The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)  presents 



20 June to 8 July 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 fifth 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 US Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA, DFAIT and Environment Canada), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - DEFRA), the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Germany (through the 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 Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 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)      230 FAMILIES SET TO BENEFIT FROM $20-MILLION WATER PROJECT, Zimbabwe Herald, July 7, 2003


3)      GHANAIANS TOLD TO HARVEST RAINWATER, The Ghanaian Chronicle,  July 4, 2003




7)      US $ 39.8 M WORLD BANK GRANT FOR WATER SANITATION PROJECT, Daily News, June 26, 2003


9)      FILTERS EASE SAFE WATER ACCESS, Business Times (Dar es Salaam), June 20, 2003



11)  NEW LAGOON TAKING SHAPE, Gulf News, July 6, 2003


13)  CUT WATER USE OR ELSE, The Canberra Times, July 4, 2003


15)  WHAT WAS NEGOTIATED ON DRINKING WATER? Times of Malta, July 4, 2003


17)  PRIVATE WATER DANGEROUS - US STUDY, East African, July 2, 2003


19)  NAMIBIA'S POWER BATTLE, BBC, June 30, 2003







25)  SAVING FISH FROM EXTINCTION,  New Straits Times, July 6, 2003



28)  REHABILITATING PEAT LAND TO FIGHT HAZE, New Straits Times, July 4, 2003


30)  SUPERBUG CLEANS UP,, July, 2003





34)  U.S. AGENCY SUPPORTS FLOOD CONTROL STUDY IN ROMANIA, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, July 3, 2003





37)  SMALL INVESTMENTS, BIG IMPACTS, World Bank, July 7, 2003



40)  THE WORLD'S TAPS ARE RUNNING DRY, Straits Times, July, 2003

41)  WATER FOR PEOPLE, WATER FOR LIFE, FOR THE RIGHT PRICE by Hani Mumtazah, Islam Online, July 2, 2003










Zimbabwe Herald
July 7, 2003

TWO hundred and thirty families from 11 villages in the Mukwakwe area of Zvishavane are set to benefit from a $20 million water project to be commissioned today by the Canadian High Commission. The money, which was availed to the villagers through the Canadian International Development Agency's Environmental Responsive Fund in Zimbabwe, enabled the upgrading of 63 wells, 48 kitchen gardens and 69 water sinks.

Part of the money will also go towards equipping the community with relevant skills to engage in income-generating projects and improved efficiency in management of natural resources.  The Mukwakwe project was co-ordinated by the Zvishavane Water Project, a non-governmental organisation that supports the utilisation of underground water and the conservation of the environment using the concept of a watershed.

An official in the Public Affairs department at the Canadian High Commission, Primerose Gwatidzo, said in an interview yesterday Mukwakwe was one of the biggest micro watersheds in Zvishavane consisting of eleven villages with 230 households all in agro-ecological Region 5 characterised by long dry seasons and erratic rainfall. "This area suffers from extensive land degradation and improper land utilisation, improper agricultural practices and poor yields, as well as an absence of adequate green cover and meagre biomass availability in open access areas. "Through this project, we are promoting sustainable natural resources management so that the community and its future generations can benefit and also learn to protect their environment".

Canadian High Commissioner John Schram, who is today expected to commission the project, said the underground water harvesting project will change the quality of life for the people of Mukwakwe.

"The current upgraded wells, kitchen gardens with diversified horticultural crops, mushroom production, gullies reclamation and the planting of fodder trees for livestock will all point to a community that is at one with its environment."  He said his office would ensure that the Environmental Responsive Fund continues to support community initiatives that focus on developing affordable and environmentally sustainable sources of energy, land rehabilitation and increased awareness to combat desertification.  Mukwakwe is the fourth project to be commissioned under the same fund in two months. Last month an $11 million electricity project for resettled farmers at Daiseyhill in Chipinge was handed over to the community while a $22 million water project at Maedza in Nyanga was also commissioned.  The Canadian High Commissioner also handed over equipment worth $20 million to support practical subjects for girl students at Leopold Takawira School in Mvuma.

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July 5, 2003

Nine million people now have access to clean tap water since the government took over in 1994.

President Thabo Mbeki says government is committed to providing clean water to all its citizens by 2008. He was addressing thousands of supporters at a gala event at Mzinyathi in Inanda, north of Durban, to celebrate government's provision of water to nine million people. Mbeki says this was indicative of the policy of eradicating poverty and disease. However, some people say they can't afford the water that has been piped to their homes. Frede Nzama, a pensioner, says she can't pay for the water because she is unemployed. Ronnie Kasrils, the Water Affairs Minister, says: "If a family is really poverty stricken, they can apply for an exemption...there's policy called the indigent exemption."

About 36 000 people in Umzinyathi now have 200 litres of water per household per day, but many fear once they have used most of it, it will be back to the stream. In Durban they gave thanks for water. First at the Nazareth Baptist Church and later at celebrations of the nine millionth person to switch on their first tap. The president says much more needs to be done. "The work that will be done to improve the conditions of life in this area, must continue. We have to make sure that at all times we change the lives of the people for the better." When the ANC came to power in 1994, 14 million people were without clean water. Nine years later the government has cut the numbers down to just five million people. Water is an essential commodity that many people are in dire need of, but there are other necessities like electricity. In the run up to the elections next year, most people will be focusing on whether their political parties have delivered services adequately in their communities.

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The Ghanaian Chronicle
July 4, 2003

Mr. Kwardjo Kwarfo Apeayeh, Acting Officer In-charge of the Water Research Institute (WRI), has appealed to Ghanaians to harvest rainwater to enhance backyard gardening. He said last year, the Northern region stored rainwater in reservoirs with a total surface area of 1,200 hectares for domestic use in rural communities while the Upper East region had 222 storage reservoirs with a total surface area of 145 hectares. Mr. Apeayeh said this as part of ceremonies marking “African Renaissance Day,” which was sponsored by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the University for Development Studies (UDS) and Management of Water Resources in Northern Ghana at Tamale. It was under the theme, “Science and Technology for wealth creation - the role of livestock research and development”.

Mr. Walter Kpokpi, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences of UDS, urged the youths to develop their talents to promote industrialization. Mr. Kpokpi called for the judicious use of environmental resources to ensure sustainable development, saying, the country has a lot of natural resources which could be harnessed to improve the living conditions of the people. Dr. (Mrs) Joy Bruce of the Animal Research Institute said even though there were a lot of livestock in the region, the people were selling the animals for weddings and funerals. She noted that importing chicken was a factor contributing to the “killing of the livestock industry in the country”. Dr. Bruce called for regular vaccination of animals to protect them from diseases such as rabies and anthrax.

Mr. Charles Bintim, Deputy Northern Regional Minister, said the government was committed to restructuring the educational system and making research institutions “centres of excellence and originators of indigenous technology.” He said it was in this direction that the government had set a target to make Ghana a middle-income country by the year 2015. The president’s special initiatives are not only aimed at creating employment for the youths but to promote export to earn foreign exchange for development.

Mr. Bintim said the government was determined to make the country a pacesetter in the sub-region in the area of poverty reduction and create wealth through the application of science and technology. - GNA

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Jordan Times
July 3, 2003

AMMAN (JT) — The citizens of Zarqa will soon receive double their supply of water after the Japanese government granted financing for the second phase of the district's water network upgrade. The two-year project will be financed through a $6.3 million Japanese grant extended to the government during a signing ceremony at the Planning Ministry between Japanese Ambassador Koichi Obata and Planning Minister Bassem Awadallah. "Japan has strongly committed itself to assist Jordan's effort to alleviate poverty through improving living conditions. Today's agreement shows Japan's continuing responsibility," the ambassador said.

The second phase of the project — the first of which was completed in May in Ruseifa — will focus on renovating pipelines and reservoirs in Awajan, Zarqa. Upon completion, Zarqa residents will enjoy double the amount of water when compared to their current supply and, eventually, better living standards. Japan has extended other assistance to the country, previously providing emergency assistance in the amount of $100 million at the outbreak of the war on Iraq to help relieve some of war's economic impact.

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Nation Online
July 2, 2003

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative Zahra Nuru has expressed concern with the country’s poverty levels and poor health indicators, which he said, are among the worst in the world. Nuru said the high poverty levels in the country are manifested by acute household food insecurity especially in the month of November, December, January and February every year. She was speaking in Lilongwe when she presided over the annual induction dinner for the new president of the Lilongwe Rotary club of Lilongwe where businessman Ash Mussa took over the presidency from Aggrey Kawonga.

Nuru said the effects of annual food insecurity are compounded by the HIV/Aids pandemic, which she said has reached humanitarian crisis situations. “For instance, maternal mortality rate has doubled in recent years due to HIV/Aids and stands at 1,120 per 100,000 live births. Under-five mortality rate is 189/1000 live births and is expected to rise as a result of the HIV/Aids epidemic,” she said. According to Nuru, the annual death rate of over 220 deaths everyday or 80,000 deaths per annum due to illness linked with HIV/Aids opportunistic infections is alarming. She said the problem of destitution and hunger are enormous in this country and could not be adequately and meaningfully addressed by one institution but through partnerships for resource mobilization and effective implementation of the development programmes. “It is for this reason that I fully share with the work of the Lilongwe Rotary club and many other development and charitable organizations that are seeking to ameliorate the plight of the poor including orphans in this country,” Nuru said.

She said her organization will continue to assist the country to attract and use aid effectively and encourage the protection of human rights and empowerment of women. Mussa pledged to work with the government and its developing partners to deal with HIV/Aids, malaria, waterborne diseases and poverty in general which he said threatens the nation as a whole. Our nationhood is being deprived of its vital resource. We are ravaged by malaria and water borne diseases because of scarcity of potable clean water. He said Rotary Club Lilongwe mainly focuses on eradication of poverty with a focus on education and health sectors.

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July 1, 2003

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 1, 2003 (ENS) - It is time for the world to stop talking about rural development and to start acting, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said at Monday's opening session of the annual meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This means altering agricultural policies and trade practices that if left unchanged will drive much of the global poor further into poverty, Annan told the UN's central body for development policy.  Realizing real positive change for the world's poor "will require developed countries to allow agricultural products from developing countries to reach their markets, unimpeded by direct or disguised barriers such as subsidies," Annan said.

At recent several world trade and development conferences, the world has outlined paths to aid rural development, Annan said, and the challenge now "is not to decide what to do, but rather, simply, to do it."

Annan took particular aim at the Doha trade talks, which negotiators are struggling with ahead the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in September. Those talks have largely stalled, although there is belief among some that the European Union's recent announcement of agricultural reforms could help jumpstart negotiations. The program outlined in Doha is a critical step in changing the framework of world agricultural policy and "is more than just another round of trade negotiations," according to the UN Secretary General.

The Doha program, he said, aims to eliminate unfair agricultural trading policies faced by the rural poor and to open markets in developed countries. But there is concern that the developed countries have stalled in their negotiations and Annan warned the success "is by no means assured." "Key deadlines have been missed," he said. "The time has come for all parties to show more flexibility, and give priority to the global interest. It is not too late to avoid a setback for economic development." Failure to act will simply contribute to a myriad of global factors making the lives of the poor "much bleaker." Some 900 million of the world's poorest people scratch out a living from agriculture and rural activities, the UN Secretary General said, and their efforts at mere subsistence survival are being hampered by unfair practices in the global economy.

"They are on the frontlines of drought, desertification and environmental degradation , they are the farmers - women above all - whose hard labor is undermined by protectionism, meager infrastructure and, increasingly, the spread of AIDS," Annan said. "They are the indigenous people, herders, artisans, fishers and others, whose struggles in isolated areas all too seldom capture world attention." Adding to the challenges, the Secretary General explained, is that the world economy has yet to recover from its slowdown in 2001 and is struggling with the risk of deflation, the spread of disease, rising unemployment, overcapacity in several sectors and lingering geopolitical concerns. This impacts aid from developed countries and impedes the economic opportunities for developing countries, Annan says.  More than 30 developing countries have actually seen their per capita income drop in each of the past two years, and few expect growth before the end of 2004, the UN Secretary General said. "It may not be true that 'a rising tide lifts all boats,'" Annan said. "But it is certainly true that, in bad weather, the weakest boats are the most vulnerable.

The world must focus on stimulating economic growth, Annan said, but he warned that combating poverty and achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals will require much more than that. The Millennium Development Goals are targets drawn up in 2000 at the UN Millennium Summit to combat poverty, hunger, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women and to be achieved by 2015. These goals require some $100 billion a year, but commitments thus far only cover about half the required total.

Success on trade policy is vital, but still not enough on its own, Annan told attendees of the ECOSOC meeting, who will meet in Geneva through July 2 to explore ways to promote an integrated approach to rural development in developing countries for poverty eradication and sustainable development. This development entails much more investment in agricultural research to develop higher yield crops, Annan said. The rural poor need assistance to develop more efficient water management, to increase non-farm employment as well as efforts to the help them secure land tenure and land reform and embrace sustainable farming practices. "All this can happen only with a real commitment to bring rural development back to the centre of the development agenda," Annan said. "Nowhere will our commitment be put to the test more than in Africa, where food insecurity and AIDS are working in vicious tandem to thwart the continent's rural development."

See Also:

Rural aid key to cutting poverty, U.N. agency says, Reuters, July 1, 2003;

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Daily News
June 26, 2003

Sri Lanka has signed an agreement with the World Bank for the second Community Water Supply & Sanitation Project at the Auditorium of the Ministry of Finance on June 24. The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank has provided a grant of US $ 39.8 Million (approximately Rs. 3841 million) for the implementation of the Second Community Water Supply & Sanitation Project (2nd CWSSP). The total project cost is US $ 62.4 million (approximately Rs. 6021 million) which comprised of US $ 39.8 million from IDA, US $ 10.7 million (approximately Rs. 1032 million) from the Government contribution and US $ 11.9 million (Approximately Rs. 1148 million) from the local communities. The US $ 39.8 million of IDA funds can be considered as the biggest ever grant extended to Sri Lanka by the World Bank.

Under this project, support will be extended to the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Programmes in the North and East, North West and the Central Provincial Councils. The Southern Province (Hambantota District) will be included to the project after a feasibility study. The development objective of the project is to increase service coverage and achieve effective and sustainable Water and Sanitation Services in rural communities. This objective will be achieved through (a) Implementing demand responsive and sustainable Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Services, providing safe drinking water and sanitation facilities to the rural communities and (b) Strengthening capacities of key stakeholder of central and local governments, communities and partner organizations, to deliver and manage sustainable water supply and sanitation services.

Major benefits of the project are: (i) time savings in accessing water supply for drinking and domestic purposes (ii) public health benefits from improved water services, increased sanitation coverage and improved hygiene practices; (iii) more equitable sustainable and transparent framework for government assistance in this sector and (iv) strengthened private and public sector stakeholder leading to improved and more efficient service delivery. In this function, W.D. Ailapperuma, Secretary to the Ministry of Housing & Plantation Infrastructure said "This project is aimed at supplying safe drinking water and sanitation facilities to around 1000 villages, 12 small towns and selected estates, within the three provinces, during project period of 6 years commencing from July 2003.

This project is unique in many ways. The methodology applied to this project had been tested during the implementation of the First Community Water Supply and Sanitation Project (1st CWSSP) and found to be very successful. The first pilot project has been rated as the 'Best Practice' and 'Well Managed' project by the World Bank among 200 similar projects in the world. In the process of implementation, need and the demand of the communities are catered through a mobilisation mechanism leading to an emergence of a Community Based Organisation, which will take the total responsibility of planning, designing and construction of water supply and sanitation facilities. More importantly, the responsibility of operation and maintenance of the facilities constructed will be undertaken by the beneficiary organisation, relieving the Government and the Local Authorities of heavy burden." 

The Project Agreement was signed on Tuesday in Colombo by Peter Harrold, Country Director of the World Bank and Charitha Ratwatte, Secretary, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the World Bank and the Sri Lanka respectively. The grant agreement worth of US $ 39.8 million for the second phase of the Community Water Supply and Sanitation Project (CWSSP) was signed at the Secretariat of the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday.

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June 25, 2003

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) created and strengthened bilateral and multilateral partnerships in 2002 as it stepped up the fight against poverty in the Asia and Pacific region, according to ADB's Annual Report 2002 released Wednesday. Last year saw increases in the amounts of both lending and technical assistance grants over the previous year, a doubling of cofinancing mobilized, new partnerships forged with ADB’s developing member countries (DMCS), the private sector, and other international institutions.

From its own resources, ADB lent $5,676 million for 71 public and private sector projects in 2002, representing a 6.3-percent increase from the lending level in 2001, says the Annual Report. Of the total lending, 71 percent came from its ordinary capital resources (OCR) and the rest from donors’ contributions to ADB’s Asian Development Fund -- the only multilateral source of concessional assistance dedicated exclusively to the needs of Asia and Pacific.

Transport and communications projects amounted to $1,613 million, dominating lending. By country, India was the largest borrower, receiving about $1,184 million or 21 percent of the total. Poverty intervention amounted to $2,327 million for 38 projects or 41 percent of total lending.  ADB was also able to mobilize additional resources for 38 loan projects totalling $2,851 million -- about 50 percent of its total lending -- through cofinancing arrangements with commercial sources, including export credits, $2,097 million; and with official sources, $754 million. Total cofinancing mobilized in 2001 more than doubled in 2002 -- the sixth consecutive year in which additional resources were arranged for more than 40 percent of ADB loan projects due to intensified cofinancing efforts.  ADB was also partnered with the private sector in 2002, providing $145 million for four loans in the water, health, and energy sectors; $36 million in four equity investments; and $60 million for two political risk guarantees.

Technical assistance totaled $179 million for 324 projects in 2002, up by 23 percent from 2001, to prepare projects and provide advisory services to ADB developing member-countries. Of the total amount for technical assistance, $56 million came from OCR current income; $46.7 million from the Technical Assistance Special Fund; $36.4 million from the Japan Special Fund; $9.6 million from the Asian Currency Crisis Support Facility; and the remaining $30.3 million from multilateral and bilateral sources.

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Business Times (Dar es Salaam)
June 20, 2003

ACCESS to safe drinking water is essential for addressing poverty and health problems. But, experience has shown that a great majority of the people in Tanzania have limited access to clean water for domestic use, as well as adequate sanitation. This is where a high quality and low-cost drinking water filter jointly developed by Merrywater Limited of Dar es Salaam and Katadyn of Switzerland comes in. One advantage of the device - called Filta Poa - is that no chemicals are involved in filtering water. In addition, with its new water filtration technique, there is no longer the need to boil the water! 'Filta Poa' is, therefore, environment-friendly and, as such, is a way of reducing deforestation since boiling water before filtration requires a high consumption of charcoal or firewood. An educational and promotional campaign for the product was launched in Dar es Salaam early this week, and will continue in various places in the city until next month.

One aim of the campaign - launched by Merrywater and DED, the German Development Services - is to raise people's awareness about the importance of safe drinking water for their health. That gives the population an opportunity to access safe and clean water by offering them low-cost filters.

The exercise includes distributing educational materials. Members of staff are available to explain the importance of clean drinking water to people. "Our products span equipment for domestic use to large and highly technical industrial water treatment plants," said Henrik Nielsen, resident manager in Tanzania of Merrywater Limited. According to Nielsen, Filta Poa filters about 20 litres of drinking water a day. The filter can last for about two years.

Merrywater has been supplying filters to food and beverage factories, hotels, camps, hospitals and dispensaries. 'Filta Poa' is a Swiss product manufactured by Katadyn. Merrywater have been representing Katadyn in Tanzania for the past 11 years. Apart from being tested at various institutions and Universities in the US, Switzerland, Germany and other countries, the filter was also tested in Tanzania by the ministry of water at its laboratory. Existing data on the incidence of water-borne disease - such as cholera, typhus, dysentery and worms - as well as other water-related diseases, indicate that these are mostly prevalent where people use contaminated water, or have little water for daily use. According to the ministry of water and livestock development, such diseases account for over a half of the diseases affecting urban populations, and more than 80 per cent of Tanzania's rural population. Although publicly-distributed water is treated at the point of intake, it is still difficult to guarantee drinking water quality at the point of use. According to the World Health Organisation, 85 per cent of all sicknesses in sub-Saharan Africa are caused by contaminated water.

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Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
July 7, 2003

Technicians from the National Department of Hydraulics and Rural Engineering are attending since June 30 in Luanda a training programme aimed at equipping them with better skills in water development and improved farming techniques. The seminar, organised by the National Department of Hydraulics and Rural Engineering in partnership with the Institute of Agrarian Development (IDA) also expects to promote production through the application of new irrigation technologies.

Attending the first course of its kind in the country are staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER) who work in irrigated environments and from national NGO's. Being taught in the course are subjects such as water potential in Angola, selection criteria of watering system, hydric needs and water planning. Sprinkling, superficial and located irrigation methods, as well as organisation and management of water distribution systems are also topics for the programme. This training programme closing on Friday has as presenters two lecturers from the Polytechnic University of Catalunha, Spain. The lecturers have a large experience in the implementation of watering projects in Spain and in developing countries.

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Gulf News
July 6, 2003

In its efforts to offer a healthy environment, to eliminate sewage water and harness rain water, Dubai Municipality is constructing several drainage projects throughout the city. One of the main projects, which is now under construction, is a huge lagoon in Ghusais at a cost of Dh60 million, said Farid Saadi, Assistant Director of the Drainage and Irrigation Department. The lagoon will cover 20,000 square metres. This is a part of the municipality's aim to protect roads and installations from being flooded by rain water. The drainage network will get rid of this water. Saadi, who is also head of the Drainage Development and Control Section, said the areas where the lagoon will come up, was earlier a wasteland.

When the municipality finishes constructing the new rainwater drainage system, the lagoon will be filled with water. Around the lagoon there will be artificial fountains, footpaths and an area for sports. The project is expected to be ready in the next two months. Another lagoon to gather rain water is under construction near Dubai Women's College and a water pump station will be built next to it at a cost of Dh62 million. It will be ready this year. As part of this project, the municipality will build 5.7 km of pipelines to drain water.

Pipelines connecting houses will be 1.6km long. There will be also pipelines for underground water measuring 10km. Lines to pump rain water will stretch 4km, from Ghusais to Al Hamriyah Port. The municipality is also constructing a drainage network in Al Tawar to be connected to the main sewage water treatment plant in Ghusais. The length of the pipe is 60 km. In addition to that there will be pipes for rainwater and underground water.  The cost of the project is Dh62 million and is expected to be ready by the end of this year, he said. He added that the municipality has planned to build a comprehensive drainage network. The existing main Sewage Water Treatment plant caters to several industrial and residential areas such as Ghusais Nos 1, 2, 3, 5. Al Tawar, Al Muhaisnah Nos 1, 2, Mizher Nos 1, 2 in addition to Al Khawaneej. These areas will also have drainage networks.

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July 5, 2003

In an agreement signed in El Paso on Thursday, Mexico has guaranteed that a third of the water conserved by irrigation projects in the state of Chihuahua will be sent to American farmers. Sally Spener, a spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission, said that Minute 309 followed through on last summer's Minute 308, in which Mexico agreed to transfer 90,000 acre feet of water from Falcon Lake reservoir to the U.S. She said Thursday's agreement also allows for U.S. inspections of the projects. Both pacts are amendments to a 1944 water sharing treaty stipulating that the U.S. and Mexico share water from the Rio Grande and Colorado River. Mexico has not been meeting its commitment to send the U.S. 350,000 acre feet annually and now owes the U.S. 1.4 million acre feet. An acre foot is enough to flood an acre of land a foot deep.

South Texas farmers were outraged to hear the June 2002 agreement also called for millions of dollars to be sent to Mexico to better irrigation systems. The $40 million in funds were to come from the North American Development Bank, a binational fund. NADBank recently announced recipients for the U.S.'s matching $40 million, which is being divided among a long list of cities, irrigation districts and other entities in Texas. California, Arizona and New Mexico.Mexico is expected to be able to send the U.S. 107,014 acre feet of saved water annually once the projects are completed in about three years, Spener said, which is about a third of the 321,043 acre feet engineers expect their project to conserve.

That complies with treaty language saying that a third of the water from the Rio Grande tributaries in Chihuahua, including the Conchos River, belong to the U.S. But releases of saved water may start as early as January, Spener said. "What this does is enhance Mexico's ability to deliver the water that is required under the treaty," she said. State Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, reached at her home late Thursday afternoon, said she was "cautiously optimistic" about the news. "We keep waiting and I think that the reason we got this far is because we refused to budge until they gave us something," she said. She said she was concerned that there was still no plan to pay back the debt. "It's as though it's this large elephant in the room that no one's looking at," she said.

A Texas A&M study concluded that the lack of water is costing the Rio Grande Valley and its farmers $1 billion. Congress last fall authorized $10 million in relief for South Texas farmers, but Combs said that was only a drop in the bucket. "It's about $21 an acre for the farmer when they've all lost about $275 an acre," she said. "So it's really not getting them a lot." Citrus farmer Jimmie Steidinger agreed, quickly calculating that his share of the saved water would at best allow him to water five acres. "It's just a thing to give them a little bit and hope they shut up, if you ask me," he said. "I want to be neighbors but what it comes down to is killing the growers in the Valley."

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The Canberra Times
July 4, 2003

The ACT will have to cut its water use by 25 per cent by 2023 to avoid running out and having to pay for a new dam.  And a crucial part of the Government's draft policy for sustainable water management, announced yesterday by Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, will be the increased use of treated effluent on Canberra's parks, as well as higher prices, new technology and tighter development regimes. The policy sets targets, with the means to reach them expected to be detailed in the final version in September. "While these targets are challenging, they are technically feasible, they can be achieved at reasonable cost and they need not diminish the quality of life of ACT residents or detract from the look of the city," Mr Stanhope said.

He said the policy was needed because the ACT was facing a water crisis, with its dams only 43 per cent full, and only half of that useable because of the bushfires. This meant Actew was looking at building a $40-$50 million filtration system. "This is a wake-up signal for the whole community that we can't go on behaving in relation to water in the way that we traditionally have. It is simply not sustainable. We can't do it, we'll run out," he said. The policy aims for a 12 per cent drop in per capita use of potable water over the next 10 years, and a 25 per cent reduction by 2023. It also seeks to increase the proportion of treated effluent that was reused to 20 per cent by 2013.

At present, only 5 per cent of the 85 to 90 megalitres a day discharged from the Lower Molonglo Treatment Plant is reused. The rest goes into the Molonglo River. Most of this reused water is used by a vineyard and golf course near the Holt plant. Actew said it would be expensive to pipe the water elsewhere, although the exact cost would depend on where it went. Mr Stanhope said infrastructure to allow this to happen needed to be built, although more needed to be done around the home to use more grey water. He again flagged higher water prices as a means of encouraging people to use less of the scarce resource, and requiring water-efficient or recycling appliances in new developments. The rebate for using a water-efficient shower head would return, he said.

He said even without the problems caused by the drought and bushfires, the ACT's water supply would only meet demand until about 2020 on current projections. This meant the ACT either needed more water, or to use what it had more efficiently. "Water infrastructure is extremely expensive. It takes a long time to build, and its social, economic and environmental costs can be significant," he said.  The Government did not want to build a new dam, and was confident that if the goals set out in the draft water use policy were met, it would not need to.  He was hopeful the community would respond and treat water as the finite resource it was. "We can manage but we have some hard yards to do in order to ensure that we have sufficient water for the community over this next summer," he said.  The strategy suggests looking into options other than a dam, such as using the Cotter Dam more effectively.

The draft policy is available at

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July 4, 2003

HARARE — Zimbabwe's capital city will start rationing scarce water supplies in a move likely to hit industries already grappling with a harsh economic climate, the official Herald newspaper reported on Thursday. At least 400 companies have ceased operations over the past two years, as the southern African country grapples with a severe economic crisis blamed on President Robert Mugabe. The Herald quoted Harare's acting chief engineer Lovemore Mulanda as saying the city council would limit consumers to 13 cubic meters of water a month to sustain dam levels, currently at 60 percent of capacity. "We are anticipating problems during the hot season, when temperatures and evaporation would be high," Mulanda told the paper. Council officials were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

Harare's city's water-treatment pump, currently operating below capacity due to lack of money for refurbishment, was only pumping about two-thirds the total water needed to supply the capital and neighboring towns. Water rationing would heighten the woes of firms already struggling with shortages of currency to import raw materials as well as diesel and electricity to operate machinery. Nearly half of Zimbabwe's 14 million people face food shortages; inflation has shot to 300 percent, one of the highest rates in the world; and unemployment is estimated at above 70 percent and rising as companies close.

Mugabe, 79 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies responsibility for the country's economic problems, which he blames on sabotage by local and international opponents angry about his seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

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Times of Malta
July 4, 2003

The EU has high standards on the quality of drinking water that aim at reducing the levels of dangerous substances, such as lead and nitrates. On this law, Malta negotiated a transition period until the end of 2005 to take the necessary action to reach targets on nitrates and fluoride. Malta had originally also requested a similar period to reduce conductivity, chloride, sodium, sulphate and iron. However this request was dropped because EU standards on these substances are indicative and not compulsory. However, Malta will still reach targets for conductivity, chloride, sodium and sulphate by the end of 2006 and for iron by the end of 2007. Malta is already in line with EU standards on microbiological agents in water. For other substances, such as lead, Malta will come into line by accession.

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Berkeley University
July 2, 2003

BERKELEY – Kazim Niaz, a Pakistani who has worked with Afghan refugees the past two years, has come to the University of California, Berkeley, this summer to shed light on how war and political turmoil impact the environment. "An Afghan woman whose husband died during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan told me that when she doesn't have enough kerosene, she's going to burn branches from trees to keep her five children warm," said Niaz, who worked as the deputy field coordinator in Pakistan for the New York-based International Rescue Committee. "It's a natural thing to do, but over the decades, this has contributed to a significant problem of deforestation in Pakistan."

Niaz is one of 40 participants in the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program, which brings together environmentalists and policy makers from around the world to tackle the problems of natural resource management. He will be sharing his experiences with participants from other regions experiencing such challenges as political instability, land and water degradation, or devastating poverty.  The three-week summer program, which has just begun its third year and will run until July 20, was established at the campus's Center for Sustainable Resource Development with a $1 million gift from UC Berkeley alumni Richard and Carolyn Beahrs. Additional funding has been provided by grants from various foundations and some private donations. "We're providing a forum where people from disparate regions can learn from each other at the same time they are exposed to top-of-the-line research in natural resources management," said David Zilberman, co-director of the center, which is based at the College of Natural Resources. "The goal of this program is to create a network of global leaders and to foster international collaboration. It is naïve to think that the problems of one country do not relate to or affect other countries."

For instance, figures from a government agency in Pakistan say the Afghan refugees are contributing to the country's deforestation at a rate of 17,000 to 22,000 acres per year. "This is not commercial logging, it's happening tree by tree as refugees use the wood for fuel," said Niaz. "Refugees are more focused on survival. They're not thinking of how their use of natural resources impacts the land in the long-term."

Niaz said that while there has been renewed interest in the plight of the refugees after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, he fears that the attention will be short-lived. There was a massive repatriation of 1.5 million refugees back to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban and after Hamid Karzai became president. But Niaz is concerned that continued instability in the new Afghan government will lead to a new influx of refugees, adding to the current population of at least 1.5 million refugees in Pakistan and further straining the country's natural resources. There are already signs of a reverse migration, with 300,000 Afghan refugees coming back to Pakistan since late 2002, said Niaz.

What Niaz expects to gain from the Beahrs program are skills in planning and management to support the refugee population in an environmentally sustainable way. This includes how to build a water supply infrastructure so refugees do not need to use water directly from manmade ponds that are shared with native animals, which increases the risk for water-borne diseases. He also hopes to learn ways of improving coordination among international relief agencies and with the local government in Pakistan. Abou Bamba, coordinator of the Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Africa and another Beahrs participant, is also struggling with how best to protect his country's environment in the face of poverty and turmoil. "It's very complex to explain to our people the conservation of some resources while they are starving," he said.  And just as regional conflicts can lead to strains on natural resources, the lack of resources can impact regional stability, according to Mutuso Dhliwayo, executive director of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association. He expects to learn how the management of shared resources can be resolved through laws, policies and regulations relating to their management.

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East African
July 2, 2003

DEVELOPING countries keen to privatise national water systems could be walking into a morass of danger, a US-based international think-tank on development studies has warned. Although certain types of privatisation can help water utilities to become more efficient or provide water to those in the developing world who currently lack basic services, there are a host of dangers, the Pacific Institute says in a new report, The New Economy of Water: The Risks and Benefits of Globalisation and Privatisation of Fresh Water.

Water privatisation efforts have been growing rapidly both in the United States and abroad, but public understanding and oversight of these deals lags far behind. Water privatisation must be subject to much stronger public scrutiny," emphasised Dr Peter H. Gleick, a lead author of the report and a director of the Pacific Institute. "There is little doubt that the headlong rush to private markets has failed to address some of the most critical issues and concerns about water," stated Dr Gleick. "How can we protect the world's poorest people, how can we ensure that the environment gets a fair share, how can water quality be protected for future generations? All of these questions must be answered before we move forward with more privatisation."

The caution comes at a time when Kenya and Tanzania, at the behest of the World Bank, have stepped up efforts to privatise water services. While Eldoret, Nyeri and Malindi have established their own water companies in Kenya, Tanzania has enacted the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority Act as part of its efforts to privatise provision of water.  Kenya's Water Development Minister Martha Karua says a Water Services Regulatory Board will soon be set up to reform the water and sewerage sector, with consumers complaining of inadequate, poor and unregulated water services. Private water service providers, including companies set up by municipal and local councils, will be appointed via a tendering system, since councils have proved to be incapable of providing clean and reliable water.

The report says privatisation may bypass under-represented communities and worsen inequities in the distribution of water, especially in the poorest nations. Privatisation agreements may discourage efficiency and conservation efforts and they may fail to protect important natural resources. The complexity of water privatisation deals often means that many governments do not fully understand the consequences of turning over control of public water systems until it is too late. "Governments must establish clear guidelines that ensure fair access to water regardless of income, protect the environment, ensure transparency and include affected parties in decision-making efforts. Water is far too important to human health and the health of our natural world to be placed entirely in the private sector," said Dr Gleick.

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Hi Pakistan
July1, 2003

ISLAMABAD: After getting the World Bank's support for institutional reforms in water resources management, the government has decided to establish a federal apex body to discipline water resources management. This was decided on Friday at a meeting on "Public Expenditure Management: accelerated development of water resources and irrigated agriculture". Minister for Water and Power Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao chaired the meeting. It was also decided that the provincial commitment to projects carried out through Public Sector Development Programme would be mandatory, as financial relationship between the centre and the provinces needs more focus.

The meeting was informed that the National Water Policy would be presented to the cabinet after all the identified issues are addressed. A special cell would be formed within the Ministry of Water and Power to help conduct feasibility studies of small dams. The document prepared by World Bank identifies five major areas for investment - storage, drainage, new canals, rehabilitation and modernization, and on-farm water management. The document envisages a five-year plan for investment of Rs 252 billion. The minister for water and power directed the provinces to expedite their comments on the document. Only Punjab has commented on the document.

World Bank's Water Resources Specialist, Walter Garvey, noted with satisfaction that the government is pursuing a long-term integrated strategy.  "Major investment on development of water resources signals focus on investment in this sector," Garvey observed. He said World Bank is ready to support institutional reforms in water sector and shall help to carry out feasibility studies of storage sites.

He observed that Pakistan has remarkable achievements in developing water resources in the last 40 years, but cautioned the next 40 years need a different strategy keeping in view increasing population and depleting water resources.

He emphasised to mobilise best talent to achieve document's goals and learn from success stories of Brazil, Portugal, United States, Australia and India. There was consensus to develop water resources other than the Indus Basin.

WAPDA representative informed that "Vision - 2025" is focusing on developing water resources that includes Indus Basin, areas of Balochistan and NWFP. The meeting stressed the need to rehabilitate existing irrigation assets and improve ground water level through conservation. It was noted that the results of small dams are encouraging, as it has improved ground water situation. Area Water Boards and farmers organisations are being created that would help collect water rates (aabiana). World Bank officials, provincial irrigation and power secretaries, representatives of Finance Division, Planning Commission, Economic Affairs Division, Indus River System Authority and WAPDA attended the meeting.

See Also:

WB Refuses Funds For Any Vision 2025 Project, Hi Pakistan, July, 2003;

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June 30, 2003

The proposed building of a massive dam to supply electricity for Namibia has met with fierce resistance from both environmental groups and local tribes. The proposed Epupa dam project - to be built on the Kunene river in the north-west of the country - would dramatically alter the environment by flooding a vast expanse of the region.  Although this would require long-settled tribes to be moved and destroy the beautiful Epupa valley, government officials in the country's capital Windhoek defend the dam almost as a matter of national pride. "The government has got a responsibility to develop this country," Pete Haines, the director of resource management at Namibia's ministry of agriculture, water and rural development, told BBC World Service's Politics Of Water programme. "It will also take measures in the national interest to make sure that this development can take place."


The Epupa dam project is particularly suited to hydropower because of the steep gradient of the Kunene to the coast, Mr Haines adds.  In a single day, enough water flows down the Kunene river to supply Windhoek for a year. The project is necessary, contends John Langford of NamPower - which generates and supplies the country's energy - because the surplus from South Africa on which the country currently depends will shortly run out. "By about 2012-2013, they will run out of base load capacity in South Africa and that of course will cause the electricity prices to rise sharply," Mr Langford says. "If you've got cheap energy, that's also a very key driver to getting investments into your country - so I think it's a very, very important development for Namibia."

If the dam goes ahead, it will be massive - the reservoir will have a capacity of seven and a half thousand million cubic metres, will be 80 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide at its broadest strip. "For tourism, you would have created something like 13 islands, and you could have established quite a good fishing industry in this reservoir as well," Mr Langford stresses. But he adds a consequence will be the destruction of 80 kilometres of river and forest - which are the livelihood of the local Himba people. "They're nomads farming with cattle and they utilise the river and forest next to the river to see them through the dry period," Mr Langford says.


It is this widespread destruction - near Namibia's boarder with Angola - that is proving so controversial.

"It's such beautiful scenery and it's our heritage, so what do we tell our children?" asks Bertchen Kohrs, chairperson of pressure group Earthlife Namibia. "Our main concern is development and environment. It is said that round about 6,000 palm trees grow there, very specific palm trees and the nuts which are called the Omuranga nuts are used by the Himbas as an important source of nutrition, especially in times of drought.

"And then of course 380 square kilometres of grazing land would be lost, meaning that the area surrounding will be over-grazed in a short time. "That leads to erosion and definitely to desertification, which is irreversible."  

Although the Himba are officially classed as nomadic, many of the villagers and the rest of the tribe and their animals have been close to the same spot for decades. Most of them are aware of the prospects of the dam and are opposed to it. "This is the land where we are grazing our animals and where our graves are," the Himba's chief, Capicka, told Politics Of Water. "[The government] know very well that this place is not for them; this is for the Himba people." He adds that building the dam will cause the river to die. "God created the Himba to stay near to the Kunene River so that they can graze their cattle there, and so that they can take the water out of the river of Kunene," he says. "The dam at Epupa will not be built while I am still alive, while I am still speaking."


But Peter Haines argues that it is wrong to say people's livelihoods would be destroyed. "The guy who now lives 10 metres from the river in his hut - if the dam is built he can still live 10 metres from the edge of the water, but just at another place," he says. Mr Haines believes ultimately the Kunene river project will benefit the Himba. "The government provides schools for those people; they provide clinics. They want to supply them with electricity; they want to give those people access to communication and they want to see them as fully integrated citizens of this country. "So I can't agree with you that our government is there to deny these people anything or to wreck their living conditions."  The proposed project has, however, brought other issues to light, too - including one of the biggest problems in the whole region, Aids.  A NamPower study found that the prevalence of the virus amongst the Himba was much lower than in the rest of Namibia.

But there are fears that the influx of construction workers who would be brought in with the building of the dam would massively change that. "If the project was to go ahead, one would have had to go to school the Himba people on the bad effects of Aids and what would happen if they had sexual relations with some of the construction workers," NamPower's John Langford says.

Meanwhile, the Earthlife Namibia has proposed alternatives to the Kunene river dam, claiming they would cost a quarter of the price of the government's big scheme. "We feel that the alternative of the Ecuudo gas plant should have been studied in detail," Mr Kohrs says.  And he believes research into solar power could have proved particularly important. "Obviously in a country like this, we have 360 days of sun per year and that has not been done at all."

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The New Mexican
June 27, 2003

Faced with a sluggish response to its standing offer to purchase private water rights along the Pecos River, the state has again pushed back its deadline for owners to offer their property for sale. John D'Antonio, New Mexico state engineer, and Estevan Lopez, New Mexico interstate stream engineer, said Thursday the deadline for private owners to offer to sell land and associated water rights to the state is now July 31.The state advertised early this year seeking willing sellers along the Pecos River in an effort to increase water deliveries to Texas. The state ultimately intends to purchase 18,000 acres and associated water rights. Without the program to purchase water rights to augment the river flow, state officials estimate New Mexico will fall 17,000 acre-feet short of its delivery obligation to Texas this year.

A shortfall in deliveries to Texas could trigger either a state priority call, in which entities with junior water rights are cut off completely, or a possible federal takeover of the river. Either way, officials say the result would be economically devastating. The state needs to acquire at least 7,500 acres of land and associated water rights around Roswell and 4,500 acres around Carlsbad this year to consummate a settlement between irrigation districts on the river and increase deliveries to Texas. D'Antonio and Lopez said they have not received offers from private sellers covering the total amount of land the state needs for the settlement. But prospective sellers have expressed more interest recently in the state's purchase program, they said.

"It's at least very encouraging that some additional offers have come forward," Lopez said. "We still haven't gotten enough offers to implement the settlement, but we've gotten much closer than before." The state hasn't reviewed the offers to see how many would be acceptable, Lopez said, so the state isn't sure how much more land and water it needs. The state has authorized spending up to $70 million on the land and water-rights acquisition on the Pecos River. The state has retained appraisers to look at offers. "I anticipate it's going to be a number of months to go through those," Lopez said. "It's going to be a tight time frame."

Offers from willing sellers have priced their land and water rights higher than the state expected, D'Antonio said. He couldn't say how much the average offer amounts to, either per acre or per acre-foot of water. Once the state acquires the land and water rights, it intends to stop irrigating the land and pump water into the river to increase the state-line delivery. The state hopes flows in the river will remain higher without the pumping. "The acquisition of land and water rights is something that will bring the river into balance over a good number of years,' D'Antonio said. New Mexico is under a standing order of the U.S. Supreme Court not to fall short on its deliveries to Texas. There's no set amount of water due. A federal water master calculates the amount New Mexico owes Texas each year using a formula that considers weather conditions and river flows. In calculating New Mexico's obligation, the river master uses a rolling, three-year average. The current, three-year dry spell makes New Mexico's position especially hard, state officials said. The situation is so bad this year that a possible underdelivery to Texas could result, Lopez said. "We're in as bad a situation as we've been in relative to making our deliveries overall," he said. Against the possibility that New Mexico falls short, D'Antonio said his office is developing procedures for administering a priority call on the Pecos River. "There are some water-banking rules and some priority administration rules that will be coming out," he said.

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June 26, 2003

Following is the Asian Development Bank’s response to the main issues raised by labor and civil society representatives, who rallied outside the ADB headquarters on Monday.  ADB and privatization: ADB assists its developing member countries in privatizing public-sector enterprises where such action is determined to be economically viable, technically and financially feasible, and socially desirable. When privatization is used, ADB policy calls for mitigation of the social costs involved and the protection of the interests of those directly affected by privatization.

Involvement of local residents and NGOs in ADB projects: ADB regularly consults with those residing in areas considered for a project before loans are approved. In many instances, ADB engages NGOs to serve as bridges between project authorities and local communities, provide structures for citizen participation and help ensure the implementation of projects in ways that respond to local needs. ADB is working closely with NGOs to clean up the Pasig River, support renewable-energy development in Negros Occidental and improve community infrastructure and basic services in 23 communities around Metro Manila. ADB has collaborated with community-based organizations to improve the living conditions of forest-dwellers, fisherfolk and agrarian reform communities, and to create sustainable microcredit operations and microfinance institutions. ADB is proud to have developed a close working relationship with these grassroots organizations and looks upon them as key partners for ADB’s future operations in the country.

ADB support to power-sector reform: ADB’s Power Sector Restructuring Program supports government initiatives to create competitive-electricity markets, initiatives that hopefully will lead to lower electricity prices for consumers, and restore the financial sustainability of the National Power Corp. (Napocor) prior to privatization. Any labor rationalization related to the sale of state-owned enterprises in the Philippines would be carried out in a way protecting the interests of workers.  Reform of the power sector is aimed at ensuring the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the country’s electricity supply. In order to create a competitive power-supply market, a number of power generating plants, owned by Napocor, will be privatized so they can bid in the wholesale electricity-spot market. The ownership of Napocor’s transmission assets will remain in the public sector with a qualified private sector concessionaire as operator. These measures would help to lower electricity tariffs in the medium and long term and to expand electricity supply to rural areas. Because the privatization process remains incomplete, consumers have not yet seen the benefits of competition. Current high prices may also be attributed in part to oversupply caused by the impact of the Asian financial crisis on power demand and the subsequent economic slow down.

Water tariffs and future water demand: Manila’s water sources can barely meet current demand, let alone connect additional customers. This requires the development of new water sources, which most likely cannot be accomplished with public resources alone given the government’s budgetary situation. Water provided from additional sources will not only ensure improved and sustainable service delivery for existing customers, but will also enable extension of service coverage, particularly benefiting the urban poor.

In 1999 ADB approved loans to the Maynilad Water Services Inc. to help finance, develop, operate and maintain facilities in the West Zone of the service area of Manila’s Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). However, the loan documents were never signed and, therefore, ADB did not make any loan disbursement to Maynilad. As ADB is not a creditor of Maynilad, it is not involved in the discussions between Maynilad and the government and its existing lenders.

The Philippines’ debt portfolio: The Philippines’ present indebtedness to ADB is around $3.2 billion, equivalent to about just 6% of the country’s total external debt. Although this share may be small, ADB has worked closely with the government over the past 18 months in intensive efforts to streamline the portfolio. ADB’s most recent joint-portfolio review with the government identified about $300 million for possible cancellation in 2003.

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June 25, 2003

Proposals to limit the impact of the building of Nepal's largest hydropower project in the Kaligandaki river, in the mid-west of the country, have failed, according to researchers. A number of schemes were proposed in order to reduce the damage the dam would cause to both the area's indigenous people and the environment.  They include new houses, economic compensation, and safeguards for fish stocks.  But now the dam has been constructed, very few of these proposals have seen the light of day, critics say. "Even if you look at the Asian Development Bank's own policies towards indigenous peoples, what these people are supposed to get is land, construction of their houses, facilities, and also resettlement and a permanent income source for them," Gopal Siwakoti of the Water and Energy Users' Federation in Nepal told BBC World Service's One Planet programme "Since they are displaced from their traditional income, which is fishing, they are supposed to be given an alternatives. If you apply these standards, they haven't received anything."


Mr Siwakoti added that the building of the dam had had a double impact - not only had the jobs promised not materialised, but the community was unable to return to their original source of income because of the environmental effect of the dam. "Their main tradition is fishing. Now, there are no fishes around, and they can't fish anymore", he said. Although the massive construction project had initially brought in money, these jobs have now mainly gone. "They did have a lot of employment during the construction period - but post-construction there is not much a sustained economy," explained Kavati Rai, a postgraduate student studying the effects of dam building on communities. "We have nice and wonderful policies and institutions and laws, but it really does not get translated at the local level when it comes down. "Kaligandaki is one of the first where indigenous groups have been impacted, so they are learning slowly." One villager confirmed Ms Rai's findings. "We knew the project was coming, but after a time the roads came in - we thought that we might be able to get employment with the project, but more than that we did not know," he said.


The dam was constructed in 2000 as part of the government's efforts to tap the vast hydropower potential in the country.  Though Nepal is without much infrastructure, it has high hopes of using the potential hydroelectric power as a key export. But the scheme was controversial because of the effect it would have on both the indigenous people and the environment. "There are religious sites, cultural sites, and also small villages and towns which are dependent on the water flowing from the Kaligandaki," Mr Siwakoti said.

"There was a huge debate over how much water was going to be released, so the project agreed that a certain amount of water would be released all the time.  "What we understand now is that when there is not a sufficient amount of water to go to the tunnel, they completely block the water and the whole river is dry.

"It has created a serious problem."

And as well as the river drying up, Mr Sewakoti said the area has also suffered the problem of excess water too.  "What we have seen is that they have not made any arrangements for floods at all," he argued.

"We have floods, and we have soil erosion from both sides of the rivers." Plans to ensure the continued existence of fish in the river had simply not gone through, he added. "The project planned that they would make an arrangement so that fish that flowed down would be taken up - but they never implemented it.

"They have not been able to maintain the life and the lifecycle of the fisheries industry." But the builders of the dam stressed that they had done all they were told to do by the government. "According to the contract, we had first of all to give priority for engagement of the water to the people," Fabrizio Calvi, the project leader for the Italian engineering company which built the dam, told One Planet. He added that those who were displaced by the dam had to be given work and training. "We had to build new houses for them, including a school and a library. "Then - being an international company - we thought it was wise also to give them medical assistance. We had an internal hospital that was meant for our workers - at the end of the project we left them all our equipment and provided money for medical assistance for at least one year."


But he added that the Nepalese Government had not gone through with a plan to provide a doctor to be trained by the Italians, who would stay after the project was complete. "The Nepalese decided that that area was not among their priorities," Mr Calvi said. "Therefore they declined the offer and the scheme has been abandoned." A further problem has been that however well-intentioned the schemes, the indigenous people who lived on fishing have been pushed out by the development - and have now been pushed out again by better-educated groups from the towns who see a way to turn what is happening at the dam into a profit.

Where once were indigenous people making the best of a beautiful landscape teeming with wildlife, now a town of hastily-constructed houses has sprung up. Ironically, the new stone building the indigenous people have been rehoused in do not have electricity - although they made way for a hydroelectric dam.

But the owners of the dam blamed the complaints on unrealistic expectations. "People really expect too much," said Managing Director Janak Lal Karmacharya of the Nepal Electricity Authority, which owns the dam. "When they cannot meet that expectation, they feel frustrated, and they complain."

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One World
June 24, 2003

In view of an impending water crisis, environmental activists will hold a protest rally in north India next month to enlist support for ousting beverage multinationals like Coca Cola, accused of polluting and exploiting scarce groundwater. A protest rally will be held in the north Indian city of Varanasi next month to highlight the role of Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) such as Coca-Cola in the looming water crisis, the organizers say. The protest is led by two local organizations, the Lok Samity and the Samajwadi Janparishad, members of the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements, an umbrella body of environmental and other social groups. The activists are protesting against a Coca-Cola plant located in Mehdiganj, some 20 kilometers from Varanasi. They claim that the plant draws electricity from two diesel power generators, one of which consumes 360 liters of diesel per hour. Two tube-wells draw thousands of liters of underground water.

"The consumption of underground water by the company has led to a lowering of the underground water level from 15 to 40 feet," says Aflatoon, state general secretary of the Samajwadi Janparishad. The activists, who claim the factory disgorges toxic industrial waste into neighboring fields and mango orchards, continue to urge the government to revoke the plant's industrial license. "Many expelled workers of the plant who are with the movement, say the pollutant, Caustic Soda -- used for washing bottles, is causing the environmental damage," says Aflatoon.  According to Aflatoon, people living in villages around the plant often break out in rashes on drinking the water. Worse, the water has damaged wheat and paddy fields and the chick-pea crop in the region, he alleges.

There are other negative fallouts. As Aflatoon points out, "Polluted water stagnating in the fields has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, causing Malaria." He goes so far as to allege that, "A village dog died after drinking the water."

According to Aflatoon, the destruction caused by the pollution from the factory has forced local farmers to organize themselves and demand ' Cola Bhagao, Gaon Bachao '(Oust Coca Cola, Save the Village).

Petitions have been sent to local officials as well as the President of India demanding the ouster of the MNC, which was earlier asked to leave the country by the Indian federal government in 1977.  Coca Cola withdrew from India after the Indian Government demanded it reveal the formula of the popular drink. It made a comeback in 1993 after New Delhi initiated a process of economic reforms. The American MNC is today one of the biggest foreign investors in India.  Last month too, environment activists held a protest march in Varanasi, following which the local administration ordered an inquiry into allegations of water pollution caused by the bottling plant.  The Varanasi protest comes in the wake of a similar movement in Kerala in south India last year. Last summer, villagers in the Palakaad district of Kerala demanded the closure of the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, a local unit of the MNC. 

The villagers held that the MNC had dug up borewells for its water requirements, causing wells and ponds in the area to dry up. After a two-month-long protest, the local administration revoked the license of the Coca-Cola factory in the state. Currently, the lowering of ground-level tables is causing severe water crises in different parts of the country. India's capital, Delhi, tops the list of water scarce cities, followed by Mumbai in the west and Bangalore and Hyderabad in south India.  The situation, experts warn, is likely to worsen in the coming years. According to Indian government figures, areas with access to water supply in Delhi will plummet from 81.5 percent to 26 per cent in the next 20 years.

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IC Northern Ireland
June 20, 2003

POLITICIANS, trade unionists and community activists from across the spectrum will unite today in protests against Government plans which could put Northern Ireland's water supply under the control of private companies. The protestors are united by different fears, from job losses in the water service to worries that poorer families may not be able to meet higher charges, with consequences for their own and public health. The record in Great Britain of hundreds of prosecutions over pollution and contamination cases - while companies continued to make profits - will loom large in the rhetoric of protest. While no one is denying that the antiquated water infrastructure is in dire need of renewal, the issues of public versus private control, and the funding of necessary change, have sparked a debate which unites politicians from opposite ends of the spectrum.

The issue would have caused different divisions had the devolved Executive still been in business, with strongly divergent views, for instance, on the funding implications of the Reform and Regeneration Initiative (RRI), through which infrastructure renewal will be financed. Today, Sinn Fein members will be standing shoulder to shoulder with Progressive Unionists and members of the Women's Coalition, among others, in opposing any move to privatisation.

The lobby group, Communities Againt the Water Tax, will also be to the fore, along with the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network, backing pickets by the group of Water Service unions. The first protest will begin outside the Water Service Depot on the Old Westland Road and Oldpark Terrace in north Belfast at 8.25, and Women's Coalition members will later put up a 'For Sale' sign at the popular Water Works site. At lunchtime, the Water Service Group of trade unions will hand submissions and thousands of letters of objection from the public into the Water Reform Unit at the Department For Regional Development in Adelaide Street in Belfast.

Bumper Graham, secretary of the group, said: ''We have been heartened by the strength of opposition to the Minister's proposals. We are aware that the Water Reform Unit has already received numerous submissions and of letters of opposition. "The people of Northern Ireland are united in their opposition to water charges, water service workers' job losses and the threat of privatisation of our water service.'' In Fermanagh, DUP councillor Bert Johnston has written to Regional Development Minister John Spellar to inform him that there is ''universal opposition'' to the imposition of water charges.

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New Straits Times
July 6, 2003

JOHOR BARU, July 6:  Freshwater fish, facing extinction due to poaching, have got a helping hand from the Johor National Parks Corporation and Malaysian Nature Society of Johor (MNSJ). They have launched a programme to breed the fish at two rivers in the upper reaches of the Endau National Park which has been closed to visitors since last year. Parks director Mohamed Basir Mohamed Sali said poaching had nearly wiped out many species in the five rivers of Endau. "We are working closely with the MNSJ on the breeding programme to save the fish from extinction," he said. He said the pristine waters in Endau were once home to many species, including rare ones such as the Malayan giant river catfish and giant featherback, found in abundance 20 years ago.

The river catfish is known to grow up to two metres and weigh up to 145kg, while the giant featherback could reach 15kg. Basir said poaching was rampant based on the discovery of fishing tools such as hooks, lines, nets and even explosives for fish bombs left behind by the poachers. "Strict enforcement is difficult because of the large area involved and manpower constraints. We only have about 40 workers to patrol the entire forest reserve which spans 49,000 hectares." Basir added that park authorities had enlisted MNSJ to compile a catch-and-release fishing manual for game fishing enthusiasts. Anglers would be encouraged to release endangered species they catch. "We are also increasing charges to deter people from fishing in the rivers," he said. MNSJ adviser Vincent Chow said the society was undertaking a twoyear study of the various species of fish in the rivers and their numbers. He said MNSJ had, so far, found 57 different types of fish, of which six have yet to be identified and could be new species unique to Endau.

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July 5, 2003

Tens of thousands of people were left stranded or have moved to safer places as flash floods worsened Saturday in Bangladesh, officials and reports said. Officials and newspapers, including the respected The Independent daily, said thousands of people were marooned as rain-triggered floods gushed down from northern parts of the country into the Bay of Bengal. "The trend in the rise of water levels in major rivers indicated that the situation might worsen further, devouring fresh areas," a Flood Warning Centre (FWC) official told AFP. He added that water levels at 12 out of 85 points across the country were flowing what is considered the danger mark, but the situation in the northeastern part was improving.

The unofficial death toll since monsoon rains started hammering deltaic Bangladesh in May now stands at 55, with most killed in landslides in the southeastern hill tracts earlier this week. The toll includes four people who have drowned over the past few days, reports said. Witnesses said areas around the capital Dhaka were also flooded, with water levels rising in the Shitalakhya, Balu and Buriganga rivers.

Run-off from hills in neighbouring India have been blamed by experts for the worsening floods in seven north and northwestern Bangladeshi districts of Gaibandha, Bogra, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Sirajganj and Kurigram. Some 300,000 residents of the seven districts were marooned, the Independent said, but no official confirmation was available. Aid for the victims was being distributed by the local administration.

Local officials in Sirajganj district, 105 kilometers (66 miles) northwest of the capital Dhaka, said by telephone that thousands of people had been left homeless and at least 25,000 victims had taken shelter on a highway in Kazipur sub-district after the mighty Jamuna river continued to rise. It has flooded some 10,000 homes and other structures in 100 villages, they said. But a disaster management ministry control room official told AFP Saturday that the "situation is not serious" and they were yet to prepare any statistics on losses caused by the calamity. Water Development Board officials said they recorded a 40-centimetreinch) rise in water levels at the Sirajganj point of the Jamuna river over 24 hours to Friday.

The FWC said due to the continued rise of the Brahmaputra and Jamuna rivers fresh areas of Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra, Jamalpur, Sirajganj and Tangail districts could also flood. The Ganges and Padma rivers were also continuing to rise, it said. Bangladesh's four-month full monsoon starts in July when the average monthly rainfall varies from 1,194 to 3,454 millimetres (48 to 138 inches). In 1988 three months of sustained flooding left several hundred people dead and caused millions of dollars in damage, prompting a global call to help Bangladesh develop a long-term flood protection system. But in 1998 Bangladesh was again ravaged by the worst flood in a century, leaving millions homeless and causing massive damage.

In neighbouring India, floods have also displaced thousands of people, mainly in the northeast which neighbours Bangladesh.

See Also:

Shortage of food, drinking water Flood situation worsens, The New Nation, July6, 2003;

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Baku Today
July 5, 2003

On July 4, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources held the ceremony during which the Government of Azerbaijan and UNDP signed document. According to the document, the U.N. Global Ecological

Foundation ensures $200 000 worth grant. The grant will be used to implement the project "Assessment of national requests for increase of opportunities to resolve global ecological problems".  It should be noted Guseingulu Bagirov, the Minister of Ecology and  Natural Resources, and Marco Borcotti, U.N. resident-coordiantor and spokesman for UNDP in Azerbaijan, inked the document.

According to Bagirov, the project is envisaged to identify national priorities pursuant to ecological problems. The work will run in 4 trends - saving of biological components, climate changes, management of water resources and fight with soil erosion. The results of studies will be taken into account under implementation of sustainable development strategy. As for importance of the project, Marco Borcotti said the ecology plays important role to save environment world-wide and therefore international organizations pay great importance to the implementation of ecological projects. It should be noted the project will start in August and continue 17 months. The Government of Azerbaijan will ensure $20 000.

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New Straits Times
July 4, 2003

PUTRAJAYA, July 4:  Malaysia is conducting a pilot project on fire prevention and rehabilitation of peat land as part of Asean’s plan to fight  transboundary haze. If successful, the project will be a model for other Asean countries to adopt in preventing peat fires, which are difficult to extinguish and are a major cause of the haze that Southeast Asia experiences annually. The Global Environment Centre (GEC) said 123 hectares of peat land in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor, was the site of the pilot project where attempts to re-flood the soil (healthy peat is water-logged) was now under way. GEC manager Chee Tong Yiew said canals which had initially been used to drain the area were being "blocked" to re-flood the peat soil. "It appears successful so far. Trees have started to grow again. We will continue testing this method to see if it is effective and if it works, it will be a demonstration project for the rest of Asean to follow," he said at a forum on the "Asean Peatland Management Initiative (APMI)" here, yesterday.

Various government agencies are involved in the project, with the Science, Technology and Environment Ministry as the focal point. The APMI is a programme that promotes sustainable management of peat lands in the region and is part of the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and the Asean Regional Haze Action Plan. The APMI has been adopted by all Asean members. The GEC was appointed by the Asean secretariat to be the programme's technical and operations support agency. Under the APMI, member countries share information on their respective experiences in peat land management, predict peat fire hazard areas and monitor fire outbreaks. Chee said all Asean members had identified the need to increase their capacity and knowledge about peat management, as Southeast Asia contained 60 per cent, or 25 million hectares, of the world's tropical peatlands.

Indonesia alone has 85 per cent of peat in the region, and had contributed 95 per cent of peat fires and haze during the haze crisis of 1997 and 1998, GEC director Faizal Parish said. Dry peat soil is highly combustible due to its organic content. Peat fires burn underground and emit huge amounts of smoke, causing haze. Peat is normally drained to use the land for agriculture, a practice which became widespread in Indonesia during the 1990s.

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July 2, 2003

Existing water treatment plants in Malaysia are not equipped to remove toxic chemicals or heavy metals from untreated water, said an environmental expert.The plants are only designed to remove sediments and bacteria, said Faisal Parish, director of Global Environment Centre, which is part of the UN Environmental Programme. He raised these points when asked to comment on concerns raised by thousands of residents around Broga - the site of a controversial incinerator proposal currently under assessment for environmental impacts. They have repeatedly expressed anxiety over the possible impact of its emissions and effluent on nearby water sources that feed the Semenyih treatment plant.

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July, 2003

One of the biggest environmental headaches is vinyl chloride, a toxic compound that can seep into water tables from chemical plants or industrial users. Cancer-causing and fertility-damaging, this organic chloride is the main ingredient in everyday PVC products such as plastic furniture, car upholstery, pipes and insulation for electrical cables. Chemical firms around the world are under pressure from authorities to  tackle aquifer pollution from this highly useful but dangerous substance. But the process, sometimes entailing the removal of contaminated soil where there are major spills, is long, expensive, sometimes impracticable and often likely to inflict environmental damage. Now, say a group of scientists, there's an answer.


It is a disc-shaped bacterium that gobbles up vinyl chloride and another toxic derivative, dichloroethene. It dies when its source of food runs out. And, its discovers say, it's quite harmless to humans and the environment. The remarkable bug — isolated after a gruelling years-long quest in the realm of underworld bacteria — has been dubbed BAV1 by its discoverers, a team led by German microbiologist Frank Loeffler, assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. BAV1 is anaerobic, meaning that it lives in an oxygen-free environment, and metabolises vinyl chloride and dichloroethene to provide its energy. The only significant by-products from this are the non-toxic hydrocarbon gas ethylene and harmless inorganic chloride.  "These organisms are highly specialised. They can only grow in the presence of the contaminant, and when the contaminant is gone, they disappear," Loeffler told AFP in a phone interview.

"We have been working with this organism for years and we have absolutely no evidence that this organism has any negative impact on humans or wildlife."


After finding how the bug worked in lab conditions, Loeffler's team set out on devising ways in which it could be brewed in large quantities as well as a means of delivering it into the water table to clean up the pollution. The bacteria are injected below ground, suspended in a liquid. They then attach themselves to sand or particles in the soil, creating a "biofilm" that traps the vinyl chloride in the water, which slowly flows through this soft rock.  The discovery, described in Thursday's issue of the British weekly journal Nature, was tested a pilot site in Michigan that measured about 25 square metres in area and seven metres deep.  "We completely removed the contaminants in this plot in six weeks. It was very, very successful," Loeffler said.


The cleanup was so impressive and BAV1 so easy to use that the bug has now been patented and a commercial company has started to market it, Loeffler says. Because the bacteria tend to adhere to particles, they do not shift to other parts of the aquifer — they stay in the area where they have been injected, acting rather like a filter, strung out across the water flow.  Bio-remediation — using bacteria to clear up chemical or nuclear sites — has been a holy grail of biologists, chemists and environmentalists for a number of years.

But only a small number of discoveries has reached the market place. Many initially promising finds turn out to be less effective than thought; sometimes they may rouse environmental concerns; and at other times, bugs turn out to be fragile and difficult to use in the world outside the laboratory. Vinyl chloride is soluble, which means that it can integrate into the water supply directly or when its parent chemicals, tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene, enter the water and are broken down.  Vinyl chloride evaporates rapidly in the air and is biodegraded underground by bacteria, but in high concentrations runs a major risk of ending up in drinking water.

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June 27, 2003

From the 12,500 tons of antibiotics consumed per year worldwide, a significant amount of antibiotic residue is finding its way into municipal wastewater and agricultural waste. Scientists fear that these compounds could lead to groundwater and soil contamination, and consequently accelerate the development of resistance in many disease organisms. To tackle this problem, a 2.18 million euro EU project has developed a pioneering method, using ozone-based oxidation processes, to eliminate antibiotics. Funded under the energy, environment and sustainable development (EESD) section of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), the POSEIDON project consortium gathered together experts from five Member States, as well as Switzerland and Poland, in order to make preliminary assessments of the current situation around Europe, and to test their theory.

In monitoring sewage treatments plants across Europe, the project consortium found the remnants of some 36 different pharmaceuticals. At the same time, project experts also recorded the presence of up to 30 different types of pharmaceuticals in samples taken from European streams and rivers. In Germany alone, of the groundwater samples taken near known polluted streams and rivers, the consortium found that 25 per cent or more displayed above-average concentration levels of pharmaceuticals. 

Having assessed the gravity of the situation, experts then investigated methods of water treatment, focusing on their efficiency in eliminating pharmaceuticals and personal care products. They found that if wastewater was ozonated -using ozone gas to disinfect it - the potential for the formation of resistant bacterial strains was lowered. This theory was fully tested during a series of pilot scale experiments on a waste treatment plant in Braunschweig, Germany. The consortium noted that decreases in resistant bacterial strains were in direct correlation to the elimination of antibiotics in the ozonated water. The project's method for removing antibiotics is considered to be breakthrough, as up until now, little information was available about the environmental concentrations of antibiotic residues, or how to eliminate them.

For further information, please visit:

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Associated Press
June 24, 2003

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Two Chinese poachers pour herbicides into a shallow Russian river, and minutes later dozens of dead frogs come belly up. One of the poachers, clad in a khaki jacket and high rubber boots, wades into the water and stuffs the limp bodies into a plastic bag. Russian border guards videotaped the scene last year as evidence of a practice Chinese poachers began using widely last year — allegedly poisoning about 10 Russian rivers near the border with China. Officers then detained the pair and handed them over to China. From frogs to endangered leopards, animals in Russia's Far East have suffered from proximity to China, where poachers cater to a lively trade in creatures believed to have unique healing powers and culinary cachet.

Scores of poachers cross the border every year to cull animals and plants from forests, rivers, and bays, authorities and ecologists say. Sometimes they use poison, sometimes electricity generators and electrodes that they stick into water to electrocute aquatic creatures. "This is ecological terrorism," said Pavel Fomenko of the World Wildlife Fund. Poisoning rivers gives poachers quick and easy access to the frogs who are considered a delicacy in China, Fomenko said. Buyers of poisoned frogs either don't suspect that they are poisoned or believe that cooking neutralizes the toxin, he speculated.

He estimates poachers could sell the dried frogs for about US$300 a kilogram in China, about 10 times more than they pay Russian frog hunters. A kilo contains about 200 dried frogs. Herbicides also kill fish and other water creatures, and contamination drifts downstream, endangering anyone who drinks from the river, the ecologist said. Albina Proskurenko, a spokeswoman for Russia's Federal Border Service in Vladivostok, said the poison seized from Chinese poachers is normally used to kill insects in rice fields and is very potent. Last year, Russian border guards sent four notes of protest to their Chinese counterparts over river poisoning cases and were still waiting for a response, she said. Russia usually sends poachers back to China, where they face fines or prison terms, according to the spokeswoman.

Two other species under threat are Siberian tigers and Far Eastern leopards, whose hides and bones are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Police confiscated five leopard hides from Russians last year, and Fomenko said three of the leopards were killed on contract for Chinese traders. These cats face extinction, with only about 30 left in the wild, he said. Some Chinese poachers enter the country as tourists, an easier tactic since Russia opened its borders in the 1990s. Lately, the numbers have dropped due to Russian border restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of SARS. But others still cross illegally, taking advantage of the long and loosely guarded border. Poaching has only increased. In 1991, customs agents thwarted 11 attempts to smuggle out plants and animal parts, while the number of such attempts increased tenfold to 110 last year, Fomenko said. The overwhelming majority of the contraband was bound for China.

Chinese authorities have done what they could to stop the flow of contraband animals and plants. According to Russian border guards, their Chinese counterparts regularly erect additional border outposts in the summer, when poachers are especially active. Chinese authorities in border areas also arrange public awareness campaigns aimed at discouraging citizens from poaching in Russia. But those measures are too little to counter the threat, Russian ecologists and border officials say." Poaching will continue as long as it brings money," Proskurenko said.

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July 3, 2003

Twenty-four sites were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, including, for the first time, sites in Gambia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Sudan. The inscriptions were carried out by the World Heritage Committee, which has been holding its 27th session, under the chair of Vera Lacoeuilhe (Sainte-Lucie) at UNESCO Headquarters since June 30. The World Heritage List now numbers 754 sites, including 149 natural, and 582 cultural and 23 mixed sites “of outstanding universal value”. The new natural sites are: Purnululu National Park, Australia; Three parallel rivers of Yunnan protected areas, China; Uvs Nuur Basin, Russian Federation / Mongolia; Monte San Giorgio, Switzerland; and Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam.

The new cultural sites are: The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan; Quebrada de Humahuaca, Argentina; Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso, Chile; The Jewish Quarter and St Procopius' Basilica in Trebic, Czech Republic; James Island and Related Sites, Gambia; Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, India; Takht-e Soleyman, Iran; Ashur (Qala’at Sherqat), Iraq; The White City of Tel-Aviv – the Modern Movement, Israel; Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, Italy; The Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, Kazakhstan; Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro, Mexico; Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland, Poland; Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent, Russian Federation; Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, South Africa; Ubeda-Baeza: Urban duality, cultural unity, Spain; Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region, Sudan; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom; Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe.

The Committee also extended one natural site and two cultural sites, all already inscribed: Central Amazon Conservation Complex, Brazil; Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, China; Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and the Historic District of Panamá, Panama.

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U.S. Trade and Development Agency
July 3, 2003

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - (July 2, 2003) The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a $78,000 grant today to the National Institute of Hydrology and Water Management in Romania. The USTDA grant will fund technical assistance associated with a pilot program designed to assist Romania in testing large-scale flood control technologies in the country's larger river basins. The grant represents an example of the USTDA commitment to assist Romania in implementing a national flood management system. The grant was conferred in a signing ceremony at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest, Water and the Environment. Mr. Carl B. Kress,

USTDA Chief of Staff, signed the grant on behalf of the U.S. Government. Mr. Florin Stadiu, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest, Water and the Environment, signed on behalf of the Romanian Government. Mr. Jonathan Marks, Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, and Dr. Mary-Jeanne Adler, Head of the Hydrological Database and Methodology Department of the National Institute for Hydrology and Water Management, witnessed the grant signing.

The USTDA grant will provide technical assistance to establish an Integrated Decision/Informational System for Waters Emergencies at the national level. In 2001, USTDA funded a pilot program on destructive waters technologies that included testing of a variety of flood control technologies used in small rivers and flash and watershed flooding. The additional technical assistance funded by today's grant will evaluate large-scale flood control technologies associated with the creation of a flood management system for the entire country.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA's strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.

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July 8, 2003

Tuesday, 8 July 2003: Rich and poor nations can work together to lift millions out of severe poverty and achieve other ambitious targets for 2015 through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), says the Human Development Report 2003, released in Dublin, Ireland, today.  The Dublin event precedes the launch of the report at the African Union Summit in Mozambique's capital Maputo on 10 July, symbolizing the North-South partnership needed to achieve the MDGs and ties between Ireland and Mozambique. 

The publication was presented at a news conference featuring Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach - prime minister - of Ireland; Bono, lead singer of Ireland's U2, who has campaigned for debt relief for the poorest countries; and Jeffrey Sachs, economist and guest editor of the report, who heads the Millennium Project to recommend strategies to reach the MDGs. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, the report's principal author, and UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown also participated.

The report says that the pledge by world leaders at the 2000 Millennium Summit to achieve the MDGs can be met, but only through a compact whereby poor countries pursue wide-ranging reforms focusing on the goals, while wealthy nations dismantle unfair trade barriers — such as US$300 billion in annual agricultural subsidies, increase aid and relieve heavy debt burdens on the poorest countries. Leaders of the wealthiest countries, the G-8, endorsed the MDGs anew last month at the Evian Summit. "We will play a constructive role, with our European Union partners, in fashioning a new world trade agreement," said Mr. Ahern. "We will seek to ensure that the crippling burden of poor-country debt remains at the centre of the development agenda. And we will continue to press the cause of development and human rights in every available forum."

At the Millennium Summit, Mr. Ahern pledged to double his country's development assistance to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2007. Ireland has so far raised its aid to 0.41 per cent of GDP and all major political parties support the 2007 target.  Mozambique, a main beneficiary of Irish aid, is to receive 28 million euros this year under a bilateral assistance programme that began in 1996. The Irish and Mozambican governments have targeted the assistance towards projects to help progress towards the MDGs, focusing on education, farming, and reversing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The report says that success by China and India puts the global target of halving severe poverty by 2015 within reach and identifies 59 priority countries where, unless urgent action is taken, the MDGs will not be met. Of these, 24 countries have a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, 13 are embroiled in conflicts and 31 have unusually high foreign debts.

The report's annual Human Development Index, ranking 175 countries on the basis of life expectancy, income per person and education, shows 21 countries experienced declines in the 1990s. Such declines are unusual, noted Mr. Malloch Brown, saying they call for urgent action on health and education, as well as income levels, in these countries.  "If rich countries and poor countries alike set their minds to the practical tasks recommended by the report, we can foresee the absolute end of poverty within a generation," said Mr. Sachs.  "Ireland has blazed a trail for other donors," said Mr. Malloch Brown, by boosting its foreign aid, with focus on the neediest countries. He called for rapid progress on trade and debt relief by wealthy countries, "helping break down barriers that keep developing countries out of rich markets and allowing them to devote more of their own scarce resources to development priorities rather than repaying international creditors." According to Ms. Fukuda-Parr, there is nothing inevitable about human poverty. "History shows us what is possible: over the past three decades, life expectancy in poor countries increased by eight years and illiteracy was cut in half," she noted.

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July 8, 2003

LONDON, Jul 8 (IPS) - South Asia holds the ”swing vote” whether the Millennium Development Goals can be reached by 2015, according to UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown. ”South Asia has 40 percent of the problem, which it means it has 40 percent of the solution,” he said at the launch of the Human Development Report 2003 of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in London on Monday.

South Asia has a special place partly because of its sheer size, Malloch Brown said. It is the place where 40 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day, and where 35 percent of children do not get proper primary education. ”So this region is most going to drive whether we reach the targets or not,” he said. But South Asia does not matter only because it has a large share of the problem. It is critical because of the nature of solutions it has to offer. ”India has been graduating from receiving assistance, and is on track to itself becoming a donor,” he said. ”If India reaches the targets it will be through its domestic resources. Whether Africa reaches those targets is mostly in the hands of Western aid donors. But whether South Asia can reach those targets is in the hand of South Asia, and whether the best policies prevail or not.”

Aid flows into South Asia are ”relatively insignificant”, Malloch Brown said. ”It is the quality of decision-making by government officials and the private sector that will make the critical difference.” If the West can play a role, he said, it will be through facilitating ”improved trade access to world markets, rather than through development assistance.” ”I am a great admirer of the Indian model,” he said. ”They are standing on their own feet, not holding out their hands for dollars or Euros.” So far the responses of several of the states in India have been robust because democracy is strong, Malloch Brown said. ”If a state like Madhya Pradesh gets a bad number on some count, it responds, it wants to improve, because it is a market-based democracy, and the elected officials will have to go back to the people.”

If Madhya Pradesh has been low on some counts in its progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, this has something to do with the size of administrative units, he said. Malloch Brown spoke of the improved administration of Uttaranchal state carved out of Uttar Pradesh. Organisations like the UNDP, he said, can never try to create programmes ”for” India but can only work ”with” India ”because they are very prickly on these issues.” Malloch Brown said the progress in Pakistan would have to be monitored in the context of under-reporting. ”There is not enough data to categorise Pakistan on many of these issues,” he said. In Pakistan progress is ”a critical governance challenge,” he said. Several programmes are stuck behind the political system, and much will depend on whether it becomes ”effective enough to decentralise.”

Lead author of the UNDP report Sakiko Fukuda-Parr said the situation in South Asia is improving rapidly in many fields, particularly in improving water supply and in battling poverty. Countries such as India and China are developing very rapidly towards meeting many of the goals, she said, while some other countries are showing a decline. The human development index has fallen in 21 countries around the world, she said, though no South Asian country has shown a decline. ”What you are seeing today is a sort of Third World A and a Third World B,” she said. ”South Asia is doing very well, but in some areas it is going badly,” she said, pointing to certain projections that the incidence of HIV/AIDS in India could rise very rapidly. ”Hunger has been reduced in South Asia, but 43 percent of the world's hungry are still in South Asia,” she said. ”And it still has a very large number of the undernourished.” she said. Most South Asian countries have made huge strides in food production but a problem remains for lack of effective distribution,” she said. ”But we have seen an effective response to that in Sri Lanka.”

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World Bank
July 7, 2003

Sometimes small investments can make a huge difference. The Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) small grants program demonstrates that small grants have enabled communities in developing countries to take charge of their own energy needs, preserve native varieties of plant species, and revive sacred springs.

The program, created in 1992, demonstrates how global environmental problems can be addressed through actions at the local level. GEF recently announced that it will more than double the amount of funding available for small grants of up to $50,000 available to community groups and nongovernmental organizations. The projected increase in funds reflects the small grants program’s record of success, which has led to greater demand for grants from communities as well as increased support from donors.

Though large and medium-sized projects comprise the bulk of GEF’s project portfolio, small grants provide an important source of partnerships and innovative ideas for GEF. "GEF’s small grants program has made a huge difference in the well-being and environmental health in thousands of local communities," said GEF’s CEO and Chairman, Mohamed T. El-Ashry. "Though the grants are small compared with the needs of our global environment, their impact is large – and GEF is working closely with its partners to make the program’s impact even larger in the coming years." According to the recently approved GEF business plan, the GEF small grants budget is projected to increase from $30 million in 2003 to more than $60 million in 2005.

The increase in funding will allow GEF to award more grants and increase the number of countries participating in the program. Since 1992, GEF has committed approximately $117.35 million for small grants—leveraging an additional $65.6 million in co-financing—to NGOs and community groups in developing countries, directly involving them in addressing global environmental problems.

Through the program, grants of up to $50,000 are used to demonstrate and support the dissemination of community-based natural resource management practices and technologies, which if replicated, could reduce threats to the global environment. The Small Grants Programme is administered on behalf of the GEF by the UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme).

GEF, an international financial organization with 175 member countries, is the single largest funder of actions to benefit the global environment. The World Bank serves as trustee of the GEF Trust Fund and is one of three agencies, along with UNDP and UNEP, that implement GEF’s larger projects.

So far, GEF’s Small Grants Programme has benefited some 4,000 communities. Here are some examples:

  •     Zimbabwe, where large areas of land are approaching desert conditions. In many areas, rainfall simply runs off the hard, dry ground, creating deep gullies rather than replenishing the earth. In 1997, a community in Masvingo province used a GEF small grant to obtain training in modern conservation techniques and nearly forgotten traditional methods of land management. The funding enabled the community to reclaim the gullies by planning vetiver and other grasses—rich source of fodder and renewed habitats from wildlife. In addition, fishponds were stocked, sacred springs revived, and ecotourism was introduced to the area.

  •     Bolivia, where a community near La Paz used a GEF small grant to conserve native potato varieties that are highly valued by local communities and contribute to global biodiversity. Andean farmers had traditionally cultivated dozens of native potato varieties, however the genetic diversity of native varieties has been eroded because of the influence of imported, high-yielding potato varieties and other factors. Through GEF’s small grant, the NGO Centro de Promocion de la Mujer provided technical assistance to households for conserving, managing, and producing the sani negra and other native potato varieties. The project enabled the local community to produce more than 30 tons of potatoes—enough for themselves and to sell to neighboring communities.

  •     Jordan, where a series of GEF small grants were used by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature to help protect biological diversity and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for local communities near the Dana Nature Reserve, the second largest protected territory in Jordan. Through rangeland management and animal husbandry, combined with alternative income-generating activities such as eco-tourism, overgrazing of the land has been reduced and the community has benefited.

  •     The Philippines, where the people of the island of Mindanao used a GEF small grant to take charge of their own energy needs while protecting the environment. They built a 25-kilowatt micro-hydropower station, which transfers the potential energy of streams and small flows, to supply themselves with inexpensive, renewable electrical power. With GEF support, local residents conducted a survey of the watershed before building the micro-hydropower station. They used the results to begin rehabilitating the watershed area. Now the schools of Mindanao are no longer dark in the afternoon, and the homes are lit at night—allowing more time for studies and for income-generating activities such as making crafts. The watershed protection activities promoted by the project will ensure the long-term sustainability of the water source and the micro-hydropower station.

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South Africa Government
July 5, 003

The Nzama family of Umzinyathi, near Durban, was today acknowledged by President Mbeki at a community celebration in Umzinyathi, as the 9 millionth recipients of safe, clean water from the Government’s Community Water Supply and Sanitation programme since 1994.

The family were also recipients of a double pit VIP toilet as part of Governments programme to eradicate the sanitation backlog.

In 1994 the new Government inherited a backlog of 14 million people without clean, safe water while 21 million people did not have access to adequate sanitation.Currently 5 million people still lack access to clean safe water while 16 million lack access to adequate sanitation.

At this rate we will wipe out the infrastructure backlog for basic water supply by 2008 and for sanitation by 2010.We have exceeded the target set by the Heads of State at the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations in 2000. They declared that by 2015 the number of the world’s population without access to basic water must be reduced by 50%. In 1994, government made a promise.

The Reconstruction and Development Programme, one of the most widely consulted policy programmes in the world, committed us to the short term aim of providing every person with enough water for health “by establishing a national water and sanitation programme which aims to provide all households with a clean, safe water supply of 20 – 30 litres per capita per day and adequate sanitation facilities”.  We did this and so took our first steps up the country’s water ladder.

But we are not going to be content when everyone has got onto the first rung of that water ladder, with access to water at a tap in the street, and sanitation. The promise for the next ten years is to move up the ladder, from communal tap to the convenience and dignity of having water in people’s own yards with each household having its own toilet and even, in time, hot and cold running water inside the house enjoyed by many more of our people. That’s what I mean by climbing the water ladder. As we climb the ladder, so our people will experience better and better standards of supply and services.

Umzinyathi Water and Sanitation Scheme is a R 34 million project that has been designed to provide the 6000 households with 200 litres of water per household per day at their front door. In conjunction with the water supply ,each household is also being provided with a double pit VIP toilet.

Currently, 2500 households have received water supply as well as sanitation facilties. The rest of the community is expected to be served by the end of September 2003. The project has created jobs for an estimated 1 400 local people, thereby helping to alleviate poverty in the area. The primary objectives of the project are:

  •     To provide a sustainable supply of potable water to all households in Umzinyathi

  •     To improve the health and sanitation conditions, enhance the standard of living and quality of life for the people by providing sustainable VIP latrines and health education programme

  •     To provide a level of service that will be affordable to both the community and local people.

The project is being implemented by eThekwini Water Services and funded by DWAF, the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme and eThekwini Municipality.

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The Age
June 24, 2003

Water reform is one of the most far-reaching policy issues Australia has had to face, writes Tim Colebatch.

Mark Twain's advice to investors was simple: "Buy land - they've stopped making it." But now you could add a second bit of advice: "Buy water - they'll be making less of it in future." Australia has 5.6 per cent of the world's land mass, but less than 1 per cent of its run-off. Most of that flows into the rivers of northern Australia and Tasmania. Just 6 per cent flows into the Murray-Darling system, which supplies two-thirds of the water for Australia's irrigation farmers. We all know there is a water crisis. It has been dramatised by the drought - arguably the worst in 100 years - but the crisis came first. Governments, especially in New South Wales, have given irrigators more water than the system can stand, shrinking river flows, bringing salt to the surface of land and water, and starving native fish of the chance to breed.

The mouth of the Murray River has been closed for two years. Scientists predict that by 2020, Adelaide's drinking water will be below World Health Organisation safety levels two days out of five. And now irrigators are being cut off because there is virtually no water in the dams. With rainfall stubbornly remaining below average for a second season in a row - even since April 1, rainfall has been well below average throughout Victoria - the impact of the drought has yet to peak. Last season, the Goulburn irrigators got 57 per cent of their water entitlements. But the Eildon is now down to just 10 per cent of its capacity. Goulburn-Murray Water has warned that for much of northern Victoria, this year's initial allocation could be no water at all.

The worst may be yet to come. Don Henry, chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, points out that CSIRO modelling predicts that global warming will cut future rainfall in southern Australia by up to 20 per cent. That would imply an even sharper reduction in runoff and, hence, in the water available to towns, irrigators and ecosystems alike. The country that uses more water per head than any other is now moving to reform. This is one of the most far-reaching policy issues Australia has ever grappled with: an issue raising intense emotions, a maze of intellectual brain-twisters, cutting-edge environmental forecasting, hazy legal rights, and local, interstate and Commonwealth-state jealousies.

It involves the livelihood of irrigation farmers and the life of ecosystems. To fix it will cost us billions of dollars, and make us all learn to do more with less. Commonwealth and state ministers will meet later this year to decide how much of the 12,000 gigalitres of water diverted annually from the Murray-Darling system they need to take back as "environmental flows" so the ecosystems can be sustained. Three options are on the table: 350, 750 and 1500 gigalitres. How much, and how and who will pay remain to be settled.

Restoring environmental flows, rightly, is now part of a wider agenda of reforms. It includes large-scale interstate and intrastate trading of water rights; giving farmers greater security, if for smaller water allocations; and massive investment to convert irrigation channels to pipelines, so water no longer evaporates into the air or leaches away. It is a momentous issue and many are rising to its challenge.

The ACF and the National Farmers Federation are working together to define as much common ground as possible, and minimise their points of difference. The "zap the cap" stupidity of the '90s is giving way to a widespread recognition that we cannot go on like this. We are at a turning point, forging a new regime for this driest of all inhabited continents. And we must get it right. The way ahead is best put by some of Australia's leading environmental scientists, who have formed the Wentworth Group to lobby for long-term solutions. They identified five reforms as essential to a sustainable future:

  • Clearly define farmers' legal rights to water, and their obligations.

  • End broadscale land clearing of native vegetation.

  • Compensate farmers for environmental constraints such as loss of rights to water or land-clearing.

  • Restore environmental flows to stressed rivers.

  • Require farmers - and ultimately, consumers - to pay the full costs of water used.

These are tough issues that raise alarms in Commonwealth and state treasuries no less than in irrigation districts. But Don Blackmore, chief executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, argues that they are also great opportunities. This is an opportunity to put our world-beating irrigation technology to work in saving water now wasted. It is an opportunity to shift water from low-value uses - rice-growing on the Murrumbidgee, or pasture on the Goulburn - to high-value uses such as wine grapes, fruit and vegetables.

It is an opportunity for farmers now wasting water to copy the reforms of neighbours who use a third as much per unit of output. It is an opportunity to extend the success of water-trading systems across state borders. It is an opportunity to give farmers a bankable title to water that they now lack. In irrigation areas, fear and suspicion are still blocking acceptance of this. But the farmers must help forge a sustainable future. If the CSIRO's global warming projections are correct, their sons and daughters will face far tougher times than these.

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Straits Times
July, 2003

More than one billion people in the world today are in need of clean water and the situation is getting worse. As we mark The International Year of Freshwater this year, LING CHANG HONG looks at how the drying taps are affecting people's lives and how nations are coping with the crisis  In the few seconds that it takes you to read this paragraph, a child would have died of a water-borne disease somewhere in Africa.

Startling as it may sound, this is the reality - and it is not just in the developing world. The whole world is facing a water crisis.

Today, more than one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people have no adequate sanitation. Water-related diseases, such as malaria, account for 80 per cent of illnesses and deaths in the Third World, killing one child every eight seconds. In the developed world, degradation of groundwater resources, pollution of rivers and lakes, as well as rising costs are threatening the quality and affordability of water. 'Water will be more important than oil this century,' former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali said in a BBC phone-in programme last month. Indeed, the United Nations, which has declared 2003 as The International Year of Freshwater, says in a recent report that the average supply of water worldwide per person is expected to drop by a third over the next 20 years. In two decades, two out of every three people on earth will suffer moderate to severe water shortages, the report says.

When Irish musician-turned-activist Bob Geldof, who in 1985 staged Live Aid, the world's biggest rock concert to help a previous generation of starving Ethiopians, revisited the country last month, he was dismayed to discover that the situation in the East African country had not improved much over the past 18 years. One major factor, he said, was the 'endemic drought conditions and their effect on food'. The nation is in the midst of a fresh humanitarian crisis, with 14 million people, struggling with drought and a lack of clean water, at risk of starvation. Severe drought and poor harvests have also left several Southern African countries reeling. More than 13 million people in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi are reported to be in need of food aid. 

Singaporean peacekeeper, Major (NS) Francis See, who was in the region last year, told The Straits Times in an earlier report: 'Life is so hard, the children ask for water, not money or food.' Water and sanitation, the key factors to reducing poverty, are hugely scarce in Africa. 'Collecting water takes me five hours a day. I leave home at two in the morning and I get water at six. I have two children - one died from diarrhoea. The other is 14 - she's usually sick because of the dirty water we are using,' Ms Joyce Tunda from Tanzania, told the BBC. The situation is no better across the continent in India, where people cannot rely on the River Ganges as the water is polluted with high levels of rubbish and sewage.

In states like Rajasthan and Karnataka, households with five to six members manage with just 10 litres or two buckets of water a day, according to the Energy and Resources Institute of India. The lack of water is causing not only livelihood problems. Bachelors in several drought-affected villages in Rajasthan are having difficulty looking for a bride. The reason: no woman wants to trek 2km in the scorching heat to fetch a pot of water. Mr Ganesh Sharma, from the village of Goandi, does not blame them. 'My fields are dry, I don't have much of an income and we are on the verge of cutting our agricultural power connection. Which father would want to marry his daughter to me?' he told The Indian Express. Brides aside, water means food. It takes 1,000 tonnes of water to grow a tonne of wheat and 2,000 tonnes to produce a tonne of rice. Farmers in poor rural districts will be the first to suffer as wells dry up, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported. Developed countries are not spared from the water crisis. In a study released on World Environment Day last month, the UN Environment Programme (Unep) warned that underground water, on which two billion people rely, is diminishing everywhere in the world.

More than 10 million people in 12 cities such as Bangkok, Shanghai and London, rely on underground water. But the water tables - the levels at which water stands in a shallow well - are falling by about 3m a year across the world, the study says. As the emptied underground aquifers become compressed, the ground starts to sink in places like Mexico City and Bangkok. Growing population, industrialisation and intensive farming are all contributing to the dramatic increase in the use of water, the Unep study says. The world population has more than doubled in the past 60 years and water withdrawal has quadrupled. Also, governments are seeking to solve their water problems by turning away from rainfall and rivers, and using subterranean supplies of groundwater instead. 'But pumping groundwater is like making constant withdrawals from a bank account without ever paying anything into it,' warned BBC environment correspondent Alex Kirby. Pollution is also making the water available to us unfit to use. About two million tonnes of waste are dumped every day into rivers, lakes and streams. One litre of wastewater pollutes about eight litres of freshwater, the Unep report says.

The challenge lies in improving efficiency of land and water use. Irrigation, for example, is extremely inefficient - close to 60 per cent of the water used is wasted. Using precision sprinklers and planting less water-intensive crops are two solutions, according to BBC's Mr Kirby.


'If there is a political will, there is a way' seems to be the answer. Despite the evidence of a global water crisis, the UN says, political commitment to reverse the trend has been lacking. 'Attitude and behaviour problems lie at the heart of the crisis,' the UN said in a report presented at the Third World Water Forum in Japan in March, blaming 'inertia at leadership level' for the worsening situation. Mr William Cosgrove, vice-president of the World Water Council, which organised the forum, concurred that countries need to do more.

'We are disappointed that the awareness has not yet been translated enough into action,' he told The Straits Times. Proper government regulation is needed to make the best use of the available water resources, he said. But first, Mr Cosgrove said, the world must be better informed of the issue and ordinary citizens can do their bit with simple gestures like fixing leaky taps at home, turning off the tap when brushing their teeth, or taking a short shower instead of a bath. After all, as Benjamin Franklin once said, 'We don't realise the value of water until the well is dry.'



Treated waste water is mixed and blended with reservoir water and then undergoes conventional water treatment to produce drinking water called Newater.


Water is harvested from clouds by putting huge nets on mountains to catch the vapour. The collected water can be used for small-scale irrigation and bathing.


Farmers are using storage tanks to collect rainwater in their fields, providing drinking water and extra irrigation for vast areas. China is also undertaking a huge project to channel water from the flooding south to the drying north. It has begun work on a massive scheme to channel billions of cubic metres of water from the Yangtze River to the dwindling Yellow River.


Farmers are planting less water-intensive crops and replacing them with crops like apple cactus that require little water and can produce fruit for 11 months of the year.


Advanced agricultural technology has helped farmers to develop precision sprinklers and irrigation systems that drip water directly onto plants and crops.

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Islam Online
July 2, 2003

Ms. Hani Mumtazah is an environmental journalist based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She graduated from a three-year English language non-decree program at the University of Indonesia, Jakarta. She attended the Non-Aligned News Agencies Journalism Course in New Delhi, India, in 1987.

Cambodians living in slum areas such as this pay more for water than those living in the more affluent areas of the country Mrs. Lan Tang Hok, 43, can start saving money to buy more food for her seven children since piped water from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PWSA) has reached her home. Lan Tang Hok, who lives in the Pra You Vong slum area in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, used to pay 1,000 riels a day for water she bought from private water vendors. Nowadays, she spends only about 5,000 riels per month for the water supplied by the PWSA, since the water authority has expanded its services to her poor neighborhood.

This means that she can start saving about 25,000 riels per month, quite a lot for her family, because her husband, a taxi driver, earns only a meager 5,000 riels -- less than US$ 2 -- a day. (US$ 1 = about 3,800 riels).


The Cambodian housewife is one of a very few lucky poor people who can enjoy water services from the PWSA, which is much cheaper than water sold by vendors. In many developing countries, the poor have to pay vendors more for water, often ten times as much as the rich. This is because the poor are often forgotten and are given the least priority in terms of access to piped water services. The rich in contrast receive the privileges of almost all government-run services, such as electricity and piped water. Meanwhile, the very poor, who cannot afford clean water at all, often die prematurely due to the unsafe water they consume. Waterborne diseases cause more than a billion episodes of illness a year, with more than 3 million deaths annually from water-related diseases -- more than 2 million of them children. Steve Iddings of the World Health Organization (WHO) told participants of the Workshop for Journalists on Water Policy Issues in East Asia in Phnom Penh last February 16, that more than 2 million people, 90 percent of whom are children, have died of diarrhea from consuming contaminated water. The poor, especially the children, are most vulnerable to water-related diseases. They spend up to 20 percent of their income just on water, yet it still might not be safe for consumption. It needs behavioral change to ensure that water is safe and clean, he added.


Nearly 1.8 million children have died of diarrhea from consuming contaminated water. Poverty cannot be reduced unless people understand the importance of water in development, according to the World Bank Institute. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has led a Water and Poverty Initiative Program by promoting a policy of greater access to water in a sustainable way for the poor. Wouter T. Linklaen Arriens, head water resource specialist of the ADB, who also spoke at the Workshop for Journalists on Water Policy Issues, said that two out of three people in the world will face water shortage by 2025, and 1.1 billion people will lack access to safe water supplies. In Asia alone, 1.3 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and more than 40 percent of the urban poor do not have piped water at home.

According to Arriens, the poor depend on or are affected by water resources in four key ways. "As direct inputs into production, such as agriculture, fishing and small-scale manufacturing; and for health, welfare and food security. The poor are also the most vulnerable to water-related hazards, such as extreme floods, droughts, major storms, landslides and pollution. Many developing countries have developed their national poverty reduction strategies, but unfortunately they do not include water at all in the programs. It is a weakness of water people that they talk only to fellow water people. Water issues are dealt with in a fragmented approach and there is a lack of coordination because each agency has handled its projects in isolation, said Arriens. The ADB has identified six key result areas for action to improve water security for the poor -- among them strengthening water governance through better water policies, increasing the poor's access to water services such as drinking water supply, and increasing investments in water-using sectors that generate income for poor communities.

But the potential of water investments as a tool for reducing poverty and building sustainable livelihoods has not been fully realized by many people, said ADB President Tadao Chino when opening the "Water and Poverty" session at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto. A success story on the link between poverty and water supply was told in the session by Shakeel Khan from the Punjab Rural Water Supply Project. He said that since the clean water supply reached villages in Punjab Province, Pakistan, the number of student enrollment to schools has increased by 70 to 90 percent, the number of death mortality of children due to diarrhea has dropped by 90 percent and the income of households has increased by around 25 percent. According to the Water Poverty Index (WPI), the worst 10 water-poor nations in the world are Haiti, Niger, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Djibouti, Chad, Benin, Rwanda and Burundi. The top 10 water-rich nations in the world are Finland, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Guayana, Suriname, Austria, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland


In the past, water used to be treated as a social good to the extent that most people took it for granted when using it without considering either its conservation or its economic value. However those happy days are gone, although under the international human rights law, water is implicitly and explicitly protected as a human right. Water has become important for capital because water is increasingly characterized by a crisis of scarcity, which is the basis of modern capitalism, Richardo Petrella, a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain in France, said as quoted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The argument that water should be treated purely as an economic good originated in the Dublin Conference, Ireland, 1992. Since then, water has been increasingly managed as an economic, rather than a social good, according to Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, Chairman of the World Water Council (WWC), when speaking at the Third World Water Forum in Japan, March 2003. During the past century, as the world�s population tripled, the aggregate use of water has increased six-fold. By the year 2025, 48 countries are expected to face water shortages, affecting more than 2.8 billion people, while the demand for water will exceed supply by 56 percent. Water is currently a socially vital economic good that is more important than oil or gold. If the wars of the 20th century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water, said Ismail Serageldin of the World Bank in 1995, referring to the global water scarcity. The United Nations Millennium Declaration has set water targets of reducing by one-half the proportion of people without sustainable access to adequate quantities of affordable and safe water by the year 2015, and providing water, sanitation and hygiene for all by 2025.

However, extension of water services, including for irrigation and dams, needs huge investments, which many governments in the Asian region do not have. To meet the needs just for drinking water and sanitation, the investment required is estimated to be close to US$ 23 billion a year. The ADB has provided US$ 17 billion in loan, or about 20 percent of its total loans, for water investment. The biggest shares of the loan go to Indonesia, China and India. The World Bank has outstanding commitments of about $17 billion in water projects, or about 16 percent of all World Bank lending. Considering the large cost and management skills required in water projects, the two funding companies encourage partnerships on water, involving governments, private corporations and NGOs. The participation of the private sector is necessary, but it needs strong regulations for public protection because water is a sensitive issue, Arriens stated. He explained that the ADB promotes participation of the private sector, but not the privatization of water. The government must retain the rights to water and consider the people's paying capacity. Water cannot be privatized. Privatization of water is a wrong concept, he stressed. However, although the two funding agencies called it �the participation of the private sector,� some NGOs consider it privatization of the water supply.

The World Bank and ADB, two funding agencies that provide loans to many developing countries in terms of water project investments, promote cost recovery, which includes appropriate pricing, to ensure loan repayment and water conservation. Pricing policy is often the key, but at the same time it is a dilemma. Set the price too high, and the poor will ignore the improvement and resort to the methods of sanitation and water collection that they have always used. Set the price too low and maintenance and expansion will not be possible, so that the poor are not adequately served and only the better-off benefit from lower prices, warned WASH.

For the purpose of environmental conservation, the people will be more aware of the value of water if they are asked to pay, prompting them to conserve water and use it economically. If the price of water is lower than the cost of providing those services, consumers will not be aware of the value of water, resulting in wastage and water misuse.

In Indonesia, 10 per cent of ADB's 55 active projects are in the water sector. The Indonesian government also requested the World Bank to finance the water utilities rescue programme in 1998. The participation of private sectors started in 1998 when Thames Water and Suez joined in. ICIJ, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, in its investigative report called The Water Barons, showed that the world's three largest water companies: France's Suez, Vivendi Environment and British-based Thames Water owned by Germany's RWE AG, have since 1990 expanded into every region of the world.

Three other companies, Saur of France, United Utilities of England and Bechtel of the United States, have also successfully secured major international drinking water contracts. "The water companies are chasing a business with a potential annual revenue estimated at anywhere from $400 billion to $3 trillion," according to the ICIJ report. According to the World Water Council (WWC), the world needs to raise annual spending on water and sanitation from $80 billion to $180 billion if it is to supply everyone with basic services by 2025.

Delegates at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto debated whether there was a place for profit making in water development and management. Some groups believe that governments should provide water for all with no charge, while others say that the private sector can be an important partner. Some speakers in Kyoto emphasized that water is everybody�s business and therefore all people should care, but no one openly declared during the discussions that it is a real business opportunity too.

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42) NORTHERN IRELAND 2002 DRINKING WATER QUALITY REPORT: This statutory report published on 2 July, 2003, is required under the Water Quality Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1994. It provides a summary of the quality of water supplied by the Department for Regional Development�s Water Service during the period 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002. The report can be accessed online at

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43) SPLASH! Issue N 8 - July 2003: The eight edition of SPLASH! -the newsletter of the International Year of Freshwater 2003 is now available online at

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44) HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2003: MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: A COMPACT AMONG NATIONS TO END HUMAN POVERTY: The United Nations Development Programme�s Human development Report for 2003 is available online at

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45) UNITED NATIONS OFFICE OF THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR IRAQ: This report by the United Nations Inter-Agency Assessment of Vulnerable Groups in March lands in Arab States is available online at:

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46) GIWA: The latest issue of the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) is available online at

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