World Rivers Review

Last modified on 2011-12-14 18:30:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Amazon River. Retrieved from:

“Flying across any continent today confirms that the world’s rivers are dominant features in the landscape, and are places where humans and animals gather to reap the many benefits and services they provide. Rivers of all sizes all over the world have underpinned the process of human development. As we progress into the twenty-first century, this development process must now be reassessed. Across the world, we have mismanaged and in some places almost destroyed the core ecological fabric on which river health – and indeed our own survival – depends. Human-caused stressors now endanger the biodiversity of 65% of the world’s river habitats, putting thousands of aquatic wildlife species at risk.

One of the most comprehensive studies of global rivers to date has examined human stressors on all the major rivers of the world. This study, published in September 2010 in the journal Nature, evaluated the state of the world’s rivers by taking into account the major “ecological insults” we impose upon them. The 23 threat factors used in this analysis all have well-documented impacts on human water security and aquatic biodiversity. These were grouped according to their effects on river ecological health and biodiversity, and on human water security. Each of these threats was weighted separately, which is important since the effects of a factor such as nitrogen pollution on fish, for example, are not the same as its consequences for human water security.

Using geo-referenced global databases jointly developed by the team, the combined impact of these multiple threat factors can be displayed graphically, demonstrating global conditions across the 99 million km2 of major river basins included in the study.”

Read more: International Rivers

Going Without Clean Water

Last modified on 2011-12-10 19:02:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Frozen Dragon Lake, Siberia. Retrieved from:

“In the U.S., we use an average of 100 gallons each day for washing, cooking, cleaning, drinking, (and lawn watering).

This doesn’t account for the water that’s required to grow our food, manufacture our computers, or refine the fuels we rely on to drive our cars and keep our homes, and water, warm.

In other parts of the world, nearly 900 million people do not have access to the daily minimum water requirement of 5-13 clean and safe gallons, according to the United Nations (U.N.).

Thirteen gallons of water in the U.S. is enough to flush the average toilet five times, or run the dishwasher once, or take an approximately 10-minute shower. (Learn more with National Geographic’s waterfootprint calculator.)

Every other year, global water expert Peter Gleick publishes a status report on the world’s biggest water concerns—The World’s Water. In the seventh volume, released in October, Gleick and his research team single out climate change and transboundary water management; global water quality, including threats from sewage, fossil fuels, and hydrological fracking; China’s Dams; and U.S. water policy as potential problem areas.”

Read more: National Geographic


The big challenge for a new Egypt: water

Last modified on 2011-12-09 18:06:45 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“Egypt’s historical dominance of the Nile waters dates back to colonial era agreements made when Britain controlled much of east Africa and the Nile basin. The accords grant Egypt 55.5bn of the 74bn cubic metres a year of the Nile’s usable flow.

Ethiopia and others have long been calling for a new order based on a developmental discourse and their right to the Nile waters, but Hosni Mubarak’s regime used its political and military dominance in the region to stifle any tangible change in the hegemonic status quo.

Momentum for change had undoubtedly been building prior to Mubarak’s fall: the Nile Basin Initiative was established in 1999; the co-operative framework agreement recently gained support by a two-thirds majority; and therefore, theoretically, a process of progression to the Nile Basin Commission could begin. This momentum is likely to intensify now that Mubarak is gone, and three emerging factors are transforming water dynamics in the Nile basin and bringing further challenges for Egypt.

First, the instability of the revolution has arguably diminished Egypt’s regional presence and diplomatic strength in the basin. Incorporated in the Mubarak regime was a regional dominance, with significant support from the United States. This gave Egypt both a diplomatic and military advantage, which appeared insurmountable to the less powerful upstream states. For example, Egypt had consistently put pressure on the Arab League not to supply loans to Ethiopia for Nile water development.”

Read more: The Guardian


At the Nexus of Agrofuels, Land Grabs and Hunger

Last modified on 2011-12-08 05:18:27 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from:

“Industrialised agricultural practices currently produce 13.5 percent of all green house gas emissions, mostly methane and nitrous oxide. The latter is emitted in huge doses through the spraying of fertiliser, which is used 800 times more frequently today than it was 100 years ago.

The production of fertilisers themselves requires the burning up of fossil fuels, emitting up to 41 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

On top of this, heavy farm machinery spits about 158 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, while the water needed for industrial-style irrigation is pumped using fossil fuels that release another 369 million tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere.

And yet, powerful governments like the U.S. and various players from the eurozone, together with the WBG, continue to advocate for the proliferation of agrofuels, which employ the same dirty, large-scale farming techniques described above, as a “green solution” to the climate crisis.

In fact, the production of mono crop agrofuels guzzle thousands of gallons of freshwater, are processed into biodiesels – the very products that have overheated the planet to begin with – and create long, oil-thirsty transport chains to carry the product.”

Read more: All Africa


Africa’s great ‘water grab’

Last modified on 2011-12-04 03:03:18 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

The banks of the Niger river, in southern Mali, have been flooded by a steady stream of foreigners. Coveted by foreign investors eager to snap up large tracts of fertile farmland, the river basin has been at the centre of a race to get hold of African land at rock-bottom prices. Meanwhile, last week, hundreds of smallholder farmers and civil society activists flocked to the same river basin for the first international conference to tackle the global rush for land.

West Africa‘s largest river, the Niger is thought to sustain over 100 million people as it snakes 4,180km through Guinea, Mali and Niger before emptying into Nigeria’s colossal Niger Delta. In Mali, the Office du Niger is home to the vast majority of the country’s largescale land deals, seen by campaigners as emblematic of the “land grabs” taking place in developing countries. Recent estimates suggest that foreign investment in Mali’s limited arable land jumped by 60% between 2009 and 2010. But the potential knock-on effects of these land deals on local communities’ access to water has rarely made it centre-stage.

Ongoing research from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development seeks to redress this blindspot, honing in on how such land deals might affect water access for fishing, farming and pastoralist communities. In a policy paper out on Thursday, the IIED’s Jamie Skinner and Lorenzo Cotula warn that an alarming number of African governments seem to be signing away water rights for decades, with major implications for local communities.

Read More: The Guardian


Ethiopia – government crackdown in Omo region intensifies

Last modified on 2011-11-05 05:11:11 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Retrieved from:

“Survival has received disturbing reports of a crackdown on tribal people opposed to Ethiopia’s program to remove them from their lands in the Omo region and force them to resettle in villages.

The authorities have organized community meetings to inform people of their controversial plans to lease out tribal lands to state and private companies for conversion into large-scale sugar cane, cotton and biofuels plantations.

After one such meeting, a group of Bodi and Chirim tribal people were shown where they are to be resettled. However, after seeing the place, they refused to be moved. The government responded by calling on the security forces to attend a follow-up meeting. When they still refused to move, four young men were rounded up and jailed.

Some Bodi felt so intimidated that they said the government could take the land for sugar, because they ‘could see that death was very near for them if they said no.’

Members of the Suri tribe have also been arrested in the town of Tum for opposing a plantation run by a Malaysian company, which has swallowed a large part of their land where they graze their cattle.

Many Suri say the arrests are a show of force, to intimidate them into not opposing the plantation. ‘We lived there in peace, in the heart of Suri land, the place where all of the Suri cattle were grazing during both the rainy and dry seasons. Now, in this place there is a plantation, owned by a rich Malaysian company.’ said one young Suri man.

‘The Malaysian investors and the government trained 130 soldiers who were given 130 machine guns. If Suri become aggressive towards the farms the soldiers are to kill Suri men, our sons,’ said a Suri woman.”

Read more: Survival


How the Global 1% Shape the World’s Development Agenda

Last modified on 2011-10-31 20:19:18 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

G20 party. Retrieved from:

“The infrastructure sector is a key example for the G20’s powerful role behind the scenes. The group has commissioned a high-level panel of experts to prepare recommendations on future infrastructure investment in Southern countries. This panel brings together 17 leading representatives of large corporations, banks and government agencies. Civil society groups and trade unions are absent from its roster. The panel has just submitted its recommendations to the G20’s heads of state, who will convene for their annual meeting in Cannes/France next week. The new report illustrates what is wrong with delegating extensive powers to an exclusive body like the G20:

  • Public interest ignored: In its early announcements, the high-level panel narrowly focused on the promotion of economic growth, at the exclusion of poverty reduction, environmental protection, and human rights. In its new report, the panel will recommend six criteria according to which the World Bank and other funders should prioritize their future projects. As the Boell Foundation reports, these criteria include issues such as regional integration and attractiveness for the private sector. They are silent on poverty reduction, protection of the environment and even climate change.
  • Big is beautiful: The high-level panel was asked to identify a number of projects which exemplify the new approach to infrastructure development. Early on, this list included a transmission line between Ethiopia and Kenya and the Inga hydropower scheme on the Congo River. The transmission line will depend on the completion of the controversial Gibe III Dam on the Omo River, which violates numerous international agreements and will impoverish up to 500,000 indigenous people. The Inga dams will cost billions of dollars and will generate electricity for aluminum smelters and far-away urban centers, but will ignore the needs of Africa’s rural poor. The first two stages of the hydropower scheme have turned out to be white elephants and monuments of corruption. Scientists have warnedthat the proposed new dams may have “truly alarming” impacts on the capacity of the Atlantic Ocean to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”

Read more: International Rivers


Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Water for Africa, and the Nobel Peace Prize

Last modified on 2011-10-08 19:18:14 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Pacific Institute“The remarkable president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their work on women’s rights. This award is rightful recognition of the commitment and dedication of these women to strengthening the rights and dignity of women in Africa, and around the world.

“A few years ago, with the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Pacific Institute produced a remarkable book of gritty, compelling black and white photographs taken by Gil Garcetti throughout West Africa. The photographs in Water is Key: A Better Future for Africa tell the story of the tragedy that comes from the lack of safe water and sanitation, but also the beauty and hope that clean water offers: the smile of a healthy child, the simple act of washing, and the joy of people working together as a community for the common goal of safe water. The books were given to community groups, non-governmental organizations, and others working on African water issues to help them raise awareness and funds for their efforts.

“The book also includes four short essays on water by President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Mary Robinson, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. In honor of President Johnson-Sirleaf’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize, I reproduce her essay on water from Water is Key, here.”

Read more: Forbes

Egypt’s New Democrats Ready to Defend Nile

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:11 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Voanews

“In the beginning, Egypt was the Nile. That could now change, as Egypt, Sudan and the countries that supply the Nile’s waters face new politics, economic development, skyrocketing demographics and climate change.  Egypt confronts at least a half a dozen other African countries that have for generations delivered their waters to Egypt’s Nile. What historically appeared to be Egypt’s birthright has now become a privilege they must negotiate with their upstream neighbors. It is a major issue in Egypt’s upcoming elections.

“Some of the political parties are talking about the Nile agreement,” said Dr. Mahmoud Abo-Zein  “but all of them are talking about water security, which means no disturbance of the historic rights and that countries should not implement projects which would affect our uses of the Nile in Egypt.” And that is what is at stake for Egypt as a newly elected government in Cairo will define its role in a new regional initiative that will decide the future of the Nile and its beneficiaries.

“The Nile Basin Intiative was begun in 1999. Dr. Abu-Zeid spent a good part of his 12 years as Egypt’s minister of water resources and irrigation trying to save those historic water rights in negotiated agreements with Ethiopia and at least five other African countries. A few months ago, it became clear that upstream neighbors could replace Egypt’s old river-related traditions, with or without Egypt and Sudan. Then, Ethiopia announced construction of a new dam that made Cairo nervous.They call it the Renissance Dam

“We saw that the new dam Ethiopia has started to build might affect the historic rights of Egypt,” said Abu-Zeid. Construction of Ethiopia’s $5-million hydro-electric dam on a principal source of Egypt’s Nile began several months ago.

Ethiopia recently agreed to host officials from Egypt and Sudan to prove that the dam, now called the Renaissance Dam, will not be used to irrigate any of the large corporate farms the Ethiopian government has leased to foreign investors in recent years. Though Ethiopia’s funding of the dam’s construction is uncertain, Egypt remains concerned and suspicious.

Read more: Voa news

How a Big Dam Fuels Landgrabs, Hunger and Conflict in Ethiopia

Last modified on 2011-09-14 20:22:48 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Hydro dam site at Omo river, Ethiopia

Photo retrieved from:

“The Gibe III Dam, which is currently under construction, will disrupt the river’s annual flood cycle and lower the water levels of Lake Turkana. Critics have long feared that once the dam is built, the Ethiopian government will establish plantations in the Omo Valley and use the regulated water flow to irrigate export crops. The government dismissed such fears as baseless, and argued that the dam would not reduce the amount of water in the Omo River and Lake Turkana.

“Now that the dam is being built, the government is showing its true colors. An official map of the Lower Omo Valley delineates three blocks of land with a total of 245,000 hectares (close to 1,000 square miles) that will be turned into sugar plantations, to be managed by a state-owned sugar company. A briefing paper by the Oakland Institute, a research and advocacy organization, suggests that in addition, 11 smaller concessions have been awarded for private cotton plantations.

“Growing thirsty crops such as sugar cane and cotton for the world market does not make sense in a region that is scarce in water and prone to hunger and resource conflicts. The dam and the associated land grabs will turn the Gibe III hydropower project into a social and environmental disaster on several accounts:”

Read more: Huffington Post


Ancient Mediterranean Water Supply Networks Revived

Last modified on 2011-09-13 15:51:19 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Retrieved From:

Years of drought had dried up the ancient water supply networks existing around the Mediterranean Rim. However, with rainfall returning over the past 5 years, the hydraulic heritage has come to life again. The names of the tunnels that carry the revived streams -khettaras in Morocco, foggaras in Algeria or qanâts in Iran- evoke the trickling sounds of water. These underground infiltration galleries are the most characteristic and original illustration of local communities’ recovery of ancestral schemes. As IRD researchers and their partners1 show, these water mines in the middle of the desert, most of which had been abandoned, have now been restored by oasis inhabitants.

These communities are now reinvesting in the maintenance of khettaras and in agriculture, especially young people returning to rural environments after experiencing unemployment in towns and cities. This is a risk owing to the uncertainties of climate, but fully assumed to revive collective action and to reappropriate the rules governing water-supply access, indeed in anticipation of possible new shortages in the years to come.

Click Here To Read More: Science Daily

Lead by example on climate change, says Fedusa

Last modified on 2011-09-12 22:58:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved From:

“The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) says it is highly disappointed with government’s no show at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) meeting on Monday morning held to address problems caused by acid mine drainage.

“Representatives from government departments were scheduled to meet with organised business and organised labour — namely Fedusa and the Congress of South Africa trade unions [Cosatu].”

Cosatu had recently joined Fedusa ‘s Section 77 Protest Action against Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and waste water treatment and wished to formally add additional concerns relating to water quality and accessibility.”

To Read More Click Here: Mail & Guardian Online

The Prem Rawat Foundation to Aid Relief Efforts in Drought-Stricken Kenya

Last modified on 2011-09-09 18:47:34 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“MC will use TPRF funding to assist families in northern Wajir districts, where reports say matters are made more difficult by the remoteness of the pastoral inhabitants in the area. MC organizers say their efforts will focus on the repair and rehabilitation of current water sources, providing clean and safe water, building latrines and offering hygiene education. There are also plans to rehabilitate water catchments, which will help alleviate community conflict over water resources while improving access for both humans and livestock.

United Nations estimates that more than four million Kenyans are among those threatened by starvation (BBC). The UN’s Food Security & Nutrition Analysis Unit anticipates that the situation is likely to persist until at least December. The crisis goes beyond fluctuations in climate, say some experts, because Kenyans have learned to cope with low rainfall throughout their history.”

Read more: Market Watch


African Energy’s New Friends in China

Last modified on 2011-09-09 17:20:42 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Chinese companies are involved in more than $9.3 billion worth of hydro projects in Africa, including this one in Tulgit, Ethiopia. Retrieved from:

“When completed in 2013, Gibe III on Ethiopia’s Omo River will be Africa’s tallest dam, a $2.2 billion project that critics say will deprive birds and hippos of vital habitat. Some 600 miles to the north, Sudan is preparing to build the $705 million Kajbar dam on the Nile, which would inundate historic towns and tombs of the Nubian people, descendants of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The $729 million Bui project on the Black Volta River, to be finished in 2013, will boost Ghana’s hydropower capacity by a third—and flood a quarter of Bui National Park while displacing 2,600 people.

What these megaprojects have in common is Chinese money and know-how. Companies such as Sinohydro and Dongfang Electric are key players in their construction, and they’re financed by Chinese banks with support from the government in Beijing. The country’s engineering and manufacturing giants have recently completed or are participating in at least $9.3 billion of hydropower projects in Zambia, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and elsewhere on the continent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and International Rivers, a Berkeley (Calif.) environmental group.”

Read more: Bloomberg


Botswana Bushmen Drink From Reopened Borehole

Last modified on 2011-09-06 16:45:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“Survival International says Botswana’s Bushmen are drinking water from a borehole in the Kalahari desert for the first time in nine years.

It is a significant victory against the government that once evicted them from their ancestral lands.

The government capped the well at Mothomelo in 2002 to help force the tribe out of an area rich in diamonds.

In 2006 a court ruled the eviction illegal. But few Bushmen returned because the only water available was in handmade sand depressions.

Only in January did a court rule that the Bushmen have a fundamental right to water.

Survival International said Monday the Mothomelo well was re-drilled and a solar pump installed by Vox United charity working with Gem Diamonds, which mines in the Bushmen’s lands.”

Read more:

Nigeria floods: Ibadan reflects on Eleyele Dam tragedy

Last modified on 2011-09-05 14:32:38 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“After six hours of torrential rain the Eleyele Dam, which provided drinking water to the Nigerian city of Ibadan, could hold back the flow no longer.

Water poured over the top, flooding everything in its path.

It was nearly midnight last weekend and many people were asleep in their homes. More than 120 people – many of them children – perished.

“It was like an ocean wave making a loud noise as it came. It was very terrible,” Aleton Adejoke told the BBC.

“We managed to close our gate to stop the water rushing in. But thank God we didn’t go fishing.”

But just 30m (100 ft) from her house a tragedy was unfolding.

Floating cars

In a corrugated metal shack, eight children were trapped alone while their father was away working a night shift. Theirs was the closest house to the river and the speed of the water gave them no chance to escape.”

Read more: BBC


Gadhafi Turns Water Project Into A Weapon

Last modified on 2011-09-03 16:00:28 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“Moammar Gadhafi’s retreating loyalists have cut off water supplies to Tripoli, the rebel-held capital, from the Great Man-Made River, a $33 billion system he built to tap into a vast underground aquifer in the Sahara to sustain his arid country.

It was hailed as an engineering masterpiece when it was completed in the 1990s after more than a decade of construction.

But now the Great Leader, fighting a rearguard action against NATO-backed rebels after six months of civil conflict, has callously turned it into a weapon of war against his own people.

U.N. agencies and aid groups say Gadhafi’s forces cut off water from the Great Man-Made River to western Libya, including the capital, on Aug. 21, the day after anti-Gadhafi rebels entered the city after six months of civil war.

Read more:UPI

Horn of Africa Drought

Last modified on 2011-08-30 21:48:22 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from:

“As Muslims around the world mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and celebrate Eid Al-Fitr, many Somali Muslims will not be able to participate due to the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis, threatened by drought and civil war, have wound up at Dadaab - the world’s largest refugee camp.

Situated on the Kenyan-Somali border, the Dabaab complex comprises three refugee camps – Dagaheley, Ifo and Hagadera. Spanning an area of 50km, the camps are designed to host a total of 90,000 people.

However, with a population of 440,000 hungry refugees, Dabaab houses nearly five times more people than its infrastructure is supposed to handle.

And with drought threatening 12 million people throughout the Horn of Africa, the numbers are growing.

Al Jazeera’s Azad Essa, reporting from Dadaab, said that despite aid agencies claiming that the number of new arrivals had reduced to around 800 per day from a high of 1500-1800 arrivals per day in July, little on the ground has changed.

“A few thousand have moved to the new Ifo camp, but thousands still remain on the outskirts, living in squalor conditions.”

Read more: Aljazeera


Tripoli Faces Severe Water Shortage

Last modified on 2011-08-28 17:51:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

Libyans are experiencing a severe water shortage in the capital Tripoli.

While rumours circulate that it is due to sabotage or poisoning by Gaddafi forces, the truth is that the water tanks are empty because there has been no electricity to power pumps for 45 days.


Read more: Aljazeera

Expanding Deserts, Falling Water Tables and Toxins Driving People from Homes

Last modified on 2011-08-25 02:35:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from:

“People do not normally leave their homes, their families, and their communities unless they have no other option. Yet as environmental stresses mount, we can expect to see a growing number of environmental refugees. Rising seas and increasingly devastating storms grab headlines, but expanding deserts, falling water tables, and toxic waste and radiation are also forcing people from their homes.

Advancing deserts are now on the move almost everywhere. The Sahara desert, for example, is expanding in every direction. As it advances northward, it is squeezing the populations of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria against the Mediterranean coast.

The Sahelian region of Africa – the vast swath of savannah that separates the southern Sahara desert from the tropical rainforests of central Africa – is shrinking as the desert moves southward. As the desert invades Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, from the north, farmers and herders are forced southward, squeezed into a shrinking area of productive land.”

Read more: Common Dreams


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