The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)  presents 



1 September to 2 October 2003

Compiled by Richard Sherman

Edited by
Kimo Goree 

Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

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Editor's note: Welcome to the seventh 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)      A `DISEASE OF POVERTY' STRIKES TIBET'S VILLAGES, New York Times, September 30, 2003

2)      WORLD BANK PREDICTS INCREASED POVERTY, The East African Standard (Nairobi), September 24, 2003


4)      WATER AND SANITATION PROGRAMMES IN TOBANDA CAMP, Reuters Alert, September 18, 2003


6)      SAFE WATER FOR THE WORLD, Accra Mail (Accra), September 2, 2003

7)      STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP FOR CLEAN WATER AND SAFE SANITATION LAUNCHED, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, August 25, 2003


8)      STATE WATER PLEDGE ON TITANIUM MINING, The Nation, October 2, 2003 




12)  CITIES WARNED TO PLAN AHEAD TO AVOID WATER SHORTAGE, Business Day (Johannesburg), September 30, 2003

13)  CALIF. MOVES TO END COLORADO RIVER WATER WARS, Reuters, September 29, 2003

14)  RETHINK ON WATER TAX DRAWS RELIEF, The West Australian, September 29, 2003

15)  PRIVATISATION OF POWER, WATER 'THROTTLING POOR', The Namibian (Windhoek), September 25, 2003

16)  MPS CALL ATTORNEY GENERAL AYUME ON NILE WATER TREATIES, New Vision (Kampala), September 25, 2003

17)  NATIONAL BLUEPRINT ON WATER UNDERWAY – ATIKU, Daily Trust (Abuja), September 23, 2003

18)  FIRST WATER COURT CASE IN YEARS BUBBLES TO SURFACE, The Namibian (Windhoek), September 19, 2003









26)  GOV'T TO GAZETTE NAKIVUBO SWAMP AS A PROTECTED AREA, New Vision (Kampala), September 30, 2003



29)  TOURISM A HUGE THREAT TO GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT, Reuters , September 12, 2003








35)  AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK, KIGALI SIGN US $29.9 MILLION AGREEMENTS FOR PROJECTS, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, September 25, 2003

36)  WORLD BANK PLEDGES $110M TO URBAN WATER SUPPLY, Daily Trust (Abuja), September 25, 2003



39)  CITY TO INVEST LARGE ON WATER ENVIRONMENT, Shanghai Daily news, October 2003


40)  IRAQIS RECLAIM THEIR ANCIENT WETLANDS, New Scientists, October 1, 2003


42)  INTERVIEW WITH DAVID GREY OF THE WORLD BANK, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, September 12, 2003

43)  MARKET FORCES WILL SAVE OUR WATER, TOO by Dr Kerry Schott, Sydney Morning Herald,  September 3, 2003



45)  UNEP: Dams and Development Programme:

46)  SPLASH!


48)  DEFRA: River quality figures for 2002



New York Times
September 30, 2003

The valley is nestled in the green Himalayan foothills, a wedge of cultivated land where the scenery is so idyllic and the wheat and highland barley grow so high that it is easy to overlook the tiny man sitting by the road with a black pig on his lap.  His name is Gyampa, and when he props up his stunted body with a cane, he stands maybe 1.2m tall. He is bent at odd angles, his wrists knotted and his elbows swollen the size of lemons. He is not agile or strong enough to control the pig, so he has roped it around the waist and staked it to the ground.  He has what people in this tiny village simply call "the pain," known to medical researchers as Kashin-Beck disease, or Big Bone disease. Nor is he alone. Nearly everyone in the village, including the children who happily show off their swollen elbows, either suffers from or has been exposed to the disease. The situation is so bad that in October the government is planning to move everyone away.  "There is an illness in this ground," said Trakock, 39, a villager who like many Tibetans uses only one name, and whose sister, Trasel, suffers from the disease.

Throughout Tibet, where much of the population lives in villages largely disconnected from the modern world, Big Bone disease is a severe problem, infecting roughly 9 percent of the population. In the most severe cases, the disease can cause the long bones in the arms and legs to stop growing during childhood, as was the case with Gyampa.  Researchers believe that the soil near villages like Boronggang is infected with a fungus that contributes to Big Bone disease. Scientists have yet to discover a cure, but they believe that bad water, poor diet and crops grown in mineral-deficient soil are also at least partly to blame.  "It's really a disease of poverty," said Francoise Begaux, who worked with villagers for five years as part of a research project sponsored by Doctors Without Borders, and who now works for another aid group, Terma Foundation. "It's the people who can't afford to have different kinds of food."

The problem is compounded, Begaux and other researchers say, because Kashin-Beck is largely forgotten. The disease has been eradicated or brought under control nearly everywhere except China. Within China, it is particularly acute in Tibet, one of the poorest regions. Yet last year Doctors Without Borders halted their Tibet project because of budget restraints.  So late last summer, the physicians and researchers who had been visiting Boronggang about twice a week stopped coming. They did leave gifts: a new grain thresher to help dry the wheat and barley and, in the process, reduce risks of contamination; fungicide to treat the fields and a final shipment of the iodine and selenium that had been used to offset mineral deficiencies in the children. Those medicines have since run out.  "I don't take any medicine anymore because the doctors are not here anymore," said Tenzen Pungtsock, a 15-year-old boy, whose elbow is knobby, but who seems to have a milder form of the disease.

The children today at least have a better understanding of why so many people are sick. When he was a child, Gyampa, 61, knew only that he stopped growing, not why. In medical terms, the growth cartilage in his arms and legs developed necrosis and stunted his growth. With age, his joints have weakened with arthritis, so that now he earns money by mending clothes. He is too weak to do farm work.  Chinese officials boast that farmers and herdsmen in rural Tibet enjoy free health care, but Gyampa said he never saw a doctor until about a decade ago, when the first Western physicians arrived in the village. Now that the Western doctors have stopping coming, he takes Tibetan medicine for the pain that regularly flares in his hips and joints.

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The East African Standard (Nairobi)
September 24, 2003

The World Bank has warned that Kenya is one of the developing countries whose already impoverished sections of the population are likely to sink deeper into poverty. Chief Economist of the World Bank's Human Development Network, Shanta Devarajan, said Kenya like other developing countries must pursue improved pro-poor policies by ensuring poor people access basic services, in quantity and quality. He said governments had often miserably failed to deliver key services to the poor hence frustrating their realisation of a set of development targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals call for halving of the global incidence of poverty and broad improvement in human development by 2015.

He referred to personal accounts from poor people in Kenya, which had complained of poor quality delivery, particularly of police and electricity services. Devarajan quoted a section of the people who had complained that in the country you could no longer carry much money because there were too many policemen on the streets. He said though increased presence of police would have otherwise meant additional security the complaint was a clear demonstration of lack of quality policing. Devarajan was speaking during the launch of World Bank Development Report 2004: Making Services for Poor People at a Nairobi hotel yesterday. Also present was World Bank Country Director, Makhtar Diop.

The report warns that broad improvements in human welfare will not occur unless poor people receive wider access to affordable, better quality services in health, education, water, sanitation and electricity. "Without such improvement in services, freedom from illness and illiteracy, two of the most important ways poor people can escape poverty will remain elusive to many," it said. The report comes at a time when rich countries have pledged to increase foreign aid and poor countries have pledged to improve their policies and institutions to try to reach the goals. The report indicates, however, that there were countries where services do work, showing how governments and citizens could do better to improve the situation of the poor. According to the bank, the main difference between success and failure in the degree to which the poor were themselves involved in determining the quality and the quantity of the services they receive at any one time.

The report points to several success stories, saying Indonesia used its oil windfall to build new schools and hire more teachers, doubling primary enrolment to 90 per cent in 1986. The report, however, also warned against large-scale privatisation of essential services, saying it would be wrong to conclude that Government should give up and leave everything to the private sector. "If individuals are left to their own devices, they will not provide levels of education and health that they collectively want. Not only is this true in theory, but in practice no country has achieved significant improvement in child mortality and primary education without government involvement," the bank said.

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September 21, 2003

The water shortage problem is close to crisis levels in most countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region a senior World Bank official warned. "Fresh water availability is falling to crisis levels in MENA countries," said Jean-Louis Sarbib, senior vice president of the World Bank, speaking at a conference on the sidelines of the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Dubai. Annual per capita fresh water availability in MENA countries is about 1,200 cubic meters (1,600 cubic yards) compared with a world average of about 7,000 to 7,500 cubic meters (9,000 to 9,700 cubic yards), according to Sarbib.  He said the figure for Yemen is about 500 cubic meters (650 cubic yards), almost half the water poverty line of 1,000 cubic meters (1,300 cubic yards).

Sarbib said nearly 70 percent of municipal water in cities like Amman goes unaccounted for, while Egypt recovers only two percent of its irrigation costs. Jordan's Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazim el-Naser said the problem lies in the fact that many countries in the region have "no long-term vision" regarding the water issue.  The World Bank has made the politically-charged issue of scarce water resources one of its so-called millennium development goals.  Although the MENA region accounts for five percent of the world population, it has only one percent of accessible fresh water worldwide, according to the World Bank.

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Reuters Alert
September 18, 2003

Sporadic fighting continues in Liberia despite efforts to bring about a ceasefire and reintroduce some form of stability. Rebel factions control the areas of Liberia directly bordering Sierra Leone so that Liberian refugees trying to escape the violence have been unable to cross the border, which has been closed for the last 6 weeks. There are 50,000 Liberian refugees currently registered in Sierra Leone, a figure which would undoubtedly be higher if the border were open. The Tobanda refugee camp in Sierra Leone, run by LWF, currently houses over 7000 Liberian refugees and has the capacity for up to 10,000. When refugees arrive, they are assigned temporary accommodation for groups of approximately 80 people per 'booth.' They are allotted a plot of land on which they build their own accommodation from local materials provided by the camp management from UNHCR funds.

UMCOR Sierra Leone is currently implementing water and sanitation programmes in Tobanda camp, as part of a UNICEF-funded programme. The staff is organised into specialised teams including a hygiene promotion team, whose job is to sensitise the refugees regarding hygiene matters and facilities, a construction team, responsible for building laundry slabs, latrines and more, a well construction team and a maintenance team, who ensure functioning drainage during the current rainy season.  Wells are hand dug to a depth of approximately 15 metres. The shaft is lined with cement, a hand pump is installed and the water is chlorinated. The wells provide clean, safe drinking water, which is vital during the rainy season when water-born diseases can spread quickly amongst the large numbers of already weakened refugees. The wells are intended to be utilised according to SPHERE guidelines, or in other words, 250 persons per well. In Tobanda this will mean almost 30 wells need to be constructed.

These measures will alleviate the situation for just some Liberian refugees. Liberia is a country stricken by poverty and war. Food prices have rocketed so that a dozen eggs cost the same in Liberia as in Vienna, an amount which many people in war torn Liberia cannot afford. Fighting continues so that access to areas outside of Monrovia is difficult and dangerous, making humanitarian assistance away from the capital virtually impossible.  UMCOR Sierra Leone and UMCOR Liberia are working on extending their programmes both within Liberia and for Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone. UMCOR Sierra Leone is looking to extend its activities with the Tobanda camp and the surrounding host communities of Sierra Leoneans to include programmes designed to train artisan skills for youth and improve adult literacy, assist in improving food self sufficiency with agriculture programmes and an HIV/AIDS sensitisation programme. As soon as the situation stabilises, UMCOR Liberia hopes to be involved in the reintegration process for the estimated 50,000 ex-combatants in Liberia. UMCOR Sierra Leone recently concluded a project for 471 ex-combatants in skills and training and literacy.

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Associated Press
September 12, 2003

LUCKNOW, India — Millions of people in India's most populous state are drinking water contaminated with traces of cadmium, fluoride, arsenic, nitrates, and lead, said a government report released Thursday. Groundwater sources in 36 districts in northern Uttar Pradesh state were not fit for drinking, said the study by the state's Water Works Department. Nearly 70 percent of the state's 166 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

"Water was tested from 20,000 hand pumps across the state. Samples of 11,021 hand pumps were found to contain water contaminated with carcinogenic elements," said Rashid Khan, general manager of the Water Works Department. Arsenic contamination of underground water is a serious problem in India and Bangladesh. Low concentrations of arsenic can slowly build up in the body, eventually causing cancers, skin diseases, and other illnesses. Prolonged exposure to arsenic can cause kidney, liver, intestinal, neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory disorders. Groundwater is the main source of drinking water for India's poor. Nearly 70 percent of India's more than 1.2 billion people live in villages. An expert called the Uttar Pradesh report frightening.

"Probably this is the reason why the number of cancer patients in Uttar Pradesh state has almost doubled in the past 10 years," said Neeraj Bora, the state president of the Indian Medical Association. About 2,300 cancer patients visit King George's Medical College hospital in Lucknow, the state capital, every month. Eight years ago that figure was less than 1,000. "We are now getting patients from smaller towns," said Mahesh Sarin, a doctor at the hospital that houses the main cancer treatment facility in the state. Scientists say improper disposal of industrial and municipal waste has led to contamination of groundwater source. "The contamination is high in industrial towns," said Rahul Diwakar Singh at Lucknow-based Industrial Toxicology Research Center. Pesticides and insecticides seep into the ground with rain water and contaminate the sources. Once the groundwater gets contaminated, it is almost impossible to undo the damage. The government says it's working on the problem and will soon initiate corrective measures.

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Accra Mail (Accra)
September 2, 2003

With more than 2 million children dying each year from water-borne diseases, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the international community to avoid further dangerous delays and move from pledges to action in order to halve by 2015 the proportion of people lacking safe drinking water and sanitation. "Providing water services to all, especially the poor, is vital in and of itself," Mr. Annan told the International Freshwater Forum in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in a message read for him by Anwarul Chowdhury, UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

It is also crucial for the success of our fight against poverty, hunger and disease," he said, noting that the UN Millennium Summit pledged to halve by 2015 the proportion of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water, and last year's Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development vowed to do likewise for those without access to basic sanitation. "Already, an estimated 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion have no access to adequate sanitation," he added, stressing that the quantity and quality of safe water was decreasing worldwide due to pollution, over-consumption and poor management. "Our challenge now is to move from commitments to concrete projects," Mr. Annan said. "We must improve water productivity, particularly in agriculture, by getting more crop per drop." Regional management of watersheds needs to be strengthened since so many water sources are shared by more than one country. "And we need better water management strategies that promote both equitable access and adequate supplies. It is not too late to prevent serious water shortages in the decades ahead, but any further delays carry great risk," he declared.

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Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council
August 25, 2003

Time and again, the importance of water is reflected in our daily living. We need water for drinking, cooking, washing clothes, and cleaning our homes. Indeed, water is life and its scarcity may cause illnesses, diseases, malnutrition and even death. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) statistics reveal that 1.1 billion people in the world, roughly one-sixth of the world's population, do not have access to safe water. About 2.4 billion people suffer from inadequate sanitation while 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with lack of access to drinking water.

In the Philippines alone, as of year 2000, there are still about 9 million Filipinos in the rural area alone (Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report) people who suffer from poor and unsafe sanitation. Most of them come from the marginalized sector of society. In response to the challenges posed by the impending water and sanitation crisis throughout the world including the Philippines, Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and Streams of Knowledge, The Global Coalition of Water and Sanitation Resource Centers, recently introduced the WASH-STREAMS PARTNERSHIP program through a launch held at Bayview Hotel in Pasay City.

The WASH-STREAMS partnership is undertaking an advocacy campaign to raise public awareness on the need for adequate and affordable safe water, improved sanitation and aggressive hygiene promotion. The partnership is composed of resource centers, non-government organizations (NGOs), people's organizations, private corporations and governments supporting the global water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion campaign spearheaded by WSSCC.

WSSCC is a multi-stakeholder organization with members in over 140 countries, including the Philippines. All member-countries are working together to help provide safe and adequate water and sanitation services for poor people around the world, with support from the national governments, private companies and other donors. WSSCC's WASH campaign seeks to gain the support of the international community to give higher priority to communities experiencing severe water, sanitation and hygiene crises through resource allocation. Streams of Knowledge, on the other hand, is an international organization of water and sanitation resource centers committed to provide people with better access to water, sanitation and hygiene services through various trainings, knowledge and information dissemination programs, action research and technical advise. It has partners in Europe, Latin America, Southern, West and Eastern Africa and Asia.


"The WASH-STREAMS program is a contribution to make people's lives better through improved sanitation, hygiene promotion and water supply programs," said Gourisankar Ghosh, WSSCC Executive Director. "All concerned organizations and individuals are invited to join WASH-STREAMS and help make water, sanitation, and hygiene into a reality for all. After all, access to affordable water and sanitation services and hygiene awareness is a basic human right." For the partnership, WSSCC and STREAMS will support the implementation of the WASH programs in the following countries: Kenya, Madagascar, Ghana, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Mozambique, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Colombia, and the Philippines.

"The partnership aims to mobilize men and women, young and old, rich and poor from communities, corporations, governments and other resource centers to accelerate progress in relation to sanitation, hygiene promotion and water supply goals in the country and global levels," said Rory Villaluna, Executive Secretary of Streams of Knowledge. Considering Streams of Knowledge's coalition and affiliated regional networks of NGOs interacting with local communities, municipalities, and governments, the global organization is well positioned to facilitate partnership building to contribute to the concerted efforts under the WASH campaign by WSSCC.

According to Villaluna, the WASH-STREAMS program in the Philippines has already engaged various stakeholders from both government and non-government organizations, some donor agencies, corporations and local government units to support the WASH advocacy work in various levels. "Initially, we have tapped their support for increased investments in water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Water is life but Sanitation is dignity and is necessary for a better quality of life so we need to ensure that we all work together to have a clean and healthy world by 2025.," Villaluna concluded.

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The Nation
October 2, 2003 

Titanium-mining company Tiomin will use only 60 per cent of water in three boreholes it is to drill in Kwale district.  The company will be strictly monitored to ensure it does not exceed the limit, two Cabinet ministers said yesterday.  Dr Newton Kulundu of the Environment and his Water counterpart, Ms Martha Karua, said that if the company was allowed to use more water, the ground water would mix with salty one.  "The company has been allowed to exploit only 60 per cent so that the aquifer does not get dry and allow salty water to seep in," said Dr Kulundu.  He added that his ministry would work with that of Water to ensure proper use of the boreholes, and assured the Kwale residents that the two ministries would work together to protect their environment, especially the water resources. The ministers were speaking at the Nairobi international trade fair after Ms Karua commissioned a borehole at her ministry's stand.  The borehole, which was drilled in 1985 and rehabilitated this year at Sh1.3 million, is expected to provide clean water to more than 1,000 people daily.

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October 1, 2003

DHAKA, October 1 (OneWorld) - Marking a significant breakthrough, Joint River Commission (JRC) talks between India and Bangladesh ended Tuesday with India agreeing to involve its neighbor in future discussions on a US $200 billion controversial river-linking project, which Bangladesh calls a potential weapon of mass destruction.  The ministerial-level meeting was held after nearly three years. The next meeting of the JRC will be held early next year.  The talks on common water sharing held in India's capital, New Delhi, focused mainly on India's refusal to recognize that the project formed the main agenda for bilateral talks, holding that it was still at the conceptual stage.  "India has told us it was at a very early stage and we must allow them time," said Bangladesh Water Resources Minister Hafizuddin Ahmed, who led a 12-member delegation for the talks.

Under the mammoth scheme, India plans to connect 37 rivers, including the major rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra, by digging canals to divert major common river waters to its drought-prone states.  Bangladesh's Water Resources ministry says the scheme will severely hit Bangladesh, which depends on the two major rivers for 85 per cent of its surface water supplies during the dry season. Apart from the river inter-linking issue, Dhaka wanted breakthroughs in talks over water-sharing arrangements on seven trans-boundary rivers in the region, along the lines of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty signed by the two countries in 1996. India said such treaties require expert-level investigations, but it agreed to inform Bangladesh in advance about the diversion of water flow of common rivers from northeastern India to water-deficient areas in the southwest.

For a long time, Bangladesh has expressed a desire to be involved in every phase of the inter-linking project, so that it is not lumped with the consequences.  The Bangladesh government, leading water experts and members of civil society claim the project will severely hit its water-flow, environment and agriculture.  Bangladesh insists India should refrain from undertaking this project without mutual discussion between the two countries. Assuring Bangladesh it had nothing to worry about, Indian Water Resources Minister, Arjun Charan Sethi told Ahmed Tuesday that the Indian government had not discussed the project even with its constituent states.

Sethi said a taskforce headed by former Indian Energy minister Suresh Prabhu will examine the project in detail, adding that, "When that stage comes, we will certainly look into how much interests are affected within and outside India." Reacting to the positive development in the hitherto strained relations between the two countries, leading water expert and chief of the Dhaka unit of the World Conservation Union, Ainun Nishat suggests three follow-up measures.  He stresses that Bangladesh should begin a quantitative analysis of the probable adverse effects of the river-linking project, thereafter formulating a long-term strategy on the issue, after discussions with civil society and experts. "Negotiations are a continuous process and we must maintain them with India," he says.

The central Indian government recently approved the budget for the Tipaimukh Hydro Electric Multipurpose High Dam, proposed to be constructed at the confluence of the Barak and Tuivai rivers in the north-eastern Indian province of Manipur, opposite Bangladesh's northeastern border region of Sylhet.  Bangladeshi experts fear water diversion for power generation from Barak will affect the water-flow pattern in two rivers in greater Sylhet, which carry water to the Meghna river in the central-Bangladesh region.  The project has attracted considerable flak even in India. The Committee Against Tipaimukh Dam (CATD) in Manipur has already submitted a memorandum to the Indian Prime Minister protesting the dam's construction, which they feared would permanently submerge a 275.5 square kilometer area.

"The project will make traditional agriculture impossible, cause saline intrusion in water and soil, and destroy environment and bio-diversity, hamper navigation and cause river erosion," notes Bangladesh Water Development Board Chief Engineer Akhtar Hossain. India's National Water Development Agency (NWDA) plans to build hundreds of reservoirs and dig more than 600 miles of canals for the ten-year project. On September 10, representatives of Bangladesh's civil society sent a letter to the Chief Justice of India, Justice VN Khare, demanding a judicial review of the Indian Supreme Court on allowing the networking of rivers for diversion of vast quantities of water. They claimed this would have an adverse impact on millions of people in Bangladesh.

The letter says the project will block the flow of the Bangladesh's two major riverine networks -- the Jamuna-Brahmaputra and the Ganges-Padma. "Since Bangladesh is mostly dependent on the river Brahmaputra for supplying two-thirds of the country's dry season water, withdrawal of water from the said river will adversely impact atleast 100 million people," it said. Termed a "weapon of mass destruction in the offing", the Indian project has been triggering innumerable protest rallies and seminars in Dhaka since August.

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The Hindu
October 1, 2003

MUCH water, indeed, has flowed under the bridge since the controversy over pesticide residue levels in beverages broke out in early August.  While the Government has constituted a Joint Parliamentary Committee to recommend criteria for standards for beverages and investigate the findings of the Centre for Science and Environment, what is of immediate concern to the beverage industry is the draft rules for pesticide limits in beverages notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on August 26.

This proposed regulation, industry sources say, effectively applies EU drinking water standards to finished beverages, including fruit juices.  The draft standard is intended to limit the amount of pesticide residues to 0.0001mg/ litre for individual pesticides and 0.0005 mg/litre for total pesticide residues in carbonated water, fruit and vegetable juices, fruit syrup, fruit squash, fruit beverage or fruit drink, soft drink concentrate and ready-to-serve beverages.  Industry sources say that there are several implications if the Government were to extend EU drinking water norms for pesticides to finished beverages.

They say that the EU and WHO do not apply drinking water pesticide residue standards to finished beverages and doing this in India would be "unprecedented and counter to international norms".

Industry officials contend that applying the "passing through principle", if the raw water and ingredients used in beverages meet standards, the finished product will too.  They point out that the EU, the US and Codex set maximum residue levels for primary agricultural commodities and drinking water only and not on finished products.  "This is an accepted practice that ensures safety of processed food products and drinks," explain officials. Pesticide residue standards internationally and currently also in India are based on health risk assessments taking into account toxicological data, consumption patterns and acceptable daily intake, these sources add.

Senior beverage industry officials, who spoke to Business Line, say if the yardstick of drinking water standards were to be applied to finished beverages, most juices, ready-to-drink teas and sugar-sweetened finished beverages would not be able to meet the proposed standards as the acceptable and safe residual levels for agricultural produce which goes into juices would be higher than the drinking water standards for water.  Referring to the public alarm caused by the release of the report by the CSE, industry officials say that the report incorrectly applied a EU drinking water standard to finished beverages and drew "unscientific conclusions" that pesticide levels found over EU water limits were unsafe.

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October 1, 2003
Pakistan Link

RAWALPINDI (NNI): President General Pervez Musharraf has stressed upon the need for greater efficiency in the use and management of water resources and reduction of losses during its distribution as it was in the larger interest of the country. He made these remarks while chairing a meeting here Tuesday in which the participants were given a comprehensive briefing on the various means for efficient use of existing water resources, with particular reference the brick lining and improvement of water courses. During the presentation, Jahangir Ashraf Tareen, MNA gave an overview of how through an effective Government-farmer partnership, the losses accrued in water delivery through water courses can be reduced by brick lining and their improvement. He said that of a total of 138,517 watercourses in the country, over a 100,000 were katcha and unimproved.

He stated that under the existing programmes 13410 watercourses were already being lined and improved and there is still a need for the improvement of over 86,000 watercourses, which would result in the saving of approximately 8 MAF of water. The participants of the meeting were informed that lining of water courses could not be a substitute to the construction of additional water storage facilities. However, both would complement each other. They were also briefed about the numerous economic benefits including injection of substantial revenue into the rural economy and benefits to the cement and brick making industries. Being highly labour intensive, it would also help create job opportunities and help alleviate poverty, particularly in the rural areas.

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Business Day (Johannesburg)
September 30, 2003

SA's taps could soon run dry, according to a new World BankWorld Wide Fund (WWF) report projecting that water resources in the country's major cities, particularly Johannesburg, would be exhausted by 2020. The report warns that SA's three main metropolitan areas, like the world's biggest cities, are in danger of losing their grip on providing affordable, safe drinking water over the next decade, if water conservation strategies are not given priority. It calls on governments and donor agencies to significantly increase efforts to protect water catchment areas if they are to reduce poverty and halve the number of people without adequate access to water by 2015, a target set at the World Summit on Sustainable Development last year and reinforced at the World Parks Congress in Durban this month.

In many arid countries, including SA, there is already an acute water supply shortage, and it is estimated that humanity now uses 54% of accessible runoff, a figure that is expected rise to 70% by 2005. David Cassells, the World Bank's senior environmental specialist for forest resources, stresses the importance of conserving whole catchment areas to protect water supplies for cities, an investment which he says will benefit both people and nature. He fears that time is running out for many cities. "Protecting forests around water catchment areas is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. When they are gone, the costs of providing clean and safe drinking water to urban areas will increase dramatically."

For some countries, relying on nonrenewable groundwater sources masks a problem that could rapidly become more acute as they become exhausted. The average annual per capita availability of renewable water resources is projected to fall from 6600m' today to 4800m' in 2025 due to population growth. In 1998, 28 countries experienced water scarcity, a figure that is predicted to rise to 56 by 2025. "As the number of people in urban areas grows, so does the demand for water, food and for irrigation in agricultural areas close to the city, adding further pressures on water resources," says the report. In the past century the world's population tripled, but water use rose six times. Increasing pollution, rising demand, urbanisation, exhaustion of groundwater sources, overexploitation of aquatic resources, an unstable climate and political disputes have made water an increasingly threatened resource. "Because it (water) is a natural product, from natural ecosystems, there is only a certain amount that technology can do to fix the problems," notes the report.

It highlights that more than a third of the world's 105 biggest cities, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, rely on fully or partly protected forests in catchment areas for much of their drinking water. Johannesburg, which draws most of its water from the Maluti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park through the Vaal transbasin pumped storage scheme or the Lesotho Highland water scheme, is starting to prioritise water conservation and demand management based on the scary projections. Cape Town extracts significant water from catchment areas including the Cape Peninsula National Park and the provincial reserves along the Hottentots Holland mountain range. Durban's water comes from a variety of sources, including the Ukhahlamba, Drakensberg Park catchment areas and protected areas such as the Umgeni Vlei.

The report points to the Drakensberg as the most important mountain catchment in SA because of its high water yield. It also produces goodquality water, which flows through a series of large dams set in the upper catchments of the province's major rivers, the Tugela, Bushmans and Umgeni. The report lauds SA as one of the first countries in the world to adopt a National Water Act that incorporates a catchment management strategy for sound water resource management. Johannesburg is one of the first cities to develop catchment management strategies at a local level for two rivers flowing through the city. Ultimately, water catchment areas depend on well-managed natural forests to cut the risk of landslides, erosion and sedimentation. The report suggests that SA adopt an active forest protection strategy, which could result in massive savings. It is much cheaper to protect forests than to build water treatment plants, says Dr Chris Elliott, director of WWF's Forests for Life Programme. "Cities currently struggling with unsafe water supplies should protect, manage, and where necessary restore forests in strategic places," he says. However, he warns that drinking water for city dwellers should not come at the expense of people living in catchment areas. The report concludes that better enforcement of the protected status is urgently needed as several of the forest protected areas around big cities still suffer from harmful activities, such as illegal land use and logging.

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September 29, 2003

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California took a major step on Monday toward resolving its so-called water wars and reducing the amount it draws from the giant Colorado River, largely at the expense of the state's desert farmers. Calif. Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation on Monday to implement a pact reached between four state water agencies following more than seven years of often bitter negotiations.  California has been using around 5.3 million acre-feet per year from the Colorado River but is legally only entitled to 4.4 million acre-feet through water rights secured in some cases more than 100 years ago.

Other western states which rely on the giant river, including some with rapid population growth like Arizona and Nevada, have pressured California to take less water.  Four years of drought helped to further fuel demands that California should draw less water from the river.  Earlier this year the federal government lost patience and cut the state off from "surplus" supplies for 2003, effectively cutting California's allocation down to 4.4 million acre-feet.  "After years of often bitter negotiations, the Southern California water agencies that tap the Colorado River have finally agreed a plan that could lead to peace in their lengthy water wars," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.  The settlement means that California will be able to reduce its dependence on the river over 14 years rather than face a permanent federally imposed cutback.

The legislation implements a pact between four of the state's water agencies, San Diego County Water Authority, the Imperial Irrigation District, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Coachella Valley Water District.  Under the deal, water will be transferred from agricultural agencies to urban water districts with farmers paid to retire land on a temporary two-year rotation. The largest crop in the affected region is alfalfa.  As California's dependence on water from the Colorado River is gradually reduced, the other Colorado basin states will be able to claim their legally entitled amounts of Colorado River water over the course of the 75-year deal.  "Today California sends an unambiguous signal to the federal government and to our neighbors in the Colorado River Basin that California has its water house in order," Davis said in a statement.  State lawmakers earlier this month passed three bills needed to implement the plan and the water boards need to approve it by Oct. 12, otherwise legislation expires.

Three of the boards have already done so and the fourth, the Imperial Irrigation District, is expected to sign off on the deal either later this week or early next week.  The legislation signed on Monday includes provisions aimed at restoring and protecting the Salton Sea, California's largest lake and an important habitat for over 400 species of birds, several of which are endangered.

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The West Australian
September 29, 2003

The resources industry has welcomed the State Government's backdown on a plan to tax bore water usage, a move that would have cost mining companies $20 million a year. The Government has dropped any plans for either bore licences or a user-pays system for bore water after conceding the mining industry, a big contributor to State coffers, had already pumped a lot of money into water infrastructure. The Waters and Rivers Commission hatched a plan last year to introduce a licence and administration fee for company bores used by mine sites, a move that would have collected about $3.5 million a year. But WestBusiness revealed in May the industry had been approached about the possible introduction of a more expensive user-pays system.

The WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy attacked the plan, saying it was yet another tax on an industry which already contributed $1 billion in royalties each year to the State. It argued water resource management should be part of the core services provided to the industry by the Government and funded out of consolidated revenue. It said a user-pays system would be unfair because despite mine processing using huge volumes of water, much of it was saline and useless for other purposes. The chamber, the industry's leading lobby group in WA, said companies spent considerable money developing borefields, were responsible water managers and shared much of their hydro-geological information with the State. The State Opposition also vowed to fight any new tax, saying it would have a huge impact on both the mining and agricultural sectors.

Environment Minister Judy Edwards told WestBusiness on Friday the Government had ruled out both bore licence fees and a user-pays system. She said a user-pays system would have been difficult to administer because of water quality issues and the question of who had paid for the infrastructure in the first place. "There was still left some argument that we may have a charge for licences, but we are now definitely ruling that out," she said. "At the end of the day we all recognised that we do need more money going into water resource management, but we've known about that for some time, so it's been useful to work with the stakeholders to hear exactly what their needs are as people who receive these services. "And when we looked at the feedback from the mining sector and a lot of people who use water and really add value to our economy, the decision was made that every time you need funding you don't necessarily hit industry."

Chamber policy director David Parker said the industry had lobbied hard to convince the State Government to reconsider the plan. "The chamber has argued that it has been a major contributor to deeper understanding of the State's water resoures, particularly in remote areas," he said. "The chamber pays a very significant royalty payment to the State and would expect that out of that royalty payment a number of regulatory services, such as licence fees, would be paid. "From the chamber's point of view the Government's support or recognition of the industry's contribution is very much appreciated."

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The Namibian (Windhoek)
September 25, 2003

The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) has come out against the outsourcing of water and electricity networks to a South African-owned company, the Southern Electricity Service Company (SELCo). Last week The Namibian reported on how SELCo secured 15-year contracts that give it exclusive rights to operate and manage the electricity infrastructure of almost all the local authorities in the Hardap and Karas Regions. A clause in the contracts also allows the company the right, "at any time" within 12 months of signing, to take over the operation and management of water networks as well. SELCo is at the centre of growing community discontent over escalating electricity bills in towns where it has already started operating.

The NUNW has argued that sub-contracting of electricity and water to private companies like SELCo spell disaster for the poor as tariffs skyrocket. "We have seen how poor people were simply disconnected in the South and we should stop such initiatives immediately," NUNW acting Secretary General Peter Naholo said in a statement yesterday. "The NUNW has warned many times that the privatisation of essential services will hurt the poor, when is the Government going to listen". Namibia's largest workers' federation also reminded Government of its "social obligation" to provide essential utilities such as water to all citizens. "The current trend of commercialising water and installing pre-paid metres will make access to water even more difficult for the poor," Naholo said.

He said many Namibians are too poor to afford "market-related" tariffs and suggested that Government should instead introduce a "free-water" programme, with the expenses recovered through a tariff system that increases in relation to water consumed. "In this way, poor households will receive their basic amounts of water, free of charge, while rich households and industries that use a lot of water will have to pay more. This would be a way to redistribute (income) in favour of the poor," Naholo said. In view of widespread poverty in Namibia, the NUNW suggested that water must be treated as a right, not as a privilege.

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New Vision (Kampala)
September 25, 2003

MPs on the parliamentary committee on natural resources have summoned the Attorney General, Francis Ayume (left), and Solicitor General Tibaruha Busingye to present the Government's position on the treaties which regulate the use of the Nile waters. The summons came after the legal assistant to the Attorney General, Christopher Gashirabake, presented to the committee a letter dated June 4, 2003, signed by Francis Ayume, addressed to the environment state minister Jeje Odongo, asking him to advise MPs to move cautiously when discussing regional and global rules of law, lest they provoke international acrimony. "I advise that in your reply, you urge MPs to stay any call to unilaterally abrogate the agreements in issue while the concerns raised in the motion are conclusively resolved within the framework of the draft Nile River Basin Cooperative Agreement," the letter says in part. The MPs were discussing Amon Muzoora's motion seeking a pronouncement that Uganda is not bound by pre-colonial agreements.

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Daily Trust (Abuja)
September 23, 2003

In an effort to ensure its availability across the country by 2007, the federal government has commenced the formulation of a national blueprint on water. Vice President Atiku Abubakar made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday when he opened the 29th Water and Engineering Development Centre Conference. He said the blueprint would enable the government to implement its "Water for the People and Water for Life" initiative. "The objective of this initiative is to ensure that by 2007, all state capitals, three-quarters of urban and semi-urban areas and two-thirds of rural communities in Nigeria have access to safe water," Abubakar said. He said the provision of water was of top priority because of its implications for social and economic development in terms of poverty alleviation, integrated rural development and rural job creation.

Giving statistics, Abubakar said government efforts in the water sector had led to an increase in water supply for domestic consumption from 30 per cent in 1999 to 57 per cent in 2003. "We are certain of reaching a 60 per cent level by the end of 2003," he said. The vice president further said the government was currently constructing small earth dams in semi-urban and rural areas for the provision of water for domestic and agricultural uses. "We aim to achieve 80 per cent coverage in this area by the end of this administration in 2007," Abubakar said. To achieve the target and ensure its sustainability, he said the government would adopt a multi-sectoral approach. Abubakar, therefore, called on state governments to pay attention to water supply in their budgets. He charged participants in the conference to develop policies and strategies that would help achieve the Millennium Development Goals in water supply.

The vice president also asked them to address the issue of high cost of new investments in the development of water resources infrastructure, which he suggested should be borne by the private sector. "Time is now for us to search for and recommend alternative ways of funding water supply, if the millennium goals are to be attained and the poor fully catered for," Abubakar said.

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The Namibian (Windhoek)
September 19, 2003

The Water Court of Namibia could sit for the first time since Independence after residents of village in the Otjozondjupa Region village filed a claim against a communal area farmer to allow them access to fresh water. Residents of the hamlet of Kandu, some 130 kilometres north-east of Grootfontein, are suing Government and Grootfontein resident, Titus Streidwolf, who has established a cattle post on communal land in their area. They have 30 days to respond.

The complainants are the !Kung Traditional Authority, Kandu resident Michael Alfons, who is also a traditional leader and a councillor in the traditional authority, the N#a-Jaqna Conservancy and Ronard Raphael, a local resident. They are asking the court to order the farmer to give the villagers access to a borehole and water from reservoirs. The villagers, who are a represented by Norman Tjombe of the Legal Assistance Centre, filed their claim with the Water Court late last week. As far as could be established through enquiries at the High Court the Kandu villagers' case is the first to be filed in the Water Court since Independence in 1990 . In terms of the 1956 Water Act, a piece of South African legislation that is still on Namibia's statute books, the Water Court has the power to adjudicate disputes over access to public water sources. A High Court judge must hear cases brought before it.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Alfons claimed that Streidwolf has kept animals at a cattle post near Kandu since about 1991, although the farmer said he had in fact done so since 1989. Kandu has about 80 residents, who get water from four communal taps connected by a pipe to two elevated water reservoirs at the cattle post situated 800 metres away, Alfons said in his affidavit. The water system was constructed and maintained by the former colonial government and this role was taken over by the Namibian Government after independence in 1990. But over the years a conflict has arisen between the village and Streidwolf over the use of the water, with the part-time farmer having, at times, shut down supplies to the village. The nearest other water that is fit for human consumption is at a village about 5km from Kandu, or at Omatako, which is 12km away. The villagers had complained to Government officials at the nearby Mangetti Dune village with little success, Alfons said.

The residents of Kandu were "extremely poor" and only three people - two old age pensioners who each receive N$250 a month and himself - had an income, Alfons added. No-one in the village owned a motor vehicle and could not afford to travel long distances to collect water, he added. He described the denial of water to the village as "a blatant violation of our constitutional rights, more particularly our rights to dignity under Article 8 of the Namibian Constitution", as well the right to life. Streidwolf, speaking to The Namibian by phone from Grootfontein, said he did not plan to contest the action, adding he had no quarrel with the villagers over their rights to access to water. Claiming that he had never denied them access to the water, Streidwolf said that since 1990 he had been responsible for supplying the diesel used to power the water pumps at the cattle post. There had been times, he said, when the diesel had run out while he was in Grootfontein and there was no means of pumping water to the borehole. His animals had also been affected and the problem was only sorted out when he brought new diesel supplies.

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BuaNews (Pretoria)
September 18, 2003

Cabinet has approved a Strategic Framework for Water Services to deal with matters such as service coverage and quality, role of various government spheres and the need for compassionate local government. Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe said the framework would deal with a wide range of issues based on the experience in the provision water services since 1994.

Mr Netshitenzhe was briefing the media at the Union Buildings in Pretoria today, following Cabinet meeting in Cape Town yesterday. '[This include] what are the new standards that we want to put forward with regards to coverage and quality, the role of various government spheres,' he said. Mr Netshitenzhe said some of the functions had been transferred to municipalities. 'And the issue of cut-offs - how to ensure that municipalities do not willingly go out cutting off water and that they are able to provide free basic services, the concept of compassionate local government,' he added.

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September 18, 2003

DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has joined environmentalists in blasting India for a proposed multi-billion-dollar project to connect 37 of its rivers, saying it violates international rules.  Bangladesh already opposes the long-proposed plan on the grounds it could divert fresh water from its own courses, but Dhaka has now also objected on legal grounds.  "India's proposed masterplan for interlinking the rivers is against international rules," Zia told the national parliament late Wednesday.  "The concern of Bangladesh on the proposed masterplan of India has already been conveyed to the Indian government through diplomatic channels," she added.

India has for decades mulled the ambitious plan link the rivers with canals to bring more water to drier areas. The project has been repeatedly delayed due to the high cost. But an Indian government panel pledged in March to have a report on the plan completed by 2006. The panel said that if the plan was judged ecologically and financially sound, the target completion date should be 2016.  Bangladeshi environmental experts fear the project would have serious repercussions here as major rivers flowing from India, particularly the Brahmaputra, are key sources of fresh water for the tiny nation.  Zia said Bangladesh was keeping "keen eyes on the issue and collecting information and examining those ... (and) a high-powered taskforce is reviewing the entire matter". "It will cause irreparable damage to Bangladesh's environment, agriculture, forest, fish resources and other such things," she said, adding it would also affect neighbouring Nepal and Bhutan. Last month, Bangladesh summoned Dilip Sinha, the number two at the Indian mission in Dhaka, to express "concern" over the plan. Bangladeshi officials said Dhaka had not yet received an official reply to its protest.

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September 16, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq said its share of water from the Tigris and Euphrates was not enough and it wanted talks with Turkey and Syria, who also use water from the rivers.  "We are intending to hold talks with our neighbors very soon to reach an agreement that divides water among the three of us in a just manner," said newly appointed Minister of Water Resources Abdul Latif Rasheed. The Euphrates and Tigris both originate in Turkey. The Euphrates winds through Syria before entering Iraq, while the Tigris flows straight into Iraq from Turkey. "I believe the quantity of water entering to our territory is not enough," Rasheed said.

Syria and Iraq both say the current flow from Turkey is too low for their needs, which include drinking and irrigation as well as some power generation. Iraq, Turkey, and Syria have held several meetings in the past on water-sharing, and Rasheed blamed the ousted government of Saddam Hussein for their failure to reach a deal. "Because of its bad relations with its neighbours, the former government couldn't reach an agreement on water quotas," Rasheed said. "Now we have a different strategy. We want to improve our ties with our neighbors." Saddam's government used to accuse Turkey of blocking efforts to reach a water-sharing accord.


Rasheed also said he had asked the U.S.-backed Governing Council for US$1 billion to carry out water resources projects in Iraq for 2004. Among those projects are efforts to restore marshes in southern Iraq that Saddam's government drained in the 1990s as part of a campaign to drive out Marsh Arabs, who had supported an uprising against his rule. "We have already started pumping water in that area in order to restore the marshes. It will take time, but we aim to restore all of the marsh area in southern Iraq," Rasheed said.

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United Nations
September 9, 2003

A new inter-agency Task Force on Gender and Water has been created as part of the activities of the International Year of Freshwater, 2003 to facilitate gender mainstreaming in water-related policies and planning. The first meeting of the Task Force will be held on 10 September 2003. The role of women in water resources management and sanitation, especially in developing countries, is increasingly recognized at all levels of development activity. As the primary providers of water inputs to domestic consumption, agriculture, and other productive activities, women's participation is critical to the success of water-related projects: these are more efficient and sustainable when women are included, and women's own burdens can be greatly reduced when they are involved in project design.

As global freshwater supplies are degraded and local water resources become scarcer, women's involvement in water-related development efforts has become an urgent priority. Currently, women’s involvement in planning and management of water systems is limited, because of technical factors, as well as social barriers to their full participation in the development process. As work progresses on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set out at the Millennium Summit in September 2000, and reinforced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), this new task force, which was created in June of this year, will promote gender mainstreaming in the implementation of MDGs related to water and sanitation and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Moreover, the thematic clusters to be considered by the next two sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) (2004-5) include water and sanitation. As gender is a crosscutting issue for all cycles, the work of this Task Force will be highly relevant to the policy and planning activities of the CSD for the next two years.

The Water, Natural Resources, and Small Island Developing States Branch, Sustainable Development Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has been nominated as Task Manager of the Inter-agency Task Force. The Task Force brings together the gender and water focal points from thirteen UN agencies and programmes, including: DESA, Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) and Sustainable Development Division; Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); the International Telecommunications Union (ITU); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); UN-Habitat; the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and the regional

Economic and Social Commissions for Africa (ECA), Western Asia (ESCWA) and Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Three non-UN agencies are also participating: the Gender and Water Alliance, Women's Environment and Development Organization, and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.  In addition to facilitating a dialogue between gender and water focal points, the Task Force will undertake several other priority activities, including: integrating a gender perspective in the formulation of strategies to meet the MDGs related to water and sanitation; promoting a gender perspective for the main themes of CSD-12 and -13; and providing inputs to the World Water Assessment Programme so that the next edition of World Water Development Report (2006) incorporates gender into indicators and policy recommendations.

See also:

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Associated Press
September 5, 2003

MEXICO CITY — The heavily populated state ringing Mexico City has asked for US$2.5 billion in compensation for water delivered to the country's capital, sparking a confrontation involving government entities led by three rival political parties. Mexico State Gov. Arturo Montiel said on Thursday there is no political motive behind a complaint his state filed with the Supreme Court. "It's not a question of politics," said the governor, a powerful member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which controlled Mexico's presidency from 1929 until 2000. "It's simply a legitimate claim against a federal entity. We're not demanding anything that doesn't belong to us."

The state hopes to collect a water debt stretching back to 1970 from Mexico City, now governed by the leftist Democratic Revolution Party; from the federal government, headed by President Vicente Fox of the right-center National Action Party; or from both entities. The long-running confrontation over water from the Rio Lerma basin has reached the Supreme Court at the height of an intense rainy season in Mexico City, where flooding shut down highways and subway lines Thursday and last week closed the city's international airport. Despite summer monsoons, Mexico City still has to pump much of its drinking water from outside the city.

Montiel said taking the cast to the Supreme Court was the last resort after negotiations and other appeals failed. Questioned about the startling amount of the claim, Montiel said, "Just imagine the amount of drinkable water that's going daily to the federal" government. Montiel said Mexico state's population of more than 14 million people is running short on natural and financial resources. Mexico state residents outnumber the roughly 8.5 million people who live within Mexico City's official city limits. But 20 million people call the capital's metro area home, a testament to the level of urban development spilling over into Mexico state."I'm simply asking the government of the republic to treat the state of Mexico more equitably," Montiel said.

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OneWorld South Asia
September 1, 2003

CHENNAI, Sep 1 (OneWorld) - Tamil Nadu, the first Indian state to make rainwater harvesting mandatory, scrambled to meet its self-imposed deadline of August 31 amid applause and accusations that it had been too hasty.  Last October, in an attempt to augment the supply of groundwater, the state government decided to make rainwater harvesting mandatory in all buildings within a year.  Two months ago, the state government headed by J. Jayalalithaa issued an ordinance stipulating the August-end deadline, a month ahead of the monsoon season.  But official records show that work has been completed only in 42 percent buildings in the urban areas and 36 percent in the rural areas.

In the state capital Chennai, which meets more than half of its daily water requirements from groundwater, only 55 percent of the 320,000 households had installed rainwater harvesting structures by August 21.  Rainwater harvesting is an ancient Indian tradition of water management. Using simple and affordable technologies, runoff rainwater from roofs and cemented areas is channelised to replenish groundwater.  While the government's initiative was lauded, some activists have accused the administration of not only acting in a hurry, but also sending unqualified inspection personnel to verify claims of compliance without authentication or quality control.  Not quite, says L. N. Vijayaraghavan, the secretary of the Municipal Administration and Water Supply. "The response has been tremendous. The government has taken a bold step by enforcing a deadline - otherwise, nobody bothers to comply."

But not all agree with the government's approach. Says a research associate at the Center for Science and Environment, Dr Saravanan, "It is true that no other government has taken up harvesting like this. But a more rational approach is advised. How much groundwater is there? What about guidelines for extraction? What about protection of coastal aquifers?" Saravanan adds, "We need to divide the state, and even the city, into hydrological zones. Harvesting structures have to be built according to different guidelines for sandy, clayey and rocky soil. At our Rain Center, visitors are pouring in, asking us what they have to do."  The Rain Center is the world's first one-stop knowledge center for information related to water harvesting. Last week, it completed its first year of operation. The government has subsequently replicated this model in other places.

Saravanan, however, agrees that the idea has caught on and people are enthused. "When we first started spreading the message of harvesting, 75 percent of the people were not aware of the concept, need and potential of water harvesting. Today, thanks to the ordinance, it has become the buzzword."  While the government has recommended simple solutions that range in cost between US $ 31 and $ 63, rainwater harvesting has become a roaring business overnight. Carpenters, plumbers, masons, electricians and even gardeners have clambered on to the bandwagon. Consequently, the average cost of outfitting a mid-sized apartment complex is now pegged at between US $ 212 and $ 319.

Since the ordinance was issued, there has been an almost three-fold increase in the prices of pipes, bricks and masonry. Some traders are even hoarding these products. Says Sekhar Raghavan, an Ashoka Fellow and activist with the Akash Ganga Trust, which collaborated in the Rain Center, "There is acute scarcity. It is partly genuine and partly artificial. Pipes are being brought in from neighboring states to augment supply."  A plea challenging the short notice and the penal provisions of the new law came up for hearing in the state high court on August 25. But the petitioner, the VOICE Consumer Care Council, objected "only to the manner in which it is sought to be achieved."

The court posted the matter to two weeks from now. Chief Justice Subhashan Reddy observed, "It is a good scheme. We in the high court are also suffering from water scarcity." Says M. S. Swaminathan, president of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, currently holding the UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology, "In a democracy, we do need the political will to cover all dimensions of water harvesting." "Every day hundreds of women carrying pots queue up for water. They already know everything there is to know about conservation. The rest of us must learn, too," adds Swaminathan. Tamil Nadu has also barred the extraction of groundwater for leisure activity, swimming pools and non-potable use in industrial units.  A September 30 deadline is already in place for setting up water harvesting systems in public buildings, tanks, temple tanks and ponds.

Meanwhile, the politics of vested interests prevails. In Chennai, many fly-by-night operators are exploiting the 200-million-litre gap between demand and supply every day. Says Ram Krishnan, a Minnesota-based Indian who was instrumental in the setting up the Rain Center, "Money will always try to circumvent law. It prevents legislation from working as effectively as it should. Only a civic movement can prevent Indian cities from turning into desert ghost towns." Harvesting rainwater is believed to be the only ecologically sustainable way of averting water scarcity in cities such as Chennai, which is perenially short of water.  Chennai gets an average of 1,300 mm of rainfall every year, which is higher than the national average of 800 mm. But this rainfall occurs in short spells of a few days and nearly 95 percent of the precipitation is lost due to surface runoff and evaporation.

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Gulf News
October 1, 2003

Residents of Sharjah are complaining of rubbish trapped around Khalid Lagoon, making it an ugly sight. The garbage comprises left over food, soft and hard drink cans and bottles, plastic bags and even goat and sheep heads. Municipality workers said they are short of cleaning tools. They also said they are few in number and have to do overtime shifts round the lagoon. The Municipality has dedicated four boats and eight workers to do the daily clean up of the lagoon. Four workers on two boats are assigned to clean the creek where dhows dock to load or unload goods. The other four workers with two boats do cleaning rounds of the lagoon.

Although the quantity of garbage is relatively low but it is all washed towards the lagoon instead going off shore. Jersh Mohammed Jersh, head of Al Khor Customs Office of Port Khalid, said the authority is strictly imposing rules on environment protection. "We follow dhows while loading or unloading the goods. Dhow owners and traders are asked to extend plastic sheets from the ship onto the land. This will prevent foodstuff from dropping into the water," he said. The port authority impose fines to prevent such pollution and municipal authorities are in charge of cleaning the creek and the lagoon. The municipality has dedicated four boats to enable daily cleaning of the creek and the Khalid Lagoon.

Workers said all rubbish on the coastline of the lagoon comes from the creek where a huge number of dhows dock every day. The fish market is also another source of garbage contaminating the lagoon. The rubbish comprises foodstuff, especially vegetables and fruits, plastic bags, disposal cups and plates. Left over food is also found being wrapped in plastic bags. But worst of all is the dead fish floating on the lagoon's edge. They come from the fish market. Municipal workers said they work 12 hours a day, from 6am to 2pm and from 3pm to 7pm as overtime to keep the lagoon clean. "We need garbage catch nets, gloves and masks. The lagoon is too big. We are few and need more staff," said one worker. Another worker said: "The garbage piles on weekends doubling our job on Saturdays. We clean the lagoon as well as the creek."

A worker at the Fish Market said: "Fish dumped here sinks into the deep waters and later floats up at another end of the lagoon. I constantly clean this area. I report to the municipality if I see such garbage." Meanwhile, Eng. Yahya bin Ramadan Al Baloushi, Head of Environmental Protection Section at Sharjah Municipality, said the waters of the Khalid Lagoon are free of contamination, after a routine test done a few days ago. He said swift action against occasional pollution helps save marine bio-diversity at the lagoon. "The routine tests of the lagoon waters are to ensure the lake is contamination fee. "Some oil pollution occurs but is immediately controlled in coordination with other authorities."  He said Sharjah Municipality controls pollution in cooperation with Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) in Sharjah and Environment Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA) in Abu Dhabi. "Such contamination poses a grave risk to marine bio-diversity unless it is contained. Oil contamination prevents oxygen to reach the marine life. Hydrocarbon substances in the oil also kills fish," he said. He said chemical waste and pesticides severely damage the marine bio-diversity. Junk also cause coral to die, he added.

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New Vision (Kampala)
September 30, 2003

PROSSY Nalubwama was under siege. Her belongings were in ruins after the floods poured into the house as she slept. She held on to a floating empty jerrycan until she was rescued. Her ordeal is not strange to the neighbours. They know that her house is one of those that are worst hit by floods. This scene in Kalerwe is common in Kampala's suburbs, which are prone to floods. As the rainy season approaches, the tenants shift to escape the menacing floods. New unsuspecting tenants usually replace them in the dry season. More than half a million people in Kampala, especially the low-income earners, have been suffering quietly as a result of floods.

"We know about the plight of the people, but it is their fault," says Robert Wabunoha, a senior environmental lawyer of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Wabunoha says many people in Kampala have over the years built houses in the valleys where water naturally flows. Because the water has nowhere else to go, it floods people's homes. Wabunoha says government has come up with new environmental laws to protect the ecologically sensitive areas such as wetlands. As the wetlands, which used to hold enormous quantities of water become no more, the city has begun witnessing a catastrophe. "It is becoming a routine to lose lives when floods hit the city," says Paul Mafabi, the assistant commissioner in charge of wetlands in the Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment.

Mafabi says most wetlands in Kampala have been cleared for human settlement and industries. In a recent tour organised by Shelter and Settlements, an NGO, the low-lying Kifumbira slum that separates Mulago hill from Bukoto was found to have countless pools of water. The pools provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and create a dirty environment that favours cholera. The area suffered most from past cholera outbreaks. This is because the latrines are built above water streams. During rains the area residents usually open a hole to release faeces from the latrines. The rain then washes away the faeces to streams, from where they fetch water. However, not many people have access to toilet facilities. Some defecate in polythene bags, which they throw into the stream. This has earned buveera the name: "flying toilet." There are also heaps of unclaimed garbage because the crowded houses leave only tiny passages, which can not be accessed by garbage collectors.

Rwandume Mugizi, the KCC environment inspector, says Kampala has swallowed up the greenery that once covered the empty hills and valleys. "We have a concrete jungle, which does not allow water filtration in the soil and most of the water runs above the ground," he says. Mugizi points out that most of the land in Kampala belongs to individuals. This makes it difficult for the city council to plan and ensure that houses are built to the required standards. "The authorities plan for land that is not in their hands." He says the lack of policies on housing has led to haphazard development in Kampala and its suburbs. Mugizi also blames old laws that did not recognise wetlands as important ecological areas. It is only in 1995 that a law was put in place to protect wetlands. Henceforth it became illegal to encroach on a wetland.

When the floods hit Kampala early this year, the former minister of environment, Dr. Kezimbira Miyingo, issued a directive that all houses in wetlands should be demolished. But Phoebe Gubya, the KCC environment officer, complains about the directive saying there is need for compensation. He says landowners claim that they did not know they were building on wetlands. However, Mafabi says there is no need for compensation for the houses built after 1995 when a law was put in place to protect wetlands. Mafabi says some of the wetlands such as the Nakivubo swamp, purify waste water before it enters Lake Victoria. In so doing they protect the lake from pollution. "Soon the authorities will be mining water from filth as the mouth of the lake is located a stone's throw away from Ggaba Water Works," he says. He says efforts are in advanced stages to gazette the Nakivubo wetland as a protected area, and to stop fresh encroachment on it. He says that after gazetting the Nakivubo swamp, the team will move in to save Kinawataka wetland.

The war to protect wetlands has seen government taking contradictory positions. As the government prepares to evict over 10,000 yam growers from the Nakivubo wetland, a few rich owners of houses in Bugolobi who should be evicted, have been left intact. In a special report in The New Vision of April 25, it was reported that the new proposed boundaries were being changed to favour the rich owners of the houses. Even the recent directive by Kezimbira came at a time when a controversial shopping mall, Shoprite, was being put up at Lugogo play grounds, which is a water way. Mafabi says some politicians have abdicated from the noble cause of protecting wetlands because they fear to make unpopular decisions. "We are making a new law on wetlands to close the pitfalls," says a source in the ministry of environment.

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September 23, 2003

NEW YORK, Sep 23 (IPS) - With the global economy set to quadruple and another three billion people likely to be living on the planet by 2050, managing our dwindling natural resources in a sustainable way has literally become a matter of life or death. To head off a potential crisis, scientists from more than 100 countries are participating in an ambitious review of the complex interaction between humans and their environment. Called the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), it will produce a series of reports that not only describe the current health of the world's resources, but offer insights into how decisions taken by leaders, from village heads on up to international bodies, influence ecosystem productivity.

The first report of the four-year project, to be released Wednesday, will detail the Assessment's goals and methods. "We shall attempt to provide guidance to policy makers on what kind of policy succeeds, where and why,'' explained Kanchan Chopra, co-chair of the MA Responses Working Group and head of the Institute of Economic Growth in New Delhi, India.  The MA will analyse existing data on the exploitation of marine, coastal, inland water, forest, desert, mountain, polar, farmland and urban regions. While its main concern is the ''products'' these ecosystems provide for human well-being--food, fuel, fresh water--it also acknowledges their intrinsic cultural and aesthetic value.  "One of the major problems facing decision-makers today is the lack of information about the environmental consequences of their day-to-day actions,'' said Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute (WRI).

''Thus, avoidable mistakes affect the lives of millions of people. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment will help span this knowledge gap and make us better aware of the environmental consequences of our decisions," he said in an interview. ''Today we have the ability to change the vital systems of our planet, for better or for worse. To change them for the better, we must have better information about how the well-being of people and ecosystems are interwoven and how the fabric is fraying," Lash added. Ecosystem services are especially critical in the lives of the world's poor. For example, fish is the main source of protein for nearly on billion people in developing countries. In Cambodia, the Tonle Sap freshwater lake provides protein for 60 percent of the country's population.

These resources have significant economic value, as well. The world's fisheries generated 55 billion dollars in export revenues in 2000, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization  (FAO). But they are now becoming exhausted from overuse--a fate shared by many other ecosystems. About 40 percent of the world's farmland is seriously degraded from erosion, pollution, salinization and other causes. At the same time, the consumption of ecosystem ''services'' is growing rapidly--mostly by rich countries. By 2020, world demand for rice, wheat and maize is expected to nearly double. It is the formidable job of MA researchers to figure out how all these needs can be met. ''The assessment not only will tell what the status of our ecosystems is today, and in the recent past, but will also give plausible scenarios for the future based on different development patterns,'' said Harold Mooney, an ecologist at Stanford University and co-author of the first MA report.

Formally launched by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001, the MA was spurred by a need for sound data on how to push forward national and international development programs, such as the U.N. Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child mortality and promote gender equality. The reports will also meet the assessment needs of global treaties dealing with biodiversity, wetlands, desertification and migratory species.  ''It will be 'the last word' on the science--by following a process modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and by putting the material through two rounds of peer review involving hundreds of reviewers, these findings will be the most authoritative and credible source of information on these issues,'' said MA Director Walter Reid.

The IPCC was a groundbreaking collaboration of scientists around the world to assess the links between human activity and climate change. It laid the scientific groundwork for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gases. The four main reports--on specific sub-regions, conditions and trends, future scenarios, and policy responses--are due in 2005, and periodic updates will follow. Funding is coming primarily from U.N. agencies and the World Bank. ''While we do not advocate any particular policy perspective, we do believe that our findings will be useful to decision makers who must address problems of food and water supply, and human health and well-being,'' Steve Carpenter, co-chair of the MA Scenarios Working Group, told IPS. ''Thus, in addition to our technical documents--such as the one that was just released--we will be producing a variety of 'plain language' summaries for use by governments, businesses, private organizations and individual citizens.'' Accessibility will be key if governments and other key players are to take the MA conclusions seriously, researchers say. 

''Information on the extent of degradation of some ecosystems should serve as a wakeup call for policy makers and galvanize them to initiate corrective actions,'' according to Prabhu Pingali, an economist with the FAO and co-author of the report. ''The message that will come out of the Millennium Assessment is a compelling one, but whether it will lead to action or not depends a lot on our ability to get that message out loudly and clearly.''

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Chicago Tribune
September 18, 2003

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA --World conservationists called for new protection of the world's water ecosystems, including the international high seas, and urged that efforts to bring about free trade and poverty alleviation not be allowed to take precedence over preserving species, as the 10-day World Parks Congress wrapped up Wednesday in South Africa. The congress, held once a decade, has no formal power to set binding conservation goals. But recommendations issued by the nearly 3,000 conservationists are likely to play a key role when government leaders from around the world gather in February for the international Convention on Biodiversity in Kuala Lumpur.

Under the Durban Action Plan released Wednesday, conservation leaders called for all endangered species that survive in only one location to receive protection at that site by 2006 and urged that other endangered species get similar protection by 2008. The World Conservation Union, which organized the congress, estimates the number of endangered species worldwide at 11,000.  Conservationists also called for the creation of an international system of marine and freshwater conservation areas by 2012. Since the congress last met in 1992, shortly before the Rio Earth Summit, the amount of formally protected land worldwide has risen to 11.5 percent, surpassing the congress' goal of a 10-percent set-aside. But only about 0.5 percent of the world's oceans receive similar protection.

Delegates said international waters, which fall outside the jurisdiction of any country and are rapidly being stripped of fish stocks, need special attention. "We need to be able to put management regimes in the high seas if we still want to eat fish in 20 years," said Chris Hails of the World Wildlife Fund International. Governments might tackle that problem as they have global climate change, he said, by setting up an international treaty similar to the Kyoto Protocol. Delegates warned that simply setting aside "paper parks," without adequate policing to stop poaching and illegal cutting of timber, does little to further conservation goals.

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September 12, 2003

DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - A boom in world tourism is posing a huge threat to some of the planet's most sensitive ecosystems, according to a study released on Friday. The study, by Conservation International (CI) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), said tourism rose by more than 100 percent between 1990 and 2000 in the world's "biodiversity hotspots," which include the tropical Andes and the Guinean forests of West Africa. CI has identified 25 such areas, which contain 44 percent of all identified endemic plant species and 35 percent of all known endemic species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The hotspots cover only 1.4 percent of the planet's land area and all been significantly altered by human activities.

"In some places the growth (in tourism) has been staggering," CI and UNEP said in a statement released at the fifth World Parks Congress in the South African port city of Durban. "Over the past decade, tourism has increased by more than 200 percent in both Laos and Cambodia, nearly 500 percent in South Africa, (and) over 300 percent in the countries of Brazil, Nicaragua and El Salvador," it said. Costas Christ of CI, one of the report's authors, told Reuters tourist development in ecologically sensitive areas often severely damages its main attraction -- the environment. "Many of these developments are in arid countries and so the limited water supply comes under pressure...and if development ultimately kills off the environment then tourists have no incentive to come," he said.

The report highlighted the Mexican resort of Cancun, where world trade talks are being held, as an example of unsustainable tourism which is impacting negatively on the environment. "Prior to its development as a tourist resort in the 1970s, only 12 families lived on the barrier island of Cancun," it said. Now, the resort has 2.6 million visitors per year, the local mangrove and inland forests have been cut down, and in the settlement that has grown nearby, 75 percent of the sewage of the population is untreated.  Tourism is often said to benefit the environment by creating jobs and other opportunities for poor rural communities who might otherwise exploit local natural resources for survival.

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September 11, 2003

SYDNEY (AFP) - Residents of Sydney were ordered to stop sprinkling their lawns or hosing clean their cars under strict water curbs local officials blamed on global warming. The premier of New South Wales state imposed the mandatory water restrictions on the city and its surrounding areas for the first time in nine years because of the country's worst drought on record and stubbornly rising domestic water use. Premier Bob Carr said the indefinite curbs, to take effect October 1, would ban the use of sprinklers and watering systems and the hosing of all "hard surfaces", including vehicles, in the city of four million.

Violators will be fined 220 dollars (145 US) per incident, he said Thursday, announcing the crackdown at a Sydney area reservoir. "The reason we're doing this is that the dam levels behind me are way lower than they should be at this time of year," Carr said. The step came despite recent rains across much of eastern Australia that raised hopes that the country's worst dry spell was ending. But Carr said the problem was more long-term and described his government's decision as a wake-up call to the real-life dangers of global climate change. "This is the ninth consecutive year, speaking nationally, when rainfalls have been lower than average and average temperatures are climbing," he said.

"Those people who are sceptical about global warming ought to think again because this is the first very practical intimation of global warming being upon us," he said. "Years from now, you might recall this announcement as the first time global warming affected our way of life," he said. Dam levels within the Sydney Catchment Authority are currently at 60.5 percent of capacity, still above the 55-percent level when mandatory restrictions are normally applied. But Carr said that with the southern summer approaching, it was necessary to act now on water curbs, which will effect metropolitan Sydney, the Blue Mountains to the west and the Illawarra Valley to the south. "Basically there's three rules from now on," state Energy Minister Frank Sartor said. "If you want to water your garden, use a hose; if you want to clean your footpath, use a broom; if you want to wash your car, use a bucket."

Sartor said the restrictions would remain in force until water storage levels in the Sydney area's 11 reservoirs reached 70 percent of capacity, and did not rule out even tougher measures if water consumption did not ease. Compulsory water restrictions were in place for almost two years when they were last introduced in November 1994. Environmentalists welcomed the water curbs and called for them to be made permanent.  "We must take this opportunity to make Sydney's water use more sustainable by introducing permanent restrictions just as Melbourne has recently done," said Leigh Martin of the Total Environment Center.  Melbourne, Australia's second biggest city, introduced water restrictions in October 2002 when its water reservoir levels fell below 55 percent.

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September 29, 2003

Nairobi, 29 September 2003 – A UNEP-facilitated Forum that seeks to reconcile widely opposing views about how to balance the benefits of dams with their risks and drawbacks is concluding a one-week meeting here today after agreeing to move forward with continued stakeholder discussions. Bringing together some 100 representatives from governments, civil society and industry, the second meeting of the Dams and Development Forum seeks to help the world community navigate a way forward through the conflicting interests at stake in dam construction.

“Dams are at the centre of many controversies related to water resources management. While often criticized for damaging the environment and uprooting communities, dams can also ensure adequate water supplies for households, agriculture and economic development,” said Executive Director Klaus Töpfer of the United Nations Environment Programme. “It is vital that we learn how to strike a balance between benefits and impacts. New dams will have to built if we are to meet the Millennium Development Goals on access to water and sanitation – but these must be ‘good’ dams and not ‘bad’ ones, dams that promote development without damaging the environment. Dialogue amongst key stakeholders is the best path to this goal,” he said. Meeting in Johannesburg in 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) agreed on the need to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

The WSSD also highlighted the challenge of climate change. Because dams are a major source of hydropower, they can contribute to expanding renewable energy. UNEP’s Dams and Development Project, which serves as a secretariat to the Forum, seeks to promote a dialogue on improving decision-making, planning and management of dams and their alternatives based on the core values and strategic priorities agreed in 2000 by the World Commission on Dams. The Project has secured funding and pledges of over $2.5 million from the governments of Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

UNEP’s goal is to support country-level, regional and global dialogues on the issues surrounding dams in an effort to involve all stakeholders in finding agreed solutions. It also promotes the dissemination of information and facilitates networking and the exchange of ideas on good practices. Billons of people depend upon dams for drinking water and food production. The current storage capacity of reservoirs worldwide is estimated at just under 7,000 cubic kilometres. However, over one billion people lack access to freshwater facilities.

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September, 5 2003

Water specialists from 23 countries recently participated in a "training of trainers" course on managing fresh water resources in ways that protect the environment and contribute to reducing poverty. The week-long course on integrated water resource management held at the Swiss Centre of Hydrogeology at the University of Neuchatel is the first in a cascading training programme that will reach regions and countries worldwide. It was organized by Cap-Net, a UNDP project based in Delft, the Netherlands, supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Cap-Net (the Capacity Building Network for Integrated Water Resource Management) training aims to help water experts and officials meet complex challenges they face in managing demands on increasingly scarce water supplies.

The training contributes to progress towards halving the proportion of people lacking access to safe drinking water by 2015, a target of Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More than one billion people worldwide lack safe drinking water. Improved water management also helps efforts towards other MDGs, including eradicating severe poverty and hunger and reducing maternal and child mortality. The course covered a wide range of topics, such as water laws and regulations, health and sanitation, agriculture, finances, and public-private partnerships. The participants, selected for their professional status as trainers, will now follow up with the regional Cap-Net networks to organize more courses, adapted to regional and local situations.

Mario Schreider from the National University of Littoral and a representative of the ArgCapNet network in Argentina said that the course had changed his thinking on many issues. "It will enhance my network's activities, mainly the design of a post-graduate course that many universities and other institutions that are members of ArgCapNet are preparing," he said. "I will encourage university authorities to include the integrated water management approach as a part of different topics in its course programme."  Jacobo Homsi Auchen of the Inter-American Association of Sanitation and Environmental Engineers (AIDIS) based in Chile, said: "I am convinced that training of trainers must be done country by country, especially considering that integrated water resources management depends on specific local conditions and the professionals involved." His initial follow-up will be a regional training of trainers in Lima, Peru, in November.

The AWARENET network in the Middle East has made arrangements for a regional course in January 2004. Networks in South and South-east Asia, Southern Africa, West Africa, and the Nile Region are also planning training courses to ensure that information and knowledge on integrated water resources management will flow freely throughout their regions, reaching decision makers, water experts and teachers in many counties. Other Cap-Net follow-up includes translation and development of training materials, support for curriculum reform and country workshops. The training course was supported by Cap-Net, the World Bank Institute, the Swiss Development Corporation, the Gender and Water Alliance, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and the host institution -- the University of Neuchatel. Participants came from Argentina, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Chile, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.

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Pakistan Link
October 1, 2003

ISLAMABAD (NNI): The Minister for Industries and Production, Mr. Liaquat Ali Jatoi, who is currently visiting Austria, today met with the Austrian Minister for Economy and Labour, Mr. Martin Bartenstein and had a wide-ranging discussion on various aspect of bilateral economic cooperation. The Minister for Industries stressed the need for making joint working group on a trade and economy cooperation, exist since 1994, a more effective instrument for future economic cooperation between the two countries.

Jatoi briefed the Austrian Minister of the enormous economic progress made by the Pakistan during the last four years under the leadership of General Pervez Musharraf. He informed him that Pakistan is one of the most investment friendly countries in its region and offered liberal investment incentives including generous fiscal and tax concessions to foreign investors, says a fax message received here today from Vienna, embassy of Pakistan. Jatoi invited Austrian investors through the Minister for Economy and Labour to benefit from the tremendous economic opportunities available in Pakistan and identified various areas where Austrian could make investment. The Austrian and Pakistani Minister discussed expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills also, the Industries Minister specifically requested Austrian assistance for setting up of desalination plant in Karachi.

Austrian side shown interest for setting up of desalination plant for providing drinking water for the people of Karachi and for the industrial use. The feasibility would be worked out on priority basis to complete the project on Turnkey basis, which will provide approximately 5 to 10 million gallons water per day. The two ministers also agreed on need of early finalization of the convention on avoidance of double taxation and agreement on promotion and protection of investment.

The Minister also briefed Mr. Martin on the Gawadar Port project under completion in Pakistan and invited Austria to use duty free facilities that the port would offer for transshipment of Middle East and Far East as well as setting up of industrial ventures over there.

Jatoi also drew their attention towards investment opportunities in Pakistan and area of granite processing, cutting and polishing, informing that no duties were being levied on the import of machinery and equipment for granite processing. He also said that he was impressed by the clean and friendly environment by Voestalpine Steel of Austria. Martin gives positive response to the request for technical assistance in various areas and expressed the hope that the progress would be achieved at mutually agreed basis. The two ministers also exchanged views over WTO ministers meeting Cancun and need for continuous deliberation process to reach an acceptable agreement. Earlier, the Minister visited Voestalpine Steel Works, the biggest Austrian steel concern.

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September 30, 2003

Tokyo - Japan opened a three-day conference on Africa yesterday with a $1 billion aid pledge, as Mark Malloch Brown, the chief of the UN Development Programme, blasted the global community's double standards over aid to the continent and Iraq. "All too often one hears the argument that Africa can't get more assistance because of problems of governance, economic management or civil wars," Malloch Brown told reporters on the margins of the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad).

"Yet in the case of Iraq, its very chaos is put forward as a case for giving it amounts of money several times the amount Africa gets every year, despite the fact that it is a middle-income oil producing country. One is struck by a double standard." Malloch Brown, in his opening speech to the conference, criticised the global neglect of African needs. "At a time when billions are being pledged to Iraq, the argument that the resources are not available is simply not true. What is missing is political will," Malloch Brown said.

Twenty-three heads of state or government, including President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Thabo Mbeki, were on hand to witness Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's announcement that Japan would offer $1 billion in grant aid to Africa over the next five years. "Japan hopes to act as a bridge between Asia and Africa. In so doing, by using Asia's experience and vigour, we would like to provide diversity and dynamism in African development," Koizumi said.

The money would provide assistance for health and medical care, education, water and food. Mbeki argued Ticad should select priority issues and identify concrete action in the areas of agriculture, health, and trade and investment.  "There is an urgent need to scale up the programmes on malaria, TB and Aids. We continue to work together in mobilising additional resources," he said.

While Africa accounted for 10 percent of the global population, it was home to 70 percent of Aids cases worldwide, the Japanese foreign ministry said. South Africa has one of the highest HIV/Aids infection rates, with the UN's Aids organisation estimating that 1 000 South Africans died each day in 2001 from the disease. In his message to Ticad, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said much more was needed to tackle the disease and reduce its treatment costs.  "Real leadership is required if we are to fight this terrible disease and reduce its appalling costs," Annan was quoted by a UN special adviser on Africa as saying.

The Tokyo conference draws officials from other UN agencies, 37 donor and Asian countries, and representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  Also on the agenda are poverty reduction, peace and regional co-operation.

Ticad, hosted every five years, was created in 1993 under a Japanese initiative to raise international support for African development issues. At the second Ticad, in 1998, Japan pledged to provide $750 million to African countries over a five-year period to ensure basic human needs. Japan's assistance to African development has totalled $12 billion over the last decade. But in terms of trade, just 1 percent of Japan's total volume of trade is with African countries, more than half of which is with South Africa.

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UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 25, 2003

The Rwandan government and the African Development Bank (ADB) have signed loan and grant agreements worth UA 21.77 million (US $29.9 million) for three projects in Rwanda, ADB reported on Wednesday. The loans and grants for the water, HIV/AIDS and natural resources projects will be financed by a UA 11.77-million ($16.2 million) loan from the African Development Fund (ADF), a UA 6-million loan ($8.2 million) from the Nigeria Trust Fund and a UA 4-million ($5.5 million) grant from ADF.

A statement issued by the bank said Rwandan Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka and ADB President Omar Kabbaj signed the documents in Dubai. The project on water and energy supply for the Rwandan capital, Kigali, would result in a significant increase in the availability of potable water and electricity, ADB said. "Additional benefits from the project are expected to include a significant reduction in water-borne diseases," the bank said. The project is also expected to provide a stimulus for increased industrial and commercial investments as well as employment opportunities by reducing the costs of these essential inputs.

The HIV/AIDS project will assist the government of Rwanda to implement its national and multisectoral plan for fighting the pandemic. "It aims at strengthening the institutions responsible for implementing these plans, in particular the National HIV/AIDS Commission and national sector committees," ADB said. The third project would help the government to manage its natural resources in a sustainable manner "by strengthening the institutions responsible for the management of the environment and by providing for capacity building activities, including training". Kabbaj said the progress made by the government of Rwanda in the last few years, especially in its efforts to reduce poverty, was commendable. On his part, Kaberuka said the agreements would make a significant contribution to the government's efforts to reduce poverty

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Daily Trust (Abuja)
September 25, 2003

The World Bank has pledged $110 million to the urban water supply programme in Nigeria. This commitment which was revealed by a World Bank delegation led by the bank's sector manager on water and urban development for central and western Africa, Ms Enger Andersen, which paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Shagari, would give a large degree of control to the states in the spirit of decentralisation.

Describing the project as a larger World Bank re-engagement in the water sector, Ms Andersen linked it with the resolve to help Nigeria achieve the millennium development goal "which is a tough task for everyone, a tough task for Africa. "Without Nigeria and Ethiopia and some of the other large countries moving in this direction, it is very clear that Africa will be left behind," she said. Andersen expressed satisfaction with the Nigerian government on the level of commitment to water provision to the people, prudent management of scarce water resources and the Lagos urban water programme.

She also noted President Obasanjo's concern over the Niger Basin and pledged more feasibility studies of the request for possible action by the World Bank. Responding, Alhaji Mukhtari Shagari advised the World Bank to also give priority to rural water schemes as 60 per cent of Nigerians are rural dwellers. He also sought the intervention of the bank on the water problem caused by the receding Lake Chad while pledging that all funds committed to water projects in Nigeria would be judiciously utilised.

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September 24, 2003

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq's public works minister, lobbying for congressional approval of aid to her country, said on Wednesday that only half of Iraqis have access to safe drinking water and that up to $8 billion will be needed to ensure everyone has potable water. "My ministry's main focus is water -- delivering safe drinking water," Nesreen Barwari, a 35-year-old Harvard-educated Kurd who became minister of public works three weeks ago, told reporters at the Pentagon. "The task is huge because we have inherited 35 years of neglect to public services," she added. "It won't be achieved in the coming months."

Saying 50 percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water, Barwari said her first goal is to boost access to prewar levels of 60 percent of urban households and 40 percent of rural households by the end of this year. Barwari estimated that providing access to safe drinking water to all Iraqis, as well as increasing the proportion of the population with proper sewage systems from the current 3 percent to 30 percent, will cost $7 billion to $8 billion by the end of 2005. President Bush has asked Congress to approve about $20 billion for rebuilding Iraq as part of an $87 billion request to pay for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That request does not cover the sum Barwari identified as necessary to bring drinkable water to all Iraqis.  Barwari said that part of the security problems in Iraq can be attributed to frustration felt by Iraqis because of a lack of essential services and jobs. "Iraq cannot do it alone," Barwari said. "And part of my message is that by investing on Iraq at this stage ... you're going to create a strong Iraq by the end of 2004 who can stand on its feet, who can depend on its own resources of oil, water and human resources. So it's this critical period that we need support so that we afterward can take care of ourselves."

Barwari said her ministry is undertaking renovation or maintenance of water pumping stations in Basra, Najaf, Diwaniya, Mosul and Kirkuk, and repairing leaks in the system.  Saboteurs blew up a water pipeline serving the north of Baghdad on Aug. 17 as part of a wave of attacks on Iraq's infrastructure. But Barwari said water facilities have not been regularly targeted.

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September 17, 2003

China's rapidly growing cities are not only short of water but are polluting their scarce water supplies and costing the economy dearly, the China Daily reported. Beijing, for example, discharges 1.2 billion tons of sewage, almost half of which are untreated, into the city's waterways each year, the report said. With higher living standards, however, urban dwellers are demanding a cleaner environment, and local governments are beginning to invest in protecting their local water resources. By 2008, Beijing will have built 30 sewage treatment plants to process over 90 percent of sewage before discharge, according to Liu Hangui, director of the Urban Committee of China Hydraulic Engineering Society.

Elsewhere, in Shanghai, over seven billion yuan (846 million US dollars) has been spent cleaning up Suzhou Creek and other waterways, the report said. "The city still faces a great challenge in improving its water quality and we hope to treat 80 percent of sewage by 2010," said Wang Songnian, deputy director of Shanghai Water Authority. He was speaking at the annual nationwide meeting of the Urban Committee of the China Hydraulic Engineering Society, which focused on city water supplies. Drought and water pollution are the two major problems in urban water supply, according to Zhang Jusheng and Wan Yi of the Huaihe River Committee of the Ministry of Water Resources.

Statistics show that more than 400 of China's 672 cities are short of water and 160 cities are so severely affected that they are forced to impose water restrictions.  Water shortages cost 200 billion yuan (24.2 billion US dollars) in industrial output every year in the country, the report said. Meanwhile, over 90 percent of surface water and 50 percent of underground water in cities nationwide have deteriorated, it said.  Due to excessive consumption, underground water levels in coastal cities such as Dalian, Qingdao, Ningbo and Haikou are dropping.  Experts urged the government to invest more in waste-water treatment and called for a unified approach to addressing the problem.

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Shanghai Daily news
October 2003

Shanghai will spend ten billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) each year to improve its water quality, supply, environment and sightseeing in the next five years, sources from the ongoing China Water Summit 2003 held at the Shanghai International Convention Center revealed. The investment will be used on sewage water disposal, riverbank environment protection and renovation.

By 2010, Shanghai aims to have three quarters of all sewage water disposed without harming the environment. The quality of drinking water will level up to that in European Union nations now.

Bank side renovation projects aims to build the Huang Pu River and Suzhou Creek, the city's two main waterways, into scenic spots with limpid water, green riverside, beautiful views and entertaining facilities, an official said on the forum.  Shanghai's investment in water environment totaled ten billion yuan in the past three years. The effort has paid off, as the city's tap water supply capacity reaches 10.64 million cub meters per day. Up to 80 percent of the industry-used water are recycled to save water resource. Sewage water disposing rate increases to more than 60 percent in 2000 from the 40 percent in 1999. Environment along the Suzhou Creek and most of its branch creeks is significantly improved.

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New Scientists
October 1, 2003

The Marsh Arabs of Iraq have given up waiting for outsiders to restore their wetlands. Local people are taking matters into their own hands by breaching dykes and shutting down pumping stations in a bid to restore the marshes drained by Saddam Hussein's regime. But some experts worry that their actions could hamper the region's recovery. Five months ago, New Scientist reported that an international team of wetland experts, backed by the US State Department, planned to gradually re-flood the wetlands (print edition, 26 April 2003). But reports from inside Iraq reveal this plan is increasingly irrelevant. Even as Saddam's regime fell local people began to breach the dams with farm tools. New Scientist has learned that between 200 and 300 square kilometres of land has now been inundated as people start returning to their ancient way of life.


At one time, the marshes covered between 15,000 and 20,000 square kilometres in what the UN Environment Programme described as a "biodiversity centre of global importance". Thought by Bible scholars to be the location of the Garden of Eden and the Flood, the marshes surrounding the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris supported the Madan, or Marsh Arabs, for 5000 years. But a combination of 32 dam projects upstream and the deliberate draining of the land by Saddam's regime reduced the marshes to five per cent of their previous extent. "The people want their land back," says Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi-American water engineer exiled to California.


Alwash and his wife Suzie, a geologist at El Camino College in Torrance, California, joined forces with a charity set up by Iraqi expatriates, the Iraq Foundation, to find ways to return the marshes to their former glory. They recruited engineers, ecologists, hydrologists and soil chemists, and in April published a report suggesting efforts should be concentrated first on the most intact Hawizah marsh, which borders Iran.

It also recommended a three-month monitoring period to test the soil for chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals before letting in the water. The more damaged Central and Hammar marshes would take much longer to restore, the report predicted. But it is parts of these marshes that have already been re-flooded, says Alwash, who has returned to Iraq to help with the marshs' restoration. "The science part of my brain says this is not right," says Suzie Alwash, "but my heart says, 'right on, go for it guys.'" Others agree that it is difficult to criticise the actions of the local people, whose livelihoods are at stake. "It was a spontaneous reaction to what they have suffered," says Hassan Janabi, the water engineer leading efforts by the Iraqi Ministry of Irrigation to restore the marshes. One region recovering well is Hawr Al-Awdah in the north-west of the Central marsh. After the war, local people persuaded staff manning the pumping station that drained the marsh to shut it down. This has resulted in around 50 square kilometres being re-flooded. "The vegetation recovery was so beautiful and so fast I could not believe my eyes," Janabi says.


But other regions are not faring as well. Several dyke breaches have allowed water from the Euphrates to flood the Kurmet Bani Saeed basin, part of Hammar marsh. Alwash is concerned that because there is no outlet for the water, it is becoming increasingly saline. Already salt levels have risen to around 6 parts per thousand (ppt), more than 10 times the salt content of fresh water. He believes this is hampering the recovery of vegetation such as the common reed (Phragmites australis) which can tolerate brackish water but does worse as salinity increases. The reed is the dominant plant in the ecosystem, providing shelter for fish and birds.

The Marsh Arabs use it as a material for building, weaving and as fodder for water buffalo. Another marsh called Al-Sanuf, north-east of Al-Amarah, is in even worse shape. With salt levels of 17 ppt, it is around half as saline as seawater. Virtually nothing grows here except a few small plants that are highly tolerant of saltwater. Hassan Partow, head of the UN Environment Programme's efforts to restore the marshes, says an unplanned effort could impede long-term recovery. "If it is done in an uncoordinated way it may not lead to the most judicious use of water resources." He also says that flooding areas contaminated with heavy metals such as lead and mercury may create problems for people drinking the water and for wildlife. What's more, many dykes were mined by Saddam's regime to discourage people from tampering with them.


Controlling the restoration effort from Baghdad will be impossible, so working with local people is crucial, Janabi says. "It is for us to catch up rather than lead the entire process." The charity Assisting Marsh Arabs and Refugees (AMAR) estimates that 85,000 people are living in the former marsh areas with little to support themselves. Another 200,000 fled to neighbouring Iran during Saddam's regime. The news is not all bad. Janabi says that with their knowledge of managing the marshes, the locals have, by and large, chosen breach sites that would have been picked by a qualified water engineer. And Peter Reiss of Development Alternatives Incorporated, a consultancy in Bethesda, Maryland, says the overall picture is encouraging. In June, he led a study funded by the international development agency USAID to collect data on the re-flooded areas, which will be published in a few weeks. Reiss is keen that Iraqis be given the technical expertise to help themselves. "Iraq was shut off from scientific advances for 20 years," he says. To this end, USAID is funding the training of two Iraqi water engineers in California.


Partow says the next six months will be critical. The rivers will be at their highest in March following the rains and if used well, this water could flush out salty or contaminated marshes and flood new areas. But his team was recently pulled out of the country in the wake of the bomb attack on the UN's headquarters in Baghdad in August.

With lawlessness and instability blighting Iraq's recovery, the chances of a comprehensive and coordinated plan being implemented in time seem slim. The scale of the task is huge, says Curtis Richardson at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, a member of Reiss' team. He says that upstream dams have reduced the water flow so much that just 15 to 20 per cent of the lost marshes can be restored.  Nevertheless, the international community has an obligation to ensure the marshes recover quickly , says Baroness Emma Nicholson, AMAR's chair. It failed to prevent the old regime from destroying a region  which was a "thriving and productive agricultural and fishing centre". Food production in the marshes will give another dimension to Iraq's economy, she says, complementing its income from oil. Their recovery will also send out a powerful political message, "that Iraq is really in business".

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World Bank
September 21, 2003

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2003 — A new World Bank report warns that broad improvements in human welfare will not occur unless poor people receive wider access to affordable, better quality services in health, education, water, sanitation, and electricity. Without such improvements in services, freedom from illness and freedom from illiteracy - two of the most important ways poor people can escape poverty - will remain elusive to many.

The report - World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for Poor People - says that too often, key services fail poor people - in access, in quantity, in quality. This imperils a set of development targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which call for a halving of the global incidence of poverty, and broad improvements in human development by 2015. However, the report provides powerful examples of where services do work, showing how governments and citizens can do better. The report says there have been spectacular successes and miserable failures in the efforts by developing countries to make services work. The main difference between success and failure is the degree to which poor people themselves are involved in determining the quality and the quantity of the services which they receive.

"Too often, services fail poor people. These failures may be less spectacular than financial crises, but their effects are continuing and deep nonetheless," says World Bank President, James D. Wolfensohn. "Services work when they include all people, when girls are encouraged to go to school, when pupils and parents participate in the schooling process, when communities take charge of their own sanitation. They work when we take a comprehensive view of development - recognizing that a mother’s education will help her baby’s health, that building a road or a bridge will enable children to go to school."

The report comes at a time when rich countries have pledged to increase foreign aid, and poor countries have pledged to improve their policies and institutions, to try to reach the MDGs. "To accelerate progress in human development, economic growth is of course necessary, but it is not enough," says World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President for Development Economics, Nicholas Stern. "Mobilizing to reach the 2015 development goals will require both a substantial increase in external resources and more effective use of all resources, internal and external. The report offers a practical framework for using resources more effectively."


Personal accounts from poor people in the new report describe how they receive shoddy services.

In Adaboya, Ghana, "children must walk four kilometers to attend school because, while there is a school building in the village, it sits in disrepair and cannot be used in the rainy season." In Potrero Sula, El Salvador, villagers complain that "the health post here is useless because there is no doctor or nurse, and it is only open two days a week until noon." A common response in a client survey by women who had given birth at rural health centers in the Mutasa district of Zimbabwe is that they were hit by staff during delivery.

Anecdotes like these are supported by accounts from other countries as well. The average poor child in rural Mali has to walk 8 kilometers to primary school. Her counterpart in rural Chad has to walk 23 kilometers to get to a clinic. A billion people worldwide lack access to an improved water source; 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation.

Even when poor people have access, the quality of services is distressingly low. In random visits to 200 primary schools in India, investigators found no teaching activity in half of them at the time of visit. Up to 45 percent of teachers in Ethiopia were absent at least one day in the week before a visit - 10 percent of them for three days or more. A survey of primary health care facilities in Bangladesh found the absenteeism rate among doctors to be 74 percent. "Improving the delivery of key services such as healthcare and education to poor people is critical to accelerate progress in human development, because more public spending by itself will not do it," says Jean-Louis Sarbib, the World Bank’s new Senior Vice-President for Human Development, and former Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World. "The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region spends more on public education than any other developing region, and yet it has some of the highest rates of youth illiteracy in the world. A girl in MENA is as likely to be illiterate as a girl in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is a much poorer region."


The report points to several success stories. Indonesia used its oil windfalls to build new schools and hire more teachers, doubling primary enrollment to 90 percent by 1986. The number of children enrolled in primary schools in Uganda increased from 3.6 million to 6.9 million in five years. A program in Mexico that gives cash to poor households if they visited a clinic regularly and their children attended school reduced illness among children by 20 percent, and increased secondary enrollment by 5 percentage points for boys and 8 for girls. "Services can work when poor people stand at the center of service provision - when they can avoid poor providers, while rewarding good providers with their clientele, and when their voices are heard by politicians - that is, when service providers have incentives to serve the poor," says Shanta Devarajan, Director of the World Development Report 2004 , and Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Human Development Network. The report documents three ways in which services can be improved:

  1. By increasing poor clients’ choice and participation in service delivery, so they can monitor and discipline providers. School voucher schemes - such as a program for poor families in Colombia, or a girls’ scholarship program in Bangladesh (that paid schools based on the number of girls they enrolled) - increase clients’ power over providers, and substantially increased enrollment rates. Community-managed schools in El Salvador, where parents visited schools regularly, lowered teacher absenteeism and raised student test scores.
  1. By raising poor citizens’ voice, through the ballot box and making information widely available. Service delivery surveys in Bangalore, India, that showed poor people the quality of the water, health, education and transport services they were receiving compared to neighboring districts, increased demand for better public services, and forced politicians to act.
  1. By rewarding the effective and penalizing the ineffective delivery of services to poor people. In the aftermath of a civil war, Cambodia paid primary health providers in two districts based on the health of the households (as measured by independent surveys) in their district. Health indicators, as well as use by the poor, in those districts improved relative to other districts.


Providing communities with healthcare, education, and other services has been a contentious issue in many countries, with government services pitted against large-scale privatization. The report says that while there are frequent problems with public services, it would be wrong to conclude that government should give up and leave everything to the private sector. If individuals are left to their own devices, they will not provide levels of education and health that they collectively want. Not only is this true in theory, but in practice no country has achieved significant improvement in child mortality and primary education without government involvement.

Furthermore, private-sector participation in health, education, and infrastructure is not without problems - especially in reaching poor people. The extreme position that the private sector should do everything is clearly not desirable either. "Instead of getting caught up in the public versus private services argument, the only issue that really matters is whether the mechanism that delivers key services strengthens poor people’s ability to monitor and discipline providers, raises their voice in policymaking, and gets them the effective services they need for their families," says Ritva Reinikka, the Co-Director of WDR 2004, and Research Manager for Public Services at the World Bank.

The report says that some aid donors take a variant of the "leave-everything-to-the-private sector" position. If government services are performing so badly, donors may ask, why give more aid to those governments? "That would be equally wrong," says Reinikka. "There is now substantial research showing that aid is productive in countries with good policies and institutions, and those policies and institutions have recently been improving. The reforms detailed in this Report (aimed at recipient countries and aid agencies) can make aid even more productive." When policies and institutions are improving, the report argues, aid should increase, not decrease, to realize the mutually-shared objective of poverty alleviation, such as the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, simply increasing public spending - without seeking improvements in the efficiency of that spending - is unlikely to reap substantial benefits. The productivity of public spending varies enormously across countries. Ethiopia and Malawi spend roughly the same amount per person on primary education - with very different outcomes. Peru and Thailand spend vastly different amounts - with similar outcomes.

The Report concludes that no one size fits all. The type of service delivery mechanism needs to be tailored to characteristics of the service and circumstances of the country. For instance, if the service is easy to monitor, such as immunization, and it is in a country where the politics are pro-poor, such as Norway, then it can be delivered by the central government directly, or contracted out. But if the politics of the country are such that these resources are likely to be diverted to the well-off by way of patronage, and the service is difficult to monitor, such as student learning, then arrangements that strengthen the client’s power as much as possible are necessary. Means-tested voucher schemes, as in Colombia or Bangladesh, community-managed schools as in El Salvador, or transparent, rule-based programs, such as Mexico’s ‘Progresa", are more likely to work for poor people.


Innovating with service delivery arrangements will not be enough, according to the report. What is needed are ways of widening the reach of these innovations or ‘scaling up’ so the entire country can benefit. To achieve this, the report emphasizes the role of information - as a stimulant for public action, as a catalyst for change, as an input to making other reforms work. In Uganda, publishing in the newspaper the fact that only 13 percent of the money due to primary schools was actually reaching the schools, galvanized the populace. The share now is 80 percent and the entire budget of the school is posted on the schoolroom door.

Systematic evaluations of these innovations, with a control group assessed alongside the "treatment group," gives policymakers confidence that what they are seeing is real. Such an evaluation of Mexico’s Progresa led to the program being scaled up to cover 20 percent of the Mexican population. The authors of the report warn that achieving these reforms will be difficult. "There is no silver bullet," says Devarajan, "just the hard slog of reforming institutions and power relations. But the needs of the world’s poor people are urgent. And services have too often failed them. We must act now."

The report and related materials are available at

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UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 12, 2003

David Grey is head of global water resources at the World Bank. Speaking after a key meeting in Addis Ababa at which African ministers dicussed the equitable utilisation of their shared rivers to avoid future conflict, he tells IRIN of the crucial need for Africa to tap its enormous water potential, overcome funding shortfalls and surmount other obstacles such as the inevitable suspicion that exists in jointly harnessing the rivers.


When we think about benefits we look at four different types - the first is the benefits to the river, making it a critical environmental asset, the biodiversity. The second are the direct economic benefits through cooperation - optimizing power production, food production, and industrial production. The third is reducing the political costs if you like - reducing the tensions between states. A policy of food self-sufficiency means you don't trade in food - you want to grow it all. A policy of food security means you are prepared to trade. And the same with power. Self-sufficiency is often massively sub optimal, massively inefficient. The fourth is the benefits that can be derived from beyond the river: greater trade, greater opportunity and making friends - cooperating. This is the dream.


I think we are seeing extraordinary things in Africa. Let's remember this is a continent that is divided by lines drawn on maps in London, Paris and Berlin etc. Given there was no account taken of ethnic and other divides like hydrologic, geographic divides, Africa is making remarkable strides in dealing with the fact there are sixty international river basins in Africa, more basins per country, more countries per basin than any other continent. This is not a problem particular to Africa - this is a global issue.


I would argue that in the 260 river basins across the planet that are shared by more than one state there are tensions in every single one of them, without exception, to a greater or lesser extent. In some cases it is so small you wouldn't see it and some cases very large indeed. So there is suspicion between all states that share river basins without exception, including in Africa.

Is there a point where you can't satisfy the demands of both or three of four countries?

There might be but, at the same time, if that is the case there stands to be a loss where everybody loses, and those countries, as the demands grow on a river, recognizing the need for optimization across the river basin and finding ways to share the benefits of optimal production is the way forward. This was the basic principal of the European Union at the end of the Second World War.


Cooperation right now in the Senegal, the Mantanali dam in Mali, which is 300 kilometers inside Mali and co-owned by Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. They have agreements over releases, flood recession and agriculture and environmental assets. This is an exception case of an institution of three governments that has extraordinary principles - principles of indivisibility and perpetuity, solidarity and the management of the river and many instruments built into the agreement that promote that.


There is no question that the World Bank is prepared to fund sensible development between states and within states in Africa, no question whatsoever. But clearly this has to fit within the priorities of the governments and those priorities that are stated in their poverty-reduction strategies. The World Bank would actively promote cooperation on rivers because we believe that this will result in the least cost development of many commodities like agriculture products, joint protection of environmental assets, cross-border parks and power generation and trade. It is much more sensible to meet demands for food and power through security rather than self-sufficiency, and security means interconnections between states - open borders and mobility of commodities. In some of the river basins it's fair to say that nothing much flows between the countries except the river; no labour, no telecommunications, no industrial products.


Funding is hard to access. Funding from the World Bank will respond to priorities stated by governments. I was recently in a meeting with water ministers and all were saying funding is very hard to access, but it transpired during the discussions of the 40 ministers in the room, only nine of them had water as a priority in their poverty-reduction strategies. Now unless these water ministers can persuade the finance ministers that water is a priority then they are not going to get any funding. This is a competition. I often wish in the World Bank that I had a bigger budget but I compete with my colleagues from health and education and name a government that doesn't have financial constraints for public sector investment and name a minister and a government anywhere in the world that doesn't complain he is not getting enough.


The money at this stage is for project preparation, projects under preparation and at the relatively early stages. There is a whole set of intensive activities underway now to identify joint development opportunities. Money will not be on the table until the projects have been defined in detail, but the scale of these projects is likely to be in the order of perhaps US$3 billion and that sort of financing will be put together by a range of different financiers, including the World Bank.


It is absolutely critically important that the finances are identified to support the joint developments that the countries in the basins of Africa identify because to develop the institutions and the legal frameworks and the hopes and aspirations and for there not to be the investment to support the realization of those dreams would be disastrous.


I would say that the countries of the eastern Nile have had the most to resolve in terms of past differences but the most to gain from the resolution of those differences. So I would say that whilst the difficulties have been great the incentives to resolve the difficulties are greater.


I would argue that there are very few cases of conflicts between states where you could identify any particular cause of the conflict. I would argue that where countries share rivers that the transboundary river can be one part, either very small or a very significant part, of a dispute between states. I don't believe and it is very rare in history to see a cause of a conflict has been just about water, but I do believe that water has been a significant part of many disputes. There are on-going disputes in the Nile basin and there may be again in the future and water at the community level is the cause of local-level disputes and even deaths. In the Nile I think there is too much at stake and too much to gain from cooperation and too much to lose from disputes.


I think there is a point that a very wide range of stakeholders need over time to understand the potentials, the opportunities and the hopes. It is hard to understand when you are a farmer in Rwanda that you are a part of a community of interest that is the Nile. And you are a farmer in Egypt and you are part of the same community of interest as that farmer in Rwanda. The challenge is to strengthen and build that.


The wonderful logic of geography is that the farmer in Rwanda needs investment to protect watersheds, to have electricity, to have schools and clinics but Rwanda is quite wet. There is plenty of water in Rwanda. The Nile is a very good case in point where people in the headwaters desperately need development and investment, but don't necessarily need huge amounts of water.


But who is going to pay for that? If Rwanda is to invest in protecting the watersheds and stopping erosion, re-foresting and protecting parks, who then should pay? Because every dollar a farmer invests, maybe he gets ten percent of benefit and 90 percent of benefit flows downstream. So [it's a matter of] developing the structures within which benefits can be shared so that the farmers in Rwanda benefit from conserving the watershed and that water is generating power and producing food for people downstream - and this is the same story for Guinea on the Senegal. How do the poor people in Guinea benefit from downstream development?


Well I hope we will have the first projects ready to go in two years. Possibly less than two years but this sort of projects, the scale, needs a great deal of time. The consultation processes, the environmental assessments, social involvement, participation of stakeholders. This can't be done overnight, it takes time. But it is very clear the sooner the benefits can be realised the greater the commitment of cooperation.


Massively. What I am hearing from here in Ethiopia from very senior figures is that this can be transformational. It can transform the economy over time because it means opening up borders.

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Sydney Morning Herald
September 3, 2003

Dr Kerry Schott is the chairman of the EPA. This is an edited version of a paper she gave at The Sydney Institute last night.

In the past, most well-known environmental problems were presented as black and white (almost moral) issues: do we dam the Franklin, mine Myall Lakes or get sewage off the beaches? Minimum standards and licences for industry are and have been quite effective at addressing these "single point" pollution issues.  But now most of these point sources are well addressed, the bigger challenges are the more diffuse sources of pollution and the sum of the actions of millions of Australians in their workplaces and homes.

Voluntary programs have been a favourite tool of governments over the past few years, and with industry, too. Although they are often successful in raising awareness and rewarding best practice, the evidence is that they are extremely limited in achieving outcomes. Market-based approaches are the only way to tackle many difficult environmental issues, from diffuse source pollution to water scarcity. However, they need a regulatory underpinning to be effective. We all rely on systems that assure us that if we make an exchange, everyone will keep their side of the deal.

Market-based mechanisms allow governments to introduce market drivers for better environmental performance while allowing flexibility for innovation and least cost solutions. For example, in the Hunter Valley, the Environment Protection Authority has established a world-leading salinity trading scheme to cap the overall salt loads entering waterways. Our role is to define the total allowable emissions compatible with a democratically determined environmental goal.

This creates a framework within which industry can get on with its business. The EPA is not anti-business and nothing pleases it more than seeing pollution decrease and industry activity increase. Companies either implement technologies to reduce discharges or buy credits from those who can do so at lower cost. It has been a great success. River salinity has been halved and industrial activity has grown dramatically.

The EPA, with Sydney Water and the NSW Government, is developing a proposal for a similar scheme to address unsustainable levels of water consumption in the Sydney basin. Sydney is using 106 per cent of our safe dam yield. There are many cost-effective things we can do to use less, including developing more water-efficient homes and appliances, capturing rainwater and water recycling. These "demand management solutions" are cheaper and more sustainable than committing to major new infrastructure. 

The scheme being explored is about creating a market for the private sector to offer water efficiency services. The working title is WETS - a water efficiency trading scheme. Essentially, if water consumption exceeds the safe yield, Sydney Water would be required to buy "credits" that represent water savings services provided by private sector firms. This kind of solution will provide flexibility to allow least-cost solutions and will encourage innovation. Sample offerings could include effluent recycling pipelines, water tanks built into new development, bulk stormwater capture and water pipe "leak seekers".

We cannot expect business to solve our environmental challenges on goodwill alone. Governments must change the market rules and market signals to ensure that businesses are working towards a sustainable future, not away from it. This type of approach shows promise in tackling global warming through a market for carbon credits, in urban water through such schemes as WETS, and in agricultural water through allocations and trades.  The COAG agreement last Friday was a positive development towards delivering environmental outcomes through a market-based approach to water management. However, we are yet to see progress on a market-based approach to climate change at a national level.

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44) GIWA: EXPERTS RANK AREAS OF CONCERN: The Global International Water Assessment has released this document highlighting issues related to the destruction and degradation of ecosystems and overfishing stand out as the areas showing the most severe impacts in most sub-regions.

That is the present situation in terms of how experts in the world rank the areas of concern and the likely direction of future changes for the environmental impacts. See the final version of the matrix illustrating the scores assigned to each issue, by sub-regional task teams and the predicted direction of future changes.


Other key GIWA documents include:

NEWSLETTER: The latest GIW newsletter is now available.


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45) UNEP: Dams and Development Programme: The latest newsletter is now available.

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46) SPLASH! The latest edition of SLACH is now available. Internet:

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47) WORLD RIVERS REVIEW: The latest edition of world Rivers review is now available.

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48) DEFRA: River quality figures for 2002: DEFRA has published its headline indicator for river water quality for 2002.

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