AFRICA

Watch Out: The World Bank Is Quietly Funding A Massive Corporate Water Grab

Last modified on 2010-11-02 23:34:53 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Billions have been spent allowing corporations to profit from public water sources even though water privatization has been an epic failure in Latin America, Southeast Asia, North America, Africa and everywhere else it’s been tried. But don’t tell that to controversial loan-sharks at the World Bank. Last month, its private-sector funding arm International Finance Corporation (IFC) quietly dropped a cool 100 million euros ($139 million US) onVeolia Voda, the Eastern European subsidiary of Veolia, the world’s largest private water corporation. Its latest target? Privatization of Eastern Europe’s water resources.

“Veolia has made it clear that their business model is based on maximizing profits, not long-term investment,” Joby Gelbspan, senior program coordinator for private-sector watchdog Corporate Accountability International, told AlterNet. “Both the World Bank and the transnational water companies like Veolia have clearly acknowledged they don’t want to invest in the infrastructure necessary to improve water access in Eastern Europe. That’s why this 100 million euro investment in Veolia Voda by the World Bank’s private investment arm over the summer is so alarming. It’s further evidence that the World Bank remains committed to water privatization, despite all evidence that this approach will not solve the world’s water crisis.”

Read more: AlterNet

Texting Program Helps African Farmers Fight Drought

Last modified on 2010-10-29 19:06:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“The African micro-insurance provider, UAP, sent Gathoni a U.S. $29 payment for loss of her harvest due to drought that year. (See flood, drought, and climate change pictures.)

Gathoni is one of the more than 9,500 Kenyan farmers who have “micro-insured” themselves under a new program that assesses crop loss—and subsequent payments—based on climatic data from solar-powered weather stations.

Launched in 2009, Kilimo Salama—a Swahili phrase that means “safe farming”—gives small-scale farmers in Kenya “pay as you plant” insurance, so that if they lose their harvest they can still afford to farm the next season.

(Read how a “great green wall” may help African farmers displaced by drought.)

Gathoni, a mother of one and caretaker of two orphans, has farmed for the past 11 years on 2 acres (0.8 hectare) of land and joined the program soon after its launch. She used her insurance money to buy new seeds.”

Read more: National Geographic

The New Oil: Should private companies control our most precious natural resource?

Last modified on 2010-10-19 20:48:49 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Lake Mead. Photo retrieved from: www.newsweek.com

“Sitka, Alaska, is home to one of the world’s most spectacular lakes. Nestled into a U-shaped valley of dense forests and majestic peaks, and fed by snowpack and glaciers, the reservoir, named Blue Lake for its deep blue hues, holds trillions of gallons of water so pure it requires no treatment. The city’s tiny population—fewer than 10,000 people spread across 5,000 square miles—makes this an embarrassment of riches. Every year, as countries around the world struggle to meet the water needs of their citizens, 6.2 billion gallons of Sitka’s reserves go unused. That could soon change. In a few months, if all goes according to plan, 80 million gallons of Blue Lake water will be siphoned into the kind of tankers normally reserved for oil—and shipped to a bulk bottling facility near Mumbai. From there it will be dispersed among several drought-plagued cities throughout the Middle East. The project is the brainchild of two American companies. One, True Alaska Bottling, has purchased the rights to transfer 3 billion gallons of water a year from Sitka’s bountiful reserves. The other, S2C Global, is building the water-processing facility in India. If the companies succeed, they will have brought what Sitka hopes will be a $90 million industry to their city, not to mention a solution to one of the world’s most pressing climate conundrums. They will also have turned life’s most essential molecule into a global commodity.”

Read more: Newsweek

Preparing For A Water-Limited World

Last modified on 2010-10-14 16:50:30 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“The data and statistical tools used to plan $500 billion worth of annual global investments in dams, flood-control structures, diversion projects, and other big pieces of water infrastructure are no longer trustworthy,” she writes. “In other words, when it comes to water, the past is no longer a reliable guide to the future.”

The uncertainty of future water supplies and flow patterns is not limited to concerns over dams and diversions. Food security, public health, and life as we know it are also at risk.

Postel describes a “day of reckoning on the horizon” in the U.S. Southwest, for instance. Some scientists predict there is a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead, which stores Colorado River water for tens of millions of people and one million acres of irrigated land, will dry up by 2021.

And she notes that as much as 10 percent of the world’s food is produced through tapping too deep into residual and unreplenished groundwater resources. “This creates a bubble in the food economy far more serious than the recent housing, credit, or dot-com bubbles, for we are meeting some of today’s food needs with tomorrow’s water.”

The Solutions

“The water challenges confronting us locally, regionally, and globally are unprecedented,” Postel writes. The good news, she says, is that we have the economic and technological capacity to make sure global water needs are met. We just have to start using it.

The smarter path to water sustainability also requires us to work with nature and assign it a value for flood protection, water filtration, and other beneficial services it provides, according to Postel. And smarter water users-individuals, cities, utilities, businesses, and farmers-will be more aware of their water footprints and how to reduce them.”

Read more: National Geographic

Government In Denial On Water Crisis – Union

Last modified on 2010-10-09 19:26:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.rainharvest.co.za

“The union, which is affiliated to the Federation of Unions of SA, said it was “extremely disappointed” with the Department of Water Affairs’ reaction following Fedusa’s section 77 application to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

In August, Fedusa filed a section 77 notice – in terms of the Labour Relations Act – with Nedlac, warning of possible protest action by the union if the government did not take firmer and faster steps to tackle the country’s massive water pollution problems.

“We are sitting on a time bomb which will affect each and every person in the country,” Fedusa warned at the time.

At a subsequent Nedlac meeting last week, the parties agreed that a sub-committee be formed to examine the problem, and the government granted 30 days to consult on the matter.”

Read more: Pretoria News

World’s Rivers in Crisis: U.S. And Europe Face Highest Threat Levels

Last modified on 2010-10-08 16:54:29 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.11thhouraction.com

“Rivers are the arteries of the planet, linking continents through coastal zones to the ocean. More than 120,000 species of plants and animals make up the world’s riverine ecosystems that provide the multi-trillion dollar services humanity relies upon – however up to 20,000 are at risk of extinction Vörösmarty says.

An international team examined data sets on 23 factors that impact rivers around the world and created state-of-the-art computer models to integrate all of the information to paint the first ever global picture of the health of river systems. More than 65 percent of the world’s rivers are in trouble and this finding is very “conservative” since there was not enough data to assess impacts of climate change, pharmaceutical compounds, mining wastes and massive inter-basin water transfers like the Colorado River in the western U.S.

Where rivers are least at risk are where human populations are smallest. Rivers in arctic regions and relatively inaccessible areas of the tropics appear to be in the best health, according to the findings.

In an unrelated study more than 80 percent of male bass fish exhibited female traits such as egg production because of a “toxic stew” of pollutants in the Potomac River that flows through Washington, DC scientists reported last week. Similar findings have been made in many U.S. rivers.”

Read more: AlterNet

Thirsty Egypt Clings Tight To The Nile

Last modified on 2010-10-04 02:19:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

In recent years, some Egyptian farmers have seen their water supply dwindle dramatically. In Al Fayoum, farmers depend on water from the Nile River and nearby aqueducts to reach them via canals. But they say people closer to the river are taking too much. Photo retrieved from: www.npr.org

“The Nile follows an unusual course, flowing northward from the interior of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.  For as long as anyone can remember, Egypt has dominated the basin from its position at the end of the line.

But being at the end of any line has its worries. There’s always a chance that the supply will run out before it gets to you. No nation is more keenly aware of that risk than Egypt.

Ayman Habou Hadid, who runs a research center at Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry, says desert people have only one fixation: “Water availability. That’s it.”

“But it is a challenge to improve the awareness of our people that we have to use the water at the maximum efficiency,” he says. “This is a major concern. The best utilization of water.”

Masoud Shomon, a folklorist in Cairo, says it takes an Egyptian to understand the Nile.

“I consider the Nile like a person,” Shomon says. “In the source countries, the Nile remains like a child. And it is here where this child grows older and is able to make a civilization. Why have the Egyptians built such a great civilization along the banks of the Nile? It is because Egyptians understand the Nile.”

But there are just as many non-Egyptians in the river basin who say they, too, understand the Nile just fine. They chafe at what they perceive as arrogance on the part of Egypt.”

Read more: NPR

Ethiopia Claims High Ground In Right-To-Nile Debate

Last modified on 2010-09-28 16:48:15 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: www.artsonearth.com

“The Nile River is almost always associated with Egypt. Think back to Herodotus, who called Egypt the “gift of the Nile.” Or to baby Moses, whose river-borne bassinet made it all the way to Pharaoh’s inner circle.

Egypt still draws more water from the Nile than any other country. But it doesn’t contribute any water to the Nile.

Egypt is mostly desert, so rivers and rain from eight or nine other countries make the Nile flow. And those other countries want some of their water back.

Ethiopians say they could use some of the Nile’s headwaters to become a hydropower superpower in Africa. And they’re claiming the geographical and moral high ground.

Ethiopia is home to the Blue Nile, a major tributary of the river. But Ethiopians have had little access to the Nile.

From its humble beginnings in the western highlands, the Blue Nile, known locally as theAbay, (pronounced ah-BYE) quickly cuts through deep gorges — too deep for most people to reach. Then, it’s off to Sudan, where it merges with the White Nile and proceeds northward to the Mediterranean Sea.”

Read more: NPR

Villagers drink from Shashe River in water crisis

Last modified on 2010-09-24 18:11:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: zimbabweflora.co.zw

“Chadibe, Shashemooke and Borolong residents have been forced to drink the murky waters of Shashe River after the taps in their villages ran dry on Tuesday.

“Chadibe village headman Aaron Nyambe said in the past two days people have been forced to fetch water from the river for their needs.

“”Our village has dried up, neither do we drink water or bath. We only see Water Utilities vehicles driving around the village leaving clouds of dust behind them but I cannot tell you what they are doing here since they never communicate with us,” the unhappy chief fumed. He said since the water crisis residents have had to make do as best as they can under very difficult circumstances. “Most people in the village have water connections into their homes, they use indoor toilets but without water the toilets are useless. You can imagine what the situation would be like,” Nyambe said.

“Lillian Nyambe, the chief’s wife said that the water condition is making them suffer. “It is a disaster, we sometimes fetch water at around 2am, which also gets cut off at any moment,” she said.”

Read more: Mmegi Online

Cholera death toll rises to 352

Last modified on 2010-08-27 06:38:19 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo Retrieved from: telegraph.co.uk

“CHOLERA death toll in Nigeria has climbed to 352, according to an update from the Federal Ministry of Health.

“The death toll, as confirmed on Wednesday in Abuja by the Director of Public Health, Dr Mike Anibueze, emanated from Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, FCT, Cross River, Kaduna, and Rivers.

““As of today, a total of 352 deaths out of 6,497 suspected cases of cholera have been recorded in 11 states,’’ he said.

“According to him, most of the outbreaks occurred in the North-West and North-East zones but epidemiological evidence indicated that the entire country was at risk.

““The disease is endemic in most parts of Nigeria but often occurs in epidemic proportion at the onset of the dry season.

““This is because people scramble for drinking water from doubtful sources and during rainy season when contaminants are washed into surface and underground water sources,’’ Anibueze said.”

Read more: The Nigerian Tribune

Kalahari Bushmen to appeal against court ban on well in game reserve

Last modified on 2010-07-22 22:29:10 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Africa’s oldest inhabitants pitched against autocratic Botswana government are forced to truck water 300 miles across desert.

“The Kalahari Bushmen are to appeal against a decision by the Botswana high court forbidding them to use a well in the central Kalahari game reserve, one of the driest regions in the world, a spokesman announced today.

“The Bushmen, Africa’s oldest inhabitants, won a ruling in 2006 against eviction from the game park, hailed as a victory for indigenous peoples around the world. Hundreds returned to their home villages but they have been prevented from reopening the well or drilling a new one.

“The government argued that the Bushmen’s presence in the reserve was not compatible with preserving wildlife and that living in such harsh conditions offered few prospects. The Bushmen took their case to the high court, and the judge this week ruled against them.

“The decision doesn’t make any sense,” said a community spokesman, Jumanda Gakelebone. “We are going to appeal.”

“For now, the 500 Bushmen have to truck in water from the nearest settlement with a public borehole, 300 miles away.”

Read more: The Guardian

Ask The U.S. Ambassador to Support the Human Right to Water

Last modified on 2010-07-22 17:26:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: Food and Water Watch

“For the first time since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 60 years ago, the UN General Assembly is finally poised to recognize the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Billions of people are suffering because the world is not focused on providing water and sanitation for all. A strong UN General Assembly resolution will signal that water and sanitation is a key priority for the international community.”

Take action by signing the UN General Assembly resolution recognizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation at: Food and Water Watch

Everything You Need to Know About Groundwater

Last modified on 2010-07-13 15:22:56 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

“Groundwater is fresh water located underground in porous soil or fractures in rock formations. Collections of groundwater are called aquifers, and we draw from aquifers for drinking water and water for use in everything form irrigation to agriculture to manufacturing.

“Groundwater pumping is when we pull water from the aquifer for our own use. When we pull more water than is naturally replenished, this is called groundwater mining because we have to drill deeper and deeper into the earth to get at the remaining water.

“Groundwater is a very important source of water for civilizations worldwide, making up about 20% of the world’s fresh water supply. Many cities have gotten used to mining groundwater to sustain its residents. However, as we overuse the resource, pull water faster than aquifers can naturally refill, and continue to pollute groundwater supplies, we’re beginning to face a whole new set of serious problems with this vital resource.

“The more we pump from aquifers, the farther the available water is from the surface of the earth. That means more energy has to go in to mining the water, and the costs begin to outweigh benefits, and our capabilities. When aquifers are mismanaged and too much water is extracted, it can mean the aquifer is no longer a viable source of water and a new source needs to be found. Depending on the available options, it can mean anything from a city moving to energy intensive and environmentally problematic solutions, such as desalination plants, to the community being unable to survive.”

read more: AlterNet

World Rivers Review: Focus on Dam Standards

Last modified on 2010-07-10 03:50:01 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Since the World Commission on Dams (WCD) issued its groundbreaking report in 2000, governments, institutions and civil society around the world have taken up the challenge of adapting its recommendations to their local context. This issue on dam standards examines where these efforts have been successful, and where more work needs to be done. As our senior policy analyst, Shannon Lawrence, notes in the commentary, “We know how to do it: the WCD framework provides the road map. What we’re lacking are the political will and the long-term vision to make it happen.”Read the full commentary on what the road towards better dams, healthier environments, and stronger communities looks like.

This special issue also looks at China’s budding efforts to adhere to standards, the dam industry’s proposed scorecard system for rating dams, and specific cases where the WCD recommendations are being put into practice.

Read More:  International Rivers

The threat of a water war; Egypt and Sudan draw battle lines with upstream nations over access to the Nile

Last modified on 2010-07-03 20:34:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: sciencecastle.com

“NATIONS FIGHT over water, especially when access is curtailed or threatened, and there are the ingredients for a battle over the 4,100-mile long Nile River. Egypt and Sudan have counted on the abundance of the Nile’s life-giving flow. Now upstream nations want to keep more of the abundance for themselves. Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda are asserting their rights to more of the river’s relentless flow. Washington needs to intervene to forestall hostilities between the countries.

“Britain conquered Uganda and Kenya in the 19th century in part to protect the precious Nile waters from being diverted away from their critical possession of Egypt, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea route to India. Without the yearly sustaining floods of the Nile, agriculture and settlement in the valley of the river from Luxor to Cairo and Alexandria would have been impossible.
“When Britain in the 1920s controlled all of the waters of the Nile, bar those sluicing down the Blue Nile from Ethiopia, it signed a pact that gave Egypt and Sudan rights to nearly 75 percent of its annual flow. This 1929 agreement was confirmed in 1959, after Egypt and the Sudan had broken from Britain but while the East African countries were still colonies.”
Read More: Boston Globe

Protecting Rivers and Rights: The World Commission on Dams Recommendations in Action

Last modified on 2010-07-02 15:40:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“The most comprehensive guidelines for large dams that protect the rights of river-dependent communities were outlined by the World Commission on Dams (WCD) in 2000.

“Ten years later, International Rivers is happy to announce a new briefing kit for activists and allies, “Protecting Rivers and Rights: The World Commission on Dams Recommendations in Action,” as part of our WCD+10 activities to move the dams debate forward. The purpose of this publication is to provide activists with concrete examples of where and how the WCD principles have been (or in some cases, failed to be) applied.

“The briefing kit explores six broad principles covered by the WCD, which encompass basic values of human rights and sustainable development that are essential to minimizing the negative impacts of large dams on people and the planet.”

read more: International Rivers

Call to defuse toxic mining water time bomb

Last modified on 2010-07-01 14:59:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Acid Mine Drainage. Retrieved from: coromandelwatchdog.com

JOHANNESBURG – “THE government still does not have a comprehensive strategy to deal with toxic mining water, months after describing the situation as urgent and a serious threat to the environment.

“And so far treatment subsidised by the state has been inadequate, according to Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, which campaigns for the effective treatment of this water, known as acid mine drainage (AMD).

“AMD, widely regarded as one of SA’s most serious pollution problems, is highly acidic and contains high levels of sulphates and heavy metals. Treatment is costly, and pumping this water is expensive for mining companies.

“The polluted water is seen as a particular problem in the gold fields of the Witwatersrand, where disused and derelict mine shafts have been allowed to flood and where existing mines have had to pump water from their works in order to continue mining.

“Mike Muller, a registered engineer and professor of public and development management, warns that the focus on AMD risks distracting the country from dealing with water pollution from inadequately maintained sew age works, which he says pose an immediate risk to downstream users .

“Chris Herold, a council member of the South African Institute of Civil Engineers, agrees that there is a more serious problem facing the water sector than AMD: water supply itself.”

read more: BusinessDay

Report lists top ten countries at risk of water shortages

Last modified on 2010-06-29 15:18:34 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Water scarcity hotspots

The dark shaded countries represent those most vulnerable to water scarcity conflict. Retrieved from: TheEcologist.co.uk

“Depleting water supplies are increasing the risk of both internal and cross-border conflict as competition between industry, agriculture and consumers increases, according to an assessment of world most vulnerable countries.

“The report from the analysts at Maplecroft, says that the ten countries most at risk are: Somalia (1), Mauritania (2), Sudan (3), Niger (4), Iraq (5), Uzbekistan (6), Pakistan (7), Egypt (8), Turkmenistan (9) and Syria (10).
“The ranking was based on an assessment of access to water, water demands and the reliance on external supplies with countries like Mauritania and Niger more than 90 per cent reliant on external water supplies.

“In addition to natural depletion, the report also pointed out the increasing scarcity of water resources due to pollution. The Yellow River Conservancy Committee estimates 34 per cent of the river is unfit for drinking, aquaculture, and agriculture. An estimated 30 per cent of the tributaries of Yangtze River are extremely polluted and in India, 50 per cent of the Yamuna River, the main tributary of the Ganges is extremely polluted.”

read more: TheEcologist

E African nations firm on Nile deal

Last modified on 2010-06-28 20:41:40 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Five East African countries have announced their refusal to go back on a deal they signed last month to share the waters of the Nile, despite fierce criticism from Egypt and Sudan.

“The stand was adopted as the latest meeting of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, ended with open disagreements on Sunday.

“After more than a decade of talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed the agreement in May without their northern neighbours.

“”The signed [agreement] can’t be unsigned,” Asfaw Dingamo, the Ethiopian minister for water resources, said, referring to the pact signed in May.

“”But we hope to reach a consensus and I hope to do it very soon.”

“The five signatories have given the other Nile Basin countries – Egypt, Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – one year to join the pact.

“The new deal would need at least six signatories to come into force.

“Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not signed the deal yet and have so far been tight-lipped about whether they plan to or not.”

Read More: Al Jazeera

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