Unicef Says Hardest Part Yet to Come in Providing Drinking Water to Millions

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:29 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“As World Water Week kicks off, UNICEF says that despite tremendous progress in the last two decades in bringing access to improved drinking water sources to billions of people, finishing the task is not going to be easy.

“There have been outstanding gains in every region of the world,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. “However, the job is not done until every single person every day can get sufficient drinking water from a reliable source – and unfortunately the most difficult part is ahead.”

“Wijesekera cited a report, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012, released earlier this year by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which says that between 1990 and 2010 more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water such as piped supplies, or protected wells. The report says the world reached the Millennium Development Goal on drinking water in 2010, five years ahead of schedule, but that 783 million people are still without access.

“According to the report, those still without access are the hardest to reach, being largely the poorest people in urban slums or deep rural areas.

“UNICEF says the most important step in providing universal access will be to address the inequities which exist in all regions and at all levels and where the poorest and women are most affected.”

Read more: All Africa

Shell Nigeria says leak contained, locals report oil slick

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:28 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: ibtimes

“Shell said on Friday it had contained oil leaked from a failed pump within a flowstation on Nigeria’s Nembe Creek though local residents disputed this, saying it had spread to mangrove swamps.

“There was no oil spill, and there was no impact on the environment,” said Precious Okolobo, spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC), a joint venture majority owned by the state oil firm.

“The pump was immediately shut down. However, some oil escaped from the seal into the saver pit in the flowstation, with some sheen observed,” he said.

“A Reuters reporter on the scene saw spilled oil, some of it lapping against the roots of mangroves, but Nigerian Naval officers barred access to an area behind the flowstation where locals reported a large oil slick.

“We observed a crude oil slick and sheen along the creek and, it continued into the Brass River,” said Alabo Nengi James, an official in the Ewelesuo community of the Nembe Kingdom.

“Shell has not done any containment; no such signs at all.”

“Oil spills from equipment failures or loading accidents are common in the swampy Niger Delta region of Africa’s top energy producer.

“The Anglo-Dutch oil major says locals sometimes exaggerate the impact in the hope of boosting their compensation claims.

“A landmark U.N. report in August last year slammed the government and multinational oil companies, particularly Shell, for 50 years of oil pollution that has devastated the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta.

“The government and oil firms have pledged to clean up the region and other parts of the Delta, but residents say they have seen very little action.”

Read more: Reuters

Water shortages driving growing thefts, conflicts in Kenya

Last modified on 2012-08-07 17:37:48 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“As droughts become more frequent and water shortages worsen, Kenya is seeing an increase in water thefts and other water-related crime, police records show.

The most common crimes are theft, muggings and illegal disconnections of water pipes by thieves who collect and sell the water. Many of the crimes occur in urban slums, which lack sufficient piped water.

“Since 2003, we have made piped water available to at least half of the slum residents in the entire country, but we are faced with severe hurdles as populations continue to grow and demand for the commodity continues to increase,” said Peter Mangich, acting director of water services in the Ministry of Water.

Police statistics show that in Kibera – Nairobi’s largest slum with over one and a half million inhabitants –  there are as many as 75 reported incidences of water-related theft daily.”

Read more: AlertNet


Zimbabwe: Water Chemicals, Just Politics At Play

Last modified on 2012-08-06 15:39:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Water has always been one of the biggest problems besetting the City of Harare. Not only is money unavailable to ensure enough chemicals are bought to purify our water and to repair the dilapidated infrastructure, but also there has never been an interest on the part of the authorities to ensure that our sources of water are kept clean.

Indeed, Harare’s sources of water are the most polluted in the country due to industrial waste and nothing has been done to stop the wanton release into the river systems of this toxic waste, which makes it almost impossible to purify the water.

The worst polluters of the water system are known but we have not seen the same kind of enthusiasm and gusto on the part of authorities to stem this blatant poisoning of our water, such as we saw in the past few days.

While there should be no excuses for the recent mix-up, the manner in which the debacle was handled smacked of political intrigue rather than a genuine desire to safeguard the lives of Harare residents.”

Read more: All Africa


Zimbabwe: Typhoid Continues to Wreak Havoc in Harare

Last modified on 2012-08-01 13:35:10 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“At least 162 people in Harare and Chitungwiza have been treated for suspected typhoid, as Zimbabwe battles a resurgence of the waterborne disease that wreaked havoc late last year.

Harare City Council director of health services, Prosper Chonzi said the city recorded more than 100 cases of suspected typhoid by Friday, with most of them testing positive.

“To date over a 100 residents have been treated, 16 are admitted at Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital and more are being treated as we speak,” he said. Chonzi said a permanent solution was needed to curb future typhoid outbreaks in the capital and its satellite town, Chitungwiza.

“A permanent solution will be for residents to access potable water every day and avoid erratic water shortages,” he said. Chonzi, however, was grateful that the latest outbreak was not spreading as fast as last year’s due to a change in weather.”

Read more: All Africa

Regions where water disputes are fuelling tensions

Last modified on 2012-07-26 18:59:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Disputes over water are common around the world, exacerbated by climate change, growing populations, rapid urbanisation, increased irrigation and a rising demand for alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity.

Following are a few of the regions where competition for water from major rivers systems is fuelling tension.


India is home to three major river systems — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Indus — which support 700 million people. As an upstream nation, it controls water flows to Bangladesh to the east and Pakistan to the west. The Indus supplies some 80 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated land.

India and Pakistan are both building hydropower dams in disputed Kashmir along Kishanganga river. Pakistan fears India’s dams will disrupt water flows.

India, for its part, is concerned that China is building dams along the Tsangpo river, which runs into India as the Brahmaputra.”

Read more: Reuters


Zimbabwe: As Piped Water Dries Up, City Dwellers Turn to Carrying Water

Last modified on 2012-07-13 17:24:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Bulawayo — Samukeliso Tshuma, a 33-year old mother of four, lives in one of Bulaway’s teeming high density urban townships, but these days gets her water the same way rural dwellers do – from a borehole well.

This is “something I never imagined I would be doing,” said Tshuma, who formerly relied on city-provided piped water.

Spare rainfall has hit water levels at dams supplying Zimbabwe’s second largest city with piped water, raising fears among municipal offers that supplies may soon run out, and leading to rationing and disconnection of some of the network.

That has left residents like Tshuma carrying water home – a way of life more common in rural areas.

“Like many others living in the city, we always associated boreholes with rural areas where women balance water cans on their heads and walk long distances in search of water,” said Tshuma after the Bulawayo municipality began a massive water disconnection and rationing exercise last month.

The Bulawayo municipality has over the years sunk boreholes across the sprawling city of 2 million as a response to increasingly low levels at the city’s five major supply dams.”

Read more: All Africa


Tourism Impacts Gambian Water Supply

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Raw story

“Unregulated water consumption at tourist resorts in Gambia threatens water access and livelihoods of the country’s residents, according to a report released Monday by the U.K.-based group Tourism Concern.

“Rachel Noble, the organization’s head of policy and research, said one of the biggest problems facing the West African country’s water supply is that tourism resorts, which consume vastly larger amounts of water than Gambians, are not properly monitored or regulated.  Since normal channels of water access are not dependable, large hotels along the coast often build their own bore holes to fill up reservoirs.

“The problem is that, generally, this water is considered free, and it’s considered unlimited, which means that people aren’t paying for what they consume,” said Noble.  “A vast majority of the [water] meters in the hotel are found not to be working, so hotels are paying the same amount regardless of their occupation level.”

“Tourism is one of Gambia’s biggest economic engines and Noble said the problem needs to be addressed in a way that will be best for both the industry and the country’s residents.

“It’s [tourism] vital for a country that’s trying to lift itself out of poverty,” she said.  “But our key concerns relate to the way that tourism is being developed – lack of planning, lack of regulation, lack of awareness about water resources along the coast where tourism is located.”

Read more: Voa news

The Hidden Water Cost Of South African Coal Addiction

Last modified on 2012-06-28 19:26:30 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“It’s a little known fact that South Africa has some of the best quality water in the world for those who have access to it and can afford to pay for it. But the country is facing a looming water conflict and coal is right in the middle of it.

The quantity of water available for each person in the world is declining steadily. Nowhere is the rate of decline as dramatic as we continue to see in Africa. Chillingly, the estimates are that South Africa won’t be able to meet its water demand by as early as 2030.

In the face of this kind of future, surely every effort to avoid this impending crisis must be made? But that is simply not the case.

Two new mega coal-fired power stations (Medupi and Kusile) are being built by the national utility, Eskom and new coal mines are being approved without a clear view of what the water impacts are likely to be, or where the water will come from.

The reality is that local communities may well lose their water rights to make way for mines. Kusile will use 173 times more water than wind power would use per unit of electricity produced and Eskom gets a guaranteed supply of water, no matter what.”

Read more: SteelGuru

Mozambique: Netia Water Supply System Inaugurated

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Washafrica

“A new water supply system has been inaugurated in Netia, in the district of Monapo in Mozambique’s northern province of Nampula.

“The rehabilitated small water supply system will provide clean drinking water for the 15,000 people living in the area. It has seven new water standpipes and nine boreholes equipped with manual pumps. In addition, 40 water sources have been rehabilitated along with four school toilet blocks.

“As a result of the improvements, 17 communities have been assessed to be free from open air defecation zone (LIFECA).

“According to a press release from the Embassy of the United States, the system is being overseen by water committees and a shop has stocks of spare parts to guarantee the system’s sustainability.

“The project was jointly launched in 2010 by USAID and the company Coca-Cola because of the low rate of coverage of clean drinking water in the province (which stood at 41 per cent).”

Read more: Allafrica

Water mismanagement threatens Moroccan oasis

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

For centuries the sharing out of water in the oasis was managed in the "khattara" tradition

Retrieved from: Phys

“Tucked away in Morocco’s high Atlas mountains the vast oasis of Errachidia, among the most beautiful in the south of the country, is today threatened by bad management.

“I dug four wells before finding water. Around me, the neighbours have no water. Before, there was water everywhere. That’s the will of God,” M’barek added, staring down at the stream carrying well water to the fields.

“For centuries the sharing out of water in the oasis, now threatened with drying out, was managed in the “khattara” tradition, whereby water towers were used and distribution took place according to need, in line with ancestral Berber rites.

“This system made it possible to maintain a regular flow of water all year round.

“From the 1970s, farmers have introduced , leading to the progressive depletion of the . Fields, once steadily cultivated and green, are now wasteland abandoned by the oasis dwellers.

“The outlines of the fields, you can see how big they are. Look, one, two, three, four meters (13 yards) wide. They are big, so that means there was lots of water,” said Lahcen Kabiri, professor of environmental geosciences at the University of Errachidia.

“Kabiri said the situation “could turn into a real catastrophe in light of the role of oases in the struggle against desertification.

“If the water runs out, then everything that depends on it will be in a dramatic situation. We will be up against an unprecedented ecological disaster.”

Read more: Phys

Land grabs leave Africa facing ‘hydrological suicide’

Last modified on 2012-06-13 19:38:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“A scramble for cheap African farmland by foreign investors threatens to leave millions of people without water and could ultimately drain the continent’s rivers, a report warns.

“If these land grabs are allowed to continue, Africa is heading for a hydrological suicide,” said the report’s co-author Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, an organisation supporting small farmers.

Foreign governments and wealthy individuals are snapping up millions of hectares of land on the continent for large-scale agriculture projects to grow food and biofuels for export.

But the report warns there is simply not enough water in Africa’s rivers and water tables to irrigate all the newly acquired land.

In some cases communities are already being moved off land to make way for these mega-projects. In others, the plantations will divert water from rivers that local people depend on for their own farming and everyday needs.

“Millions of Africans are in danger of losing access to the water sources they rely on for their livelihoods and for the survival of their communities,” Hobbelink said.”

Read more: AlertNet


Water Knows No Border Between Angola and Namibia

Last modified on 2012-06-07 17:07:19 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The Kunene Transboundary Water Supply Project — is a good model of trans-boundary cooperation in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The KTWSP will improve the water supply for around 700,000 residents of southern Angola and northern Namibia, providing for domestic consumption, irrigation, and industry.

The project includes the rehabilitation of the Calueqe Dam in southern Angola, which suffered extensive damage during the country’s 27 years of civil war. So far, some 35 million dollars have been invested in the project, which is being funded by the Namibian and Angola governments and contributions from the UK, the German Development Bank and Australia.

Dr Kuiri Tjipangandjara, an engineer at the Namibia Water Corporation (NamWater) and co-Chair of the KTWSP, told IPS that construction of a new pipeline between the southern Angola towns of Xangongo and Ondjiva has already begun. This link will supply treated water to various towns and villages along its route, such as Namacunde, Santa-Clara and Chiedi.”

Read more: IPS

Water Conflict: Water Hostages in Egypt

Last modified on 2012-06-07 16:59:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“Farmers near Abu Simbel, Egypt this week finally released more than 200 tourists that they had taken hostage to protest a water shortage, the Egypt Independent reported. The farmers claimed that they had been denied water to irrigate their crops, and they expect dry conditions to damage the 2,500 acres that they have planted.

Egypt relies extensively on irrigation from the Nile River to sustain its farmland, but its historical rights to Nile water are being increasingly challenged by its upstream neighbors. For example, Ethiopia is moving forward with its contested Grand Renaissance Dam, which would be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, CNN reported. Eighty-five percent of the water flowing to Egypt from the river originates in Ethiopia.”

Read more: Circle of Blue


Race To Map Africa’s Forgotten Glaciers Before They Melt Away

Last modified on 2012-06-06 16:39:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Rwenzori’s summits in Uganda. Retrieved from:

“Ptolemy thought they were the source of the Nile and called them the Mountains of the Moon because of the perpetual mists that covered them; Stanley claimed to be the first non-African to see their icecap; and the many thousands of subsistence farmers who today live on the slopes of the fabled Rwenzori mountains in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo fear that warming temperatures are devastating their harvests.

While 20,000 people a year scale Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, just a handful of trekkers tackle the lower, 5,100m Rwenzori summits and witness the spectacular plant forms that grow in some of the wettest conditions on Earth. The result is that little is known about the condition of the many tropical glaciers that descend off the three peaks of mounts Baker, Speke and Africa’s third highest peak, Mount Stanley.

But last month, a micro-expedition led by London-based Danish photographer Klaus Thymann returned from Uganda with the best evidence yet that the 43 glaciers found and named in 1906 are still mostly there, but are in dire condition and can be expected to disappear in a decade or two.”

Read more: The Observer


Rampant Oil Theft Ravages Nigeria’s Delta

Last modified on 2012-06-05 14:19:30 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“Shell, the biggest operator, says 150,000 barrels per day is stolen from Africa’s top oil producer. Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that as much as one-fifth of government revenue is lost to oil theft.

The small amount that is refined locally finds a ready market in a country whose legal refineries are largely defunct.

“We’re doing what they can’t,” quips one oil thief from his barge, a swipe at the Nigerian government’s failure to refine much of the fuel it produces because of decades of corruption.


Most of the theft happens on a larger scale, when coordinated groups of workers tap into oil infrastructure, siphoning crude into barges and motorboats before transporting the oil onto larger crafts a few miles offshore.

The complicity of corrupt security officials and politicians means this is unlikely to end any time soon, although President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has pledged to crack down.

Floating down waterways in Jonathan’s home state of Bayelsa, dozens of plumes of smoke are visible from micro-refineries.

The damage is incalculable: broken pipelines are abandoned and left to hemorrhage into the creeks, while deadly accidental fires desecrate several square kilometers of wetland vegetation.”

Read more: Reuters


South Sudan: Pressure on Land, Water as More Refugees Enter the Country

Last modified on 2012-06-03 16:08:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Maban — The UN refugee agency and its partners in eastern South Sudan are racing to move thousands of Sudanese refugees from the border into suitable inland sites amid increasing water shortages.

Community leaders have told UNHCR there are an estimated 20,000 refugees who fled conflict and food shortages in Sudan’s Blue Nile state and converged on the Elfoj border area of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. Another 40,000 could be on their way.

Dungaz Tatalla, 56, and his family walked for 27 days from their village in Gabanid in Blue Nile. His 73-year-old mother has swollen feet and has not had a proper meal in days.

“The bombing of our village is what pushed us from Gabanid,” said Tatalla, leading the donkey that carried his exhausted mother to safety. “Our houses were burned down. People were being shot. There was nothing to stay for, especially because the whole village was leaving.”

Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North in Blue Nile has prevented villagers from farming and accessing food.”

Read more: All Africa


DRC Short-Circuits Power Supply

Last modified on 2012-05-29 18:46:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“The government now wants to develop the Inga III dam on the river, which will produce somewhere between 4000MW and 5000MW of electricity a year.

But the intentions of the DRC go well beyond this. Over time, it wants to develop the Grand Inga Dam project, which will provide 40000MW of electricity at a staggering cost of $80-billion to $100-billion. The dam will be twice as large as the Three Gorges Dam in China – the world’s largest in terms of electricity production.

The World Bank estimates that the Congo River, if properly used, could generate up to 100 000MW of electricity a year – enough to supply the entire Africa for decades to come.

When South Africa began running out of electricity from its ageing thermal plants at the beginning of this century, a new project, Westcor, was established in 2003 to bring the DRC’s vast hydroelectric resources to an increasingly energy-starved Southern Africa.”

Read more: Mail & Guardian

Post G-8 Wrap up: How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals Like Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, PepsiCo and Others

Last modified on 2012-05-28 17:05:25 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“Across Kenya’s many different ethnic groups, provinces and ecological zones, farmers agree on what they need most, and it isn’t help from Monsanto or Wal-Mart. It’s water. In arid and semi-arid areas, lack of water has always been an issue. But at least the two rainy seasons, the long rains between March and June, and the short rains between October and December, were consistent. During each rainy period, Kenyan farmers would grow a crop that had to last until the next harvest. But, according to farmer Florence Ogendi, the rains changed about five years ago. First the short rains became unreliable, and now they can’t even count on the long rains. In her area, the long rains used to come in late February, but this year they did not arrive until April.

Sometimes, water that used to be shared by all is now taken or polluted by a powerful few. Near Kitengela, an enormous flower farm has drilled wells to irrigate its crops, which are for export. With so much water going to irrigate flowers, the nearby Isinya River now runs dry. Elsewhere, Lake Naivasha suffers the same problem, also due to flower farms. And a day after Nderitu took his goats to graze near a local river, all five goats were dead. The autopsy revealed the deaths were from pesticides. Nderitu blames the enormous Del Monte pineapple plantation just across the river from where his goats grazed.”

Read more: Earth First!


World Bank Needs to Make Infrastructure Work for the Poor

Last modified on 2012-05-22 19:30:45 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“Kikwit is a town of almost one million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Its inhabitants have no access to electricity. Because the water pumps are no longer working, they have no access to clean water either. In the 1990s, the town made news through an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, which was helped by the poor sanitary conditions.

Kikwit is not located at the end of the world. It lies underneath the power lines of the Inga dams on the mighty Congo River. Yet the electric current that hums overhead is not meant for poor people. It is exported to the mining companies in the southern Katanga province. Over the past decades, billions of dollars have been invested in the DRC’s power sector. They have created a stark energy divide: eighty-five percent of the country’s electricity is consumed by energy-intensive industries, while 94 percent of the population has no access to electricity.”

Read more: International Rivers

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