Africa: U.S. Response to Future Water Crisis Takes Shape

Last modified on 2012-05-11 16:39:23 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton requested the report and she named Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero to lead the U.S. response to the challenges outlined in the study.

Otero told the Washington audience that the first priority she and Clinton have identified is to help other nations develop their capacity in resources and expertise to cope with future water-scarcity problems. “We know that it is countries and communities that have to lead in securing their own water and in securing their own water future,” Otero said.

The United States must also work to increase international awareness of the potential for future water crises by increasing and better coordinating diplomacy. The United States will help developing countries better prepare for the challenges they’ll face, Otero said, and help them “to prioritize so that water and sanitation are part of their national plans, part of their budgets and part of their overall thinking.”

Otero said finding solutions to secure adequate water supplies for growth and development will require enormous levels of funding that the United States must help mobilize. The application of science and technology to the problem is an important part of the strategy.”

Read more: All Africa


Karuma dam in new saga

Last modified on 2012-05-09 18:10:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Construction of the 660MW Karuma dam has once again courted controversy, with anonymous experts not only questioning the bidding process, but also the design of the project and the qualifications of the project manager.

According to two separate whistleblowers, these issues are likely to negatively affect the total cost , the power output, and lifespan of the dam. Once again, powerful politicians and businessmen are accused of having influenced project-related decisions – to serve their selfish interest. Information available to The Observer indicates Ugandan taxpayers are now in danger of losing billions of Shillings because of the poor quality work that is about to begin.

In one dossier, titled ‘Weaknesses in the Design of the Karuma Project’, experts question the exact location of the dam, the design of the water intake, the water losses and the operating water levels in the reservoir, among others. The dossier claims that the dam is set to be located in an area with rapids; this comes with more risks and higher costs of construction, yet more appropriate flat areas are available nearby.

Because the cofferdams (temporary water-tight enclosures that are pumped dry to expose the bottom of the river so that construction can take place) and the dam are both partially built at the same location, the highly technical dossier adds, it is impossible to build a permanent dam structure at this location. There are also fears that several aspects of the dam do not conform to international practices, like the spillway – a channel used for the controlled release of water downstream.”

Read more: The Observer


South Africa: Country Tap Water Remains World Class – Molewa

Last modified on 2012-05-09 02:28:44 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Cape Town — South Africa’s drinking water is among the best in the world, and the country remains among a few in the world where water can still be consumed from the tap, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said on Monday.

Releasing the 2012 Blue Drop report during the Water Institute of Southern Africa Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Molewa said 98 municipalities were this year awarded Blue Status, up from 66 last year.

The average national Blue Status score jumped from 72.9% last year to 87.6% this year.

The scores have increased year-by-year since the first Blue Drop report was released in 2009, when municipalities notched up a national average of 51.4%.

In all, 153 of South Africa’s 287 municipalities and 931 water systems were audited for this year’s report.

Molewa stressed that just because a municipality was not awarded Blue Drop status, did not mean that their water remained unfit for human consumption.”

Read more: All Africa


The Great Nile River War

Last modified on 2012-04-29 15:45:11 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“April 29, 2012: Ethiopia and Egypt, working through the AU (African Union), have asked Sudan and South Sudan to resume negotiations to end their war. Discussions have taken place in Ethiopia and Egypt. Since the time of the pharaohs Egypt has regarded Sudan as its backdoor. Ethiopia has remained nominally neutral in the Sudan-South Sudan War, but has cultural and historical connections with the people of South Sudan. Egypt is predominantly Muslim, as is Sudan, Ethiopia is predominantly Christian, as is South Sudan. Ethiopia and Egypt are both much more powerful than either of the Sudans. The nightmare scenario for an escalating East African war has Egypt aligning with Sudan and Ethiopia aligning with South Sudan. Call it The Great Nile River War, because Nile water issues play a huge role in Ethiopian and Egyptian strategic planning. Ethiopian and Egyptian leaders, however, know that war will have no winner. Cooler heads in Ethiopia and Egypt are trying to calm the hot heads in Sudan and South Sudan.

The government is expanding its blocking of hostile or opposition web sites. The website of a major opposition newspaper, the The Reporter, has been blocked, by the state-owned communications company, for a week.

April 27, 2012: Oromo rebels claimed that Ethiopian security forces killed four Oromo civilians and wounded eight in an incident in the town of Hassasa.

Read more: Strategy Page


Sudans conflict leaves 37,000 desperate for water

Last modified on 2012-04-27 17:15:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“There is simply not enough ground water available to sustain the growing number of people who need it,” “said Pauline Ballaman, head of Oxfam’s operations at the camp. “Women have to queue for hours in the burning sun just to collect a fraction of the water they need, and the situation is getting more desperate by the day. The only solution is for people to be moved urgently.”

Oxfam says this large number of refugees fled to the camp since December and more are on their way.

South Sudan split from Sudan last year as part of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of war in Africa’s largest nation. The war left 2 million people dead and ended with the peace agreement that included an independence referendum for the south.”

Read more: CNN


Study reveals groundwater resources in Africa

Last modified on 2012-04-24 20:34:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan,” “the scientists said in their paper, published on Friday.

They estimate that reserves of groundwater across the continent are 100 times the amount found on its surface, or 0.66 million cubic kilometres.

Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, they cautioned, though, that not all of the reserves are accessible.

Where they are, small-scale extraction by hand pump would be better than large-scale drilling projects, which could quickly deplete the reservoirs and have other unforeseen consequences.

Extraction complications

Groundwater is no panacea for Africa’s water shortages but it could form an important part of a strategy to cope with an expected sharp increase in demand for water as the continent’s population increases.

Even now, some estimates put the number of Africans without access to safe drinking water at more than 300 million and only 5 per cent of arable land is irrigated.”

Read more: Aljazeera


Zimbabwe: Sewage-Fed Vegetables Give Pause for Thought

Last modified on 2012-04-20 16:33:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Harare — Maria Saungweme, 42, an informal trader and single mother from the low-income suburb of Glen Norah in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, uses sewage-infested river water to irrigate her two-acre vegetable plot.

“I am not proud to say this, but I consider the sewage that is offloaded into the river a blessing because it makes my vegetables grow well and fast. I have been selling my vegetables to other vendors for years and am earning enough to take care of my children,” Saungweme told IRIN.

She said she had not received complaints from her customers, but admitted her family did not consume her produce, preferring instead to buy from other vendors.

Scientific research has found that consuming vegetables irrigated with sewage effluent carries health risks. A 2009 study by Jos University in Nigeria, published in the Annals of African Medicine, found that” “people consuming vegetables irrigated with raw waste water are exposed to the risk of infection with ascaris, amoeba and tapeworm.”

Read more: All Africa


Goldman Prize for Kenyan River Activist Ikal Angelei

Last modified on 2012-04-16 16:07:36 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Ikal Angelei, the founder of Friends of Lake Turkana in Kenya, receives the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco today. The award will honor an activist who is defending the interests of 500,000 poor indigenous people against a destructive hydropower dam, and has successfully taken on many of the world’s biggest dam builders and financiers.

Ikal Angelei grew up on the shores of Lake Turkana, the world’s biggest desert lake. This lifeline of Northwestern Kenya is under threat from the giant Gibe III Dam, currently under construction on the lake’s main water source, the Omo River in Ethiopia. When she learned about this threat, Ikal founded Friends of Lake Turkana with a few friends in 2007. Working together with partners around the world, she started an international campaign to stop the mega-dam which threatens her people’s livelihoods.”

Read more: International Rivers

Egypt is losing its grip on the Nile

Last modified on 2012-04-10 16:12:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“If ratified by other basin states, the agreement would strip Egypt of its majority share of the river’s water.

The most serious threat, however, comes from Ethiopia, already Egypt’s regional rival. In May 2011, Ethiopia announced plans to build a massive, $4.8 billion hydropower dam — known as the Grand Renaissance Dam — along the stretch of river within its own borders, despite Egypt’s opposition to the project.

“Most of us here are eager to use the Nile. But every farmer expects Egypt to be the enemy,” said Manichey Abey, a 33-year-old Ethiopian farmer.

While hydropower dams — used to generate electricity — in theory eventually allow the dammed water to flow through, Egyptian officials remain wary of Ethiopia’s intentions. They demanded in October of last year the creation of a tripartite committee, now at work, to study the new dam’s effects and are worried the project could set an unwelcome precedent for more ambitious schemes in the future.

At 6,000 megawatts, the dam would be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa, with a reservoir capable of holding roughly 65 billion cubic meters of water.”

Read more: Global Post


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Nigeria: Lagos – Water Everywhere But Not to Drink

Last modified on 2012-04-04 15:47:32 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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Dry wells: Most parts of Lagos depend on water from shallow wells for domestic and other household uses. Some residents of Awodiora Town and Achakpo in Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA told VF that they do not have access to pipe- borne water. Even the wells and bore holes are now dry because the rains have not been forth-coming.

Human consumption

According to them, the water from these wells and boreholes are unsuitable for human consumption as they are usually yellowish and smells. They noted that the only option available is to patronise water vendors for drinking. “We can only use the water from wells to bath after purifying it with chemicals like alum”, they disclosed.

Although the Achakpo community in Ajeromi Ifelodun can boast of a water scheme provided by Messrs Guinness Nigeria Plc, residents of the area, alleged that the taps are usually dry and this scenario has necessitated their patronage of water hawkers. Another resident explained that the Guinness water project is too far from his residence, hence the only alternative is to buy water outside.”

Read more: All Africa


Ethiopia’s plantations are killing vital waterway

Last modified on 2012-04-01 05:13:58 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The Omo River downstream from the notorious Gibe III dam is now being diverted into a newly-dug irrigation canal, one of several which will feed a massively ambitious plantations scheme for state and private investors.

These manmade canals are key to Ethiopia’s plantations plan, which is already having a hugely negative impact on UNESCO’s Lower Omo World Heritage site.

The government has revealed virtually nothing about the plantations program, but an official map obtained by Survival shows the enormous scope of the project.

One local person, speaking to a Survival researcher who recently visited the area, said,” ‘I’ve never seen the river this low. During the dry season, like it is now, you can usually cross by foot, and water reaches your knees. Now I could cross without my feet getting wet.’

Read more: Survival International

Zimbabwe: Govt to De-Commission Boreholes

Last modified on 2012-03-30 16:20:39 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The typhoid outbreak has affected more than 3 400 people who have been treated at council clinics.

In an interview, Harare health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi said some of the boreholes likely to be sealed off include those situated near graveyards in Warren Park.

He, however, said not all contaminated boreholes will be sealed off as some of them are in areas which hardly get tap water supplies.

City authorities last month indicated that there are more than 20 000 boreholes in Harare with just 3 500 on the council database. This means most boreholes were drilled without council approval, raising fears they were improperly sited and could be contaminated.

Some of these boreholes set for de-commissioning are said to have been sunk near sewer lines. Boreholes should be sunk about 30 metres away from dump sites, graveyards and sewer pipes.”

Read more: The Herald


Somalia: Border Town in a Fix Over Water

Last modified on 2012-03-27 17:24:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Hargeisa — Water scarcity in Tog-Wajale, a town straddling the border between northwest Somalia’s self-declared republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia, is threatening the health and livelihoods of locals who cannot afford to buy it.

“One barrel of water [200 litres] was only 20 [Ethiopian] birr [US$1], but the price has now reached about 50 Ethiopian birr [$2.5],” said Ahmed Jama Weirah, a father of seven in Tog-Wajale. “We can’t provide for our families… because our earnings are not enough to provide food and water.”

The Somaliland side of Tog-Wajale has had no official water supply since 1995, following the closure of the town’s only well, which had fallen into disrepair. The town’s main water sources are a seasonal river that acts as the border between Somaliland and Ethiopia, and expensive pumped water from Ethiopia.

“Now the [river] water is over and we can’t afford to buy imported water,” said Weirah.

“While livestock have been moved further north where they can find water, townsfolk face water scarcity,” said Abdillahi Omar, a resident. “Some families use less than 20 litres per day to cook meals, and they don’t take a bath for several days.”

Local officials told IRIN they hoped the rains would start soon, but were focusing on long-term solutions.

The dysfunctional well used to supply less than 2,000 litres of water a day, so repairing it would not provide sufficient water for the town’s estimated 40,000 people (up from 10,000 in 1995), said Hashi Mohamed Abdi, the mayor of Tog-Wajale.”

Read more: All Africa


US Intelligence Report: Expect Water Wars Soon

Last modified on 2012-03-23 05:20:58 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“A report released today on global water security from the Defense Intelligence Agency assesses that in next 10 years, water instability will be likely in “nations important to the United States”, and says that in the next decades, the use of water as a weapon will become more likely.

The report, which focused on the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya water basins, states that the availability of potable water will not keep up with demand without better water management.

While environmentalists have pointed to agroecology, food sovereignty and viewing water as part of the commons as a path towards responsible water management, the intelligence report sees biotechnology, agricultural exports and virtual water trade as the way forward.

Today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who requested the report, commented on the report in a speech at the State Department, saying, “As the world’s population continues to grow, demand for water will go up but our fresh water supplies will not keep pace.” “These difficulties will all increase the risk of instability within and between states,” she said.”

Read more: Common Dreams


Are We Running Out of Water?

Last modified on 2012-03-19 15:51:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Early in 2001, the Rio Grande River failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico for the first time.

With that nefarious event the Rio Grande joined a growing list of once-mighty rivers that are running dry from overuse:  the Colorado River in the U.S., the Yaqui in Mexico, the Indus in Pakistan, the Ganges in Bangladesh, the Yellow and Tarim in China, and the Murray in Australia, along with many other rivers large and small.

Not surprisingly, fisheries in these once-bountiful rivers have crashed.  After all, fish do need water.

We’ve tapped underground water sources pretty heavily as well.  The water level in the Ogallala Aquifer in the Midwestern U.S. has dropped more than 150 feet in some places, leaving many farmers’ wells bone dry.

As water is sucked out of aquifers, the overlying soil and rock can compact or collapse into the dewatered void, causing tall buildings to teeter in Mexico City, automobiles to tumble into sinkholes in Florida, or swallowing tourists on the fringes of the shriveling Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan.”

Read more: National Geographic


The Dusty Limpopo River

Last modified on 2012-03-16 16:59:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“The Limpopo River Basin is one of the most water stressed and, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, extreme droughts occur in the basin every 10 to 20 years.

The basin has a catchment area of around 413,000 km² that covers four countries – Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe – affecting a combined population of 14 million people, most of whom are subsistence farmers. About 244,000 hectares are under irrigation and an estimated 234,000 hectares are under crop production here, while 1.7 million hectares are used for pasture.

However, due to bad environmental management, only craggy stumps of trees line the riverbank. People have cut down the trees that once used to create jagged coves along the river, which has long been home to crabs, fish and wild animals.

“But at the few water holes on this part of the river you can hardly catch a frog. The river is gone, siltation has taken over. The rains are no longer reliable. They come late and sometimes don’t come at all,” Ramovha says.

He says the daily temperatures have increased substantially within the region and have killed many of the catchment’s once-lush grass beds, depriving livestock and game of their natural feed and habitat.”

Read more: AlertNet


Ethiopia Pursues Controversial Dam Project

Last modified on 2012-03-12 16:53:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The government embarked on the project – expected to be the largest hydropower plant in Africa – to help solve a national energy crisis and to help turn Ethiopia’s economy around.

“The rural population will get electricity, the amount of megawatts we are going to produce is for all the population. It is not only for industry or towns it is for all nation,” Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia’s energy and water minister, told Al Jazeera.

Foundations have already been laid at the Gibe III dam, in Oromia in western Ethiopia. When completed, the dam’s 243-metre high wall will be the tallest of its kind in the world.

“Once finished, the electricity generated at this one dam will be enough to double Ethiopia’s power capacity, and there are other dams under construction,” Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri reported from the dam site.”

“The plan is for electricity to become Ethiopia’s biggest export.”

Read more: Aljazeera

The Prem Rawat Foundation Partnership Brings Clean Water into Niger Village

Last modified on 2012-03-11 22:03:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Residents of Ebagueye in the parched Azawak region of Niger danced in celebration last month as the first water gushed from a borehole that will provide them with a reliable source of clean water year-round. TPRF has contributed $40,000 to the nonprofit Amman Imman Water is Life to help fund the drilling and upkeep of the borehole, which brings pure, fresh water from a natural aquifer more than 600 feet underground.

The project is a collaboration with Vibrant Village Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides direct assistance to help people in vulnerable communities around the world. Ken DeLaski, VVF’s founder and director, also sits on TPRF’s board of directors.

Amman Imman was founded in 2006 by Executive Director Ariane Kirtley, then a Fulbright Scholar conducting public health research in the Azawak region, a dry plain about the size of Florida bordering the Sahara Desert. In recent years, drought and political turmoil have disrupted the traditional way of life to the point where half of the Azawak’s children die before the age of five, mostly from dehydration and water-related illnesses.”

Read more: The Prem Rawat Foundation


Sudan: UK Government Donor Visits UNEP Environment and Peacebuilding Projects

Last modified on 2012-03-04 21:25:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The Republic of Sudan is facing serious natural resource challenges in the face of population growth, urbanisation, climate change and the legacy of conflict.

Steady progress with restoring traditional livelihoods, sustainably managing scarce water resources and adapting to climate change were among the tangible environmental improvements conveyed to the British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Mr Stephen O’Brien, during his visit to Sudan this week.

UKaid from the Department for International Development is the major donor to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Sudan, making possible UNEP’s research-based, wide ranging technical assistance to the government and people of Sudan.

Mr O’Brien’s programme included site visits and briefings on joint efforts to help improve the sustainable and equitable governance of natural resources throughout Sudan.

Officials from UNEP and the government accompanied Mr O’Brien to sites in Darfur where he viewed progress on repairs to dams damaged and neglected over the past years of conflict.

With large movements of people to Darfur’s camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) during the conflict years, stress on the groundwater aquifers has become acute, with some water tables dropping by as much as 10 meters.”

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