 15 to 20 years from now."

This 1995 prediction could well become a reality if present trends of population growth and water consumption continue. After all, clashes over valuable natural resources are as old as history itself.

Currently home to more than 300 million people, or about 5 percent of the global population, the volatile Middle East has less than 1 percent of the world's water resources. Population increases in the region will make for an even more potentially explosive water situation during the next decade.  Iraq is 75 percent desert and will add nearly 11 million people to its population of 23.6 million in the next decade.

Egypt, with almost 100 percent of its land covered with desert, will see its population increase from 2000 to 2010 by 15 million, to 82 million people.

And the Gaza Strip has one of the highest birth rates in the world, with 6.6 children born on average to every woman.  It's all too easy to imagine the potential impact on the entire world of conflicts over water in the Middle East.  Voluntary family planning programs can reduce population pressures in this region. Yet the United States has backed away from its longstanding commitment to these vital international efforts over the past several years.  The Bush administration has blocked funding for the United Nations Population Fund, the nation's largest family planning organization, and has imposed the highly restrictive Global Gag Rule on all recipients of U.S. international family planning funds.

Oil is a valuable and scarce resource. So is water. As long as global population continues to grow and rates of water consumption increase, one fact stands out: possible technological replacements have been found for oil, none have been found for water.  Peter H. Kostmayer is a former congressman from Pennsylvania and was a regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Administration during the Clinton administration. He is now president of Population Connection, a national grass-roots population organization in Washington.

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April 24, 2003


ROME, Italy, April 24, 2003 (ENS) - The Holy See, representing the one billion members of the Roman Catholic Church, has stated its strong support for water as a common good of humanity and the continued public, not private, overall control of water supplies.  Championed by NGOs, trade unions and farmers groups, such concepts are opposed by a number of governments, as seen at last month's Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan.  By contrast, at the G8 environment ministers meeting in Paris starting Friday, G8 president France will be inviting fellow members to endorse measures, such as the Camdessus report on water financing, "Financing Water for All," which failed to gain consensus support under the Third World Water Forum's final ministerial declaration.

Michel Camdessus, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, led a group that studied the financing of an improved and expanded global water infrastructure to deliver potable water to thirsty millions. In the Camdessus report, financing would come from water user fees, as well as financial markets, multilateral financial institutions, governments and official development aid.  At the World Water Forum representatives from hundreds of NGOs and unions around the world stormed out during the Camdessus presentation, demanding that the World Water Council adopt another direction.  Regardless, the G8 presidency will seek top political endorsement for measures such as the Camdessus plan at the G8 Summit in Evian, France set for June 1 through 3.

The Vatican's position was set out in a note by the President of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace Archbishop Renato Martino submitted to the World Water Forum on March 22, foreshadowing a more developed and detailed document to be published later this year in the light of the Forum's conclusions.

Diplomatic observers doubt the Vatican view will influence policies of the two G8 members with predominantly Roman Catholic populations - France and Italy. But it might have considerable impact in shaping responses of a number of Catholic developing countries to European Union requests under the World Trade Organization to open up public water services to private foreign operators, as well as similar advice received from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Entitled "Water, An Essential Element for Life," Archbishop Martino's Note says, "Water is a common good of humankind. This is the basis for cooperation toward a water policy that gives priority to persons living in poverty and those living in areas endowed with fewer resources."  "The centrality of the human person must be foremost in any consideration of the issues of water," the Note continues. "For water users living in poverty this is rapidly becoming an issue crucial for life and, in the broad sense of the concept, a right to life issue."  "The principle of the universal destination of the goods of creation confirms that people and countries, including future generations, have the right to fundamental access to those goods which are necessary for their development," the Note states. "The few, with the means to control, cannot destroy or exhaust this resource, which is destined for the use of all. Powerful international interests, public and private, must adapt their agendas to serve human needs rather than dominate them."

On water governance, the Note states that "the trend away from centralized government agencies and towards empowering local governments and local communities to manage water supplies must be emphasized. Water management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels. Both men and women should be involved and have equal voice in managing water resources and sharing of the benefits that come from sustainable water use. " The Note supports a role for private investors, but within clear public interest restrictions. "It has proved to be extremely difficult to establish the right balance of public-private partnerships and serious errors have been committed, " the Note says.  At times individual enterprises have attained almost monopoly powers over public goods. A prerequisite for effective privatization is that it be set within a clear legislative framework which allows government to ensure that private interventions do in actual fact protect the public interest.

"The debate today, the Note says, "is not whether the private sector will be involved but how and to what extent it will be present as the actual provider of water services. In any formation of private sector involvement with the state, there must exist a general parity among the parties allowing for informed decisions and sound agreements. A core concern in private sector involvement in the water sector is to ensure that efforts to achieve a water service that is efficient and reliable do not cause undue negative effects for the poor and low income families."  The Note calls for country partnerships between developed and developing countries, as well as debt for water swaps.

"The water services in many developing countries are, however, still plainly inadequate in providing safe water supplies. The situation is so dramatic that it will not be overcome without increased development assistance and focused private investment from abroad," Archbishop Marino emphasizes in the Note.

"Funds released through debt relief could well be utilized in improving water services," he says. "Country partnerships can provide a method of institutional building and reform whereby a long term link can be formed between the water sector of a developed country and that of a developing country."  Since the water supply of most developed countries is in the public sector, this appeal appears closely aligned to the civil society calls for public-public partnerships as opposed to the public-private partnerships advocated by in past years by the World Bank, the Global Water Partnership, the water multinationals and several Western donors.

The Vatican's Note can be downloaded:

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April 24, 2003

NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) - Korogocho means heap of scrap in Kikuyu and the slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, lives up to its sorry name.  Scrawny chickens peck and barefoot children play in the debris of plastic and refuse. People scavenging through the piles of rubbish on the city dump bring back faded umbrellas, discarded toilet brushes and scraps of metal to resell.  About 160,000 people live in this warren of low shacks cobbled together with bits of tin and slabs of mud. Few have electricity or fuel to cook with, but the biggest problem is water and sanitation.  Nairobi is a scarce water city -- like a host of others in Africa including Addis Ababa, Dakar and Lusaka.

Across the continent, there are women and children who walk all day, every day to collect a jerry can of water.  Not only is water in short supply in Kenya, but it is most expensive for the poorest, sometimes reaching the consumer untreated.  "It's time we were aware that water is a finite commodity and that we are water scarce, which calls for greater prudence in the way we manage and use it," Water Resources Minister Martha Karua told Reuters.  According to government statistics, Kenya's per capita water supply is expected to fall from 700 cubic meters now to around 500 by 2010. At the same time, UN Habitat (the United Nations (news - web sites) Human Settlement Program) sees population growth climbing 5 percent annually in Nairobi alone.  Deforestation is compounding Kenya's water shortage, with trees rapidly disappearing under the ax of illegal loggers. Forest cover, which helps retain moisture, has dwindled to below 10 percent of the east African country, leaving it prone to droughts and severe floods. "With water scarcity, a rapidly growing urban population and lots of wastage, there's obviously a crisis looming on the horizon," said James Ohayo, UN Habitat project coordinator for public and information awareness.  In the long term, water scarcity has a negative effect on the economy. It puts off foreign investors, caps agriculture and manufacturing production, and hampers the creation of jobs.


Karua is adamant that lives can be improved as the water ministry tackles bad practices accumulated over the years. "With efficient use we might not have a shortage," she said.  The outspoken minister was appointed by President Mwai Kibaki after his landslide victory in December elections.  Since coming to office she has kick-started a series of measures to address the mismanagement of water in Kenya -- including the creation of a regulatory body to monitor water supply, distribution and quality.

"Local authorities have previously used water as a cash cow, where they take water money and use it for other things and ignore maintenance and expansion. We want water revenues ring-fenced and only used to service water," Karua said.  Nowhere is water scarcity more keenly felt than in the slums with its trenches -- thick with sewage -- standing in for drains and fostering diseases like typhoid and cholera. In a recent report UN Habitat said 10 percent of Nairobi's 3 million people are served by sewers, 20 percent by septic tanks and the rest with manually cleaned latrines.  Most inhabitants get their water from vendors, lugging 20-quart containers at a time. A peek behind the ramshackle huts reveals women bent over washing dishes, scrubbing clothes in bowls, careful not to waste any precious water.  "Nairobi has so many water vendors. Almost all of them do not have a source that means they are opening city council taps and pirating water from them and disturbing the distribution," Karua said. "So the shortage created could be artificial."


Some 200,000 quarts, or half the water Nairobi imports daily from between 125 and 370 miles upcountry is lost through leaks in old, rusty pipes and illegal connections.  As if that isn't bad enough, the poor are paying up to 10 times more for their water than the rich -- while commercial farmers channeling water from rivers and lakes pay nothing.  Karua said the water ministry hoped to change that by imposing levies on all water users, cracking down on illegal connections and tackling pollution.  Basic common sense measures such as taking showers instead of having a bath, halving the amount of water used to flush the lavatory, or reusing water to wash floors would also help to conserve it, UN Habitat's Ohayo said.  However the long-term future lies in harvesting rainwater, building reserves from dams and replanting trees, Karua said.  "Generally our programs will not produce results in an instant, but we want to look back five years, 10 years, 15 years later and say our forest cover now is 40 percent -- and this can be achieved," she said.

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Jamaica Observer
April 24, 2003

WESTERN BUREAU -- The Great River Watershed Management Committee (GRWMC) on Tuesday launched its Green Village Award programme, under USAID's US$6 million Ridge to Reef project.

The launch coincided with the celebration of Earth Day. "We chose today to launch the programme because we thought it was a good mix," said Lisa Golding, head of the GRWMC's public awareness task force. "Ridge to Reef focuses on water and sanitation issues in the Great River and Rio Grande watershed; this is the International Year of Fresh Water and the theme for today is "Water for Life". So water quality is really on the front burner and we are happy about that."

The Ridge to Reef Watershed Project is a five-year initiative between the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It addresses the degradation of watersheds in Jamaica. The Green Village programme builds on the idea of the Best Kept Community award, which is facilitated by the Social Development Commission. The prize is $50,000 and criteria for the winning community include:

  • the establishment of at least one active enforcement or environmental watch group,

  • erecting signs to address at least one environmental problem in the community,

  • the implementation of at least three public awareness education activities,

  • tree planting and beautification, clean-up campaigns, composting, placement of solid waste bins in the community,

  • and establishing a working linkage with the National Solid Waste Management Authority to have them dispose of their waste properly.

Winners for the competition will be announced on National Wood and Water day, October 4, 2003.

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EU Observer
April 23, 2003

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The European Commission will today adopt a plan for creating an EU Water Fund worth one billion euros. The Fund is designed to help developing countries provide clean water for their citizens and help reach a key international development goal. According to the UN, over one billion people live without access to clean water and it is estimated that 34,000 people die each day from water-related diseases.

At the Millennium summit in Johannesburg leaders agreed to halve the number of people with poor access to clean water by 2015. A recent report from the World Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure stated that "the flow of aid had to nearly double" in order to reach this goal. The plan, put forward by the Commission President, Romano Prodi, will be available for projects in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) as the money will come from funds already set aside under an existing EU-ACP agreement.  It is expected to be available primarily for co-financing projects, where the EU will provide grants to cut the costs of starting initiatives.  According to the Commission water projects usually have long pay-back periods making them unattractive for commercial investors.

See Also:

The Prodi letter, April 2003,

European Commission proposes billion-euro water fund for world's poorest, AFP, April 23, 2003;

EU plans billion-euro water fund for poor countries, Reuters, April 23, 2003

SA in Line for EU Water Plan Fund, Business Day (Johannesburg) April 24, 2003

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The Monitor (Kampala)
April 23, 2003

Lake Victoria Environment Management Project (LVEMP) has got a grant of $1.8 million from the Norwegian government to facilitate its activities. Speaking during a one-day workshop at Hotel Africana recently, Norwegian Ambassador Tore Gjoqs said the $1.8 millon is to be shared among the three East African countries to facilitate the activities of the vision and priotisation process for presentation at the East African regional workshop from 2-4 May in Arusha. "Its contribution to resource development in the global world, Lake Victoria being the largest Eco-system with great value to the surrounding communities," said Mr Tore.

The Ministerof state for Environment, Kezimbiro Muyingo said the establishment of East African Community and East African Development Strategy 2001-2005 has designated the comprehensive strategies and action plans for sustainable development of the whole of Lake Victoria basin. Mr Muyingo said the project is to benefit the ministries and department of fisheries and agriculture in the three countries and districts around the lake. "Ministries should involve small and big stakeholders in the survey process to ensure proper management and eliminate water hyacinth, bad fishing and farming practices cultivating near the shores, which have reduced on the level of water in lake Victoria," he said. He said that the ministry has invited the private sector to attract local and foreign investors to contribute to the facilitation of the project because LVEMP is too large for government funding.

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World Bank
April 23, 2003

A new multilateral institution focusing on water resources management became the newest member of the Global Development Learning Network this month and embarked on a new program of knowledge sharing for countries linked through GDLN. The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is the Netherlands’ first GDLN center and will serve all institutions in the Netherlands. The historic city of Delft, just minutes away from the administrative and governmental seat of the Netherlands in The Hague, is home of a number of important institutions focusing on water, hydraulic engineering and transport. The new center at UNESCO-IHE Institute will be open to all potential users of GDLN in the Netherlands.

GDLN is a growing family of partners spread across the world. The network now has 58 centers, with new ones coming on line regularly. Through GDLN, development practitioners share knowledge, exchange expertise and coordinate donor activities. Supported by a €400,000 grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, the UNESCO-IHE Institute will develop at least 12 new GDLN modules on water resources, public works and transport management. The World Bank Institute’s Water Program in partnership with UNESCO-IHE will take the lead in developing and delivering some of these modules and will work with IHE in the development of others.

Programs under development include Integrated River Basin Management; Wetlands Management; Public Private Partnerships; Water Law and Institutions; Drinking Water Distribution Systems; Groundwater Modeling; Flood Management; River Engineering; Natural Treatment of Urban Wastewater; Cleaner Production Technologies. Dutch Ministry personnel who work on these subjects will contribute to the development of the modules and will act as resources in some of the GDLN events. Roughly 1 billion people in the developing world live without access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion live without access to improved sanitation. An estimated 250,000 people per day will need to gain access to safe drinking water and 350,000 people per day to safe sanitation in order to achieve the MDG for water supply and sanitation. Yet fewer than 1 in 10 low-income countries appears to be on track. The challenge is great and progress will require scaling up of the efforts and an innovative approach.

"We see the partnership with IHE-UNESCO as a critical link to one of our greatest challenges: how to help countries make real progress in water resource management," said Frannie Léautier, the World Bank Vice President who heads WBI. "We all know that business as usual will not work to make the kind of progress we need to make. That’s why we are working in partnership through GDLN—tapping into the power of technology—to scale up our efforts and improve our outcomes." UNESCO-IHE has already used GDLN for several programs delivered to Africa and Asia and plans programs for virtually all parts of the world.

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The Nation (Pakistan)
April 23,2003

KARACHI (APP)–The 33rd World Earth Day being observed on Tuesday reminds the people of the world of the need for continuing care which is vital to earth’s safety. The theme for the day “Water is Life – Conserve it” this year holds particular relevance for Pakistan where ground-water table in most of fresh water areas is declining and surface water flow dwindling due to high sediment content in water carried through river and canals. The situation is attributed to massive deforestation leading to depletion in water tables and degradation in watersheds respectively.

Unfortunately, the average canal water availability and hydro-power generation from Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam is also receding and is feared to further decline as their combined storage capacity has reduced from original 15.7 MAF to estimated 11.7 MAF due to sedimentation. The significance for the provision of additional storage capacity to meet agricultural and other needs can not be overlooked. Yet experts believe that emphasis should be on realistic measures with major emphasis on conservation, these include both traditional approach as well as modern, scientific intervention, depending on pertinent scenario and conditions in the country.

Need for maximum involvement of all concerned stake holders is the water conservation schemes are also recommended. Under the very strategy water resources of the country also require to be developed and managed in an integrated manner. The Vision 2025, initiated in recent past, seeks optimum utilisation of country’s water and power resources. The intensity of situation has also compelled country to have a concrete and comprehensive National Water Policy, which is currently in formulation process. Meanwhile, an IUCN Press release issued here said the occasion calls on all mankind to recognise and respect earth’s beautiful systems of balance, between the presence of animals on land, the fish in the sea, birds in the air, mankind, water, air and land. Most importantly there must always be awareness of the actions by people that can disturb this precious balance, it said adding that the purpose of Earth Day is to further “Peace, Justice and the care of Earth.” We have an amazing planet and with our new technology can provide a wonderful future for the human family. On this Earth Day we face a great challenge, it is time for peacemakers around the world to unite in a global effort to demonstrate the power of faith, love and prayer to bring peaceful resolution of conflict in this time of global crisis.

Wherever you are, make this a time of silent prayer and dedication to work for peaceful progress on our planet, and follow it by action, the IUCN pledged. It was mentioned that the idea for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962. Gaylord Nelson, a US Senator from Wisconsin, USA, proposed the first nationwide environment protest, and on April 22, 1970 around twenty million Americans participated in environmental rallies, demonstrations and other activities for a healthy and clean environment. Since that first Earth Day. the environmental movement is celebrated every year on the same date. A host of dedicated people from advisory councils to grassroots organisers provide the vision, influence, and energy that have sustained Earth Day as a prominent and effective vehicle for environmental responsibility over the past three decades. Earth Day often launches projects that bring ongoing benefits to the community and it helps expand and strengthen networks of community groups. It inspires action on personal community, national and international levels.

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Press Trust of India
April 23, 2003


Amidst growing crisis of water, the Centre for Science and Environment on Wednesday launched a website to create water literacy and inform people about rainwater harvesting methods. "Rainwater harvesting is part of the solution to the growing water crisis. But implementation remains poor because of inadequate information. This is the gap we are trying to fill through our website," Director CSE Sunita Narain said here at the launch. The website '' covers the complex dimensions of water and its use in society. It highlights traditional and contemporary rainwater harvesting technologies specific to the country's 15 eco-regions and identifies rainwater harvests in different regions. Adding a touch of glamour to the pressing issue is noted actress Nandita Das' 90-second public service advertisement to promote rainwater harvesting. The water literacy advertisement made in English and Hindi also marks Nandita's directorial debut which she has done with her husband and creative director Soumya Sen.

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The Age
April 23 2003

The South Australian Government seems to be losing its battle with the mouth of the Murray River. In the next week it will probably close. Last year the river mouth was dredged in a $2 million program jointly funded by SA, Victoria, NSW and the Commonwealth. But SA Environment Minister John Hill said yesterday that in the next few days or week the mouth would close, and keeping it open over the long term might be an impossible task. "We may have to allow (the mouth) to close, but I hope that's not the case," he said.

The Murray's short-term problem is drought: there simply is not enough water in the river. But the long-term problem, Mr Hill said, is that 73 per cent of its flow is taken out for irrigation and urban use. The Murray rarely gets big flows that would flush the sand from its mouth. "There is far too much water removed anyway and getting a drought on top of that makes it a doubly difficult situation," Mr Hill said. He said the state would keep dredging so that the channels remained open for the passage of fish and boats. But he said he was unsure how long this could go on.

The river mouth would not open up naturally until big rains in the winter of 2004, Mr Hill said. The money spent on the summer dredging of the Murray mouth was not lost, Mr Hill said. It meant that the internationally significant Coorong wetlands escaped an "ecological meltdown". Tidal movements through the Murray mouth, near Goolwa, allow hundreds of thousands of birds - which come from all over the world - to feed. These birds, which have now mostly flown home, were saved by the dredging, Mr Hill said.

Letting the mouth close over would have increased the Coorong's temperature by three degrees, killing large numbers of fish, he said.

Through the "Living Murray" process, the Murray Darling Basin Commission is looking at ways to restore water flow to the river. Three options of flow are being considered and SA favours the biggest: a return of 1500 gigalitres. A senior research scientist with CSIRO Land and Water, Professor Mike Young, said the Murray mouth simply needed more water.  "Digging it out without putting more water through is not going to solve the problem," he said. Meanwhile, in the early hours of yesterday morning, Parks Victoria opened the mouth of the Snowy River at Marlo.  The river mouth had closed - a one-in-10-year event - and water had been flooding high-value dairy land. Parks Victoria's chief ranger for East Gippsland, Dennis Matthews, said the river had closed because of the drought. Two earth-moving machines, working under lights, removed several thousand cubic metres of sand from the river's entrance to the sea. Mr Matthews said the river blockage had nothing to do with the effects of it being dammed or the lower-than-natural flows. "In the drought, it was inevitable that it was going to close up for a while," he said.

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The Hindu
April 22, 2003

New Delhi, April. 22. (PTI): Concerned with drinking water scarcity and depleting ground water levels in the country, the Planning Commission today said that rain water harvesting was important to meet the water requirement.  "Rain water harvesting has improved the water situation in states such as Gujarat and Rajasthan and it could also be used in other parts of the country with community involvement," Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, K C Pant said, releasing a report on "Water Supply and Sanitation" here.

The report has been brought out jointly by the Planning Commission, World Health Organisation and United Nations Children's Fund. It makes an assessment of drinking water supply and sanitation in the country.

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The Malta Independent
April 22, 2003

Nine Maltese teenagers have joined forces with their counterparts from other Mediterranean countries to discuss the water management issues in the region.  Throughout this week, around 50 young people from Malta, Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Croatia, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, will discuss and debate water management issues. The activity will reach its peak on Saturday with the young people discussing the issues in a youth parliament.

Organised by the Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Water, this is the first time the activity is being held in Malta. Speaking to The Malta Independent Nicole Crochet, who is taking care of the organisation of the event, said Malta was a melting pot of cultures at the centre of the Mediterranean basin. “Malta is a link between the north and the south of the Mediterranean,” she said. Miss Crochet said Malta shared the concern for water shortages and pollution with other Mediterranean countries. Miss Crochet explained that this was the fourth parliament being organised by the Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Water. She said it was a great experience for the young people as it would give them an opportunity to do something on an international level.

Nature Trust (Malta) are organising the event from the local side. The organisation’s president Vincent Attard said out of the three workshops being held over the course of the week, one deals specifically with Malta’s situation. European Rivers Network president Roberto Epple said the parliament was a way to give a voice to the young people. He said through their participation they realised that it was not easy to address the situation. The young people - who are between 14 and 18 years - also prepared various works of art that will be exhibited at the Home, Environment and Garden Fair at Ta’ Qali as from next Saturday.  The Maltese participants also spoke to The Malta Independent. They said this was a new experience for them, which enabled them to voice their opinions.

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Scripps Howard News Service
April 22,2003


More than three decades after the first Earth Day, the world's governments are grappling with supplying humanity with enough clean drinking water.  Almost 1 in 5 people globally — about 1.3 billion — don't have access to safe drinking water. Every year an estimated 5 million people die of waterborne diseases.

The world's governments have pledged to cut the number of people without safe drinking water in half by 2015 as part of the Millennium Development Goals, but it's a gargantuan task. To meet that target, 300,000 people need to be hooked up to water daily for 12 years.  The issue is not just a matter of building infrastructure to bring water and sanitation to people. Global water supplies per person are falling, while the demand for fresh water is growing at an unsustainable rate. Within 20 years, the average supply of fresh water per person will drop by a third, according to a recent U.N. forecast.

Fresh water is a finite resource. The world's population of 6.1 billion is forecast to increase by more than 50 percent to 9.3 billion by 2050, with nearly all the growth taking place in the developing world where water scarcity is greatest. An estimated two-thirds of the world's population will lack sufficient water by 2025.

In response to the problem, the United Nations has declared 2003 the "International Year of Freshwater." More than 10,000 political leaders and water experts gathered in Kyoto, Japan, in March for the Third World Water Forum.  Concerned about the potential for "water wars" between nations, U.N. officials at the forum announced a new organization, the Water Cooperation Facility, to mediate disputes between countries that share single river basins. More likely than wars between nations are internal instability and violence by downstream users denied water, said Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project. China and Pakistan each has experienced water riots, she noted.  

The global picture is ominous:

  • About 2 million tons of waste are dumped every day into rivers, lakes and streams. There are an estimated 2,878 cubic miles of polluted rivers worldwide.

  • Nearly 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation services. Preventable water-related diseases are one of the top causes of childhood death.

  • More than 20 percent of all fresh-water fish species are threatened or endangered because of dams and water withdrawals.

  • Farmers are increasingly competing with urban centers for water.

  • Some of the world's key aquifers are being overpumped to irrigate crops. Experts warn that when pumping can no longer be sustained, food prices will likely rise.

  • Many industrial nations, including the United States, face exorbitant costs to replace aging water systems.

Population pressures are pushing municipal utilities to sell their systems to private water companies.

Meanwhile, there is "undeniable evidence" that the world's water cycle is speeding up, causing more frequent storms, floods and droughts, according to a report earlier this year by the World Water Council.

Changes in Earth's climate have resulted in more intense rainy seasons, longer dry seasons, stronger storms, shifts in rainfall and rising sea levels in many parts of the world, the report said. Climate change will account for an estimated 20 percent of the projected increase in water scarcity.  The water council said the number of major flood disasters has grown significantly within five decades.

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United Nations
April 22, 2003

22 April – The United Nations today launched an $84 million appeal to support its efforts to address over the next 18 months the emergency needs of the most vulnerable in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  The appeal seeks to mobilize the international community to respond to an extremely serious humanitarian situation affecting the poorest of Haiti’s 8.3 million people, a crisis that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said could deteriorate.

Launched in Port-au-Prince by the UN Country Team for Haiti, the “Integrated Emergency Response Programme (IERP): Targeting Vulnerable Communities and Populations in Haiti,” aims to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the short-term and improve food security in the long-term. OCHA said the programme has three overlapping phases covering periods of six, 12, and 18 months.  The first phase, which seeks $14.4 million, comprises emergency interventions to prevent loss of life and alleviate suffering. The most vulnerable populations, including families who have taken children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, will receive food aid, essential medicines and water through programmes of six months’ duration.

Farmers will receive assistance to enable them to resume production and improve access to basic services during the 12-month second phase. Roughly $22 million is sought for projects, which include providing farmers with agricultural inputs and livestock.  The UN needs $47.5 million for the final phase of projects designed to reduce food insecurity by diversifying opportunities for economic growth and development over an 18-month period. Projects will also seek to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters, as well as improve education, governance and security in the country.  According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), 56 per cent of Haiti’s population is suffering from malnutrition. Only 46 per cent of the population has access to clean drinking water and 42 per cent of its population lives beneath the poverty line.

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The Hindu (India)
April 22, 2003

BANGALORE April 22. The Karnataka Urban Water and Sanitation Sector Improvement Project will be the focus of discussions (from April 23 to May 3) between a visiting World Bank team, the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC) and commissioners of the Gulbarga, Belgaum, Hubli-Dharwad municipal councils, which will participate in the project.  But the project preparation, says a KUIDFC paper, involves appointing consultants for engineering and environmental studies and consultancies on financial, social and institutional/sector development.  Details about the nature of the consultants (whether wholly Indian companies or if Indian subsidiaries of U.S./U.K./French companies) have been omitted.

The bank is funding the project, and though the long-term vision is to ``turn the urban water and sanitation sector into a high quality, sustainable service," the medium-term intention is to achieve a water and sanitation sector service model "provided by autonomous, customer-responsive and commercially oriented utilities through effective public-private partnerships.''  The paper says that to make these aspects a reality, the water and sanitation sector in the State needs an urban water policy that will create a sound, regulatory, institutional and legal framework, and among other things, enable the private sector to be involved in the sector services.  In fact, KUIDFC officials say that a Government Order has been issued to facilitate these changes.  But are the people of Gulbarga, Belgaum and Hubli-Dharwad (the ``demonstration areas'' for the project's first phase) consulted in this process?  Past experience indicates otherwise. For example, when the Government decided to privatise the power sector, it appointed an internationally renowned consultant who came up with a strategy paper.  Then experts discussed the paper. But there was no public consultation till the Government decided on a strategy. Then a draft paper was published ``to inform consumers.''

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Iowa State Daily
April 22, 2003

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture's first International Symposium to address global water issues was greeted with support from faculty, staff and students.  Dave Acker, assistant dean of global agriculture programs said the connection made by those in attendance was most important.

The symposium, "Rivers of Life: Water, People and Global Development", began with a noon panel of three faculty members. "The presentations were really very exciting," said Michael Whiteford, associate dean in the LAS college and event sponsor. "It got everyone sort of energized for the following events." Gene Takle, professor of agronomy and geological and atmospheric sciences, addressed water in relation to climate change, Whiteford said.

Focusing on the human right to development of water, Robert Mazur, associate professor of sociology, addressed the political tool of water and human development. Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science, concluded the panel with a presentation on the past and present wars that have been fought over water.  A research seminar, "Water, Fire and Community-Based Natural Resource Management in the Chimalapas" was presented by Heidi Asbjornsen, assistant professor of natural resource ecology and management. She spoke to approximately 40 people in 302 Catt Hall at 4 p.m., Whiteford said.

The symposium concluded with the public lecture, "Commons and Commodity: Differing Approaches to a Global Water Crisis" by Stephen Gasteyer, an ISU alumnus who is now the director of community programs for Rural Community Assistance Program in Washington D.C.

"[The lecture] was an eye-opener for me," Acker said. "This looked at the options for solving one of the most serious problems in the world." Gasteyer talked about the populations of people without access to clean water and options for the future of water management and transfer.  "I don't oppose privatization [of water commodities] in all forms, but it is not going to succeed in delivering water to the people in the long run," Gasteyer said. With the inaugural symposium success, the LAS College and College of Agriculture have already begun planning for next year's symposium. There has been discussion on focusing on global issues surrounding food or health, Acker said.Acker said, "Each year, we plan to repeat the symposium and it will always be on a global issue of interest.

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Jamaica Observer
April 22, 2003

A number of small farmers have been utilising the Gravity Drip Irrigation System, according to Clover Laguerre, manager of RADA's on farm water management unit. Introduced by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in 1999, the system allows farmers to irrigate their farms with the aid of gravity. Laguerre described the system as an "on farm drip irrigation technique that relies on gravity, instead of a pump, to supply the energy to operate the system". She pointed out that the system is especially useful in areas that are almost totally devoid of natural or piped water sources. "This system is necessary because there are a lot of farms and potential farms that are situated in areas that have no natural water source or are not connected to any public irrigation scheme," she said.

Laguerre told JIS News that the systems have proved very practical and beneficial to small farmers, who have been extending the systems to cover up to half an acre of their plots. Arthur Anderson from Esher, St Mary, is one such farmer. Anderson, who was first introduced to the system through the ministry's Eastern Jamaica Agricultural Support Project (EJASP), bought one at a reduced price. Anderson said he acquired a quarter acre system in 2001 and since then, has extended it to cover four acres, on which he currently cultivates tomatoes. "The system has assisted me a lot. I started out small with tomatoes and then extended it, since I plan to plant melons, cantaloupes and string beans," he added.

As an additional service to those utilising the system, RADA provides on-site training and has published a training manual that helps farmers to better avail themselves of the equipment. Although the system is suitable for all farmers, it is used primarily by small farmers, as the system can only cater to about half an acre. "This is because the system, which runs by gravity, can only reach so far and no more," Laguerre explained. It consists of drip hoses that carry water to the crops from a 1,000-gallon tank. The tank is placed on a stand that is at least four feet in height, which provides the gravity or "energy" to distribute the water.

Water flow from the tank is controlled by a valve, and is filtered before it is passed to the drip hoses, in order to prevent clogging.

To replenish the tank, farmers may rely on water trucks, rainfall or any other source at their disposal.

The system also allows farmers to fertilize during irrigation, as the fertiliser is mixed and poured into the tank, and is distributed by the drip method. Laguerre said the system, which has a 90 to 95 per cent efficiency rate, improves farmers' crop yield and crop quality, and also facilitates year round planting by farmers. During the initial phase, farmers received complementary systems as part of a drought assistance plan that took place in late 2000. In that process, RADA gave 150 farmers quarter acre systems, while under the ministry of Agriculture's Domestic Food Crop Project, 100 farmers benefited from the system.

Currently, cultivators have to purchase the systems, but RADA continues its assistance by accessing funding from donor agencies to provide systems free of cost from time to time. "There are projects that come into the ministry where we can get funds," Laguerre explained, adding that RADA will then access these funds to help to purchase the systems for farmers. Noting further that the purchase and installation of any type of irrigation was a costly investment, Laguerre said RADA encourages farmers to ensure that the crops cultivated are marketable. "It is a big investment, so we always try to advise farmers to plant crops that are economically viable," she stressed.

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Times of India
April 21, 2003

NEW DELHI: The task force on inter-linking of rivers has been asked to consider international dimensions involved in the mega project, especially on seeking cooperation of Nepal and Bhutan governments, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday. Implementation of water transfer link proposals under the Himalayan component of national perspective on inter-linking required the cooperation of the governments of Nepal and Bhutan, Water Resources Minister Arjun Charan Sethi said in reply to a question.

Elaborating on the time-table for completion of the project, he said two action plans would be prepared by July-end this year and the Centre would convene a meeting of chief ministers in May or June to elicit their cooperation and deliberate over the project. The feasibility study, which is already in progress, would be completed by December 31, 2005, and detailed project reports completed by the next December. he implementation of the project would be completed by 2016, Sethi added.

See Also:

River grid project only after consensus: Sethi, The Hindu, April 2003,

Centre to go ahead with river linking project, Sify April 23, 2003;

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The Post (Lusaka)
April 21, 2003

ZAMBIA has increasingly been failing to deliver acceptable levels of water supply and sanitation services, Minister of Local Government and Housing Sylvia Masebo has said. Speaking during a Multi-Stakeholder Consultative forum in Lusaka last week, Masebo said despite implementing reform programmes in the sector Zambia still lagged behind in delivering the services in respective areas. "Despite some reform programmes, Zambia has been increasingly failing to deliver acceptable levels of water supply and sanitation services to rural, peri-urban and urban communities," she said.

She said the performance had been constrained by many problems that included slow rates of increase in coverage, decline in national investment to the sector, poor planning and co-ordinating among stakeholders. This was mainly due to insufficient definition of the roles and responsibilities in the sector. Masebo said the ministry had thus been engaged in consultations with various partners as a way of solving the problem. She said it was evidenced that if strong co-ordination existed, sustainable achievement could be attained due to the promotion of dialogue among stakeholders. She recognised sharing of experiences, strengthening data collection and information systems as elements that would help to the greater benefit of the population. She noted that despite the problems in the water sector, the reforms had brought about major changes that were embodied in the national water policy and supported by the water supply and sanitation Act 19 of 1997.

Masebo added that Water supply, Sanitation, and Health/Hygiene Education (WASHE) strategy was a people centered, intersectoral and an integrated approach to planning, implementation and management of water supply, sanitation and Hygiene promotion initiatives. She explained that WASHE encouraged a participatory approach, mutual commitment and collective responsibility. It also promoted corporation with other stakeholders and was based on development, planning and management of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS). She said WASHE tried to ensure that available resources were put to good use so that it worked hand in hand with the community and the government in achieving development. "It also advocates the maximum utilisation of available resources and promotes the decentralisation process so that communities take up much of the responsibilities while the government played a facilitating role," she said. Masebo said the WASHE concept emphasised on the community management and partnership between the community and the supporting agencies.

She said the stance called for enhancement of capacities of people in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance. This also called for communities and individuals to be innovative and creative and that, they assumed responsibility by maximising their potential for development. She further said government had approved the transitional National Development Plan as an implementation strategy for the poverty reduction strategies. Masebo said there was need therefore for concerted efforts in order to improve the quality of life of all Zambians through the spirit of collaboration in making water flow for all Zambians. And local government deputy minister Guston Sichilima has warned of stern action against bus operators who would refuse to start operating from Inter-City bus terminus. Sichilima closed Euro Africa, Max Motorways and White Horse bus stations for poor sanitation. However, a check yesterday revealed that Max Motor ways, White Horse and Euro Africa stations were still operating at their stations.

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New Vision (Kampala)
April 21, 2003

OVER 200 million people worldwide are infected by bilharzia, of which, 120 million are symptomatic and 20million have severe debilitating disease, according to a statement by Jim Muhwezi, Minister of Health.

Muhwezi said an estimated 85% of all cases, and most of the severely affected are now concentrated in Africa. In a statement entitled "National Programme for the Control of Bilharzia and intestinal parasites," Muhwezi said water resources development projects in Africa have been often linked with an increase in the rate of Bilharzia transmission.

The minister noted that sustainable agricultural development in Africa has been linked with an increase in Bilharzia transmission. The minister noted that sustainable agricultural development in Africa would be hampered if Bilharzia is not brought under control. "In the 1970s and 1980s, WHO played a leading role in the development of the strategy for the control of Bilharzia. Praziquantel, the drug of choice fr the disease, was developed in collaborative effort between WHO and the private Sector," Muhwezi said. He said WHO had invested in the evaluation of rapid diagnostic methods and donor agencies to support bilharzia control based on the chemotherapy for reduction of morbidity.

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New Vision (Kampala)
April 21, 2003

THE $520m Bujagali hydro-electric power project may soon take off following new developments in Washington D.C. It is reported that the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which has for months been probing the developer, AES, over bribery allegations, has reportedly halted the investigations and given the American company a go-ahead. "By halting the investigations, in essence it means that they have not found any incriminating evidence against AES," said a source. "The American multi-national (AES), will now be free to access World Bank funding for the Bujagali project as it had planned," said the source. "As a result of the latest development, on April 11, the AES board of directors met in Washington DC to discuss the issue. Now the directors have to go back to World Bank and negotiate for the loan," the source said.

Syda Bbumba, the energy and mineral development minister, said on Thursday, "That is the latest development on the long-awaited Bujagali project. But AES has not yet communicated to us officially." She said she had been informed that the Department of Justice had also exonerated AES from corruption charges. Bbumba said, "The matter is now on AES's side and we are just waiting for them. The problem has never been ours." On Thursday, Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa, the energy ministry's permanent secretary, told the parliamentary committee on natural resources that the DOJ had cleared AES of corruption allegations.

"They have found nothing substantial against AES that warrants prosecuting the company," Kaliisa said.

He was reacting to a concern by Umar Mawiya Lule (MP Kalungu East) during a meeting with the committee on natural resources on April 17.

Lule wanted to know how far the Bujagali dam project had gone. Kaliisa said the Justice Department had completed its work. He said further development on the project had been halted because the financiers wanted assurance that there was no problem. "The plan is that AES is going to finalise its obligations with the financiers. This is planned this month and the timetable we have is that during the first week of May, the project will attain financial closure," Kaliisa said. He added, "We are very optimistic that in June the project should resume." The World Bank Group was waiting for the outcome of the DOJ investigations before approval of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency insurance for the Bujagali project. The DOJ investigation followed reports that a contractor in the AES consortium, Viedekke of Norway, had paid a bribe to a former Ugandan minister.

See Also:

Anti-Bujagali Power Dam Crusaders Warn of More Trouble, New Vision (Kampala) April 23, 2003;

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New Vision (Kampala)
April 21, 2003

UGANDA on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which US$31m (about sh58b) will be availed for water and sanitation in the next five years, writes Grace Matsiko. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of water, Lands and Environment, Eng. B. K. Kabanda, signed for Uganda, while Erik Aberg, Flemming Pedersen and Ros Cooper represented Sweden, Denmark and the Department For International Development, at a function held at the ministry headquarters in Kampala. During the same function, Pedersen announced that the Danish Development Agency (DANIDA) planned to channel another sh35b as budget support for rural water supply and sanitation over the next five years.

While commending Uganda for the priority accorded to safe water access, Pedersen disputed government figures that safe water supply in rural areas stood at 55%. "I note, however, that 30% of water sources are not functioning. This is a high percentage. It means the effective coverage for rural water is less than the officially stated 55%," the envoy said. But water, lands and environment minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who witnessed the signing, defended government's figures, saying the 55% was a departure from what it was before the Movement came to power. "This point on non-functional boreholes is well taken and will be handled" he said. He directed his ministry official to take up the matter.

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Disaster News
April 20, 2003

By the middle of the century, seven billion people in 60 countries could have limited access to clean water according to a report published by an organization affiliated with the United Nations educational agency known as UNESCO.  The report predicts a bleak future where water, particularly in developing countries, is not as plentiful or clean as it is today. And, according to several water and sanitation experts, the global situation today is already challenging.  "By the middle of the century, at worst seven billion people in 60 countries will be water-scarce, at best two billion in 48 countries," concludes Water for People, Water for Life, produced by World Water Assessment Programme.  But these same experts think that these trends can be effectively countered, and such an effort would not necessarily entail a lot of money -- just a lot of education.  That assessment of the global situation is borne out in the report, which calls for more careful management of the planet's water supply.

"This crisis is one of water governance, essentially caused by the ways in which we mismanage water...In truth it is attitude and behavior problems that lie at the heart of the crisis," according to the report. "For humanity, the poverty of a large percentage of the world's population is both a symptom and a cause of the water crisis. Giving the poor better access to better managed water can make a big contribution to poverty eradication."  The report also details how inadequate management of water distribution leads directly to sanitation problems, and consequently to disease, and that billions of people in the developing world are already experiencing these very basic problems.

"Presently, 1.1 billion people lack access to improved water supply and 2.4 billion to improved sanitation. In the vicious property/ill-health cycle, inadequate water supply and sanitation are both underlying cause and outcome: invariably, those who lack adequate and affordable water supplies are the poorest in society. If improved water supply and basic sanitation were extended to the present-day 'unserved', it is estimated that the burden of infectious disease would be reduced by some 17 percent annually; if universal piped, well-regulated water supply and full sanitation were achieved, this would reduce the burden by some 70 percent annually," according to the report.

That the earth only has only so much water, however, would not present a problem, if not for the human beings. But as the human population continually increases, and the amount of land required for agriculture also expands, the more water will be necessary to slake the thirst of the ever-burgeoning human race.

There is, however, only so much water to go around, said Manuel Dengo, chief of water resources for the UN department of economic and social affairs.  "The problem is catching up with the growth of the population. It's a constant race to catch up," Dengo said. "The more we grow, and the more we develop, the more we influence the water cycle. So it's a matter of using water wisely."  This wise use of water involves the careful management of water distribution. Barring a limits on population-growth or land-use, management is the only method available - or more specifically what Dengo calls "integrated water resources management."

Dengo thinks that historically there has been a global lack of political will to codify the wise use and distribution of water. In the last few years, however, necessity has forced world leaders to take a more serious look at the issue, he said. Water conservation and related issues, such as sanitation, "have become a very high priority on the political agenda," according to Dengo.  Serious efforts, he said, can only be undertaken as the result of "multi-stake holder discussions" - talks that include representatives of all levels of governments in a particular area, as well as relevant business leaders.  Not all developing countries have the expertise or the ability to pull together this kind of effort, and some of these countries also have plenty of other things to worry about, like famine, disease and mass starvation. This is where experts like Dengo can help "to bring them up to speed." Like Dengo, Ingbar Andersson, a UN water policy advisor, does this sort of work for a living.  Andersson believes that the future crisis outlined in the WAAP report is real, but that with proper planning and attention, the potentially nightmarish scenario painted in the report can be avoided.


"As long as it works, everyone's happy," Andersson said, "but when there's breakdown, then it's hard to rectify."  These systemic breakdowns then lead people to use unsafe means of getting water, and of disposing of human waste. And these primitive methods quickly pollute the local water supply.

"People today don't die from lack of water, they die because the water is polluted," he said. "That's why millions of people die every year, but that's a problem that's very easy to address."  Andersson does not think this problem can be solved by throwing a lot of money at undeveloped countries. In fact, he said, that can even make the situation worse, by allowing countries to build water systems that they may not be able to maintain in the future.

Instead, Andersson suggests "very basic improvements in health and hygiene education," as well as teaching local governments how to build the most suitable and efficient distribution systems for a particular environment.  People everywhere want to have decent living conditions, he said, "so if we can provide better advice and better financial resources, and it doesn't have to be much, they will have the opportunity to improve their lives considerably."  On the other hand, Andersson points out, developed Western countries are not immune from potential water supply problems in the near future.  The reason for concern for the West, he said, is mainly due to chemical contamination, from industrial pollution and agricultural pesticides (which have "an impact that we're not sure about"), as well as "all the medicine that we put through our bodies."  This last problem is something that Western countries are just beginning to worry about. "Our water treatment plants are not really designed to deal with (pharmaceutical chemicals)," he said. "I think that's an issue of concern."


For the vast majority of the world's population, one of the most important aspects of water managment is the conservation of drinkable water.  "One of the biggest issues right now is irrigation and water use for sanitation purposes," said Chris Landry, American Red Cross program manager for El Salvador.

According to Landry, the unnecessary use of drinkable water for irrigation and waste removal may lead to water shortages in the future.  This problem, however, can be easily corrected, he said. Managing the source of irrigation water is one solution. "It's not necessary to irrigate fields with quality drinking water," Landry said. Sometimes untreated river water can be just as safe and effective.

Another solution relies on cheap toilets. In poor, rural areas, flush toilets are not always necessary, he said, especially when clean drinking water is already a scarce commodity.  "It's time to rethink that concept of taking perfectly good water and literally flushing it down the toilet," Landry said.  The construction of cheap composting toilets is one alternative. These toilets basically turn human feces into fertilizer, and they don't require any water.  Andersson said such toilets can be built for less than $30 USD.  Another simple trick involves just water, vinegar and salt, according to Dengo.  A powerful disinfectant, sodium hypochlorite, can be created when a small electrical current is passed through a solution of these three basic substances.

"With that solution, you can take some of that, put it in your water tank, and with that same solution, you can also wash your lettuce," Dengo said.

Then there is another sanitation method that requires merely a scrap of cloth.  A study in the new Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that women in Bangladesh who filtered their drinking water through a sari cloth helped cut new cholera cases in half.  Rita Colwell, the lead author of the study and a professor of microbiology and molecular biology at the University of Maryland, found that when the cloth was folded at least four times, the filtered water dramatically cut the risk of contracting cholera.

The people who still got sick showed symptoms which were less severe, and many mothers involved in the study reported that their children suffered from diarrhea less often.  What is most critical, said Andersson, is making sure that these simple ideas are transmitted to the people who could use them to the most advantage. In short, education is essential for preserving the future of the world's water supply.  "Often you don't need much money," Andersson said. "It's an issue of developing local knowledge."

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New Straits Times
April 19, 2003

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18:  Environmental organisations voiced their strong disapproval today of the logging in Tasik Kenyir’s catchment area. They have urged the State authorities to take remedial measures to prevent further environ-mental harm around the lake. Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohd Idris said the association was disappointed that logging had been allowed in the catchment forests around the lake and urged the Terengganu government to "immediately halt such activities"."We firmly believe that all water catchment forests in the country should be gazetted immediately and protected from any development activities," he said.

He said it was vital to protect the forests in the interest of conserving and sustaining the country's scarce water resources. "In relation to this the Federal National Land and Forestry Council should ensure the State Government protects water catchment forests as this will be consistent with our commitment under the Convention on Biological Diversity," he said, adding that SAM was also concerned about proposals to allow logging in the Ulu Muda forest reserve in Kedah. The New Straits Times reported yesterday that logging in eight areas covering 4,250 hectares in a water catchment area in Tasik Kenyir over the last two years had caused serious environmental damage.

Several areas along Sungai Galong had shown severe sedimentation and had become prone to landslides.The Central Terengganu Development Authority (Ketengah) has urged the State Government to stop issuing new logging permits in the catchment area. Malaysian Nature Society executive director Dr Loh Chi Leong said logging in the catchment areas near the dam was contrary and damaging to its hydroelectric capabilities due to the sedimentation produced. "It will have a serious effect on eco-tourism. In addition, it terms of costs it will be economically damaging. "We would like to recommend that an Environmental Impact Assessment be carried out on the area as it is a sensitive one," he said.

Commenting on the NST page one picture today of a 600-hectare area on an island near the National Park being cleared of its timber, he said logging on an island was also a "bad idea". "We recommend that there should be no logging on islands and there should be a minimum buffer of at least 100m between any logging activities or land clearing to the water's edge. There should be an even bigger buffer zone on slopes and hilly areas." He said MNS understood that the state had every right to carry out logging but urged that "minimum damage be done". "There should be logging away from lakes and river areas. We are also concerned whether the damage will be a cost to the ecosystem in terms of fish population. Obviously, if the State takes up appropriate measures sedimentation can be avoided," he said.

World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia national programme director Dr Dionysius Sharma said commercial forestry should not be permitted in catchment areas as destroying areas that were meant to ensure water supply was "contradictory". "We urge the State Government to physically demarcate water catchment areas. They should also be gazetted under the Forestry Act Section 10 so they can be safeguarded," he said. Logging in the area would cause soil erosion, landslides, sedimentation, an impact on downstream activities and an increase in treatment costs for water, he added, "An important area like Tasik Kenyir requires that Ketengah and the State Government work together in identifying a buffer zone around the entire lake. We must make sure there is no impact on the lake, so we can safeguard the ecosystem. This also relates to tour-ism," he said. Meanwhile, Department of Environment director-general Rosnani Ibarahim said the department could not comment on logging permits as the matter was under the purview of the State.

"However, we will investigate the matter to see if there is any environmental pollution caused (by the logging around Tasik Kenyir)," she said. Forestry Department (Peninsula) directorgeneral Datuk Zul Mukhshar Md Shaari also said he would follow up on the issue with the Terengganu Forestry Department to find out the actual situation around Tasik Kenyir.  Under the National Forestry Act, forest reserves are classified under 11 categories according to their ecological and economic functions. Although there is no legal definition about the parameters of a water catchment area, it is one of the 11 classifications in the Act and the extent of a water catchment forest is normally decided by State Governments. Even then, once a forest is declared a water catchment area, it does not necessarily mean that the land is left untouched as under current practice, forests reserves in Malaysia are divided into two categories: productive and protective forests. Those declared as protective forests are left untouched whereas production forests are logged. The forests within the Pedu and Muda dams in Kedah, the Kenyir dam in Terengganu and the Temenggor dam in Perak are among those declared water catchment forests.

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Gulf News
April 18, 2003

The opening of the Institute of Environment and Water at the Fujairah Campus of the Ajman University of Science and Technology (AUST) has been a boon because the emirate suffers from months of drought. The institute will provide water experts and local organisations with information on the main sources of water and reports on the level of underground water storage. Dr Zainulabideen Rizq, institute director, told Gulf News looking into problems concerning water sources is one of the AUST's goals, responding to the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who is very interested in the environment and water sources. "Establishing a special institute to study environmental problems and those related to water resources will boost cooperation with other regional institutions to prepare training programmes, conduct research and hold workshops and discussions."


The UAE produces more than 440 million gallons of drinking water a day through desalination. In addition to 35 dams which have been built to contain rain water, 80 million cubic metres of treated sewage water are produced to irrigate plants in towns and cities. The UAE's water consumption at 353 litres per person per day is the second highest in the world after the U.S.. "Our institute will be cooperating with similar institutes in Arab and foreign countries through the Euro-Arab Research Network which is presided over by the chairman of AUST."

The institute has adopted the latest methods of training and researching which suit the environmental condition of the Arab region in looking for alternative sources of water. The strategy is to preserve existing water resources. With only 58 per cent of the UAE's sweet water needs coming from desalination, large parts of the country are suffering from water shortages, caused mainly by the fact that the nation's underground water supplies are being rapidly depleted. Around 79 per cent of the UAE's underground water reservoirs are not being replenished each year.  In some parts of the country, where farmers used to dig wells 60 metres deep, they are now forced to dig up to 600 metres. Dr Rizq said the institute can also help several local government establishments such as universities, municipalities, ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries, Water and Electricity, Education and Youth and Higher Education and Scientific Research in providing them with surveys and reports about underground water storage.


"Our institute also collaborates with Unesco, FAO, UNDP and ESCWA, in addition to other Arab organisations for private education, universities of GCC countries and Arab countries like Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine." On the global level, Dr Rizq said the institute cooperates with several international educational and environmental agencies and organisations aiming to benefit from their experiences in the field of preserving water resources and supplies and dealing with environmental problems.

These include the International Agency for Atomic Energy, American Geology Survey Authority and universities like Shiba University in Japan, Valencia University in Spain, Nice University in France, Queens University in Ireland and Keele University in the UK. It organises several workshops in cooperation with regional and international establishments and conducts research. "We have a good number of very experienced and well-qualified experts, instructors and trainers who can provide consultation and information." The institute is also preparing training programmes for those who need information about water resources in the region.

The institute provides accurate data about the climate. It provides trainees and students with diplomas and masters in environmental study. "We also give diplomas to graduates who want to study water resources. This scientific specialisation is important in the region which is looking for more sources of water." Dr Rizq said the institute conducts research on regular and irregular sources of water, environment and water, evaluating sources, preserving them and re-using them, introduction to environmental pollution and observation of pollutants and ways of dealing with pollution. It also helps in giving information about the evaluation of environmental effects, environmental legislation and the modern trends in environmental protection and management of resources, in addition to publishing leaflets.

One of the major activities is training students and people interested in the subject. "We are planning to have a new generation who have the skills and the knowledge about water and environmental problems to help them work hard to find solutions." Experts in the institute provide students practical training on chemical analysis at laboratories, computers, checking data, collecting samples for testing and measuring water levels. On the East Coast, the severe water shortage has become a nightmare which residents live every summer. Owners of more than 5,929 farms suffer a lot.


Over the past few years, there has been scant rain, a steep drop of water well levels and underground springs have mostly dried up. Five-hundred out of a total of 12,000 water wells have gone dry and another 4,000 are producing saline water because of their proximity to the sea. Drinking water and water for irrigation is hard to come by. Around 1,000 farms on the coast have been affected severely, 500 of them beyond repair it would seem, the land having become arid and whatever water available too saline. Every summer, for the last three years, Masafi, home of the UAE's biggest producer of bottled water, suffers a severe reversal, so much so that the Red Crescent Authority in Fujairah provides residents with more than 30,000 gallons of water each day for weeks.

Twelve water wells that were dug seven years ago in Masafi have dried up or are producing saline water. There are more than 200 families in Masafi, comprising around 1,900 people who suffer from a water shortage. The people are currently getting drinking water from the only active well in Masafi. Early morning during summer, a long convoy of vehicles carrying cans can be seen converging on this lone well to get drinking water.

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Asia Times
April 18,2003

JAKARTA - Only 39 percent of the people in the Indonesian cities have access to clean water through a pipeline system, a senior government official said.  This has happened because the government had limited funds for the development of water facilities, said Budiman Arief, the director general of city and village management of the ministry of settlement and regional infrastructures.  "Clean water [facilities have] not yet reached all the people in cities especially those living in slums and fishermen's residential areas," he said.  The Indonesian government has allocated Rp250 billion (US$28.6 million) this year for the development of clean water facilities in 1,100 villages in the country, which were expected to be able to serve up to a million people.

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Edie weekly summaries
April 17, 2003

Shortages of clean water and electricity are continuing in Iraq, but have now been exacerbated by looting of water utilities. The Baghdad Water Authority has reported the loss of all their assets and warehouse materials, including all spare parts and vehicles. The US has been protecting one of the largest of the utility’s plants, at Saba-Nissan, and has agreed a further list of installations that need protection.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also stated that the Rasafa area of the city has no piped water and most of the water tanks and trucks put in place have been looted. The organisation’s next priority will be to resume water trucking to residential suburbs that were already relying on water tankers before the war began.  Press reports now indicate that the ICRC has succeeded in repairing the Qanat water station serving the former Saddam City in Baghdad. US forces also announced on 16 April that they hoped to restore power supplies to most of Baghdad within 48 hours.  

Fortunately, high voltage power lines to the main water station in Basra have been reconnected, and the station is now fully functioning, as is the main sewage works in the city.  The Humanitarian Operations Centre has reported that there has been no water supply in Kirkuk since 11 April due to the loss of power, and there are also reports of water shortages in Mosul. The Civil-Military Operations Centre is arranging delivery of water to Kirkuk.  “There are a lot of people who don’t have water or power,” said UK International Development Secretary Clare Short at the Foreign Press Association in London on 15 April.

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News Today (India)
April 17, 2003

The Central government will give due importance to the ecosystem in inter -linking of rivers, Suresh Prabhu, chairman, Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers, has said.  Addressing presspersons on a media workshop on Jal Swaraj: Facing the Water Management here yesterday, he said that in interlinking of rivers, the proposal consists of 30 links where the government had completed six of the links and rest would be finalised soon. The government would analyse completely the project and reduce the cost in interlinking the rivers and to give a detail study of the project, ISRO had been requested to provide satellite images providing scientific approaches, he said.

The government was also working out with non-governmental organisations by providing special purpose vehicle for those displaced by the project, he said.  Through interlinking of rivers, we can produce 450 million tonnes of food grains from the existing 212 million tonnes and also 40,000 mw electricity would be generated by providing jobs to more graduates, he said. The four southern States - Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh - would get additional benefit from interlinking, he said. The demand for water supply had been increasing rapidly and water management and rainwater harvesting should be the focus. For this, awareness programmes should be conducted in rural areas on ground water irrigation and how to save water and recycle it. More importance should be given on water security and food security and a peoples movement was necessary, he said.

R Jeevanantham, Minister for Agriculture, said that while interlinking of rivers, the Task Force must consider the requirement of water in various States and Tamilnadu should get around 350 tmcft to 400 tmcft of water through this project, he said. M S Swaminathan, UNESCO chair in Ecotechnology and chairman, MSSRF, said industries should recycle water and invest in solar technology. The country had not taken full advantage of scientific solutions, he said. Dyno Keatinge, deputy director general, research, ICRISAT, said two- thirds of Indias foodgrains production come through rainfed / semi-arid tropical areas. He also said available resources should be used properly or in 20 years, the situation would grow worse in the area of farm and water management.  

K Palanisamy, director, Water Technology Centre, TNAU, stressed on improving water storage through tank management and work should start at the village-level. N Ravi, editor, The Hindu, presiding over the function, said the media should highlight more on water-related issues and prevent water crises. The programme was organised by The Hindu Media Resource Centre for Sustainable Development of MSSRF and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Andhra Pradesh.

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Edie weekly summaries 
April 17, 2003

Water aid is not reaching the poorest parts of the world, says the co-author of a new report on how water aid is distributed across the globe. Of all the aid going to the water sector in 2001, only 12% went to countries where less than 60% of the population had access to safe water, says the report, Aid activities in the water sector 1997-2002, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  The annual aid going into water is some US$3 billion, with another US$1.5 billion in loans, but this is far short of what is needed, Julia Benn of the OECD told edie.

Worse still, a large proportion of water aid is going to just a handful of countries and mainly into city projects, with Asia and Turkey reaping more benefits than the rural and poorest parts of Africa, says Benn.

The problem with Africa is that a number of countries are politically unstable, which deters investors and funders, says Benn. “If donors had some form of guarantee against, for example, a coup d’etat, they would probably be more willing to give their money,” she says.  Governments need to set up financial mechanisms to encourage investors to place money in high-risk areas. The guarantee system is currently being discussed amongst aid circles, while the EU Water Initiative’s Finance Working Group is also looking for ways to entice investors to more unstable parts of the world.  The good news is that the number of projects using low-cost technology appears to be on the increase. “Donors are often criticised for exporting their own water technology to developing countries that don’t have the expertise or equipment to maintain it, so this is a good sign,” says Benn.  The largest donor is Japan, which gives 33% of total water aid and has an extended loan programme to complement the funding, she says.

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April 16, 2003

Engineers have repaired a crucial water pumping station in the Iraqi capital serving almost a million people which had been bombed, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.  Most Baghdad residents now have access to running water.  Efforts are under way to restore the electricity supply which was cut at the beginning of this month, the Red Cross said.  Ensuring that basic public services are restored quickly is being seen as critical to reducing suffering for the civilian population in the wake of the US-led invasion.

There have been almost daily demonstrations in Baghdad calling on US marines occupying the city to restore law and order.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad says some progress has been made, with troops guarding vital installations and patrolling more frequently to discourage looters.  The Iraqi police force has also been revived this week and is out on the streets with the marines.  It is still not clear why Baghdad's power supplies were cut earlier this month, but increasing numbers of staff at power plants are returning to work and transmission lines damaged during the war are being fixed.  Our correspondent says there are hopes that there will be some mains electricity - critical not least for the hospitals - in the city within the next few days.

In other developments:

  • Queen Rania of Jordan has urged the US-led coalition to provide immediate secure access to Iraq for aid agencies and allow to airlift injured Iraqis for treatment abroad.

  • UN aid workers in Cyprus say they are still waiting for the go-ahead from coalition troops to re-enter northern Iraq and launch a humanitarian relief programme

  • Convoys of aid supplied by the government in Amman and the UN food agency head for Iraq via the Jordanian border

  • Six international NGOs join forces in a co-ordinated effort to prevent a humanitarian crisis and plan a work-for-food programme to encourage hospital staff to return to work, organisers say.


Red Cross spokesman Florian Westphal said recent measures adopted by the coalition forces had improved security in Iraq's main cities, but the situation remained volatile.  But Mr Westphal told BBC News Online it was too early to judge whether the coalition was meeting its requirements under the Geneva Convention to provide humanitarian aid and maintain order.  The US has set up a up a civil-military operations centre in Baghdad to deal with urgent humanitarian issues.

Mr Westphal also said the water distribution situation also remained critical in Iraq's second city, Basra, although a water treatment plant in the city was functioning.  "People are literally banging up holes (in water mains) to get water," he said.  But the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in southern Iraq said relief convoys were not the answer.  "We don't need big Hercules full of supplies, we have a crisis of governance - institutions that have stopped working," Andres Kruesi, was quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying.

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World Bank
April 16, 2003


April 16, 2003—The Global Environment Facility (GEF) recently announced it was contributing another $400 million to address critical global water problems over the next four years, which brought its total investment for water issues to more than $1.37 billion by 2007. This contribution coincided with the Third World Water Forum, which brought to the forefront global water issues as well as actions that countries and institutions must take to attain the global targets set at last year’s World Summit on Sustainable Development. "Degradation of our land and water presents an enormously complex challenge," said Mohamed T. El-Ashry, CEO and Chairman of the Global Environment Facility."GEF’s contribution will fund projects in developing countries that seek to sustain our planet’s water ecosystems while yielding national, regional, and global benefits."

The GEF investment comes at a time when much of the world's population already lacks access to safe drinking water as well as basic sanitation. Projections are that by 2025 more than half the people on our planet will be living with water scarcity. In addition, freshwater resources are in critically short supply and are of poor quality in many parts of the world. Coastal and ocean waters, and vital resources such as fisheries and coral reefs, are similarly threatened. Keeping the Promise on Water, a new publication by the GEF, emphasizes the need for increased cooperation among countries to sustainably manage our planet’s water ecosystems. Other recommendations include the need for integrated management of land and water resources, as well as the protection of aquatic biodiversity for sustainable use.

GEF works with 139 countries on projects to strengthen the integrated management of land and water resources that are so critical to ecosystem health, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. A total of $974 million committed by GEF over the past twelve years has leveraged $2.1 billion in cofinancing from other sources for water-related projects. "We expect that GEF’s contributions to water-related projects over the next four years will leverage significant investments from other sources, including governments and the private sector," said El-Ashry. The Global Environment Facility is an international financial organization with 174 member countries that acts as a major catalyst for improving the global environment. Since its creation in 1991, the GEF has allocated $4.5 billion in grants and leveraged an additional $12 billion in co-financing from other sources to support more than 1,000 projects in 140 developing nations and countries with economies in transition. GEF is the official financing "engine" for the international agreements on biodiversity, climate change, and persistent organic pollutants, while supporting efforts to control land degradation and improve international waters.

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Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)
April 16, 2003

Today, if women talk of a new concept of partnership between them and the men and the third millennium development goals and objectives, it is because the gender approach which refers to women and men working together as partners is the only concept that can guarantee sustainable socio-economic development. This concept according to the SDO for Fako Ngambi Dikoume Robert, offers a new way of reading social realities and social changes for the benefit of the communities.

Presiding at the International Day for the Women in Limbe, the SDO encouraged women from the fisheries and agricultural sectors to ensure food sufficiency. He recalled the several national and international conferences held by women all over the world to ameliorate the political and socio-economic status of women. For the millennium development goals to be achieved, he said, men and women should be considered partners in development. He called on the women, men of Limbe and of Fako Division to work in partnership to erase poverty and hunger, On her part, the Fako Divisional Delegate for Womens' Affairs, Mrs Ethel Ngome, described the womens'-one-day-celebrations as a golden day for stock taking, a day they stop worrying and start thinking.

She traced the history of the day and assured those she termed frightened men that the women were not planning to over throw them but simply planning to complement the efforts of their husbands and brothers in the lofty task of nation building. She promised that they will continue petting the men, washing their cloths, cooking for them, pampering them like the babies that they really are. Gender equality, she warned, does not mean that women should go out and come back late nor that men go to the kitchen while the women are reading newspapers with their legs crossed in the parlour, nor does it mean that the women should be the ones to split firewood, nor kill snakes. For their partnership to succeed she said women should have equal opportunities with men. At the occasion, six women, one of them a carpenter, water fufu seller and others were specially honoured. The occasion ended with a march past by over 200 women groups in Limbe.

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The East African (Nairobi)
April 14, 2003


THE DEBATE over whether the government should privatise the management of water supply in Kenya's major towns took a new twist last week when the government said it preferred private management.

Claiming that this would not amount to commercialisation of the commodity nor to "taking the water away from the poor," the Minister for Water Development, Martha Karua, revealed that the government intended to establish a public-private partnership for urban water management. However, this failed to reassure observers and analysts who said that it was the government's responsibility to provide water to the 56 per cent of the country's population that lives on less than a dollar per day.

"The fear here is what is going to happen to the person who lives below the poverty line once water is commercialised," said Charles Oyaya of the Basic Rights Campaign. On her part, Assistant Minister for Environment Prof Wangari Maathai said she preferred that "water remained a subsidised service."

But Ms Karua was categorical that water could not be provided free of charge. "I am sorry that we cannot talk of free things. To manage water sustainably, we must delete the word 'free' from the people's minds."

Although Ms Karua did not divulge which company would be part involved in public-private partnership in the management of water, she said that her ministry was "considering" the agreement made between the previous Kanu government and a French company.

Asked whether the country did not have the technical capacity to effectively manage water services on its own, Ms Karua said, "Although we have such expertise, it is also possible to exchange technical know-how with other people." The most contentious issue, one that has been raised by many Kenyans, is why a private company and a foreign one at that, should be given the mandate to manage urban water supply it would not be adding a drop to the existing natural supply. But there are those who argue that an experienced private company would invest huge amounts of money in the necessary infrastructure and bring in much-needed managerial experience. Among those opposed to the privatisation of water in urban areas are civic leaders, who argue that the move will deny local authorities a vital source of revenue.

This argument was countered two weeks ago by Ms Karua, who said that local authorities have a pathetic record of water provision and that if at all they wish to continue supplying water to residents in their areas of jurisdiction, they should apply as private suppliers just like anybody else. Ms Karua said this was in accordance with the provisions of the new Water Act, which de-links local authorities from water management. But efficient management and provision of a better billing system has not convinced many analysts, who insist that after investing millions of dollars in water infrastructure, a private company will naturally increase tariffs in order to recover costs, thus taking water out of the reach of the poor.

In an attempt to allay such fears, Ms Karua said that the impending arrangement would be a public-private partnership that would also cater for the poor. The ongoing controversy camouflages a more serious threat to water supply in Nairobi and other large towns in Kenya. According to experts, there is a serious threat to the sustainability of supply occasioned by wanton destruction of water catchment areas and lack of sound storage and utilisation practices in the country. As the World Water Council was meeting in Tokyo Japan last month, a report released by the United Nation's Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) painted a gloomy picture of the water situation in most East African cities. Being part of sub-Saharan Africa, the UN-Habitat report said that East African countries had the worst provision of urban water and sanitation in the world. For instance, in Kenya's two main towns - Nairobi and Mombasa - only 30 and 29 per cent of the residents respectively have their own connection, with the rest relying on trucks or private operators.

As the water situation becomes gloomier by the day, with most poor people remaining outside the conventional supply, experts point to the immense wastage Kenyans engage in. Mrs Fleur Ng'weno, of Nature Kenya said that Kenyans were generally misusing their water resources, whether for domestic use or industry.

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UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 9, 2003


Almost all parts of the self-declared republic of Somaliland are facing serious water and food shortages, according to its minister of pastoral development and environment, Muhammad Muse Awale. The problem is most acute in the eastern regions of Togdheer, Sanaag and the Hawd. "We had very little rain in the Gu season [April-June] and we have had even smaller Deyr rains [October-November] so far," he told IRIN on Wednesday. Awale, who heads the newly created inter-ministerial Committee for National Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation, warned that if there were no rains in the next two to three weeks, "we will have a disaster on our hands".

The livelihood of most of the population of Somaliland, like the rest of Somalia, revolves around livestock, and "livestock has already started dying", he said. He added that the Somaliland administration was calling on the international community to assist before the situation turned into a catastrophe. Trucking water to the most affected areas should be a priority, Awale said. Water points which had fallen into disrepair needed to be rehabilitated quickly, while those still functioning needed pumps to enable them operate, he stressed.

Awale also said that food distribution in the most seriously-affected areas should be undertaken "as a matter of urgency".

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53) WATER DIVIDES, BUT CAN IT UNITE? By Ana Ruth Jerozolimski

April 23, 2003

(Originally published Apr. 19 in Spanish by the Latin American network of Tierramérica newspapers. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme:

JERUSALEM, Apr 23 (Tierramérica) - The government of Ariel Sharon persists in its endeavour to build a wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories, breathing new life into the discord surrounding an essential natural resource: water. Begun in 2002, the wall is an extensive barrier made of brick and electrified wire, supplemented with patrol routes, ostensibly intended to ensure greater security for Israel from attacks by radical Palestinian groups. But Palestinian sources say the wall as much more than that. The best farmland and water sources are on the Israeli side of the wall, they say, which in its first phase is being constructed in the northern part of the West Bank. ”In West Bank towns like Tulkarem and Jenin families were left with land on one side of the wall and water on the other,” Taher Nasser al-Din, director of the West Bank Water Department, told Tierramérica.

According to local official, some 8,000 residents of another West Bank town, Qalkilya, had to abandon their homes and search for new lands due lack of access to water. But Uri Shor, spokesman for the Israeli Water Commission said in a conversation with Tierramérica that the wall is only a response to the need for security. He assured that the water pipes can pass from either side, so that the wall does not have to change a thing. Water has proved to be a symbolic element of what separates the Israelis and Palestinians, whose ongoing conflict has been intensified since 2000, with the beginning of the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising), triggered in part by Sharon's controversial visit to an Islamic holy site. Because of its scarcity in the Middle East, water is precious to the peoples living in the region and has often been the motive of political tensions. But there are those who believe that with rational management, water could also contribute to unity.

For now, the only thing clear to Israel and to the Palestinian National Authority is that water reserves are insufficient and the problem will only worsen until a broad programme for water desalinisation is implemented. Nearly a fifth of the Palestinian population of four million does not have access to household water services. In some areas, like the northern West Bank city of Jenin, residents complain that they go days without water, the pipelines are dry, even though they are included in the water service network. Under the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, Israel must provide 70 to 80 million cubic meters of water annually to the Palestinian population for immediate necessities, Nabil Al-Sharif, director of the Palestinian Water Authority, told Tierramérica.

”The situation is better than in 1995. Today we have more water. But Israel has not been totally compliant because they should authorize us to dig more wells,” he said. But Uri Shor says Israel has adhered strictly to the quantities agreed in the Oslo Accords, and has even distributed more than the quota to the Palestinians. Of the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, some 160,000 to 200,000 do not have household potable water services and are supplied by water tanks, according to Palestinian sources. Meanwhile the 6.7 million Israelis consume at least three times as much water as the Palestinians. ”If one takes into account the water consumed by industry, in Israel water usage per person reaches 128 cubic meters, or 350 litres per person per day. Five times more than Palestinian water usage per person,” reports Betselem, an Israeli human rights organization.

But it is when the two sides begin to explain this phenomenon that the discrepancies come to the fore. The Palestinians say that the different levels of water consumption are the result of a discriminatory Israeli policy, especially when it comes to supplying the Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and providing for the Arab villages and homes in the same areas. Israel responds that the problem lies in the lack of an appropriate Palestinian water management plan. Although shortages and poor quality of water are common throughout the Palestinian territories, the tensions with Israel run highest in the West Bank.

The region's two main reservoirs are located there. One is an aquifer that extends from Mount Carmel in the north to Bersheeva in the south, and to the Dead Sea in the east, encompassing the West Bank. That source is what supplies a quarter of Israeli consumption, of the Jewish settlements and nearly all the Palestinian population. The second major source is the upper Jordan River and its tributaries, providing water for nearly a third of Israel's consumption, as well as providing for Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The Palestinians do not receive any water from that source, as Israel claims it is already being shared with Jordan, points out West Bank water official Al-Din.

More than 60 percent of domestic water consumption in the West Bank is supplied by Mekorot, an Israeli national enterprise. The rest is managed by the Palestinian municipal authorities. In the Gaza Strip, Mekorot provides just six percent of household water supplies. Meanwhile, Palestinian agriculture relies exclusively on local wells and rivers. ”In the West Bank, no Palestinian can say that he or she is receiving less water than last yearà or than before the Oslo Accords. They are receiving more. The system is working at full capacity,” Mekorot director Amos Epshtein told Tierramérica.

Over the course of the clashes since the Intifada began, the Israeli army damaged wells in Gaza and the West Bank, according to Palestinian sources. ”I have signed a protocol with the Israeli water commissioner (Simon Tal) to keep water out of the conflict because it is a daily necessity. Israel has begun to abide by it,” said Al-Sharif, the Palestinian Authority's water official. Water management and distribution in the Palestinian areas will be shifted to five public, non-profit entities, run by a private international company chosen through a bidding process, he said. These entities will be in charge of extracting and distributing the water, as well as managing the network. Their work will begin in Gaza.

However, the technicians seem to be more pleased than the politicians about the solutions to the water problem.  ”Water is a central issue for peace, and if the politicians resolve the political problems, I have no doubts that the water problem will be resolved,” commented Al-Sharif. Epshtein expressed similarly cautious optimism: ”The solution lies in working together and in finding a shared formula.” Otherwise, both sides will be stuck in the same bad situation, he warned.

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Manchester Times 
April 23, 2003

The United Nations has declared 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater. Earth Day Network supports this designation and is launching a two-year Water for Life campaign for Earth Day 2003 and 2004. Earth Day Network's Water for Life campaign aims to bring global attention to the world's water crisis and provides practical ways for individuals, communities and corporations to improve access to healthy water worldwide. More than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water and more than two billion lack sanitation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), millions of people, most of whom are children, die from water-related diseases every year.

Water is a human right and access to clean and safe water is fundamental to humanity. Although there is significant work being done to address the world's water challenges, more citizens, organizations, and corporations must participate in solutions to adequately address the emergency. Governments carry full responsibility to provide safe water to citizenry. Many municipalities have failed to adequately provide water services and sanitation, increasing the risks of water borne illnesses, water scarcity, and crop failure.

Conservation strategies and improved management can protect and ensure the long-term viability of watersheds and water resources. The current trend toward privatization of water services weakens public control and threatens governments' ability to ensure water as a human right.

The track record of the private sector's management of water resources and services has shown that private interests often take precedence over the basic human right of access to water.  In the same vein, many opportunities exist for the largest corporate users and purveyors of water to adopt more sustainable and proactive approaches to addressing the world's water crisis. Corporate leadership and commitment to action are vital to addressing the global water crisis.  Companies who take precautionary actions through conservation efforts not only help to protect their own future needs for water but will also reduce future risks to health and the environment in communities where they have a presence.

Increased regulation of corporate purveyors and industrial users of water is imminent. Many water conservation strategies offer benefits of increased efficiency and lower overall costs now as well as the opportunity to avoid future repercussions from regulation. The lack of attention to sanitation is a glaring problem given the number of water-related deaths and diseases resulting from inadequate sanitation.

To address sanitation, governments and international agencies have moved away from large infrastructure projects and centralized water treatment, and many different household and community approaches are being developed.  As more decentralized approaches are explored and new water purification products come on the market, it will be increasingly important to tailor approaches to the local situation and avoid allowing private sector market interest to drive the solutions chosen.

Long-term environmental and health impact assessments must be performed as these household treatment methods are introduced at greater scale. Another way governments and communities can deal with poor water access is to address the inequity in different sectors' water consumption.  According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 70% of the world's water is consumed for agricultural purposes.  In many countries, farmers are now tapping into groundwater resources when other supplies run short. This leads to a gradual lowering of the water table and the sinking of its foundations.

In the U.S. alone, the most recent National Water Quality Inventory reported that agricultural non-point source pollution is the leading cause of water quality impacts to rivers and lakes and a major contributor to groundwater pollution.

In the past, water use for large-scale industrial agriculture has been prioritized over small-scale subsistence, communal, and traditional uses.  In order to ensure food security, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection, water use for industrial agriculture must be better managed and regulated. Everywhere, communities and local and national governments need capacity building, education and access to information to be more effective water managers. These critical elements of the water development process are often disregarded. More value must be placed on local capacity-building institutions, cultural diversity, and traditional knowledge in order to focus on a long-term commitment to improving the water crisis.

Education on water issues also needs to continue to be made available to all stakeholders in all parts of the world.

Greater attention should be given to water education in primary and secondary school, and higher-level water-sector education and training needs to be re-oriented towards solutions. While more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water and more than two billion lack sanitation, during the 1990s, nearly one billion people gained access to safe water and the same number to sanitation. It is possible to come a long way in a short amount of time. Water can be a matter of life or death; the urgency involved with addressing these issues is extreme.  Solutions are emerging that indicate a hopeful future, but individuals, communities, governments, international institutions, and the private sector will still need to make substantial contributions in addressing the water crisis.

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55) BUSH WATER FOLLIES by Roger T. Rufe Jr.

Christian Science Monitor
April 23, 2003


Roger T. Rufe Jr., a retired US Coast Guard vice admiral, is president and CEO of The Ocean Conservancy

WASHINGTON – They're at it again. With Americans riveted to events unfolding in Iraq, the Bush administration has somehow found time to launch an assault on the nation's preeminent clean-water law.

For 30 years, the Clean Water Act has served as the nation's major defense against the pollution of inland and ocean waters. Now, in a year that President Bush has declared the "Year of Clean Water," his administration is arguing that this landmark law should no longer apply to all waters, as Congress intended.

The White House actions are based on a narrow Supreme Court ruling from January 2001 that said Clean Water Act protections do not extend to certain "isolated" wetlands and ponds. The Supreme Court didn't provide a thorough definition of "isolated," nor did it identify what qualifies a wetland or pond for protection.

Seizing an opportunity to exempt broad swaths of American waters from federal protection, the administration launcheda process in January that could significantly limit regulation of "isolated" waters and give the White House power to decide exactly what "isolated" means. Even worse, the administration has demanded that federal agencies immediately suspend protection of many of these waters. How radical are the proposals? Overwhelming majorities in Congress enacted the Clean Water Act and the law has survived under this original mandate with no major changes in scope through six presidential administrations. But the White House is saying that clean water protection should be based on the navigability and connectedness of a water area with other waters. This would result in classifying millions of acres of streams, wetlands, lakes, and ponds as isolated and unworthy of stewardship. In other words, we might as well let developers pave over that nonnavigable wetland on the edge of town, or allow polluters to foul the "isolated" pond at the end of the street.

Any middle-school science student can tell you that these "isolated" wetlands are essential in keeping the environment clean and healthy. They filter drinking water, replenish groundwater supplies, control flooding, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife species. What's more, protecting wetlands is crucial to protecting the oceans downstream. Sadly, the administration's recent action is not an isolated assault on clean-water programs. Under the White House 2004 budget proposal, the EPA faces massive cuts - clean-water programs take the biggest hit. Two years ago, the Bush administration received flak for a proposal to allow higher levels of arsenic in US drinking water. Thanks to a public outcry, that idea went down the drain. We hope the same thing happens to the latest plan to weaken basic clean-water protections. Instead of poking holes in the Clean Water Act, we should be working to make it stronger so that future generations will be able to enjoy all of our nation's waters, isolated or not.

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The Nation (Nairobi)
April 17, 2003


David Stower is a senior deputy director of water development in the Ministry of Water Resources Management and Development Comments\Views about this article

Today, almost every Kenyan is yearning for improved water services. There is not enough water for domestic use, for industry and for commercial activities. Inadequate water services have been a major hindrance to industry and commerce, improved health and hygiene. Access is low, both in rural and urban areas, with the poor, especially in urban areas, facing the greatest hardships. The price of water has been sometimes as high as Sh20 for a 20-litre jerrican for low-income households, compared to Sh4 for the same quantity in medium- to high-income areas.

This has arisen mainly due to many years of neglect, low efficiency and productivity by the current operators and managers of water services, lack of financing for new investments, institutional weaknesses that have not provided for a clear definition of roles, as well as lack of accountability and transparency.

The sector has not been responsive to customer needs and has done little to improve efficiency of service delivery. Corruption has been widespread, leading to declining revenues and no plough-back mechanisms to maintain existing infrastructure, expand services and service debt. The focus of the Ministry of Water Resources Management and Development now is to tackle the problems and reverse the decline by restructuring the sector with institutional reforms as the entry point.

The changes currently under implementation are aimed at separating policy, regulation and water services provision functions. These reforms are expected to lay a firm foundation for efficiency, accountability, transparency and sustenance of existing and new water schemes, and to ensure affordable, reliable and sustainable services to Kenyans. Further, the changes are expected to reduce conflict of interest and lack of accountability and transparency that characterised the old set-up provided for under the old Water Act cap 372.

For instance, under the old institutional arrangements, the functions of policy, regulation, and water services provision were lumped under the Ministry of Water. Similarly, under the old legislation, local authorities have been providing water services under delegated powers from the Minister in charge of water affairs.

Conflict of interest has also been witnessed in this case as water services have been operated as part of a wider range of local authorities activities and businesses. The result has been that water services have become a "cash cow" to finance other activities with no plough-back into maintenance and expansion.

Water services have been subjected to wanton corruption. Services to water consumers have been simply neglected. The lack of autonomy of management and operation of water services has allowed a lot of political interference and hampered professional management.

The institutional changes within the water sector are being facilitated through the new Water Act 2002 which commenced operating in March this year. Where necessary, the new Act provides for transitional arrangements to ensure smooth implementation and transfer of roles. The institutions expected to bring in new life in the sector and hope for Kenyans are:

Water Resources Management Authority: To spearhead restoration of degraded water catchments and depleted ground aquifers. Kenya is regarded as a water scarcity country having only 647m3 per capita against the internationally accepted level of 1000m3 per capita.

Water Services Regulatory Board: To license, regulate and supervise water services boards ,thereby ensuring access and expansion; quality, standards and affordability of water services.

Water Trust Fund: To be a financing instrument for expansion of water services particularly to the poor.

Water Services Boards: These institutions are expected to hold the licence and legal responsibility for water services provision in their areas of jurisdiction. The licence will be acquired from the Regulatory Board upon submission of satisfactory business and strategic plans. As required by the new law, the water services boards will not, by themselves, be permitted to engage in direct service provision to consumers, but to perform this role through competitively contracted providers. These providers can be private companies, NGOs, consumer organisations, or autonomous companies owned by local authorities but exclusively engaged in water services. The Minister for Water has already established the Nairobi Water Services Board as a priority to immediately embark on addressing the acute water problem in Nairobi.

Water Appeals Boards: To act as arbitrator of disputes that may arise from time to time between the regulator, the water services boards, services providers and consumers.

The ministry's role will revert to water sector policy formulation and direction. The ongoing public debate on institutional reforms in the water sector should be carried out based on facts, information and public interest as the guiding principles, for Kenyans want improved water services sooner rather than later.

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57) BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS by Koïchiro Matsuura

The Hindu
April 16

The writer is Director-General of UNESCO

Water has made a noticeable entrance in the international political arena. With this, a new awareness has dawned that this apparently perpetual gift from the skies may not be inexhaustible. It is also the end of a symbol. What if this source of life, which is at the heart of so many rituals and hygiene practices, no longer stood for regeneration and purity? We must face the facts. Water resources are growing scarce and water quality will have an increasing cost. As for purity, it is now difficult to keep count of the regions where soiled water generates death rather than health. UNESCO, responsible for the creation of the pioneering International Hydrological Programme in the Seventies, had long anticipated this new water deal, which has been recognised by the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg as one of the most critical challenges facing the world today.

Whether in the northern or the southern hemisphere, access to clean drinking water is essential to human security and to sustainable development. However, 1.2 billion people still have no access to drinking water and 2.4 billion are deprived of water purification services. And yet, the world has enough freshwater resources to cover most needs in drinking water. The uneven distribution of water resources shows great social and geographical disparities. The problem, therefore, is less to do with quantity than with availability.

Water resources are less and less natural. This indicates the need for a new water culture that could combine caring, sparing and sharing. It is high time we responded to the needs of a growing population for food, health and energy by adopting a more ‘sober’ attitude. The right for access to water sets obligations — for public authorities to ensure distribution, for users to prevent wastage.

Agriculture alone is responsible for two-thirds of the consumption of water drawn from natural reservoirs. Our goals are to improve yields, install drainage systems and prevent excessive irrigation responsible for ecological disasters. Also, global water withdrawals have increased seven-fold, and industry-related water consumption 30 times in a century. Implementation of scientific research can bring about major changes , provided that information is circulated and changes of behaviour followed. Science and education are conditions for these improvements, which prove more and more urgent as urban needs increase. The wide range of problems can’t be addressed without reinforced political will-power, strong involvement on the part of civil society and a better form of synergy between public and private sectors.

Wastewater production has also increased 20-fold over a century. As for diffuse pollution related to agriculture (nitrates, pesticides etc.), industry and urban development, it is a continual threat to water reserves. Food safety is at risk, ecosystems are being disrupted, water-related diseases cause millions of deaths each year, especially in developing countries. Pollution is, therefore, regarded as a major public health concern. If we fail to react, this could jeopardise the future of these resources and with it, the quality of life and even the survival of future generations. To eliminate disparities and protect water, freshwater must be recognised on an international level as a heritage and common good. This conception, which emphasises the importance of sharing, is also a contribution to peace. For water has also become a strategic commodity. In the world, 261 river basins are divided between different States, generating a risk of ‘water wars’. The international community must prevent conflict over water allocation by providing solid legal instruments, especially in areas where water shortage is combined with political tensions.

Water has become part of the economic circuit. Given the huge investments required by waterworks, free access to water is no longer to be considered. But access to drinking water for all cannot be guaranteed without taking into account the income and needs of users in order to adjust price scales. This new water culture is also ethical. The search for equity should preside over decision-making processes concerning great water projects. It is common, for instance, for large dams, which are often necessary to stabilise river flows or produce energy, to have a very high social and human cost. Many disasters could doubtless be avoided by promoting dialogue. This, again, implies an effort towards education, information and training.

UNESCO has decided to define water as one of its main priorities over the next few years. In this International Year of Freshwater, and in anticipation of the Third World Water Forum due to take place in Kyoto, the ‘Twentieth-Century Talks’ recently organised by Jérôme Bindé at UNESCO, addressing the question ‘The Future of Water’, provided an occasion to lay out guidelines for thought and action. In this area, our competences are an asset.

Besides providing support for forward-looking studies in the area of water, for research in hydrology and for innovation, the organisation can federate on the international level the commitment towards education which is vital to the process of sustainable development. If we delay in setting up a real sense of eco-citizenship, by fostering thrift and public-spiritedness for one thing, the day may come when Earth can no longer be dubbed a ‘Blue Planet’.

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April 2003

In most societies, the provision of water has traditionally been a woman's responsibility. In developing countries, it is not the men who spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year hauling water from distant and frequently polluted sources; in fact, women have been reported to spend as much as 8 hours a day carrying up to 41 kilos of water on their heads or hips.

Incorporating the gender perspective in a transverse way starting at the community level and reaching policy elaboration in the water sector was one of the focuses of this year's 3 rd World Water Forum. "It is time for the world to go from words to action; the gender issue means no higher costs but better results in any water initiative," says Lorena Aguilar, IUCN Special Adviser Gender. Inadequate access to water is a crucial factor in the disempowerment and impoverishment of women in particular. Whether it is searching for water in parched river basins and sustaining families in flooded areas; or balancing water management in fragile eco-systems, women play a central role and should therefore be included in decisions involving water resources.

For more than 25 years, international and UN global conferences, such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development or the Beijing Platform of Action, have repeatedly recognized that effective sustainable water resources management depends on the involvement of women at all levels of decision making. This however has translated into limited actions. Women's empowerment is central to poverty eradication -women constitute 70% of the worlds poor-and must, therefore, play a prominent role in developing viable solutions.

Under the auspices of IUCN's Gender Programme, the Women's Caucus at the 3 rd World  Water Forum made a series of recommendations for action described in the documents available through the links below.

Link to

Link to

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Stockholm International Water Institute
April 2003


Water professionals around the world are now back to normal business after the big event in Japan in March – the 3rd World Water Forum. Despite the inevitable hangover after such a meeting, it is important to reflect over achievements and see if there are positive trends which can be detected compared to earlier mega conferences. After all, this was the third forum in six years, in addition to the serious water focus at last year’s World Summit on Sustainable Development as well as a preparatory meeting in Bonn in 2001. The media has already reported that the Forum was a failure. No new commitments and the same old stories. This is partly true, in particular if success is measured through the quality of the ministerial declaration or in demonstrating or committing to real actions on the ground. But this is too simplistic.

It is important to keep in mind what the real, if not specified, goals of meetings like the Forum really are, beyond the official rhetoric on “political commitment” and “moving from theory to practice”. Meetings like the Forum are important places to share ideas, develop thinking, engage in dialogue, present progress on the ground and maintain water issues as a priority on the political agenda. From these perspectives, was the 3rd World Water Forum a success?


As a meeting point, Kyoto surpassed all expectations in drawing, active participants. It is no small achievement to attract so many different water professionals from all over the world for a week-long meeting. Participation has also widened, with broad input from the NGO and business communities. Water is clearly on the way to becoming “everyone’s business”, one of the recommendations from the previous World Water Forum in The Hague in 2000. From that perspective, the Forum was a success. Despite this, in the main it was water professionals meeting other water professionals. Sectors such as finance, economic development, trade, etc., are underrepresented. To broaden participation further remains a key challenge for the future. Another failure seemed to be the further polarisation among different groups. Grassroots NGOs – long suspicious of private sector involvement in water – even lashed out at organisations felt to be connected to business in some ways, such as the Forum host World Water Council.


Did the Forum show that thinking has progressed? A simple yes or no answer cannot suffice. The privatisation debate seems to have polarised groups to the degree that thinking is further apart than it was, say, in The Hague in 2000. More than 350 seminars took place in Japan, and individual participants no doubt found it impossible to attend more than a few. Many seminars regurgitated the same ideas that have been reiterated over the last decade: yes, water is an economic and social good; yes, it is important to consider the environment; yes, integrated water resources management is the key to success; and yes, the river basin is the most logical spatial scale for water management. There were, however some positive development in thinking. Water issues are increasingly linked to overall socio-economic development and poverty mitigation. The focus on ecosystem services has increased, and ecosystems are recognised not just as users of water with which humans have to compete. Trade and water in the context of globalisation, and ethical dimensions, such as so-called �hydrosolidarity�, are also getting more attention. Forging this new ground makes water issues more interesting than in the past, but it also makes them more ideological and thus more difficult.


The Forum created dialogue, though not always with civility, and often with clear divisions among the stakeholders. Statements dominated too often, with open and respectful dialogue taking a back seat. It is very clear that the ideological interests often dominate, at least regarding benefi ts or threats of globalisation, trade issues, privatisation, largescale infrastructure and financing. Whatever the issue, there is a tendency that it ends up as an �either�or� discussion. Clearly, also, an agreed vocabulary is missing � people used the same words but had different meanings. The result? Actors talking past each other rather than with each other. The dialogues were not always well organised and many rightfully complained that there was too little time for discussion in the sessions. As many sessions wanted to produce a statement to the ministerial session, the political temperature rose even further as people wished to air their ideas. Precooked documents still dominated, something not viewed positively by some. The Global Water Partnership demonstrated its inclusiveness at the sessions dealing with governance. Facing some fierce opposition in the closing plenary,  gained credibility by inviting  participants to help draft a theme statement and address the plenary session. Such openess is the future!


Progress on the ground? Yes, but even that depends on what progress you are looking for. Many sessions at the Forum contained presentations of wonderful and innovative initiatives � both at the international level as well as the more national and local levels. The projects and initiatives on display under the Water and Poverty theme, for example, showed how families could benefit economically when access to water went beyond covering basic needs. There is progress that often can be linked to the efforts to achieve the targets set at in the Millennium Declaration and at Johannesburg. Innovation clearly exists in the water sector, despite the gloomy picture presented in media and at the high-level meetings. However, whether this innovation is sufficient cannot satisfactorily be answered at such global forums. The real impact of international meetings on true progress is hard to measure, but certainly it is important that people have a chance to meet, discuss, share ideas and measure development, not the least regarding �real actions�.


Are water issues high on the political agenda? In Kyoto, it was still possible to attract a fairly large number of ministers, and this despite the ongoing tensions in the Middle East.  This is a positive sign! The signals sent to the Group of 8 meeting, which includes a water focus and takes place in France later this year, is important. Water issues continue to receive increasing attention � though the political declarations from forum-like meetings do not necessarily reflect any strengthened commitments. There will be a challenge to maintain this interest, in part because of an increasing fatigue over large international meetings that focus on everything from water from a tap to virtual water trade, ecological sanitation and large-scale dams. What other channels can be used to maintain interest? How can other sectors/ actors be attracted, particularly those in reality sitting on the capital and the power? These are some aspects that will require further attention � and affect if and when there will be a fourth World Water Forum, and on what it will focus. It may well be that after such mega-for a in recent years, it may be time to "get back" to small events which are more focused, which grant more possibilities for implementation after the talking stops, and which give substantive, concrete results.

For more information see the Stockholm International Water Institute April Newsletter:

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This paper has been prepared to outline steps to be taken to set up an EU Water Fund for ACP-countries using the conditional one billion Euros foreseen in the Cotonou Agreement.


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The publication provides an overview of groundwater occurrence and of the main issues affecting its quantity and quality. We see how the resource is used in our cities, in industry and mining, in agriculture and rural water supply; how it sustains many of our wetlands; how groundwater has become an integral part of billions of people�s lives. Numerous examples illustrate the consequent resource management issues and underline the need for active management, not development by default. This review is intended for planners and other decision-makers at national/provincial government level and for the general reader. UNEP intends it to contribute to the consciousness-raising process necessary to achieve the International Development Target for the environment.


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Wetlands International is pleased to present the joint Wetlands International - RIZA report: The Socio-Economics of Wetlands. This booklet provides an introduction to the social and economic values of wetlands. It defines wetlands and wetlands types and gives an overview of their values. The book includes several case studies from developing countries.


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An overview of UNEP�s environmental capacity development activities Both UNEP, as well as the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), have a strong mandate in capacity building. UNEP recently published a 164 page booklet, Capacity building for sustainable development: An overview of UNEP environmental capacity development activities in environmental capacity development, which includes a section on the GPA.


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64) WSSCC: WASH Media Guide.

A resource of use to media professionals interested in investigating one of the biggest scandals of the last 50 years � the failure to develop solid foundation of public health through sanitation, hygiene and safe water supply.


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The Second newsletter of the Global Inland Waters Assessment in available online at:

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