The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd) presents
January 16 to February 20, 2004
Editor's note: Welcome to the eight issue of WATER-L News ©, compiled by Richard Sherman <firstname.lastname@example.org>. 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 <http://iisd.ca/scripts/lyris.pl?join=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 <email@example.com>. 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> for permission.) If you have been forwarded this issue and would like to subscribe to WATER-L, please visit <http://iisd.ca/scripts/lyris.pl?join=water-l> or contact our On-Line Assistant, Diego Noguera at <email@example.com>.
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OSLO - The world is slipping behind a U.N. goal of supplying fresh water by 2015 to more than half a billion people in developing nations who currently lack it, the head of a U.N. Commission said. Governments agreed at a 2002 Earth Summit in Johannesburg to work out by next year national plans for halving the proportion of people with no access to fresh water by 2015, now 1.2 billion people or one in five of the world population.
"These plans will not be in place in all countries by 2005," said Boerge Brende, chairman of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development which follows up the Johannesburg goals. "It's clear that some countries haven't thought about it so far...and it's often the countries that are worst off in water," he told a news conference. "We must have plans in place or we don't have a chance of reaching the 2015 goals."
Brende, who is also Norway's environment minister, said about 100 environment ministers would meet in New York on April 14-30 to review the water targets, and a related goal of improving sanitation for an estimated 2.4 billion people. He said the water targets were "still doable...but it will be a big challenge". Sub-Saharan Africa faces the biggest problems while India and China seem better prepared despite their huge populations. Fresh water would have spin-off benefits in curbing poverty, improving health or even in defusing potential conflicts in areas with shared rivers, Brende said.
The Middle East or central Asia could be flashpoints in future with no proper management of scant water resources. "And 70 percent of those who are sick in India are ill because of water-related illnesses," Brende said. "In Africa one of the main reasons why girls do not go to school is that they spend half their day fetching water and the other half looking for firewood. So there's no time for education," he said.
Brende said that the water goal meant that 300,000 people needed to gain access to fresh supplies every day. "In the 1980s, the so-called water decade, we managed 250,000 people a day over 10 years," he said. "But it wasn't properly planned." He said that many water pumps set up in Africa in the 1980s were not in use because of a lack of spare parts. Elsewhere, water supplies have been polluted by sewage.
In Nairobi, Brende said slum dwellers had to use bottled water, costing more than petrol, while less impoverished people with piped supplies got water cheap because of subsidies. And in some nations irrigation systems had siphoned off fresh water to crops. The Aral Sea in central Asia has shrunk to a quarter of its original size due to water use by cotton farmers.
The Daily Star
About 50 lakh city people including the urban poor do not have access to safe water and sanitation, said the speakers at a workshop yesterday. They said co-ordinated efforts are needed to face the challenge of the millennium goal ensuring hundred percent safe water and sanitation facilities in the country by 2010. The workshop on 'Water and Sanitation Issues of the Urban Poor' was organised by the Environment and Population Research Centre (EPRC), Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) and the Institute of Advance Studies (IAS) of the United Nations University, Japan. State Minister for LGRD and Co-operatives Ziaul Haque Zia attended the workshop as chief guest while WASA Chairman M A Hakim and Katsunori Suzuki of IAS as special guests.
The state minister stressed the need for creating mass awareness as many people even in rich group in the country do not use sanitary latrine due to lack of social 'consciousness'. "The WASA has increased its supply of water. But we have to look for alternative sources as ground water level of the capital is rapidly going down," he added.
Katsunori Suzuki stressed the need for developing appropriate technologies considering the respective community's economic and environmental condition. He said general health education is very important to solve the sanitation problem. In the daylong workshop, the participants presented five papers on existing problems in water and sanitation sectors. EPRC Chairperson Bilquis Amin Haque placed some recommendations to resolve the existing problems.
She cited the example of a model project at Baunia in Mirpur in the city for the urban poor. In her recommendations Bilquis Amin laid emphasis on the selection of appropriate technology, access to tap water for slum dwellers, and co-ordination among the NGOs working with the urban poor in this field. She said the sanitation problem could be resolved to a great extent providing technology according to economic and environmental condition of a particular community. WASA Managing Director A N H Akhter Hossain also spoke on the occasion.
JAKARTA An outbreak of dengue fever has killed at least 175 people as of Thursday, and a health official warned that floods beginning to inundate Jakarta and other cities would worsen the situation. The mosquito-borne outbreak has spread to four more provinces and infected 8,735 people in a total of 12 provinces since Jan. 1, said Dr. Mariani Reksoprojo of the Health Ministry, who called the outbreak "extraordinary." Most of the cases are on Java, where more than half of Indonesia's 212 million people live. The number of infections is more than double those in the same period last year.
Reksoprojo said the death toll had risen to 175 on Thursday morning. Several days of rain that has caused flooding in the capital and other cities will swell the number of dengue cases, she said, adding, "It's clear it will worsen the situation." Local newspaper reports on Thursday said 1,800 people were forced to flee flooded homes in one Jakarta neighborhood while more than 1,000 homes on the city's outskirts were submerged. Television pictures showed waist-high water in one West Jakarta neighborhood, and knee-high floodwater had washed across parts of roads and entered buildings in the east of the capital.
Reksoprojo said the impact from flooding would be indirect because the female aedes mosquitoes, which transmit dengue viruses, do not breed in muddy flood waters. They prefer clean water from containers like earthenware jars, cisterns, discarded plastic food containers or used automobile tires, and other items that collect rainwater or drops that fall from an air conditioner. But because of the flooding will cause disruption, people will not be able to devote enough attention to keeping their environment clean, which is the key to avoiding dengue, Reksoprojo said.
There is no vaccine or cure for dengue hemorrhagic fever. Indonesian health officials suspect a new virus strain could be responsible for the outbreak. But Dr. Georg Petersen, the head of the World Health Organization in Indonesia, said it was hard to say whether a new strain was involved in the outbreak, which was not totally unexpected. "Every year there has been a steady increase in dengue cases all over Southeast Asia," he said. Dengue also peaks in cycles of about five years, and the current infections come at the peak of that cycle, he said.
The Monitor (Kampala)
Government will increase financing for the water sub-sector to Shs 31.6 billion in 2006/'7 from Shs 14.2 billion in 2003/'4. A representative of the Minister of State for Environment, Lt. Gen. Jeje Odongo, revealed the change at the launching of a Shs 180 million Kekeje gravity water scheme on Buvuma Islands in Mukono district recently. The launching took place at Buvuma county headquarters. The piped water scheme will benefit about 7,000 people in Busamuzi and Nairambi sub-counties. It is funded by the government under the District Water and Sanitation Development Conditional Grant.
Odongo's representative, Mr Mugisha Shillingi, said government is to provide safe water to all rural people by 2015 and to the urban population by 2010. "We still have a significant task to achieve the goal of universal coverage because at present only 58 percent of the rural population has access to clean water while the coverage for urban areas stands at only 60 percent," Mugisha said.
The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal will soon embark on a water and sanitation programme targeting about 300 schools in the Midlands. The department says it plans to install infrastructure for sanitation and water supplies in these schools at least within the first five years of the next decade of freedom and democracy in the country. The water and sanitation project is part of an agreement signed between the District Department of Education in Pietermaritzburg and Umngeni Water. The agreement was signed in November last year and is based on a six-year plan to provide sanitation and water to schools in three District Municipalities, that is Ugu, Sisonke and Umgungundlovu.
It will see the 300 schools representing thousands of learners accessing water, which is a basic service, at reasonable charges by the provincial water supplier. Umngeni Water has been involved with the department before, but this is the first time that it has made firm commitments towards alleviating the health hazards posed by inadequate sanitation in schools, especially in rural communities. Umngeni Water Manager Minnie Venter-Hillerbrand said studies showed that out of 6 000 schools in the province, only about 8 percent had adequate water supply and sanitation. She said research also showed a link between the drop out of girls from schools due to challenges posed on them by lack of sanitation. "For girls it is difficult to urinate in an open space," she said. Ms Venter-Hillerbrand added that most affected schools were in rural areas, which lacked adequate water supplies.
Education department spokesperson Muzi Kubheka said part of the agreement was that the department would include health and hygiene education as part of the curriculum. "Unless people are taught from a young age about the importance of hygiene they will get used to poor hygiene and accept it as a way of life," he said. He said since the agreement was signed, about 40 piping systems worth R2 million had been bought and installation would start soon. Mr Kubheka added that the department compiled a Geographic Information System providing Umngeni Water with accurate network information about schools in need of piped water. Selection criteria have already been drawn up following information from surveys sent out to various schools in the province. He said the venture showed a remarkable commitment and set an example of how government could work with the private sector to benefit people.
Fourteen international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are spending 40 million dollars to provide potable water and sanitation facilities, under an integrated water resources management in some rural communities of Ghana, Mali and Niger. The NGOs, which would be supported by the West African Water Initiative (WAWI), include World Vision International (WVI), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), NewEnergy and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The others are the Conrad Hilton Foundation, Cornell International Research Institution for Food, Agriculture and Development, Carter Centre, Lions Club International Foundation and Winrock International. Alhaji Mustapha Ali Iddris, Minister of Works and Housing, who launched the WAWI in Tamale on Thursday, said the implementation of the project in Ghana would help reduce the incidence of guinea worm infection and other water borne-diseases in the beneficiary communities. He said the successful execution of the project would impart positively on the economic welfare of the people, particularly women and children.
Alhaji Idris, who is also Member of Parliament for Gukpegu/Sabongida, commended the World Vision Ghana for providing water and sanitation amenities in the country, especially in the Afram Plains where more than 1,120 boreholes with hand-pumps had been provided. He appealed to the Ghana Water Company and other water related agencies to ensure regular water supply to the communities. Mr Bismark Nerquaye-Tetteh, WAWI Project Coordinator for the three countries, said the NGOs would work in partnership with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), District Assemblies, Health Management Teams, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. He said the WAWI's programme started in Mali and Niger last two years and expressed the hope that Ghana's project would be completed by 2008.
Mail and Guardian
Nigeria’s Niger Delta region is one of the largest wetlands in the world. It is a source of great irony, therefore, that people living in the area struggle to get hold of clean drinking water: they take what they can from creeks and rivers. “To drink water in this village is a problem for us. As you come here now, we can’t give you the water to drink; if we give it to you we are poisoning you,” says Daniel Akpere of Okuokolo village. Part of the blame for this situation is laid at the door of petroleum companies that operate in the oil-rich region: activists accuse them of polluting water supplies. The lack of potable water in the delta also points to failures in government policy, however.
Nigeria’s Ministry of Water Resources says efforts over the past century to develop national water resources have not amounted to much: in 1999, only 30% of Nigerians had access to potable water. Providing safe drinking water for all of the country’s 120-million people will require considerable investment in the construction of new dams and water works -- and in the repair of existing water facilities, most of which are in a very bad state. The commercial capital of Lagos would require the largest investment, as about 10% of the population is concentrated in this city. Olumuyiwa Coker, CEO of the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), says that in the next 10 to 15 years about $2-billion will have to be spent to meet the water needs of the city’s growing number of residents. But, funds for this investment are in desperately short supply.
“Production of water is extremely capital intensive and given the population of Lagos state, there is no way the government can sustain such an investment,” observes Coker. Nigeria’s other 35 states are also unable to shoulder the burden of providing water for their populations. The central government announced recently that it would assist cash-strapped states with their water programmes. President Olusegun Obasanjo has unveiled a new funding formula under which the central government would provide 50% of the money needed for all rural water projects -- and 30% for urban projects. The head of state said he hoped this plan would encourage states to intensify efforts at providing water. The government also hopes that the funding formula will move Nigeria closer to achieving one of the targets set out in the millennium development goals, namely to ensure that the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water is halved by 2015.
Admirable as the formula appears, some view it with scepticism. “Saying it is one thing and actualising it is another thing. We are yet to receive anything from the federal government,” says Coker. He also opposes the idea that the government should fund water projects alone. “I don’t believe in injecting public funds into utilities. That model does not work: [the] government has no business in business -- and [as] services provided by utilities are really a business ... you must run them as business,” says Coker. “Clearly the old model has failed and we need to look at new ways of operating the industry such that it is socially responsible and also efficiently run, so it meets the needs of the people.” Tunji Lardner Jnr, senior communications adviser for the LSWC, says it has started an initiative to encourage private-sector participation in water provision -- and that this has already helped boost the water supply in Lagos.
But, the increased availability of potable water in the commercial centre is unlikely to be welcomed by everyone. Over the years, private water vendors have taken advantage of inadequate supplies to make a fortune selling drinking water to Nigerians. The cost of a day’s supply of water from these vendors is estimated to be the equivalent of what one would pay for a month’s supply of public water, if this were available. Coker claims that the vendors have been vandalising water installations to frustrate the LSWC’s effort to provide potable water in Lagos: “We have traced a lot of the vandalisation we have experienced to the informal market ... As LSWC has improved its performance, there has been a direct correlation of a high level of vandalisation of our facilities.” No matter what the difficulties, however, authorities will not be able to escape demands for better water provision -- in Lagos and beyond. People in many parts of northern Nigeria are also experiencing water shortages because the advancing Sahara desert has dried up some of their water sources. Lake Chad -- the largest lake in the country -- has shrunk 60% in recent years. -- IPS
GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama, on Monday, said the Government would not be able to meet the 1.6 billion dollars required to fully provide water to urban communities by 2018, unless it entered into partnership with other stakeholders. He said: "The time has come for nations to realise that investments in water and sanitation are enormous. In Ghana for the urban sector alone, about 1.6 billion dollars is needed at an annual inflow of about 100 million dollars... Certainly, Government alone cannot provide such funding."
Vice President Mahama said these when he opened the 12th Congress of the Union of African Water Suppliers (UAWS), in Accra. It is under the theme: "Partnership for Sustainable Access to Drinking Water and Sanitation." More than 500 delegates, comprising water experts, financiers, policy makers and companies involved in water supply and sanitation equipment are attending the four-day event. Vice President Mahama noted that the situation in Ghana, where a significant portion of the population lacked access to safe drinking water and sanitation was similar to that of other African countries. "The sanitation situation is even worse," adding, "Statistics indicate that less than 50 per cent of rural households have access to adequate toilet facilities." He, therefore, called for partnerships among Governments, such as the Lome-Sogakope Water Project, between Ghana and Togo that has been initiated to share water resources.
Vice President Mahama said it was crucial for Governments to seek financial, technical and managerial resources from the private sector to complement their efforts in meeting the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs seek to halve the population of people without potable water by 2015. The Vice President, however, cautioned that appropriate partnerships must be developed in the interest of the customer, a key stakeholder in the sector. He, consequently, challenged the delegates to devise pragmatic means of dealing with the issues in line with the NEPAD vision of making partnership to achieve sustainable development.
The delegates would consider issues such as institutional reforms; human resource management; tariff and operational cost; customer management and financial development and reforms. Works and Housing Minister Alhaji Mustapha Idris, stressed the need to protect water resources to meet rising demands associated with population growth. Alhaji Idris said education must be strengthened to encourage people, particularly those residing near water basins to protect them and guard against conflicts over ownership. He said forming partnerships was key to water delivery as had been proved from the experiences of the Community and Water and Sanitation Agency, where partnerships between Government and development agencies had proved fruitful for rural areas.
Mr Abdelaziz Mabrouk, Chairman of UWAS, said it was unacceptable that five million people die each year from water-borne diseases with more than half of Africa's population lacking access to potable water, while two-thirds do not have toilet facilities. He stressed UAWS' commitment to help improve the situation. Before the end of the function, however, Mr Mabrouk performed a ceremony that changed the name of the Union to Africa Water Association. The Association has membership of 106 utilities in 33 African countries and 66 affiliated international organisation across the globe. About 50 international and local water-related bodies are exhibiting their products at the conference.
Two people have died of cholera and three other cases reported since 6 February in Gihanga commune in Burundi's northwestern province of Bubanza. Local officials fear that the disease could spread because of a prolonged water shortage. The administrator of Gihanga, Jean-Boso Hatungimana, told IRIN on Monday the risk of cholera spreading was high as 2,900 families in the commune had been without water for four months. He added that the cholera epidemic erupted in Bulamata sector but could spread to other sectors of the commune.
The state utility, Water and Electricity Company, disconnected water supply to Gihanga centre for non-payment of bills, Hatungimana said. The commune owes the state utility 60 million Burundi francs (US $57,000) in bills arrears accumulated over the last 10 years of civil war. Hatungimana said other sectors of Gihanga also risked having their water disconnected for non-payment of bills. He said negotiations with the state utility were underway for the payment of 15 million francs ($14,000) so that it resumes supplies. The water problem is not peculiar to Gihanga Commune. In neighbouring Mpanda commune, several sectors have been without water as the water and electricity company has also disconnected their supply. Mpanda owes the state utility more than 33 million francs ($31,455). "We have no cases of cholera so far, but we have started sensitising the population for fear of the epidemic from the neighbouring Gihanga spreading to Mpanda," Niyonkuru Fidele, the administrator of the commune, said.
Gatumba centre in Mutimbuzi, one of the communes of Bujumbura Rural Province, is not faring any better. An estimated 5,000 people of Rwarugabo sector are depending on the Italian NGO, Coopi, or the International Rescue Committee for their water supply. However, many of the residents people rely on the Rusizi River. The head of Gatumba zone, Prosper Banzamba, told IRIN that some sectors such as Mushasha, which hosts mainly displaced people from different suburbs of the capital, Bujumbura, was also badly affected by the water shortage. "There has been no planning of water supply to the extent that the sector of Mushasha does not have a single tap for a population of about 9,000 people," he said. The residents said they buy water from neighbouring villages, at 30 francs ($0.03), a price many cannot afford on a daily basis. As an alternative, some Mushasha residents have dug boreholes and the rest rely on Rusizi River. Banzamba said that the unreliable water supply had led to regular cholera outbreaks in the area since November 2003.
A United Nations Team tasked to assist developing countries to radically reduce poverty by 2015 has started the process to secure several million dollars for Ghana to speedily implement its poverty reduction strategy programme. The Leader of the Team, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, said the team was also assisting Ghana to develop the best strategies and operational frameworks that would facilitate development. He said the facility would also cover Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Dominican Republic, Kenya and Senegal, which were identified with Ghana as the potential developing counties best prepared to meet the UN Secretary-General's Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Prof. Sachs said in Ghana, the focus would be the raising of the productivity of farmers, especially small-holder ones through the provision of irrigation and fertilizers, investing in energy, infrastructure, healthcare, education, water and sanitation. The Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General was in Ghana last week with a 15-member team, for a three-day visit to discuss major challenges and opportunities toward developing needs assessment and confirming a timetable and organizational plan for achieving the goal's targets. Prof. Sachs praised Ghana for her efforts at improving human development through the poverty reduction strategy, saying it was consistent with the objectives of the MDG.
However, he stressed the need to revise the Ghana Poverty reduction Strategy (GPRS) to make it more comprehensive and robust to meet the MDG's target of 2015. He said Ghana, which is being governed well, has very bright prospects for achieving significant poverty reduction with the requisite investments, private sector participation, community action and civil society contribution. Prof. Sachs said countries, which were on the right track toward achieving socio-economic prosperity must be assisted by richer countries to meet their aspirations. That is why the seven countries were chosen for support under the first phase of the Millennium Project, commissioned in 2002. He said Ghana must work with other African countries toward a "green revolution" on the continent because there was a lot of potential for Africa to make it. He said his meeting with Vice President Aliu Mahama and other representatives of Ghana's development partners was fruitful, with strong indication of commitment from them.
Vice President Mahama welcomed the assistance to mobilize funds, saying it would accelerate the government's agenda to reduce poverty and create wealth. He explained that Ghana had to prioritise the programmes for poverty reduction because of financial constraints. The support for investments in water and sanitation, agriculture, and health care, particularly in reducing malaria and HIV/AIDS, he said, was very appreciable since those diseases affected productivity. "I would like to stress that water is life and assistance to the sector would, therefore, improve the management of malaria and help agriculture," he said. He, however, called for fairer trade regimes to enable developing countries to sell their products otherwise the increases in their productivity levels would see limited prosperity.
Vice President Mahama said Cabinet at its last meeting focused a lot of attention on HIV/AIDS and considered making condoms more accessible to those who needed it. Finance and Economic Planning Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo said Ghana would meet all the targets of the MDG if she received the requisite financial and human resources from the team. The Millennium Project was commissioned following the Millennium Declaration adopted in September 2000 by governments of 189 member states of the world body to assist developing countries to half poverty levels by 2015.
11) EVEN TAINTED WATER IS
PRECIOUS IN HAITI
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- It was the end of the day and the water was almost gone. The six faucets at this public trough were dry. Still, Noel Zilice sat pouring what was left from bucket, to pan, to bowl. With her dirty rag, she washed her dishes. When she was done, she dipped her hands into the dirty water and wiped her son's face. Next she poured the water onto her feet and legs. Three times a day, Zilice, 37, leaves her youngest children at her house on top of a crumbled hill in a neighborhood called Nan Siko Pwolonje to descend into the belly of the slum to fetch water from spigots at a government water site. And three times a day, she fills a 5-gallon tub, balances it on her head and walks back to her one-room house, careful not to spill a drop. The water may not be safe to drink, but it is precious.
She said she has no alternative to drinking tainted water, which kills thousands of people in Haiti every year. This is her test for the daily water: "If it is clean, nothing will happen. When the water is not clean, my children get diarrhea." It is a risk that millions of Haitians must take each day. Although there has been a public campaign to teach people how to drop a small quantity of bleach into their buckets to purify the water by chlorinating it, no one has been able to instruct families on what to do if they have no money to buy bleach. "Sometimes," Zilice said, "I use lemon." "When we see the doctor, the doctor will say, 'Take precautions for the water. Put Clorox so you can drink it,' " she said. But when there is no bleach, she said her children sometimes become sick with fever. That is when she boils the water if she can. Boiling water is a luxury for the rich. "I don't always have money to buy charcoal or gas to boil the water," she said. "I know it is a risk, but I have no choice."
Lack of clean water is only one of the life-threatening problems facing Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where the life expectancy is 51 years and 80 percent of people live below the poverty line. Sixty percent of Haiti's 8 million people do not have safe drinking water, according to the government statistics, and most do not have access to basic medical care. Dirty water, which can cause skin ailments, dysentery and lead to dehydration, is everywhere. The child mortality rate is 110 per 1,000, more than 13 times the U.S. rate, and more than 10 percent of infant deaths are attributed to dehydration, according to government statistics. Most Haitians live in a cesspool of poverty. There is a rumbling political crisis in Haiti between President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and those calling for his ouster. Aristide, a former priest in the slums, was voted into office in 1990 after decades of dictatorial rule by the Duvalier family, whose corrupt government allowed the advance of poverty and the progressive collapse of Haiti's infrastructure.
Aristide was deposed by a military coup in 1991, and was escorted back to Haiti by the U.S. military in 1994. But since being reelected in 2000, he has been unable to raise living conditions. He does not have the support of the Bush administration, which accuses him of corruption and a lack of commitment to democracy. According to a U.N. report, Haiti's social and economic conditions deteriorated after the 1991 coup. Some Haitians and human rights groups have said that a U.S.-led freeze on international loans to Aristide's government has hurt the country's already fragile infrastructure. A delayed package of $500 million in international loans to Haiti included a package aimed at improving health care, education, transportation and clean water. As a result of the delayed aid, "Haitians' access to potable water has decreased significantly, particularly in Port-au-Prince," said a recent report by the Haiti Action Committee, a nonprofit advocacy group.
12 February 2004 – With more than 2 billion people in developing nations depending on the rice-based system for their economic livelihood, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today opened a two-day international conference aimed at increasing production through greater efficiency and sustainability. “Intensification of rice production in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner is essential for food security, particularly in Asia and Africa,” FAO said in a news release at the start of the meeting at its Rome headquarters.
The Conference is a part of the UN General Assembly’s International Year of Rice 2004 (IYR) awareness and action campaign, which FAO sees as a vehicle for achieving the first of the eight Millennium Development Goals calling for a 50 per cent reduction of hunger and poverty by 2015. Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. FAO projections show that by 2030, total demand will be 38 per cent higher than the annual amounts produced between 1997 and 1999. In order to meet this, new methodologies and production technologies are necessary because land and water resources are under threat.
Of the 840 million people still suffering from chronic hunger, more than half live in areas dependent on rice production for food, income and employment. Because rice does not contain all the elements necessary for a balanced diet, a key aspect of the IYR is to encourage rice producers to intensify production systems and fully exploit their capacity to raise fish and livestock.
Rice-based systems provide “a prism through which the interconnected relationships between agriculture, food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development issues can be clearly understood,” said the Assistant Director General to the FAO Agriculture Department, Louise Fresco.“This is an action campaign – a chance for us to make good on our promise to the billions of people for whom ‘rice is life,’” Ms. Fresco said of IYR. The conference will highlight efforts being made at the national and international levels to overcome major production constraints and will discuss opportunities for increased efficiency and sustainability. It will also assess the potential of science and new technologies, such as biotechnology, to improve production and focus on the need to preserve and protect the wide range of genetic resources within rice-based systems.
The World Bank has approved a $220 million package, the second such credit, extended to help Andhra Pradesh undertake economic reforms and reduce poverty. "The $220 million package supports the ongoing reform programme in Andhra Pradesh, India's fifth largest state, with a population of 76 million," the World Bank stated. The loan-cum-credit is the second in a series of budget support operations designed to help the state restore fiscal sustainability, improve service delivery to the poor, and accelerate growth.
The first operation, amounting to $250 million, supported reforms in fiscal policy, public expenditure management, and governance, and was co-financed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) for a further $100 million. The new operation has been in the pipeline for some time and recognises progress made to date. It will again be co-financed by DFID. "Andhra Pradesh has shown a consistent commitment to poverty reduction and is one of India's leading reforming states. It has made encouraging progress, but a major effort is still needed in order to accelerate poverty reduction and reach the Millennium Development Goals," said Michael Carter, the World Bank's country director for India.
The $220 million loan/credit comprises a $110 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development that is payable in 20 years, with five years of grace, and a $110 million interest-free credit from the International Development Association, the World Bank's concessionary arm, with a 35-year maturity and 10 years of grace. The central government will borrow the funds and pass it to the state as budgetary support. "Andhra Pradesh has made remarkable progress in improving socio-economic indicators over the past decade," said Vinaya Swaroop, lead economist with the World Bank. In a decade from 1990, the share of the population living in poverty has declined from 30.4 percent to 21.6 percent in 2000, Swaroop pointed out.
Over the same period, the literacy rate (among 15 to 24 year olds) rose by 31.5 percent, access to safe water expanded by over 40 percent, and the proportion of births attended by a health professional increased by nearly 60 percent. Overall economic performance has also been robust. Real gross state domestic product growth averaged 5.9 percent in Andhra Pradesh over the last five years compared to the national average of 5.4 percent for India as a whole. "Although this progress is encouraging, much remains to be done," the World Bank said. The second phase of the Andhra Pradesh programme would include restructuring and privatising public enterprises, improving fiscal discipline, facilitating reforms in education, health and power and striving to provide better structural measures for economic reforms.
UN Integrated Regional
The African Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Tanzania signed an agreement on Tuesday for a US $22.98-million grant to finance a water supply project in the northeastern district of Monduli. "It [the project] will help improve rural water supply for domestic and livestock consumption, enhance community awareness of the need for better sanitation and improve overall natural resources management in an arid area," the ADB reported from its headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia. The bank said the project would also lead to a reduction of water-related poverty in the selected areas of the district.
The ADB official in charge of north, east and south operations and the private sector, Theodore Nkodo, signed the agreement on behalf of the bank while the Tanzanian ambassador in Egypt, Kassim Mwawado, represented the Tanzanian government. The board of directors of the African Development Fund, the lending arm of the ADB, approved the Monduli project on 27 November 2003. When complete, the project would provide water supply infrastructure consisting of water source, intake works, treatment, transmission and distribution, the ADB reported. Under the project, seven existing surface water storage facilities would be rehabilitated in four villages and eight new ones constructed in eight villages. Work on groundwater sources will include protection of eight springs in seven villages and the drilling and development of 18 boreholes for six of the villages in different locations, the ADB said.
It added that the project area comprises 18 villages and two urban settlements including the district administrative centre of Monduli and Namanga. Monduli District has 73 villages but the targeted ones are spread over Manyara, Kisongo and Longido divisions, which have a combined population of about 72,000. "Tanzania has made good progress in the implementation of its programme of economic and social reforms, which is anchored on the poverty reduction strategy of the country," Nkodo said during the signing of the agreement.
Agencia de Informacao de
Mozambique's Deputy Agriculture Minister Joao Carrilho urged his ministry's staff on Thursday to pay particular attention to water resource management and soil fertility, in implementing the second phase of the Special Food Security Programme (PAN-II). Speaking during the ceremony to launch this programme, the first phase of which was undertaken between 1997 and 2002, Carrilho said "the fight against hunger requires a broad approach, taking measures not only to increase production among peasant farmers, but also setting up programmes to give greater access to food to needy people, both in rural and urban communities".
PAN-II, financed by the Italian government to the tune of 3.5 million US dollars for the next five years, will benefit about 25,000 peasants in three provinces, namely Maputo, Sofala, and Manica. "In this phase, the programme will, unfortunately, cover only three provinces, although the number of districts has doubled, from six to 12", Carrilho said. "The most important aspect is that, instead of benefiting only 300 farmers, as was the case in the first phase, it is now to cover about 25,000". The second phase will essentially focus on two main areas, namely participatory extension, and assessment in the area of food security, in the districts of Boane, Matutuine, Manhica, and Moamba, in Maputo province, Nhamatanda, Gorongosa, Caia, and Maringue, in Sofala, and Gondola, Sussundenga, Guru, and Machaze, in Manica. Carrilho explained that PAN-II, assisted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "is part of the overall strategy for the fight against absolute poverty, which is also part of the Mozambican government's programme, in line with its national food security strategy".
The ceremony to launch this programme served also as the opening of a two day seminar where Agriculture Ministry technicians and cooperation partners are to discuss mechanisms for the implementation of the programme. Carrilho said that such a meeting will only be fruitful if it is to discuss aspects that will help bring benefits to the people, otherwise it will be a waste of money. To illustrate his point, he said that, for instance, if the meeting is unfruitful, the 100,000 dollars spent on organizing it would have been better used in creating irrigation facilities for about 500 households, taking into account the fact that one foot pump costs about 100 dollars, plus another 100 dollars to supply the household with agricultural inputs and other components.
“Poor water quality has large economic and quality of life costs, both now and in the future, in terms of health impacts and foregone revenues. Clean water is an integral part of the strategy for reducing poverty and achieving Millennium Development Goals in the Philippines,” says World Bank Philippines Country Director Robert Vance Pulley at the launch of the Philippine Environment Monitor 2003 on Water Quality. According to the Government’s monitoring data, just over 36 percent of the country’s river systems are classified as sources of public water supply and that up to 58 percent of groundwater sampled is contaminated with coliform and needs treatment. Approximately 31 percent of illnesses monitored for a five-year period were also caused by water-borne sources, and many areas are experiencing a shortage of water supply, during the dry season.
Untreated wastewater affects health by spreading disease-causing bacteria and viruses, makes water unfit for drinking and recreational use, threatens biodiversity, and deteriorates overall quality of life. Known diseases caused by poor water include gastro-enteritis, diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, and more recently, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The numbers of water-related health outbreaks including deaths are going up, as reported in the newspapers the past few months. Losses due to environmental damage in terms of compensation and claims are on the rise in the Philippines. Nearly 2.2 million metric tons of organic pollution is produced annually by domestic (48 percent), agricultural (37 percent), and industrial (15 percent) sectors. In water-critical regions—National Capital Region (Metro Manila), Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, and Central Visayas—water pollution is dominated by domestic and industrial sources. The annual economic losses caused by water pollution are estimated at PhP67 billion (US$1.3 billion), including PhP3 billion for health, PhP17 billion for fisheries production, and PhP47 for tourism.
To improve water quality, the Monitor suggests that the Philippines needs to:
Luiz Tavares, World Bank Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist, says “One action that can make a tremendous difference is the inclusion of sewerage charges in the water supply bill.” Adds Jitendra Shah, World Bank Senior Environmental Engineer and principal author of the Environment Monitor, “The pending Clean Water Act is a monumental step towards an integrated approach, taking into account social, economic, and environmental considerations, to prevent , abate, and control water pollution in the country.” In conjunction with the launch of the Water Monitor, the World Bank, in partnership with DENR and USAID, also organized a roundtable discussion to facilitate stakeholders from Congress, LGU executives, donors, and civil society to build consensus and find areas for concrete collaboration. As part of its knowledge dissemination and advocacy strategy, DENR and the World Bank are also planning information and education activities to further disseminate the findings and key messages of the report to other stakeholders and encourage public advocacy and participation.
Millennium Water Alliance
HOUSTON, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) applauds Congress for providing $100 million under the omnibus federal spending bill to address the critical shortage of safe drinking water in developing countries. The Alliance is a consortium of seven humanitarian aid agencies working to achieve safe water and sanitation for poor communities in the developing world.
Approximately 2 million people around the world die each year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. Over one third of these deaths occur in Africa, mostly among children under the age of five. Water-related diseases are also especially threatening to people with HIV/AIDS, who have compromised immune systems with limited resistance to infections. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly 30 million people living with HIV/AIDS. More than 270 million people in the region do not have access to safe drinking water. Nearly all of them live in poor, rural communities.
"Clean water is a leading component of economic development that lifts people out of poverty by ensuring better health and better living conditions," says Malcolm Morris, MWA chairman. "Simple hand washing plays a major role in preventing the transmission of disease, but efforts to encourage this practice will only be successful if there is enough safe water available for washing." "No child in any country in the world should die or suffer from a water- related disease," adds Morris, MWA chairman. The Alliance is committed to working with communities and governments to shape solutions that go beyond individual projects and develop the capacity of communities to meet their own water supply and sanitation needs. MWA is partnering with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Ethiopia to enable 74,000 people in rural communities to access clean, safe water and sanitation and is planning to expand its program in Ethiopia this year and to other East African countries in 2005 and 2006. About MWA: The Alliance is a consortium of seven leading U.S. humanitarian and faith-based non-governmental organizations that work across the globe serving millions of people with safe drinking water, hygiene and improved sanitation. Founding members include CARE, Emmanuel International, Lifewater International, Living Water International, Water Missions International, WaterPartners International and World Vision. MWA was formed in December 2002 to assist with the U.S. commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. UNICEF is an advisor to the MWA.
The European Commission has adopted a concrete proposal to allocate €1 billion from the 9th European Development Fund (EDF) reserve to improve access to water and sanitation for people in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). This forms part of the campaign to deliver on international targets to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The proposal would establish a facility to enhance the use of development aid to leverage significant amounts of funding for water and sanitation infrastructure from other financial sources, including private sector investments. This catalytic effect should be achieved through the provision of: (i) Technical assistance for the development and reform of water sector policies; and (ii) flexible and innovative methods of financing water and sanitation projects and programmes.
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson said: "Since the world summit in Johannesburg, much useful work has been done in reinforcing co-ordination and maximising the effect of available resources for water and sanitation. But if we are to give reality to the goals we have set ourselves we must now forcefully address the financing gap that we face. Significant amounts of additional funds are needed to deliver access to water and sanitation for the poor. And they are needed know. I therefore encourage member states to use this opportunity and take a bold and urgent decision on the mobilisation of the proposed € 1 billion from the 9th EDF to increase access to water and sanitation for people in ACP countries." 1.1 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion people do not have access to sanitation facilities. In response to this situation, world leaders gathered at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002 set themselves the goal of halving by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. While much is being done already to achieve these goals, funds remain scarce. It has been estimated that there is a current annual financing gap of € 42 billion if the targets on water and sanitation are to be met.
The objective of the proposed water facility is to boost the delivery of water and sanitation infrastructure in ACP countries by actively addressing the financing gap. With the € 1 billion water facility it would be possible to promote new initiatives, provide technical assistance, build research and management capacity in ACP countries and most importantly provide the flexible source of funding which is often the missing link in financing of sustainable water and sanitation related programmes. The facility would therefore have an important catalytic effect in generating additional funds for water and sanitation.
The proposed facility is based on three key principles:
The leaders of nine countries in the Sahel -- along the southern rim of the Sahara desert -- were meeting on Sunday evening in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott to discuss ways of managing water and agricultural resources in their arid region. The heads of the nine-nation Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) was expected to agree on guidelines for action over the next 10 years to protect their environment, CILSS executive secretary Moussa Mbenga told AFP. These actions would centre on managing water resources, halting soil degradation, livestock, irrigation and projects to provide artificial rains, Mbenga said.
CILSS was formed in 1973 by Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal and holds a summit every three years. It funds research on food security and combating the effects of drought and desertification in the Sahel, a region covering 5.4 million square kilometres (2.2 million square miles) inhabited by more than 50 million people. The summit on Sunday was being attended by the presidents of all the CILSS states except Burkina and Chad, who were being represented by their prime ministers. The Sahel is a transitional zone between the arid North and the tropical forests bordering the ocean to its south. Harvests are uncertain and the only viable plants are those that can withstand droughts.
In November 2003 scientists at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said food shortages in sub-Saharan Africa were likely to get worse in the next two decades unless urgent measures were taken to preserve water resources. In January last year the United Nations food agency, the World Food Programme, urged the international community to provide emergency relief for hundreds of thousands of people threatened by famine in the western Sahel following years of drought. Ten months later, the region experienced exceptionally heavy rains and floods, which the Red Cross said had left 30,000 people in need of urgent aid.
Associate Biosecurity Minister Marian Hobbs has welcomed an international move to prevent the potentially devastating effects of exotic marine pests such as invasive species of mussels, crabs, jellyfish and toxic algae being spread from ships’ ballast water. New Zealand is particularly susceptible to marine invasions and has actively pushed for international action to address the management of ballast water. The convention, which has yet to be ratified and passed into New Zealand law, was adopted at an international conference hosted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for safety and security of shipping and the protection of the environment from shipping impacts. It has been under discussion for 12 years.
Ships will be required to 'cleanse' their ballast by exchanging it for mid-ocean water on the way to another country. This is a difficult operation and it is hoped that in about five years new treatments, such as filtration and UV treatment to kill the organisms, will have been developed to replace this method. After 2009, most new ships will be required to meet the convention's discharge standard for treated ballast water. Existing ships will have about five additional years to comply with this standard, as it is more difficult to retrofit treatment systems. The IMO Secretary-General, Efthimios Mitropoulos, told conference delegates that the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens to new environments has been identified as one of the four greatest threats to the world’s oceans. "Given the international nature of shipping, the only way to address the problem effectively is through the adoption and implementation of a global legally binding instrument," he said.
Marian Hobbs said New Zealand already requires visiting ships to exchange ballast water before discharging in New Zealand ports. "The new convention will strengthen the ability of New Zealand government agencies to enforce this obligation and introduces a requirement for more effective treatments in the future," she added. Shipping is the biggest pathway for spreading aquatic pest organisms from their native region, where they may be living in balance with the environment, to new regions where they may become highly invasive and harmful. Transporting ballast water is essential to the safe operation of ships but it also poses a significant environmental threat. One ship may empty up to 100,000 tonnes of water from an overseas port when taking up cargo and this contains millions of organisms, often in their larval forms, some of which will survive in a new 'home'. Some of these may become invasive, severely disrupting the native ecology and seriously impacting on the economy and human health of the region of their new 'home'. It is estimated that three to 10 billion tonnes of ballast water are transferred globally each year.
South Asian nations need to share electricity, water and other resources for expediting sustainable development in the area, speakers at a regional workshop in Dhaka suggested yesterday. The upper and lower riparian countries should co-operate on water sharing for equitable use of natural resources, they said, adding that a country which enjoys advantages in a particular sector should provide the neighbours with resources and expertise. They also called for economic integration of South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) by sharing common resources. Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad organised the workshop to mark the launch of a draft study report on 'Sharing of Common Regional Resources' prepared as part of Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP).
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the programme under Ministry of Environment and Forest. SEMP is the world's largest environment programmme funded by the UN body that involves 24 agencies. Addressing the inaugural session, State Minister for Environment and Forest Jafrul Islam Chowdhury said Bangladesh has long been proposing optimum water resources management through collaborative efforts with upstream countries. "Transboundary river flow is decreasing due to construction of dams and withdrawal of water for irrigation and other purposes by upper riparian countries which is putting adverse impact on Bangladesh," he said. "If Bangladesh, India Nepal and Bhutan can co-operate in water management in the region, they together could become one of the richest regions of the world in hydroelectricity generation," he said.
Former finance minister AMA Muhith said the south Asian nations should institutionalise co-operation to get optimal benefit from the resources it is blessed with. Though Bangladesh is the main channel to the Bay of Bengal for Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, it is deprived of the water resources, he said. Shireen Kamal Sayeed, assistant resident representative of UNDP, Dhaka, said if European, Caribbean, Latin American and other regional countries can forge unity Saarc nations can also proceed towards economic integration. "Sharing resources like water and electricity can be first step towards broader co-operation which would lead to economic integration," he said. "Unless south Asian countries stand united they will lose battle in WTO negotiations," he said.
Qazi Kholiquzzaman, chairman of Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad, said, "As the study suggests that sharing of resources can benefit all countries we now need strategic action and negotiations." MH Siddiqi, leader of the study, said the hydroelectricity potential of Nepal alone is estimated at about 82,000 MW of which about 43,000 MW has been assessed to be economically viable. The Sapta Kosi dam project site is only 110 km from Thakurgaon and electricity can be easily transmitted from there, he said.
The government of southern Indian Kerala state has imposed a four-month ban on ground water usage on the Coca Cola company's plant in Palakkad district, it was reported Wednesday. The Kerala cabinet said the huge bottling factory's water usage is leading to drought in the Plachimada area, as the row between the American corporation and the residents of Perumatty village took another acrimonious turn, the Indian Express newspaper reported. Villagers claim the Coca Cola plant is draining their wells and drying up their coconut plantations and crops. "Any discriminatory and extreme steps against our plant by the Kerala government would be unwarranted and unjustified as the entire matter is pending before the Kerala high court," Coca Cola said in a press statement.
Coca Cola claims that both government and independent tests have confirmed that its plant is not adversely affecting ground water supply. It has six bore wells in its plant and any depletion in ground water is due to poor rains, it said. The company said it installed rainwater harvesters in June 2002 at its 40-acre plant and shared this technology for free with local farms and a school. It said depletion of ground water would harm its business interests in the long run. Coca Cola's problems started in April 2002 when the Perumatty village council decided to cancel its operating license. The case continues in the high court. Kerala Chief Minister A.K. Antony said Coca Cola now had to decide whether or not to carry on its operations in the state by tapping sources other than ground water. In recent months, American cola companies have had much to answer for. Earlier this month a parliamentary committee concluded that both Coca Cola and PepsiCo sold soft drinks containing harmful pesticides, and recommended strict new monitoring regulations. This followed a claim last year by a powerful New Delhi-based environmental group, the Centre for Science and Environment, that both companies manufactured soft drinks in India that contained toxins far above the norms permitted in developed countries.
Despite optimism over India's economic growth researchers from the IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program warn that the mismanagement of vital natural resources such as groundwater - could seriously hinder the countries' pace of development. Over the next two decades approximately 25% of India's grain harvest could be under threat due to the over-exploitation of groundwater supplies. Groundwater currently irrigates a total area of well over 35 million hectares, sustaining 60% of the countries' irrigated land.
Over extraction of groundwater and declining water tables are also causing alarming levels of fluoride to build up in water sources, posing a serious health threat to vulnerable populations. Research shows that while more affluent farmers have increased their wealth by drawing down groundwater tables, the health costs from rising levels of fluorosis have been disproportionately borne by the rural poor. 6600 predominantly tribal people from 20 villages in Southern Rajasthan villages were surveyed and it was found that 20% of men and 30% of women in the 30-46 year age group suffered from skeletal fluorosis of varying severity. These findings will be discussed along with more than 50 new pieces of research on key water management issues in India at the 3rd Annual IWMI-Tata Partners' Workshop being held from the 17th to 19th February in Anand, Gujurat.
According to Professor Tushaar Shah, groundwater expert and principal researcher at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), "Fluoride in groundwater is a public health time bomb. Unchecked water extractions mean that poor people in rural areas of western India are having to pay up to Rs. 5.00 per day for drinking water if they want to stay healthy". Shah leads a coalition of researchers and development specialists working to find solutions to India's water problems under the IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program: http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/iwmi-tata. Supported by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, the Program brings together more than 150 social scientists, hydrologists and agricultural researchers along with the NGO community from different parts of India to discuss and recommend practical solutions for improving the way water is managed.
Researchers and policy makers attending the Anand workshop will also assess the implications of run away urbanization and how the dynamic of town-hinterland water transactions are intensifying in most Indian states. In a study six cities - Ahmedabad, Indore, Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur and Nagpur - researchers found that the Tanker water economy of these six cities amounts to around Rs 200 crore per year. Transmission and distribution losses in the municipal water supply systems in the six cities is 30% of net water supply, and only 51% of the economic water demand of these cities is met by the municipal systems. The researchers concluded that reducing such losses to the achievable level of 15% in the six cities would release enough water to meet the entire demand of Indore and Jaipur cities. The study also revealed that the rich pay more per m3 for their domestic water requirements compared to poor people; yet the poor pay twice as much as the well-off do in bribes and lost time in procuring their water requirements. The six cities in the study support a wastewater irrigation economy of approximately Rs 400 crore/year; nearly 54000 ha of peri-urban farm land growing food crops is irrigated by waste water.
Another topic under discussion at the workshop will be the Sardar Sarovar Project. With Narmada waters now reaching Saurashtra and Kutch, a new monitoring system that will report on the progress being made on this project, will be inaugurated at the IWMI-Tata workshop.
24) TRYING TO TAP WATER
FOR MORE PROFIT
Millions have been made by turning water into a designer product and putting it in attractive bottles aimed at the hip and health-conscious. But those who see money when they look at water are now far more intrigued by two areas of the business that are less sexy but potentially far more lucrative: providing clean water for industrial and municipal use, and cleaning dirty water after that use. According to Kerry Stirton, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, industrial water treatment alone is a $35 billion global market. When municipal treatment systems and other water processes are factored in, he said, water-related revenue may even top $100 billion.
In fact, demand for clean water continues to surge ahead of supply, particularly in developing nations. "Water scarcities still loom," said William Roe, chief operating officer of Nalco, which is based in Naperville, Illinois, and is a big player in the water treatment business. "I don't think it's Orwellian to suggest that future wars may be fought over water instead of oil." Perhaps not surprisingly, the potential profit has attracted industrial behemoths. General Electric has been building up its water business even as it has played down other industrial lines. Pentair, a company based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, that had been putting equal emphasis on its lines of tools and water products, has just announced that it will acquire Wicor Industries, another water products specialist, and will probably leave the tool business altogether.
"People think water is easy to relate to: You flush it, you shower in it, you drink it," said Andrew Seidel, chief executive of USFilter, a water treatment company based in Palm Desert, California. "In fact, this is a complex business with 100,000 players providing all kinds of services and products." Water companies provide the chemicals that purify water used to make computer chips - water that is then too pure for ordinary human needs because it would leach calcium, zinc and other vital minerals out of the body. They sell the additives that keep factory pipes safe from corrosion when water cools them down or heats them up and that make saltwater as sweet as liquid from freshwater streams.
They ensure that Coke or Starbucks coffee tastes pretty much the same no matter where you order it. They enable refineries to turn cheap, highly acidic crude oil into high-grade gasoline. Lately, they are even helping hotels, hospitals and apartment buildings keep micro-organisms like the ones that cause Legionnaires' disease from circulating through plumbing and climate-control systems. "Auto companies want paint to stick," said George Oliver, vice president of GE Infrastructure Water Technologies. "Power plants want to run boilers at higher pressure. Soda companies want global consistency. Everyone wants lower waste disposal costs. Of course water is a growth business."
In the spring of 2001, William Woodburn, then the head of GE Specialty Materials, was looking to add some pizazz to his unit's ho-hum business portfolio. So he went to John Myers, the executive responsible for investing GE's pension funds, and asked him which industry seemed primed for growth. The answer was sure and swift: "water." Before that year was out, Woodburn had bought Betz Dearborn, a giant in water treatment chemistry. In 2003, he bought Osmonics, which makes membranes for use in water treatment. Thus was GE Water Technologies born; it is now a $1.4 billion unit of GE Infrastructure. Woodburn, now the chief executive of GE Infrastructure, has never regretted his choice. "The need for pure water keeps growing, and so does this high-tech, high-service-content business," he said.
Still, the industry does not gush profits. Water is a crowded field, populated by myriad niche companies. GE and Nalco, by far the biggest full-service players, command about 30 percent of the market. Water treatment technology is one of Dow Chemical's fastest-growing businesses, but it is not among the most profitable. "Everyone is trying to develop a sustainable business model, but so many companies are muscling in that it's still hard to turn a profit in much of this industry," said Karen Dobson, global market manager for Filmtek, Dow Chemical's line of water purification membranes.
Acquisitions and divestitures have changed a lot of the company names without thinning the crowded field by much. Analysts expect that many more deals are in the offing. "The industry can support a fair number of niche players right now, but the field is ripe for more consolidation," Stirton said. Whether profits keep flowing may yet depend on how successful the water companies are at selling high-margin services along with products - a revenue mix that has become a Holy Grail for many old-economy companies. Nalco, GE and USFilter have all offered to take over the management of entire water systems for customers, and each has had some takers, but not many.
"I'd love to outsource all of our water needs, but I'd need some better guarantees of outstanding products and service before I'd be comfortable doing so," said Helmut Porkert, chief procurement officer at ChevronTexaco, which spends more than $100 million a year on water treatment chemicals. Several DaimlerChrysler assembly plants have put coolant suppliers in charge of their water systems. But Chrysler employees periodically check the water quality. "It's our name on the line, it's our name on the discharge permit, and it won't be the chemical supplier who ends up with violations," said Neil McKay, senior manager of wastewater compliance for Chrysler Group.
Mail and Guardian
Tanzania is not bound by a treaty, signed in 1929 when the east African country was under British colonial rule, that requires it to seek permission from Egypt to use water from Lake Victoria, the government insisted on Sunday. Tanzanian Water and Livestock Development Minister Edward Lowassa said the country's founding president, Julius Nyerere, had told the United Nations in 1962 he rejected the Nile Waters Agreement and that position still held. "This is still the official stand of the government today on this treaty," said Lowassa, adding that Tanzania would continue using water from Lake Victoria for domestic purposes and livestock. "We are instead going to continue dialogue with Nile Basin member countries on equitable use of the natural water resource," he said.
The 10 countries of the Nile Basin are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Tanzania, which is south of Lake Victoria, has been reminded it must seek Cairo's permission before implementing plans to draw water from the lake for its semi-arid northern regions of Shinyanga and Kahama. But it has vowed not to do so and recently signed an agreement with a Chinese firm to construct a pipeline that will take water from the lake to 420 000 residents of two major towns in the north. "We will only use 1 250 litres of water per second from the lake. And that is a small amount for it will not affect users in other parts of the Nile," Lowassa said. The Nile Waters Agreement was signed in 1929 between Britain and Egypt and requires all British colonies around Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile River, to seek Cairo's permission for large-scale exploitation of the lake's waters so that the level of the river is not affected. - Sapa-AFP
LONDON - Analysts have warned uncertainty surrounding the regulation of the UK Water industry will have a negative impact on water companies in the coming months. The industry is pressing government for overdue regulatory guidance which will be key in deciding the tariffs companies can charge from 2005 to 2010. Industry speculation the government delay is due to internal wrangling has added to the uncertainty that analysts said will weigh on water stocks. "We believe that the political dimensions of PR04 (the tariff plan) have increased significantly in recent weeks, and that this a negative development," investment bank Merrill Lynch said in a research report titled "Whitehall Hiatus", after the seat of British government oficialdom.
The government was due to issue its guidance on how the industry should be regulated in late January but now it will not be issued until late February at the earliest. "The date has unfortunately slipped. A new date has not been set," a spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said. Water companies are eager to see the guidance, which they need to formulate strategic business plans due to be submitted to the regulator, Ofwat, by April 7. Tariffs will be set in the light of these plans. "Everyone is waiting for the guidance in order to finalise their business plans," said a spokeswoman for water and power utility United Utilities (UU.L: Quote, Profile, Research). Merrill Lynch said the industry recently sent the government a letter pressing it to act promptly while bankers said the regulatory uncertainty effectively put a block on takeovers in the industry for the time being.
ECONOMICS VS ENVIRONMENT
The water industry has told the government it will need to invest 20 billion pounds ($38 billion) between 2005 and 2010 to maintain existing infrastructure and meet proposed new environmental standards. Industry sources said the environmental agencies are keen to see investment in raising environmental standards but the government is concerned this could necessitate sharp rises in water bills - unpopular in a what could be an election year in 2005. The government's view will effectively decide how much will be invested and over what period and thereby determine the companies' earnings. The public wants any bill increases to be gradual but the companies expect most growth in capital spending to be towards the beginning of the 2005-2010 period. The government's guidance could lead to a harsher regulatory environment for companies. "Should Defra send a strong signal of support for this customer preference then some companies could well be financially squeezed," Merrill said.
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has quietly shelved an effort to ban a gasoline additive that contaminates drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency, under the Clinton administration, said low levels of MTBE can make water undrinkable due to its offensive taste and odor. People say the contaminated water tastes like turpentine. But the Bush administration is letting Congress handle the issue. The regulation is bogged down there over a proposal to shield the industry from some lawsuits. Critics say the administration is helping its campaign contributors at the expense of public health. Three top MTBE producers have given more than $1 million to Republicans since 1999. A spokesman for one MTBE producer says the issue has nothing to do with campaign donations. He says the product does just what it's designed to do -- reduce air pollution.
The Financial Express
It is reminiscent of an idyllic childhood. Collecting rain water. But it is no longer just child’s play. This is today a major environment safeguard to conserve depleting water resources. Serpentine queues at most places with people waiting for a drop to trickle down pipes is a common sight in Mumbai. One of the first corporates in the city, which decided to collect the falling raindrops for reuse, was Asian Paints (I) Ltd way back in May 2002. The plan has proved to be a watershed and the company is hosting a seminar tomorrow in Mumbai on rain water harvesting so that other corporates and government bodies can emulate their success.
At the Jal Samvardhan (A Seminar on Rain Water Harvesting), the company wants its invitees—corporates, government bodies and concerned individuals—to take this programme forward. Hence the seminar is targeting secretaries of housing societies, architects, builders, corporates with manufacturing facilities in Mumbai, environmentalists, etc. The idea behind the seminar is to impress upon people that water is scarce and rain water harvesting is a solution. The aim is to demystify rain water harvesting, let people know that this activity can be done in phases and hence the investment can also be planned in phases. Says V R Jaisinghani, general manager, Manufacturing, “This scheme must go out to the people in this metropolis. Even the Godrejs have studied our project and implemented it. A team from Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) has studied the model. If the scheme is implemented in Mumbai, it could harvest 80 per cent of the rain water that now goes to waste. More than anything else, for the company, it is very satisfying to know that more and more people are keen to join the journey that we began.”
When Godrej Industries Ltd, Vikhroli, learnt of the Asian Paints project, it sent a team to Bhandup. Anil A Rege, general manager, Vikhroli Factory, says, “We were impressed with the system and put it into practice in May-June 2003. We started with just two rooftops at our plant and one borewell whose yield was low and the quality of the water poor. We chanelled the water to the borewell. The water that we collected was used for the boilers, after checking its quality with the BMC. We are happy as the scheme is successful and we plan to include all other rooftops at the plant this year.” If the scheme is implemented in Mumbai, it could harvest 80 per cent of the rainwater that is wasted now.
Sumita Dasgupta, coordinator, National Resource Management Unit, Centre of Science and Environment, New Delhi, says that it is time that corporates took a role in safeguarding the environment. “Corporates consume the largest volume of water. The industrial belt uses municipal water or takes groundwater. Given that, it is also imperative that they play a role in recharging and better management of water. The slab paid by the industrial sector in Mumbai for use of water is much higher than in Delhi. From the Asian Paints project, the lesson to be learnt is that one can use rainwater and recharge groundwater and thus save money.” The idea to harvest rain water struck Asian Paints when the company won the Golden Peacock award for its safety standards at Patanceru, Hyderabad in 2002. Says Mr Jaisinghani, “We then decided to go a step further and thus was conceived the concept of collecting rain water. The feasibility report was prepared in June 2002 using the data of rainfall in the Mumbai region.” A paint manufacturing unit and water harvesting seem a bit of an oddiy. “Yes, it is,” agrees Mr Jaisinghani. “Since the company is involved in the manufacture of a hazardous material such as paint, we wanted to safeguard the environment. The rain water harvesting programme is one such scheme. It is a waste water management programme.”
Since the company’s oldest plant is located in Bhandup, Mumbai, it was decided to conduct a pilot project here. A scheme was prepared to collect 70,000 litres of rain water per day from rooftops during the monsoon season at the Mumbai plant. Today all the paints plants of the company have similar schemes of rain water harvesting which collect 1,50,00,000 litres of water. “We would like others to emulate this plan. For, by not letting out waste, one adds to the bottomline,” says Mr Jaisinghani. “The best thing about this programme is simple, can be started in phases and is not very expensive. Within a three-four year period, the scheme pays for itself.” The company’s safety standards and environment protection attempts have been recognised across the globe, says Mr Jaisinghani. “We received the British Safety Council (BSC) Sword of Honour, the highest recognition of safety standards, last year. The BSC is the world’s leading occupational, health, safety and environmental organisation.” The next test for Asian Paints would depend upon how many more companies join its water harvesting initiative so that the trickle becomes a stream.
BOGOTA, Feb 9 (IPS) - The bed of the Magdalena River, the main waterway and a national symbol of Colombia, this year will see oil drilling for the first time, a new threat to an area already assailed by human activity. ”Now there are more cows than fish, and who knows what will happen with the oil that the press said was found here,” said Rosendo Galvis, with a note of nostalgia. He supplies fish from the Magdalena to restaurants in central Bogotá. But it is not just fish in the river that are on decline. Deforestation, erosion, contamination and the disappearing wetlands around it affect a quarter of the population in this country of 40 million people. Oil drilling is slated to begin in October.
Along the 1,540-km course of the Magdalena there are 73 municipalities, and more than 700 populations in the jurisdiction of 18 departments. In its journey from the Andes Mountains to the Caribbean Sea, the river receives some 200 tonnes of domestic waste each day, according to the potable water and sanitation department of the Colombian Ministry of Environment. Experts also report that rainfall patterns have been altered as a result of the deforestation and the lack of territorial planning. ”Nearly all of the towns are located in flood plains,” Eduardo Samudio, of the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, told Tierramérica. The river dwellers are accustomed to flooding, which normally occurs in November and December, and from May to July. But it brings environmental problems and health problems, such as the proliferation of disease-spreading vectors, said Samudio.
The watershed of the Magdalena and its main tributary, the Cauca, covers 257,400 square km, 26 percent of which is within Colombian territory. Another 30 significant rivers, with numerous tributaries, flow into the Magdalena. In two decades, human settlement of the area led to the destruction of 3.5 million hectares of forest. Recent inventories indicate that a similar total area of forest remains intact. Subsistence cattle raising is blamed for the conversion of thousands of hectares into pasture, affecting the stability of the soil and altering the dynamic of the river. With an erosion rate of 330 tonnes of soil per hectare per year, according to the National Planning Department, and a high sediment load, the navigability of the river is also suffering.
The larger particles carried by the waters from the Andean glacier run-off are a significant component of the sedimentation process, say studies by the regional Magdalena environmental authority.
That is why there is concern about the oil exploitation that is set to begin in October in the Middle Magdalena, in the departments of Boyacá and Antioquia. The oil field known by its English name Under River will be run by Omimex of Colombia, an affiliate of the Omimex Resources, based in the U.S. state of Texas, and by the governmental Empresa Colombiana de Petróleos. With proven reserves of 22 million barrels and an estimated potential of 45 million, investment in the operation is calculated to require 25 to 28 million dollars. But, more than the environmental dangers involved in oil extraction, the main threat to the river is reduced flow and the effects of global warming, environmental activist Gonzalo Palomino, of the University of Tolima, told Tierramérica. ”One can survive without a car, but not without a river,” said Palomino.
The resources earmarked for oil drilling are the equivalent of the annual budget of state investment in the Yuma Project, the effort to recover the Magdalena's navigability for passenger and cargo traffic. Yuma is the indigenous name for the Magdalena. The goal of the Yuma Project is to increase passenger traffic from 600,000 to 900,000 a year, and cargo shipments from two million tonnes to four or five million tonnes annually by 2006. Since the Spanish Conquest, the river and its geographical axis marked the route of penetration by the Spaniards from the ports of Santa Marta and Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, to the interior of what is Colombian territory today. In colonial times, the Magdalena was the natural connection between the metropoli and the distant territories and with Santa Fe de Bogotá, capital of what was then the Viceroyalty of New Granada. Some historians and sociologists believe that the Magdalena River is what led to the atypical demographic development of Colombia. Despite its coasts on the Atlantic and the Pacific, political and administrative power was concentrated in Bogotá, 2,600 metres above sea level, reached by land from the Magdalena river ports of Honda and Girardot.
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - From Africa's sweltering heart to the warm shores of the Mediterranean, the Nile gives life as it tumbles and snakes through canyon, swamp and desert. Increasingly, the mighty river also provides fertile ground for dispute. The 4,189-mile-long Nile and its African origins are governed by a colonial-era pact that angers upstream nations by giving effective control to Egyptian users far downstream. In the lands where the Nile originates - home to some of the world's most arid corners - tempers are rising.
"Egypt can go to hell," said Julius Juma, a Kenyan father of two who runs eight fish ponds in the village of Chemelil near Lake Victoria, the source of the White Nile. "If Egyptians try to invade Kenya because of our waters, then we are ready to die for what is rightfully ours...Kenya should forget the Nile Treaty and revert to the commercial consumption of Lake Victoria waters."
Such views are spreading among Kenya's neighbors as black Africa pushes for a fairer share of the river among the 10 countries of the so-called Nile Basin, which include Ethiopia, origin of the river's other main source, the Blue Nile. Of the countries' 300 million population about 160 million live in riverine "basin" areas dependent on Nile waters. But under a 1929 pact between Egypt and Britain, acting on behalf of its then east African colonies, Egypt can veto any use of Lake Victoria water it feels threatens levels in the Nile.
Kenya, which like Tanzania suffers recurrent droughts caused by inadequate rainfall, deforestation and soil erosion, says it needs water for irrigation and developing hydroelectric plants. Uganda also wants to make use of the water. "Egypt can't enjoy the benefits of having access to the sea, while blocking a land-locked country like Uganda from profiting from the fact that it sits at the source of the Nile," wrote Ugandan commentator Charles Onyango-Obbo.
Pressure from east Africa's farmers, fishermen and burgeoning urban communities has forced regional leaders to start talks with Cairo aimed at reviewing the treaty. Kenya plans a conference in March of governments belonging to a so-called Nile Basin Initiative of Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Uganda, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea that will try to hammer out a peaceful solution between its members. Many view the 1929 agreement as an outdated relic of the colonial era and say it is non-binding because it was negotiated by foreign rulers without their best interests at heart. "How can you follow a treaty that was agreed with a colonial power against our interests?" Tanzania's water minister Edward Lowasa told Reuters. "How can you tell people living by Lake Victoria who have nothing (that) they cannot use the water?" After Tanzania's independence from Britain in 1961, then-President Julius Nyerere said his country would not be bound by the treaty. "We can use the water, and we are just following what he said in 1962," Lowasa added.
The problem facing many countries that would like to use Nile headwaters is paying for irrigation and hydroelectric projects. Analysts say the World Bank in effect enforces the 1929 treaty. "The World Bank will not give an upstream country money and a loan to build a dams unless it has an agreement with the downstream country," said Sharif Elmusa, head of the Middle East program at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Black African countries cannot match Egypt's diplomatic clout. The United States sees Egypt as a strategic ally in the Middle East, and as a political and cultural leader in the Arab world. Its Suez Canal is also a critical bottleneck for shipping between the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and beyond.
Egyptian officials say the Nile is crucial for Egypt's survival, and any change in its level could be disastrous. Most Egyptians live in the Nile valley on 4 percent of the country's land. Over 95 percent of Egypt's water resources come from the river. "This is the main source for our life here," Abdel-Fattah Metawie, head of the Nile water department at Egypt's Water Resources and Irrigation Ministry, told Reuters.
Analysts say the issue boils down to whether regional leaders believe treaties agreed by their former colonial masters are applicable in post-independence Africa. "The question is whether such issues carried over after colonial rule," said the AUC's Elmusa. "But everyone acknowledges borders in the Middle East that were negotiated by the French and the British. So there is that kind of acknowledgment that treaties do carry over."
Scotland on Sunday
MORE water than ever is leaking from Scotland’s antiquated pipe network despite a massive programme to upgrade the system. A year after Scotland on Sunday revealed that a billion litres of purified drinking water were being lost a day, it has emerged that the situation has got worse. An extra 50 million litres a day is pouring from rotting pipes despite the millions of pounds already spent on repairs and replacements. The value of the lost water - which is pure enough to drink - is estimated at £800,000 a day. The revelation is particularly likely to anger consumers because it follows the announcement last week of increases in water charges of up to 5% for many households, a figure three times the rate of inflation.
According to figures from Scottish Water, 1.133bn litres of water are lost each day in the water system. That figure compares to 1.077bn litres which were lost each day according to a report published by the Scottish Executive’s environment department in February of last year. Scottish Water, which was created in 2002, has blamed the leaks on Scotland’s ageing water infrastructure. Many of Scotland’s water pipes and sewers were built in the Victorian era or in the years immediately following the First World War and they are showing their age. The vast majority of leaks in the water supply are underground and difficult to spot and fix. Many have come about because alloys which were used to fix joints between pipes have been damaged through the years by acidic soils, changes in temperature, or even reactions with other materials, such as certain types of concrete.
Leaks are a double blow for consumers, because they mean more water than necessary is being treated, which adds to charges. In addition, leaks mean water pressure is reduced, affecting showers in homes and sometimes forcing people to install expensive pumps. A spokesman for Scottish Water said the organisation was aware of the millions of litres being lost each day and was investing £2bn over the next three years in an effort to fix the leaks. Despite the work, the amount of water being lost is actually increasing, meaning that £290m worth of purified water is literally going down the drain each year. In England and Wales, where the water industry was privatised in the 1980s, water is cheaper and the rate of leakage typically lower.
The spokesman added: "The fact is that while we are tackling the problems which are a legacy of the lack of investment, other pipes in the system are decaying all the time. Other parts of the UK received massive investment 15 years ago and we have had less time to invest. "We are in the middle of a programme to replace 1,600 miles of pipes, which is the distance between Edinburgh and Bucharest, and have already laid 280 miles of them. We are also spending £6m on computer modelling to allow us to identify leaks and deal with them more efficiently. A lot of work is going on." No one from the Scottish Executive was available for comment.
The organizers of Water Middle East 2004 have joint hands with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and it's Investment and Technology Promotion Office in Bahrain in the worldwide promotion of the event. UNIDO is a global organization with over 200 offices in 171 member states. UNIDO's mission is to improve the living conditions of people and promote global prosperity through tailor-made solutions for the sustainable industrial development of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. UNIDO also maintains 10 International Technology Promotion Centres who are actively involved in infrastructure development in developing countries around the globe.
Dr. Hashim Suliman Hussein, Head of the UNIDO Office in Bahrain, stated that WATER MIDDLE EAST 2004 has been included into the Official Program of Events that will be supported and promoted throughout the entire UNIDO International Network in over 180 countries. Consequently the Chief Executive and various Executive Directors and other UNIDO Representatives from around the world are expected to attend at the Official Opening and during the event. UNIDO will have a representative exhibition stand at WATER MIDDLE EAST 2004 with representatives from all over the world. In addition, UNIDO will organize a group of exhibitors under the UNIDO banner with the aim to promote the global exchange of know-how and water technology.
UNIDO is offering it's active support as a co-organizer for specific activities under the motto 'UNIDO AT WORK', i.e. Workshops, Seminars, Newsletters, Poster Sessions, etc. and UNIDO will also help in identifying qualified expert speakers for the conference and will provide nominations especially from African and Arab countries. UNIDO has already initiated the organizing of a workshop under the provisional topic 'Water and Electricity Efficiency Management' to be held on Saturday, 11th September and Sunday 12th September 2004, which is immediately prior to the WATER MIDDLE EAST 2004 event. This workshop will be organized by the International Centre for Science & High Technology (ICS-UNIDO) based in Trieste / Italy. It is an organization funded by the Italian government and managed under the umbrella of UNIDO.
Dr. Hashim Suliman Hussein also said, "Water Middle East 2004 is the ideal forum to create greater awareness of the regional water problems and to meet with prominent international water experts to exchange new ideas and to source latest technologies for water production, treatment, conservation and recycling." The 2nd Water Middle East International Exhibition & Conference for Water Technology will be held from 13th to 15th September 2004 at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre concurrently with the 3rd Power-Gen Middle East International Exhibition for Power Generation. It will be organized under the umbrella of the Ministry of Commerce by the Bahrain Convention & Exhibition Bureau and Nuernberg Global Fairs, a globally operating German government-owned exhibition organizer whilst Power-Gen Middle East 2004 will be organized by PennWell Corporation. The combined resources of the Bahrain government and UNIDO will further reinforce the status of Water Middle East as the leading annual event in the Middle East for water technology. Special focus of these two events will be on the immense Saudi Arabia market and on infrastructure developments in Iraq and various countries in Western Asia.
ISLAMABAD : Pakistan’s first ever national water policy is set to be presented to the cabinet for approval soon, the country’s water and power minister has said. “This is the first time we’ll have a national water policy. This document will be the first document, as far as water policy is concerned,” Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, the federal water and power minister, told the UN news network IRIN in the capital, Islamabad. “It envisages the whole water issue, the strategy for it, the conservation...all the institutional reforms...everything,” Sherpao pointed out. “I’m hoping that [it meets with widespread approval in the cabinet] for water, which is an issue, you need a policy so that it will give us the guidelines. It’s a landmark development,” he added.
Once the policy was approved, an apex body, headed by the prime minister, would be formed, Sherpao maintained. “It will also have the four chief ministers [from Pakistan’s four provinces], and a couple of other ministers, so if there are ever any issues, they could be brought to that forum,” he explained. Water issues have dogged Pakistan of late with a simmering controversy over the utilisation of water resources becoming so publicly acrimonious last year that it led to President Pervez Musharraf making a landmark speech in mid-September in which he urged the building of a national consensus so that the country’s water requirements could be met for the next half-a-century.
Foremost among such issues is the proposed construction of a dam on the river Indus that meanders a long course through the length of the country, which the southern province of Sindh fears would deprive its population of much needed water. Outraged politicians from Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) immediately announced the formation of a bloc against the controversial Kalabagh Dam. The NWFP views the projected increase in water levels in the province’s agricultural areas with trepidation, fearing residential areas would be inundated and the local infrastructure destroyed. However, regional rivalries in water allocation have manifested themselves most prominently in a Sindh-Punjab water dispute, with the southern province often accusing the Punjab of using up more than its share of allocated water.
Water from the five major rivers flowing through the Punjab is stored in roughly 17 million acre-feet of storage space available and faces an annual demand for over 100 million acre-feet of irrigation water. “If you look at the water distribution in the country, and their structure, and the war going on between the provinces: that’s the real issue. How would we be able to fulfill the desires and demands of all the provinces?” Qasim Shah, a research associate at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), a leading think-tank, told IRIN in Islamabad. A national water policy wasn’t likely to help, if past examples and experiences were to be considered, until the main issue - of water availability - was resolved, Shah stressed. “I think the whole water policy won’t be able to resolve any kind of issue,” he added. Pakistan, which was described in a World Bank 1995 World Development Report as having one of the highest water potentials per person out of 130 countries, has a vast irrigation system comprising three main reservoirs, 19 dams and 43 canals with a conveyance length of 57,000 km.
ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has proposed changes in Water Accord 1991 in order to achieve more harmony among Pakistan’s federating units, saying that the accord should be overhauled and replaced by a formal legal system of secure, tradeable water rights, including mechanism for dispute resolution. “These changes could be by amending the IRSA legislation to add provisions that would provide Pakistan with a clear system of water rights and their regulation, both inter-provincial and intra-provincial,” says World Bank’s 127 pages report titled “Accelerated Development of Water Resources and Irrigated Agriculture.”
The report says that while revising the legislation, IRSA should be given necessary administrative responsibilities, functions and powers to run the water rights system, regulate inter-provincial water use, and operate inter-provincial infrastructure.
The WB also proposed that a more prudent and attractive option would be to defer the raising of Mangla project until at least Kalabagh is appraised and the two investments (Kalabagh or Basha dam) can be compared. It further says that while there is considerable experience already in Pakistan with the core elements of water conservation – watercourse lining and land leveling – progress and experience on raising the productivity of water use, improving watercourse maintenance or introducing water saving irrigation but they are facing problems in implementing it. The response of the government to the recent drought and political conflicts over water has been to propose a huge investment programme in water resources development (nearly US$8 billion over the next ten years, and over US$30 billion by 2025 it added.
More than three-fourth of this investment would be for new storage dams, hydropower capacity, and for new canals. The report says today Pakistan is again facing some of the same challenges and is approaching the limits of its water resources development potential. The government’s main focus has been on solving the water problems by focusing primarily on the supply side of the equation where there is clearly the physical potential for development; i.e., there is water that can be developed and there is land on which it can be used, and there are ample number of poor farmers who would benefit from the additional water supplies.
But the outcomes, the government is seeking in terms of both the poverty alleviation and development of the rural economy can be achieved in different ways that have different costs and different risks.
First, RBOD will be completed, but there is no provision in this portfolio for major improvements in the drainage system, including a follow-up to NDP. Hence, no funds are provided for on-farm drainage, upgrading the drainage network, or for larger branch and spinal drains should they prove to be an essential part of the Master Drainage Plan. The report said the canal lining projects (which aim to both conserve freshwater and control water-logging and salinity) should be dropped and integrated with canal modernization, remodeling, and rehabilitation investments. Second, the irrigation rehabilitation projects and the canal lining projects could be integrated together with canal system modernization, groundwater management and governance improvements, to create a series of highly divisible investment projects or programme (perhaps “Integrated Irrigation Water Distribution and Management Projects,” another name for the integrated canal basin approach suggested in the Report).
These programmes that could be phased and expanded, depending on both performance and the availability of funds. This would be a jointly financed programme of the Federal and provincial governments.
The Pat Feeder Canal Extension would be completed in the MTEF period. A substantial reduction in portfolio cost could be achieved by slowing and limiting canal expansion, concentrating during the MTEF on the completion of one canal to an extent just sufficient to pilot a new approach to modern highly productive irrigated agriculture and water management (including new institutional and governance arrangements) tailored to conditions in Pakistan. This would provide a new and tested model for the phased completion of these expensive and questionable projects.
Three projects in the portfolio – Gomal Zam (17 MW), Kuram Tangi (58 MW) and raising of Mangla Dam (180 MW) – will add hydropower capacity, but there is no other provision for hydropower. The MTIP identified nine priority hydropower projects that would add about 1832 MW at a total cost of Rs 109 billion.
These are mainly low-head run-of-the-river sites, in some cases developed by adding a powerhouse to an existing dam or barrage. In general these sites would add little operational storage to the total Indus Basin system, but may provide locally important seasonal regulation benefits the report says. There may be provision elsewhere in the PSDP for these hydropower investments, but if not, the portfolio would have to be adjusted to accommodate the steady expansion of hydropower capacity the report concludes.
ISLAMABAD: National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) Chairman Mr Daniyal Aziz has said the government is trying to achieve a consensus on the resolution of water resources issues in all provinces. Inaugurating a daylong national workshop on water, dams and development in Islamabad on Wednesday, he said Pakistan is facing problems of population growth and poverty, which need to be attended. Mr Aziz said there was need to resolve the issue of water so that more dams could be constructed and sufficient water could be provided to all the provinces according to their share and needs.
He said affordable energy and water services were a pre-requisite for eliminating poverty, especially in the rural areas. He said the suggestions formulated by this workshop would be presented in the National Convention of the Local Bodies being held next month. Speaking on the occasion, the Sindh Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Nadir Akmal Leghari said efforts to remove the mistrust and misconceptions of the people of all the provinces to achieve consensus on the construction of dams are necessary. He said the consensus on the water resources issue would play a significant role in national development. The workshop, which has been arranged by a non-governmental organisation, aims to spread information, enhance knowledge and to create awareness among the masses about the benefits and adverse affects of dams. —NNI
UN Integrated Regional
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has called for the urgent restoration of public services in Liberia's shattered towns and cities to reduce pollution and improve public health. In its first proper post-conflict assessment report in Africa, UNEP also called for tight controls on logging, which has removed vast swathes of forest cover, and poaching, which has seriously endangered the country's rich wildlife. "The fighting in Liberia has not only had a devastating impact on its people but also on the country's rich natural resources and biodiversity," UNEP's Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said. He noted that in Liberia, as in many other African countries, resource abundance or scarcity had been the catalyst for war and suffering.
Toepfer said Liberia's three million people had paid a high price for living in a country rich in tropical hardwoods and mineral resources that included gold and diamonds. "The misuse of natural resources has not only been a source of conflict in Liberia and the wider region, but has also sustained it," he stressed. UNEP said rubbish collection throughout the country had virtually stopped and the water supply systems that once existed in 10 towns in the interior had collapsed. Even in the capital Monrovia, where some rehabilitation of infrastructure has taken place since Liberia's 14-year civil war came to an end last August, only 26 percent of the population had access to safe drinking water, UNEP said in its Desk Study on the Environment in Liberia.
Many people, it noted, relied on wells that were often polluted. The city's water works was only producing 5,800 cubic metres of safe drinking water per day, 10 percent of its output before civil war engulfed the country in 1990. The report said Monrovia's sewage treatment plant was designed to cater for a population of 130,000 people, but the city now had a post-conflict population of 800,000. UNEP said there was an urgent need to provide safe drinking water and functioning sewage treatment plants in all urban areas. It recommended a geological survey of springs, aquifers and groundwater in order to ensure that hand-dug wells provided clean water. It also suggested the setting up of special drinking water protection zones around approved wells to minimise the risk of contamination.
Over 26,000 people fell ill with cholera in Monrovia last year as a result of poor santitation and polluted drinking water. Many of the cholera victims were among the 500,000 people displaced from their homes and forced to live in temporary shelters as a result of heavy fighting in the capital. More than 100 people died in the epidemic. The report said that Monrovia and several other large towns had possessed refuse collection services before the outbreak of civil war, which disposed of an estimated 85 percent of household and commercial solid waste. However, these had all collapsed, allowing engine oil, batteries and asbestos to be dumped at will polluting the environment. UNEP noted that the United Nations Mission in Liberia had recently established a limited rubbish collection and recycling service in Monrovia.
It called for the establishment of proper landfill sites where waste could be dumped without threatening water supplies. UNEP said virtually all of Liberia's 182 megawatts of electricity generating capacity had been knocked out by the war and that power lines and electricity sub-stations had been damaged and vandalised. It particularly lamented the loss of the 64 megawatte Mount Coffee hydro-electric scheme near Monrovia, which once produced 35 percent of Liberia's electricity. The report estimated that 99 percent of Liberians were now dependent on charcoal and fuel wood for cooking and heating, putting further pressure on the country's rich forest systems and wildlife. Mangrove woods along the coast were particularly at risk from people cutting fuel wood, it noted.
UNEP said Liberia's rich timber resources had been exploited by various armed factions to finance their war machines. As a result of uncontrolled logging, the country's forest cover had fallen from 38 percent to 31 percent during the 14 years of civil war, it said. New logging roads had been built which had accelerated the fragmentation of the forest habitat and made access easier for poachers to penetrate the bush. UNEP said chimpanzees were among the species under threat. It urged international donors to equip the government's Forest Development Authority with new vehicles and radios so that it could control illegal logging more effectively. The report said individuals mining for alluvial gold and diamonds had felled riverside forests creating flood risks. They had also polluted rivers with toxic chemicals used in the mineral extraction process such as cyanide and mercury.
UNEP also expressed concern about heavy pollution from 300 million tonnes of iron ore waste at the currently inactive Mount Nimba iron mine near the Guinean border. This had caused the acidification of water systems and the death of freshwater life over a wide area, it said. "We hope to do a proper field mission at a later date to identify the hot spots, point up the specific locations and make recommendations on appropriate actions that should be taken," Nick Nuttal, UNEP's head of Media told IRIN. "This has been our approach in other war torn countries like, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Occupied Palestinian territories and Iraq," he said. UNEP said it had received requests from several other African countries affected by conflict, including Sudan, Angola and Somalia to carry out similar environmental assessments.
BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- More than 31.5 billion yuan (3.8 billion US dollars) has been plowed into initiatives since 2001 aimed at controlling water pollution in some of the country's major rivers and lakes. Under the investment, which will continue through the end of next year, the central government and local agencies have completed nearly 500 projects, and can now treat more than 7.9 million tons of waste water each day, according to Tuesday's ChinaDaily. However, official said on Monday such a massive achievement is not nearly enough progress, and they urged local governments to continue giving more support to related projects.
Regions along and around the three rivers and three lakes-- Huaihe, Haihe and Liaohe rivers and Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi lakes -- which include 11 provinces and Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai municipalities -- suffer from serious pollution. For example, half of the Huaihe River's tributaries are seriously polluted and in a few monitoring sections along the river, the pollution index is worsening. A pollution control plan was developed for the Taihu Lake region in 2001 and similar plans for the other five lakes came outlast year, according to Pan Yue, vice-minister of State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).
The plans involve 1,534 pollution treatment projects, includingwaste water treatment plants, and require an investment of more than 100 billion yuan (12 billion US dollars). All the projects are scheduled to be completed by 2005. In addition to the already completed efforts, 389 are under construction. Despite the achieved results, Pan said many factors are hindering the complete fulfillment of the pollution plans. He saidlocal governments' enforcement of environment related laws and regulations and implementations of relevant policies are not perfect enough.
ANKARA, 12 Feb 2004 (IRIN) - The Government of Uzbekistan and the World Bank signed a Drainage, Irrigation and Wetlands Improvement Project, worth US $74.55 million which is “the first meaningful intervention in the Aral Sea Basin to break a vicious cycle of high water applications, water logging and secondary soil salinisation”, according to Masood Ahmad, head of the World Band team designing the project. The agreement hopes to increase the productivity of irrigated agriculture, employment and incomes, improve the water quality of the Amu Darya River by safe disposal of drainage effluent and enhancing the quality of wetlands in the Amu Darya delta, an accompanying statement said.
Ahmad added the project would begin to address the problem by substantially improving drainage conditions and significantly improving water use efficiency in the irrigation sector. The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources will implement the programme, which will also develop institutions for maintenance of irrigation and drainage systems, and for promoting sustainable irrigated agriculture through participatory irrigation management. The Uzbek Government will invest US $14.55. "The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) will contribute with US $35 million repayable in 20 years with a five-year grace at a World Bank standard rate, and the International Development Agency (IDA) will provide US $25 million, repayable in 35 years with a ten-year grace”, IRIN Matluba Mukhamedova, Communications Officer in the World Bank Country Office in Tashkent, told IRIN.
The shrunken Aral Sea, is now acknowledged to be the biggest man-made ecological disaster on the planet. Soviet planners, starting in the 60’s, cut off the rivers that fed the Aral Sea, to irrigate new cotton fields in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. The climatic and ecological, and health impact has been devastating.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A warming climate threatens tropical mountain forests that strip moisture from clouds and supply water to millions of people in Africa and Latin America, experts said in a U.N. report released on Monday. Cloud forests in equatorial and sub-equatorial regions of Latin America, Africa, and Asia account for just 2.5 percent, or 400,000 sq km (154,000 sq miles) of world tropical forest cover. But the benefits are felt way beyond their boundaries. Clean and predictable water supplies from such forests in La Tigra National park in Honduras meet 40 percent of demand in the capital Tegucigalpa, says the report, "Cloud Forest Agenda."
The capitals of Ecuador, Mexico, and Tanzania are other cities that consume cloud forest water. But the habitats could disappear because of a range of factors including a warmer climate, predicted by scientists as the result of increased atmospheric concentrations of sunlight-trapping gases released from fossil fuel burning. "A unique feature of these forests is that they can capture moisture through condensation from the clouds, which also makes these habitats very sensitive to climate change," said Philip Bubb, one of the co-authors of the report. The risk was both to water supplies and the dozens of species found only in such habitats, he said. Other risks include forest clearance for farming, fires, road construction, and the introduction of species from other parts of the world.
Their combined effects could mean the loss of huge concentrations of unique mammal, bird, and frog species, said the report, released as 2,000 delegates began a two-week meeting in Kuala Lumpur intended to stem the rate of global extinction. Officials from 188 countries and other parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will look at ways to curb the effects of climate change on species and promote greater protection for forests, river systems, oceans, and mountains. The meeting will also see developing countries — home to the bulk of the world's species — negotiate with developed ones over how they can benefit from protecting their assets and providing access to them. Opening the meeting, Klaus Toepfer, chief of the United Nations Environment Program, said efforts to slow global species loss and to cut poverty must go hand in hand. "For the poorest of the poor, nature is wealth," he said. "We know that to have sustainable development, we have to concentrate on the financial capital, on the human capital but also the nature capital."
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as alleviation of poverty, improving health and educational standards and conserving the environment would not be realised even by 2015 due to the lack of political commitment and financial resources, warned Erna Witoelar, UN Special Ambassador for MDGs in Asia and Pacific at the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Water Week held in Manila, Philippines recently. She said inequalities and powerlessness were constraints to promoting the water-related Millennium Development Goals and resulted in disparity of water use. "People in rich countries consume 400 to 500 litres of water per day, whereas in poor countries, this is only 20 litres per day. Over the years, global demand for water will grow, more lives will be lost, more diseases will spread and the development of poor countries will continue to suffer", she said.
Over 350 experts in the water sector from the Asia-Pacific region participated at the event, where a five-member Sri Lankan delegation also took part. According to Witoelar, the water and sanitation targets were indeed a critical entry point for the development of the community to accelerate progress on all MDGs. "However, domestic and international funding for water and sanitation has fallen during the past years," she said. "The lack of equity continues to be the biggest obstacle in most anti-poverty strategies," Witoelar claimed. "Half the people living in the Asia-Pacific region do not have access to adequate sanitation. Population is growing and water consumption is also on the increase. Water resources are decreasing because of the overuse of ground water. On the other hand, due to urbanisation and the increase of concreting of cities, ground water is not generated in many parts of the world", she said. Witoelar also said that there was great competition for industrial water use and a growth of industry-based pollutants. "These pollutants are likely to be more toxic and living conditions in some parts of the region are becoming increasingly hazardous," she added. "The general trend of climate change in this region is more frequent El-Ninos, more floods and changing monsoon patterns. The change in rainfall patterns continues to affect irrigation; food and poverty are the other problems," she said. According to Witoelar, water-related problems could be the most serious climate change issue in Asia. "The direct impact of climate changes on fresh water sources are still not understood," she said.
PORT ANTONIO, Portland - THE beauty, diversity and utility of wetlands were highlighted on Monday, as Jamaica observed World Wetlands Day, at a seminar held at the Port Antonio Marina in Portland. The seminar, organised by the Ridge to Reef Watershed Project, looked at the importance of wetlands, including the controlling of floods, storing and purifying fresh water, replenishing ground water supplies, stabilising the shoreline, protection against storms, acting as nurseries for fresh water or marine fish, providing food and water and a place for recreation and education. It also highlighted the link between upland activities with those on the coastline, the relationship between natural and constructed wetlands, and sensitised the participants about how both work for the general benefit of people.
Kevin Rushing, deputy mission director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in his address at the seminar, commended the efforts being made to achieve sustainable development in Portland, and gave the assurance that USAID would continue with the comprehensive programme of environmental management that it has established in Port Antonio and other areas of Portland. The programme, he said, involved addressing conversation issues, and problems in the Rio Grande watershed, other upper watershed areas of the parish and the Annotto Bay basin. At the same time, Franklyn McDonald, chief executive officer of the National Environment and Planning Agency, emphasised the importance of sensiting young people about the need to preserve and protect the country's wetland areas.
He commended the Portland Environment Protection Association (PEPA) for its work in advocating the sustainable development of the parish, and the Portland Parish Development Committee for its effort in assisting to facilitate that process. Peter Edwards of the Centre for Marine Science at the University of the West Indies, told the audience that Caribbean wetland areas were grouped in various categories, namely mangroves, estuaries, swamps, forests and salinas. He pointed out that the beauty, diversity and utility of wetlands were such, that everything should be done to preserve and protect them. Edwards said such locations should be done to preserve and protect them, pointing out that such locations should be regarded as areas which played a vital role in human existence and not only as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects. The Rio Grande Wetlands Management Committee, the Port Authority of Jamaica and the Portland Environment Protection Association were co-sponsors for the event.
A woman entrepreneur from Singapore is harvesting cool, clear water from unconventional sources in a trend setting business that could help quench Asia's growing thirst for renewable aquatic resources. Olivia Lum, founder and chief executive of water treatment firm Hyflux Ltd., is churning out big bucks by offering technology that can purify water from rivers and seas on a commercial scale. Hyflux also makes an appliance that can extract moisture from the air and turn it into drinking water in a home or workplace. Using advanced membrane technology to screen out water impurities, the company has grown from humble beginnings in 1989, with only a seed capital of S$20,000 (US$12,000), into a publicly listed firm now worth S$487 million.
Hyflux has begun construction of a S$200 million seawater purification plant here in Singapore's first attempt to tap the ocean surrounding the island to reduce its dependence on imported water from Malaysia. It also has investments in water treatment plants in China and plans to bid for the right to build and manage Singapore's fifth plant that will convert water flushed from sewers into potable water. The growth potential for water treatment companies such as Hyflux in the Asia Pacific region is enormous, experts say. As rivers and other sources become more polluted, there will be a growing demand to purify raw water for drinking and industrial purposes using safer and more technologically advanced methods, Lum said in an interview. A report by the Asian Development Bank says 830 million people living in the region's developing countries do not have safe drinking water and more than two billion lack sanitation facilities.
The shortage has resulted in a high rate of water-borne diseases and deaths, it said, warning water scarcity will also affect food security in some parts of the region and could increase tensions between countries sharing the water resources. "As people see that they will not be able to use the traditional method of purifying water from rivers because of pollution, the traditional method can no longer give the kind of comfort level in terms of quality, in terms of efficiency," Lum said. Lum, 42, said her company's main focus will be in China, where it operates four water treatment plants and is building a fifth one. Forty-four percent of Hyflux's revenues in the last fiscal year came from its China operations.
With its foothold in China, Hyflux is setting up a distribution network in Asia and the Middle East to market its latest product called Dragonfly, an electrical appliance that decondenses air moisture to produce drinking water. A membrane system and an ultra violet lamp inside the machine purifies the water, which is dispensed either hot or cold. The air-to-water machine, costing just over US$1,000, will compete with bottled water as a low-cost alternative. Lum's story is a powerful, rags-to-riches tale of how an impoverished village woman from neighboring Malaysia made it big in the Singapore and the Asian corporate world through a never-say-die attitude. Abandoned when she was a baby, Lum was adopted by an elderly woman whom she called grandmother. She grew up amid poverty and blight in a former tin-mining town in the Malaysian state of Perak. "Every morning when you woke up, you would hear people crying, quarreling, fighting because of poverty," she recalled in the interview. "Sometimes in the morning when you open your door, you see bloodstains all over because there were gang fights. "We were living in that area, and generation after generation they didn't seem to have any improvement in life."
It was that thought which propelled her to achieve higher things by getting an education. She came to Singapore in 1978 to study, and working while studying, she finished a university degree and was employed at a multinational company as a chemist in charge of environmental treatment. It was in this job that she thought of smaller firms which could not afford to treat and dispose of waste. "I thought that in no time they're gonna dump all their waste into rivers without treatment. Over time, people will have no fresh water to drink," she said. "I embarked on water treatment from then on. I dreamed about it and decided that I wanted to give it a try." Resigning from her job despite objections from concerned friends, Lum sold her house and car and Hyflux was born. Lum, who eventually became a Singapore citizen, has been held up by the government as an example to encourage would-be entrepreneurs.
THE on-going uncontrolled urban agriculture in Harare seriously threatens the water sources and the quality of the city's drinking water, environmentalists have warned. The warning comes at a time when the Harare City Council is struggling to provide clean water to residents due to the shortage of foreign currency to buy chemicals for water purification. Water sources that are under threat from urban agriculture include Manyame River, Hunyani River and Lake Chivero, water bodies that provide Harare's drinking water. Once the rivers and streams silt up, the environmentalists said, "there would be a shortage of water forever".
A lecturer in the department of social science and agricultural engineering at the University of Zimbabwe confirmed that Harare's water sources were under threat from uncontrolled urban cultivation. He stressed however, that raw sewage disposal into water sources by the city council was the main cause of pollution. It is estimated that about 70 percent of the raw sewage finds its way into Lake Chivero. "Though the discharge of raw sewage by the City Council is the major reason, the effects of urban farming, carried without due regard to conservation measures and council by-laws, also contributes significantly to water pollution," said the lecturer. Takawira Mubvami, a scientific programme co-ordinator with Municipal Development Programme (MDP) said water pollution is worsened by the fact that Harare "sits on its own watershed," resulting in all waste flowing into its water sources. He said urban agriculture was being practised "willy-nilly" causing in environmental degradation and pollution. "It is difficult to stop because of urban poverty but as an organisation we are advocating for sustainable urban agriculture policies," said Mubvami.
A study by the Environmental and Development Studies (ENDA-Zimbabwe) three years ago also noted that urban agriculture posed a serious threat to the urban environment. "All sites (visited areas) had unacceptable levels of erosion. In addition, almost 90 percent of Harare's farmers use chemical fertilisers and nearly a third of 'off-plot' cultivation takes place near streams, swamps - leading to water pollution through runoff and leaching," said the study. The UZ lecturer said the use of chemicals also resulted in high nitrogen content in the soil and would promote vegetative growth in the water. In the case of Harare, this has led to the growth of the notorious hyacinth weed, which is threatening Lake Chivero. Mubvami urged farmers to stop using synthetic fertilisers and use organic fertilisers such as manure, which do not pollute water sources.
The problem of pollution is exacerbated by the fact that the council is the major culprit. Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, has openly castigated the Harare City Council for being the major polluter through discharging raw sewage into its water sources. Apart from being the major polluter of water sources, the council is also accused of not enforcing its bylaws, particularly those relating to urban farming and pollution. As a result, there has been a phenomenal growth of urban agriculture. The local authority relaxed by-laws governing urban agriculture in 1993, in a bid to alleviate poverty linked to the Atructural Adjustment Programme without due regard to environmental consequences. Spokesperson for Harare City Council, Cuthbert Rwazemba, could not be reached for a comment, as his mobile phone went unanswered. But Mubvami said urban agriculture is now recognised as long as the farmers abide by the council bylaws.
From 1990 to 1994, the amount of land under cultivation in Harare nearly doubled - to about 16 percent of the city's area - and has been rising rapidly ever since. In its latest report the Famine Early Warning Unit (FEWN) noted that Harare was clearly experiencing high rates of urban growth leading to problems of unemployment, poverty and homelessness. And as a result of the economic problems, said the report, urban agriculture has become an alternative source of food and income for urban poor. The urban low-income households, affected the most by the current economic crisis in the country, have sought to supplement their family incomes and improve their family nutrition through urban agriculture. However, experts say this pollution of water sources by urban farmers, City Council and industrial bodies, has increased the cost of water purification and treatment for the city.
In its bid to provide clean water, the city is presently using at least seven chemicals to purify the water. In the 2004 budget, at least $815 billion has been earmarked for the purchase of the chemicals. Unfortunately, the experts noted, the financial burden would be passed on to the ratepayers, who will have to fork out more for what are clearly the council's misdeeds. Several environmental studies have recommended that urban planners develop policies that enhance sustainable city agricultural development, rather than seek ways to eradicate the practise. They also advocate for the provision of agricultural extension services, particularly to the most disadvantaged sectors of the urban population as well as imposing stiffer penalties for stream bank cultivation.
The Daily Star
Muhammad Zamir is a former Secretary and Ambassador
Efficient and equitable water resources management and provision of safe water supply and sanitation are essential for poverty reduction, ecosystem protection and sustainable growth. We all know about the importance of water in our daily lives. Clean water is essential for human health and survival. Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygienic practices are preconditions for overall reductions in malnutrition and mortality, specially among children. Access to clean water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental protection and food security.
We need a paradigm shift from current water development approach to water resources management approach to ensure these objectives and to protect the world's precious water resource. We need to work towards Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) which promotes the 'coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems'.
I recall here the remarks made by Jan Pronk in the recently concluded summary of the Conference on "Water for the Poorest', held in November 2003 in Stavanger, Norway. He correctly indicated that 'sound water resources management has become more urgent as water becomes scarcer, its quality declines, environmental and social concerns mount, and the threats posed by floods and droughts are made worse by climate change.' We are all aware that the South Asian Region shares three common river basins the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. We also know that there is need for fostering effective and efficient water management in general within South Asia and cooperation and partnership between Nepal and Bangladesh in particular. What we require is regional cooperation and good partnership within the region.
About twenty per cent of the world's population live in South Asia. Of this, nearly 40 per cent live in the region of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river system. The territory covered is second only to the Amazon in drainage area and volume of discharge. The three river systems stretch across 16 states of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Tibet region of China. Despite its poor socioeconomic status, the region is endowed with considerable natural resources that could be used to foster sustainable economic development. Water could be successfully used as the engine to promote this economic development. With reallocation and redistribution of already available resources, much can be accomplished.
Our approach however has to be based on caution. The availability of adequate quantity and appropriate quality of water for various human uses is likely to be an increasingly significant political and social factor in the coming decades. We have to be aware of various aspects that will impact on developments in our region. While we plan and decide on projects related to agriculture, industrial production and power generation, we also have to be particularly sensitive to the question of increased water contamination. Proper water management will be a challenge for the future. We will have to arrange optimum development and management of this vast natural resource for national and regional benefits. We will also have to overcome selfish interests of political boundaries, perceptional differences and legacies of mistrust.
The region's abundant human and natural potential have to be creatively and co-operatively harnessed to overcome the region's common problems of overpopulation and poverty, floods, droughts and ecological imbalance. The water resource potential of the GBM region is available to us in general terms. The three rivers constitute an interconnected system with an annual discharge of 1350 billion cubic meters of water and replenishable ground water resource of 230 billion cubic meters. Compared to an annual average water availability of 269,000 cubic meters per square kilometre for the world, the availability in the GBM region is 771,400 cubic meters per square kilometre which is nearly three times the world average. While India and Bangladesh share all the three river systems, Nepal shares only the Ganges and Bhutan and China only Brahmaputra.
We are severely handicapped by recurrent floods which cause damage to life, property and infrastructure. The general flooding pattern is similar in all the three countries, characterised by some 80 per cent of annual rainfall occurring in four to five months of monsoon, often concentrated in heavy spells of several days. Bangladesh being the lowest riparian, bears the brunt of flooding in the GBM region.
On the other hand, owing to seasonal variability of water volume in the GBM river systems, the dry season flows of the GBN rivers, particularly of the Ganges, are inadequate to meet the combined needs of the region. In fact, the reduced flow of the Ganges in the dry season has exacerbated the process of northward movement of the salinity front, thereby threatening the environmental health of the region. This process is also affecting water availability in natural water bodies like ponds, beels and rivulets. The ground water table has also in many areas gone down to alarming levels. This is indirectly putting serious streets on the supply of water for drinking and domestic, municipal, industrial and agricultural uses. Another factor affecting us is river bank erosion. Large seasonal variations in river flows and the gradual loss of channel depth is causing our banks to erode and river courses to change. Wave action during the high stage is further accelerating the process. This in turn is leading to channel shifting, creation of new channels during floods and bank slumping due to undercutting. The consequence of such a natural vagary has been displacement of population and further economic marginalisation.
This unfortunate scenario is being further compounded because of the enormous amount of sediment load that is carried from the mountains to the plains. The annual sediment load that passes through our country to the Bay of Bengal varies from 0.5 billion to 1.8 billion tons. A large part of this sediment load is being deposited on the floodplain during bank spilling. The process is gradually changing the valley geometry and floodplain topography. It is also reducing the water conveyance capacity and navigability of the drainage channels. The water quality in the GBM region is also progressively deteriorating due to increased withdrawals for various uses, leaving insufficient flows for dilution of pollutants during lean periods. The increased use of agro-chemicals and the discharge of untreated domestic sewage and industrial effluents into rivers, have aggravated the problem. Owing to the interaction between different types of surface water, pollution of the entire water resource system has now reached alarming proportions.
In addition to the above causes, in Bangladesh, the magnitude of water quality deterioration has been further compounded by salinity intrusion in the south-western region. We have been suffering since the late seventies with this problem which has arisen as a result of drastic reduction of fresh water flows in the Goari river -- the major distributory of the Ganges. The quotient of health hazard has been further enhanced with the additional problem of relatively high concentration of arsenic in certain water supply points in the system. The situation confronting us today is critical. The absence of adequate measures might eventually have an impact of climate change in the entire GBM region. General Circulation Models have revealed that mean annual rainfall in the north-eastern part of the South Asian subcontinent could increase with higher temperatures. The best estimate scenarios for 2030 is that monsoon rainfall could increase by 10 to 15 per cent. It is believed that increased evaporation resulting from higher temperatures in combination with regional changes in precipitation characteristics has the potential to affect mean runoff, frequency and intensity of floods and drought, soil moisture and surface and ground water availability in the GMB countries. It could also increase the rate of melting of snow in the Himalayas and reduce the amount of snowfall if winter is shortened.
In the event of climate change altering the rainfall pattern in the Himalayas, the effect could be felt in the downstream countries. If the monsoon period is shortened, soil moisture deficits in some areas might get worse, while prolonged monsoons might cause frequent flooding and increase inundation depths. In turn, all these will juxtapose and have a substantial effect on agriculture, fishery, navigation, industrial and domestic water supply, salinity control and reservoir storage and operation. The anticipated sea level rise in the Bay of Bengal would also significantly compound the problem in Bangladesh through coastal submergence and enhanced drainage congestion in the flood plain.
It is clear that we have a challenging situation that requires cooperation from all countries of the GBM region. The geographically interlinked character of the major rivers warrants and integrated regional approach in the care and management of the catchment. It should be our common essential long terms strategy. We need to derive full and multipurpose utility from the Ganges river. Storage dams need to be implemented which would not only control floods but also yield substantial benefits from the development of hydroelectricity and irrigation facilities. Monsoon storage can also augment dry season flow, improve navigation and help maintain the ecological balance of the region as a whole.
It will be rational to start the development of water resources from Nepal, which is located in the upper reaches of the Ganges in the GBM river system. Such projects will not only cater to the needs of Nepal but may also focus on the vast and growing energy market in North India as well as in Bangladesh. The GMB countries could share the costs and benefits of such multipurpose reservoir projects on agreed terms. An inter-country grid would facilitate the integration of different power systems across the region and allow Nepal to export excess hydropower to India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal are co-basins states of the GBM River Basin. There is no reason why the water and land of the zone cannot be developed through cooperation to solve flooding and many other associated problems. An enabling environment can be created in the region with proper political will. This will be of common benefit for the hundreds of millions of people who inhabit this region.
Enrique V. Iglesias is president of the Inter-American Development Bank
At first glance, Isla Trinitaria would seem like the wrong place to look for solutions to the world's growing water crisis. A swampy island near Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, Isla Trinitaria was settled by squatters 20 years ago. Today it is a densely populated slum of precarious huts built on uneven landfills. But by the summer, every dwelling on Isla Trinitaria will have running water, sewage service and water meters. The services were installed by Interagua, a consortium of foreign and national companies that in 2001 won a 30-year concession to provide Guayaquil's water and sanitation services.
For residents, the change will be dramatic. Currently, most families rely on water trucks, called tanqueros, that fill a 200-liter barrel for around 70 cents. If a family is not home when the truck comes by, or if it lacks the money, it gets no water. Interagua will bill the family one seventh of what the tanqueros charged per cubic meter of water. Isla Trinitaria provides eloquent proof that government, working together with the private sector, can provide water and sanitation services to even the poorest communities. The large-scale provision of water and sanitation services is crucial for meeting the ambitious U.N. goals for providing clean water and basic education as well as reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.
In our hemisphere, to meet these goals, governments will have to provide access to potable-water service to 120 million people and sewage service to 140 million people by the target year. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that the price tag for doing so will be $40 billion. Add water treatment, and the total rises to $60 billion. This is an enormous investment for countries already saddled with debt and hard-pressed to meet other urgent needs. But it can be done, if the political will exists. In a recent IDB survey, public utility experts were practically unanimous in saying that the biggest obstacle to moving forward with these investments is the current framework for charging consumers for water and sanitation services. Prices paid by consumers do not even cover the cost of the service itself, let alone operation and maintenance. When tariffs are insufficient, operation and maintenance are neglected, creating a vicious cycle: Customers do not pay their bills because service is poor, and the utility cannot improve service because it lacks the resources.
Ironically, while people connected to existing water networks pay too little for the service, the poorest consumers -- who typically have no connections in their homes -- end up paying exorbitant prices for water from street vendors such as the tanqueros on Isla Trinitaria. Guayaquil avoided a confrontation over its water concession by holding extensive consultations with labor unions and by investing in worker retraining and severance programs that eased the impact of the transition to private management. Subsequent improvements in the quality of service have further pacified public opinion -- by showing that the concession can work for everyone. More important, Guayaquil put into place a legal, regulatory and political framework that made the concession attractive to international investors. The regulatory agency is technically competent and free from political interference. When differences arise over questions such as a rate increase, they are resolved in a transparent and predictable manner. Multilateral institutions can provide technical expertise and partial financing, but it is governments that must lead the way and embrace creative solutions.
Reporting this week on the implementation of its commitments to eradicate poverty, protect natural resources and achieve sustainable patterns of consumption and production, made at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in August/September 2002, the European Commission set out the actions and goals that have been set so far. In a report entitled "The World Summit on Sustainable Development One Year On: Implementing Our Commitments" the Commission takes stock of progress achieved so far and outlines the actions undertaken both inside and outside the Union. Within the EU itself, three priorities have been identified:
In addition, the enlargement of the EU will make an important contribution to sustainable development. The acceding countries will be required to meet sustainable development targets in a wide range of sectors. The reform of the EU's Agricultural and Fisheries Policies represents a shift towards a more sustainable agricultural model for Europe, moving away from trade-distorting production-based subsidies. Existing processes such as the 1998 "Cardiff process", which requires the integration of environmental considerations into other policy areas, is to be reinvigorated. The EU has set itself a goal on biodiversity that goes further than what was agreed in Johannesburg. While Johannesburg asks for a reduction in the decline in biodiversity by 2010, the EU Sustainable Development Strategy commits the EU to halting it by the same date. In addition, strategies to protect essential sources of biodiversity, such as seas and soils, are being designed.
In October 2003, the European Commission also outlined a new strategy to promote the sustainable use of resources, aiming to examine the whole lifecycle of natural resources and to identify the resource usages with the greatest potential for environmental improvement. The proposed new EU chemicals regulatory system, REACH, which the Commission put forward in October 2003, will make a decisive contribution towards meeting the WSSD goal to ensure the "sound management of chemicals". The Environmental Technologies Action Plan, expected in early 2004, will remove barriers to the development and use of environmental technologies. The Commission also proposed a number of new measures to reduce CO2 emissions, such as linking the project-based Kyoto mechanisms "Joint Implementation" and the "Clean Development Mechanism" to the EU emissions trading scheme, which will start in 2005. In addition, a variety of instruments already exist at EU level to develop sustainable consumption and production patterns, ranging from eco-labelling to the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive, which tackles pollution arising from industrial and agricultural activities.
EU external action to implement WSSD commitments revolves around poverty eradication, effective implementation of the partnerships launched at Johannesburg on water, energy and forest management, and efforts towards sustainable globalisation and improved international governance. In March 2002, the United Nations hosted an international conference called "Financing for Development" in Monterrey, Mexico, asking for a "new partnership" between developed and developing countries, including an increase in official development aid (ODA). In 2002, eight Member States (Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, France, Finland) had already met the interim target of 0.33% of gross national income for ODA. Statistics are expected to show that Austria and the UK also reached this objective in 2003. The EU is also trying to achieve better coordination of development cooperation policies, untying of aid, participation in the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Country) initiative aimed at debt reduction, increasing trade-related assistance as well as working further on innovative sources of financing and the reform of international financial institutions.
The EU launched three major partnership initiatives in Johannesburg: the EU Energy Initiative (EUEI), the EU Water Initiative (EUWI) and the Forest Action Plan. For the EUWI, which seeks to bring safe water and sanitation to the world's poorest regions, general approaches have been defined, an initial dialogue with beneficiaries and stakeholders is taking place and moves are being made to develop practical measures. Earlier this year the Commission proposed to establish an EU water facility of €1 billion from the European Development Fund to promote access to clean water and sanitation for the people of the ACP countries. The initiative is currently being followed up by a concrete proposal to be presented to the EU Council at the beginning of 2004. The main objective of the facility will be to serve as a catalyst - promoting new initiatives, new information, building research and management capacity in ACP countries and to provide the flexible source of funding which is often the missing link in financing of sustainable water related programmes. The Forest Action Plan is mainly intended to combat illegal logging and has resulted in the proposal for an EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) in May 2003. In addition, the JREC (Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition) now groups 82 countries that have agreed to set quantifiable targets and timeframes for increasing the share of renewable energies in their overall energy mix, thus going beyond the more general commitments on renewables in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Trade and globalisation: The EU aims to reinforce synergies between trade and sustainable development. This includes reviving the Doha WTO negotiations, which are aimed at taking the needs of developing countries in international trade into account. Launched in 2001, the talks experienced a setback at the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun in September 2003. A new strategy put forward by the Commission in November refreshes and updates the EU negotiating position in several areas, but sticks to the objective that the negotiations must truly contribute to sustainable development. Other actions in the area include the launching of Sustainable Trade and Innovation Centres (STICs) aimed at helping developing countries' producers to benefit from growing market opportunities, notably for environmentally friendly products. Sustainability Impact Assessments also examine the impact of trade agreements on sustainability.
The EU believes that the global governance system must gain legitimacy, coherence and effectiveness. Support for multilateralism in the aftermath of the war in Iraq and at a difficult time for the international trade system is more necessary than ever. The European Commission is pushing for reinforced multilateralism and is, inter alia, supporting a common framework for the follow-up of major UN conferences and developing strategic partnerships with UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes in order to reinforce co-operation at all levels.
The Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was held in September 2002, with the participation of governments, NGOs, businesses and other groups. It built on the UN Millennium Summit in New York in September 2000, at which the UN member states agreed on a set of time-bound and measurable targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women the so-called Millennium Development Goals. Among other things, the number of people living on less than 1 dollar a day, the number of people suffering hunger and the number of people without sustainable access to drinking water and basic sanitation are to be reduced by half until 2015. In addition, the principle of sustainable development is to be incorporated into country policies and programmes.
Together with the Millennium Development Goals, the Doha Development Agenda and the Monterrey Consensus, the outcome of the WSSD is provides the essential building blocks of a worldwide partnership for sustainable development. Its overarching objectives are to eradicate poverty, to achieve sustainable patterns of production and consumption, and to protect natural resources. The main targets agreed at the WSSD are the following:
The EU also launched at WSSD three major partnership initiatives: The EU Energy Initiative (EUEI) aims at improving access to energy services in order to reduce poverty. The EU Water Initiative (EUWI) aims at contributing to the implementation of the Millenium Development Goals and WSSD targets on water and sanitation. The European Commission has proposed to create a ï¿½1 billion ACP-EU Water Facility dedicated to the Water Initiative. The Forest Action Plan: mainly intended to combat illegal logging. Both the EUEI and EUWI, whose secretariat is hosted by the European Commission, are designed as multi-stakeholder partnerships involving Member States, the EU, the European Investment Bank, civil society and the private sector, and are primarily aimed at Africa.
47) COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: In preparation for the CSD-12 Review Session to be held in New York in April 2004, the UN Secretary-General has prepared several reports for consideration by the Commission, including:
All reports are available online at: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/csd12_docs.htm
For more information on CSD-12 see: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/csd12.htm
For the Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the CSD-12 regional preparatory meetings and informal consultations see: http://www.iisd.ca/process/sustdevt.htm
48) UNEP-WCMC: In February 2004, the United Nations Environment Programmeï¿½s Worlds Conservation Monitoring Centre released ï¿½The Cloud Forest Agenda,ï¿½ designed to stimulate new initiatives and partnerships for the conservation and restoration of tropical montane cloud forests around the world. The report provides the first global maps of cloud forests, alongside information on their biodiversity and watershed importance, and a regional analysis of the threats to cloud forests. It concludes with an agenda for action, identifying global to national priorities and opportunities.
The report is available online at: http://sea.unep-wcmc.org/forest/cloudforest/presspack/presspack.cfm~main