Ghana Expert Calls For Tougher Laws Against Water Pollution

Last modified on 2011-08-20 14:33:30 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“People have therefore called on the government to put in place the necessary legislation and infrastructure to ensure that the area would not go the way of some oil-producing African countries where the resource had been mismanaged.

The West African country discovered oil in commercial quantities in June 2007 off its southwest coast.

Following the discovery, there were high expectations especially among those in the region that the resource would be used to improve infrastructure as well as the living standards of the people in the area.

Executive Secretary of Ghana Water Resources Commission (WRC), Ben Ampomah, urged the government here on Monday to institute tougher laws against the pollution of water bodies especially by mining firms operating in the country.

In an interview with Xinhua, the expert said the current laws left companies and individuals, who polluted water resources, off the hook after paying paltry fines.

Due to the rising incidence of water pollution by large and small scale mining companies, Amomah said, water pollution was an urgent national issue which had even reached to the level of a national security concern and so it needed a holistic concrete action to be solved.

The laws on pollution were not punitive enough and the commission had have to negotiate with mining firms for remedies any time pollution occurred, he added.”

Read more: Xinhua News


Somalia: Rights Group Says All Sides Guilty Of Crime

Last modified on 2011-08-19 18:09:38 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The report’s author, Ben Rawlence, told the BBC that al-Shabab carries out unrelenting daily repression and brutality in areas under its control, taxing the population for access to water, forcefully recruiting men so they cannot grow crops and restricting access to aid agencies.

“Al-Shabab must carry the burden of that responsibility for the way in which the demands of the fighting has led to human rights violations which have contributed to famine,” he said.

Mr Rawlence said al-Shabab often fired from within populated areas towards TFG troops and UN peacekeepers, who responded “without paying too much attention to who is there”.

The report also accuses the TFG of carrying out arbitrary arrests and detentions, and says those who flee the country face more problems, enduring rape and extortion, allegedly by the Kenyan police.”

Read more: BBC


Water and sanitation in Katine

Last modified on 2011-08-11 15:54:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Here, as in many parts of rural Africa, fetching water is a woman’s job, as are most household chores. Therefore, a water source that is not only closer to home but safe goes some way to improving the lives of women such as Ati. Her family pays UShs 500 (18 US cents) a month to the water source committee elected by the village. That money, she explains, would be used for repairs if the borehole broke down.

Given that Amref drilled 11 boreholes in the first three years of the Katine project, eight in one year sounds a lot. But Amref’s acting water and sanitation officer in Katine, Lenox Ochan, says this became possible after abandoning plans for a UShs 150m ($54,000) motorised water pump for Tiriri health centre.

Local government and health centre staff had opposed the pump scheme because it was too expensive to build and maintain, especially since the national water utility has since extended piped water to the health centre. But Amref had appeared so insistent on the pump that its abandonment is seen as a victory for local officials – and for villagers such as Ati who have got boreholes built with the money that has been freed up.”

Read more: Guardian


MPs Join Opposition To Ethiopian Dam

Last modified on 2011-08-10 16:54:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The dam will reduce the Omo River flow into Lake Turkana causing the lake’s water levels to drop by 10 meters. This will critically alter the ecosystem affecting over 300,000 people. The lake will also become saline and undrinkable,” he argued.

While seconding the Motion, which was supported by several MPs from across the political divide, nominated MP Rachael Shebesh accused the government of ignoring the plight of its people by allowing Ethiopia to carry on with the project despite the issues raised.

She added that the dam would kill the economic livelihoods of the people living around the Lake and affect their independence.

“If you are negotiating as a government on behalf of your people the first people you should consider are those who will be affected by what you’re negotiating about. The government should not negotiate away the rights of Kenyans,” she said.

“This dam will make 300,000 people crawl to their knees!” she moaned.

“However Water Minister Charity Ngilu assured the House of the government’s commitment to protecting its people. Ms Ngilu said the government had already set up a committee to look into the issue before presenting its report in September.

She added that when the Ethiopian government first undertook to construct Gibe I with a capacity of 839 million cubic meters on River Gibe, which is a tributary of River Omo, no questions were raised. She however observed that the construction of Gibe II, still on River Gibe, caused concern.”

Read more: Capital FM News


When The Water Ends: Africa’s Climate Conflicts

Last modified on 2011-08-05 20:13:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“For thousands of years, nomadic herdsmen have roamed the harsh, semi-arid lowlands that stretch across 80 percent of Kenya and 60 percent of Ethiopia. Descendants of the oldest tribal societies in the world, they survive thanks to the animals they raise and the crops they grow, their travels determined by the search for water and grazing lands.

These herdsmen have long been accustomed to adapting to a changing environment. But in recent years, they have faced challenges unlike any in living memory: As temperatures in the region have risen and water supplies have dwindled, the pastoralists have had to range more widely in search of suitable water and land. That search has brought tribal groups in Ethiopia and Kenya in increasing conflict, as pastoral communities kill each other over water and grass.”

“When the Water Ends,” a 16-minute video produced by Yale Environment 360 in collaboration with MediaStorm , tells the story of this conflict and of the increasingly dire drought conditions facing parts of East Africa. To report this video, Evan Abramson , a 32-year-old photographer and videographer, spent two months in the region early this year, living among the herding communities. He returned with a tale that many climate scientists say will be increasingly common in the 21st century and beyond — how worsening drought in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere will pit group against group, nation against nation. As one UN official told Abramson, the clashes between Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralists represent “some of the world’s first climate-change conflicts.”

Read more: Yale Environment

Shell faces first Nigeria spill claims in UK

Last modified on 2011-08-05 19:43:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“A British court has ruled that a Nigerian community devastated by oil spills can claim compensation in the UK from the energy giant Shell.

Royal Dutch Shell has already accepted responsibility and promised to pay some form of compensation for the spills, which took place in 2008 and 2009, destroying parts of the Bodo fishing communities in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta wetlands.

But Wednesday’s decision could open the company up to larger claims.

Shell said it does not comment on the legal process, which could take several months to reach a conclusion.

“SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria) has always acknowledged that the two spills which affected the Bodo community, and which are the subject of this legal action, were operational,” a statement from Shell said.

Leigh Day & Co, the lawyers representing the Bodo communities, who live in the snaking, oil-rich creeks and
waterways, said the case was the first of its kind because it would be handled under British jurisdiction.

“SPDC has agreed to formally accept liability and concede to the jurisdiction of the UK,” a statement on the law firm’s website said.”

Read more: Aljazeera


In Arid South African Lands, Fracking Controversy Emerges

Last modified on 2011-08-04 21:56:07 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The controversy has put the government in a tough spot. Seventeen years after the end of apartheid, the African National Congress-led government is under pressure to deliver jobs, services, and greater prosperity to the country’s largely impoverished and increasingly impatient population. The sparsely populated, semi-desert Karoo has a mixed-ethnic population of 300,000, including native Khoisan people, other black Africans, and white farmers. Many of the region’s residents live in squalid settlements that are a remnant of the apartheid era, and the government clearly hoped that a hydrofracturing boom would bring jobs and greater prosperity to the region.

Opposition to fracking in the Karoo has been centered not in the black settlements, but more among the white farmers and landowners who fear that the industry will pollute and deplete already scarce water supplies in this rain-starved region. Each fracking drilling well requires millions of liters of water and produces large quantities of tainted wastewater that must be treated.”

Read more: Yale Environment

Congolese Ignore Cholera Warnings

Last modified on 2011-07-28 18:59:47 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

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“In any case, said Keto, he was not worried: he had drunk the river water and still felt fine. And in any case, he added, he had never heard of water making you sick.

Keto lives on one of the islets along the river Congo, a stone’s throw away from Kinshasa’s port of Ngamanzo.

Like a lot of other local people who don’t have running water in their homes, he uses the river not just for drinking water but for cooking and the laundry.

And in the the absence of decent sanitary facilities, the river also serves as a toilet, which only increases the health hazards.

The country’s latest cholera outbreak began in the northeastern province of Province Orientale in March, spreading west to Bandundu before reaching Equateur and Kinshasa.

Or to put it another way, it followed the course of the Congo river.

According to the latest official toll, the outbreak has already killed 279 people out of the 4,062 cases detected across the country.

The Ngamanzo dispensary recorded its first case in mid-June and has since recorded 15 cases in all, including a 35-year-old woman who succumbed to the disease.”

Read more: ioL News


UN Calls For Suspension Of Giant Ethiopian Hydropower Dam

Last modified on 2011-07-28 18:47:56 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The United Nations has added its voice to the barrage of criticism on Ethiopia’s massive Gibe III hydropower project, calling for work to be suspended until the negative impacts of the dam have been determined.

The World Heritage Committee, which establishes sites to be listed as being of special cultural or physical significance, said the dam’s construction endangered the existence of Lake Turkana.

The lake, the largest desert lake in the world and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, sits astride the Kenya-Ethiopian border.

In a letter to the Ethiopian and Chinese governments after its annual meeting, the committee underlined the importance of Lake Turkana as an outstanding research area for animal and plant communities.

“The area’s rich fossil finds have allowed reconstructing the history of animal species and mankind over the past 2 million years,” the committee report copied to the Ethiopian government read in part.

Both Ethiopia and China as members of the World Heritage Committee were asked to fulfill their obligations for the protection of such a site.

China is helping fund the building of the dam.”

Read more: Daily Nation


The Geopolitics of Water in the Nile River Basin

Last modified on 2011-07-24 16:31:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“In Africa, access to water is one of the most critical aspects of human survival. Today, about one third of the total population lack access to water. Constituting 300 million people and about 313 million people lack proper sanitation. (World Water Council 2006). As result, many riparian countries surrounding the Nile river basin have expressed direct stake in the water resources hitherto seldom expressed in the past. In this paper, I argue that due to the lack of consensus over the use of the Nile basin regarding whether or not “water sharing” or “benefit sharing” has a tendency to escalate the situation in to transboundary conflict involving emerging dominant states such as the tension between Ethiopia-Egypt over the Nile river basin.  At the same time, this paper further contributes to the Collier- Hoeffler conflict model in order to analyze the transboundary challenges, and Egypt’s position as the hegemonic power in the horn of Africa contested by Ethiopia.   Collier- Hoeffler model is used to predict the occurrence of conflicts as a result of empirical economic variables in African states given the sporadic civil strife in many parts of Africa. In order to simplify my argument and analysis, I focused on Ethiopia and Egypt to explicate the extent of water crisis in the North Eastern part of Africa. ”

Read more: Global Research

Drought Just One Example of Africa’s Changing Environment

Last modified on 2011-07-18 18:43:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“As a prolonged, severe drought puts 10 million people at risk in East Africa, humanitarian agencies are hard-pressed to supply enough food and water. Crops have been destroyed, farmland damaged, seeds consumed as food and livestock sold so families can survive. Thousands of people have migrated to neighboring countries hoping to find relief. They often just find more of the same.

The U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) has issued warnings for years on the affects of potential climate change, deforestation and the loss of grasslands and wetlands.

“This is not a new phenomenon. I mean we seem to be seeing the increasing frequency over recent years these kinds of events,” said Nick Nuttall, chief spokesman for UNEP, which is based Nairobi.

While droughts are not definitive proof of climate change, Nuttall said,” “It certainly is part of environmental change, which is happening in the Horn of Africa, but also happening across Africa in terms of land quality…availability of fresh water, in terms of more frequent drought and floods.”

Read more: VOA News


Ethiopia Moves Forward with Massive Nile Dam Project

Last modified on 2011-07-14 18:06:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Ethiopia has announced that it will construct a controversial multibillion-dollar Nile River dam that could supply more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity for itself and its neighbors, including newcomer South Sudan.

The project—the Grand Millennium Dam—has sparked worries about environmental and human costs and is refocusing attention on the country’s troubled history with large dams.

(Read more about South Sudan’s energy situation in National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge Blog: “Building a New Nation and New Energy in South Sudan.“)

At a public ceremony in March, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi laid the cornerstone for the new dam, a hydroelectric power plant that will span a section of the Blue Nile River in the country’s Benishangul-Gumuz region.

The Blue Nile originates in Ethiopia’s Lake Tana and is one of two major tributaries of the Nile, the world’s longest river.”

Read more: National Geographic


Libya Warns Rebel-Held East Of Water Shortages

Last modified on 2011-07-12 16:30:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Libyan officials warned Tuesday that the rebel-controlled eastern half of the country could be cut off from water supplies without a truce to allow for maintenance work on a power plant pumping water up from the desert.

About 70 percent of the country relies on water brought up from underground aquifers deep in the southern desert, and the plant powering it in the east is falling apart, said the Libyan agricultural minister.

“Out of six turbines, we are using one turbine in the plant because of lack of maintenance,” said Abdel-Maguid al-Gaud, who is also head of the system known as the Great Man-made Water Project, which supplies water to both halves of the country. “It’s going to close itself.”

Al-Gaud called for a cease-fire with the rebels and NATO forces conducting airstrikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s military, and he urged the U.N. to lift a ban on importing spare parts so the power plant could be repaired and restored to full power. U.N. Security Council resolutions ban imports of many items into Libya.

Libya has several times demanded a cease-fire in the four month-old war, but the rebels and NATO have insisted on Gadhafi’s departure first.

Currently the plant is pumping 400,000 cubic meters of water per day out of the desert, instead of a normal rate of twice that.”

Read more: ajc


Ethiopia pushes ahead with plans to dam the Nile

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

Retrieved from: green prophet

“Ethiopia says that a controversial multi-billion dollar dam will not restrict the flow of the Nile waters to Egypt and Sudan.

“The Grand Millennium Dam, a $4.5 billion (Dh16.5 billion) hydroelectric project, will allow Ethiopia to export electricity to its neighbours and regulate the flow of the Nile to them, Tadesse Haile, Ethiopia’s Minister of Industry, said in an interview during a recent visit to the UAE.

“The fact that we are building this dam has nothing to do with [our] neighbouring countries — in fact it is in favour of them. It has no negative impact on water usage [by those countries],” he said.

“Ethiopia is the source of 85 per cent of the Nile’s flow and was involved in a long-standing dispute with Egypt over the sharing of the river’s water. Haile insisted that the dam would not reduce the Nile’s flow to Egypt and Sudan.

“It is not the case. By the way, Egypt and Sudan will be enjoying the regulation of the water [flow]… Hydropower does not consume water, it only regulates it, leaves the water to flow… Without this dam, the water could have flown and Egypt and Sudan could suffer as a result of unregulated water by way of a flood, which was the case in the past,” he said.

“Egypt and Ethiopia will likely sign an agreement to use Nile water on “fair and equitable” terms once a democratic government is elected in Egypt, he added.”

Read more: Gulf news

Africa Drought Endangers Millions

Last modified on 2011-07-05 16:55:09 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Drought conditions and extreme food shortages in the area at expected to last into 2012. “The prognosis is that it’s going to go downhill from here,” Bunker said.

“Resources are woefully inadequate,” OCHA emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio last week. “We have an appeal that is at the moment only 40 percent met. Some of the key sectors that are needed to protect and save the lives of people in Somalia are not being addressed at all.”

Other U.N. agencies are painting a similarly dire picture of the food security situation in East Africa, but say they are assisting as best they can.”

“Desperate hunger is looming across the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of millions who are struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and conflict,” WFP executive director Josette Sheeran said in a release. “It is essential that we move quickly to break the destructive cycle of drought and hunger that forces farmers to sell their means of production as part of their survival strategy.”

Read more: New York Times


The Decline Of Agriculture?

Last modified on 2011-07-05 16:36:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Severe weather events around the world will increase, even parts of the globe that don’t normally see extreme weather events,” said Steff Gaulter, Al Jazeera’s senior weather presenter. “Those parts of the world that already struggle with water shortages will find matters worsening, including Australia, Mexico, the southwest United States, and parts of Africa.”

Gaulter agrees with the FAO that poorer countries are likely to be the worst affected because they have less resources to cope with disasters.

“With worsening water-shortages, there will be more crop-failures, which means an increase in malnutrition,” she added. “There is also likely to be an increase in disease as people drink water that is unsuitable for consumption. All of this is an added expense that will be particularly punishing for poorer regions to endure, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Approximately 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa currently lack access to clean drinking water.

“It is also estimated that by 2020, an additional 75 to 250 million people there will also face water shortages,” said Gaulter. “That’s in less than ten years.”

Read more: Aljazeera

South Africa: Two warriors die, alongside the right to water

Last modified on 2011-07-03 15:13:05 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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Manqele’s water war

Meanwhile, a few hours drive down the coast in southwest Durban, Manqele was working closely with the late Fatima Meer, sociologist Ashwin Desai and Westcliff Flats Residents Association leader Orlean Naidoo to help unite Chatsworth’s African and Indian residents in what became the Durban Social Forum, no easy task given the area’s divided history, desegregation dynamics and acute race/class tensions. In 1999, Manqele became ill, lost her job and saw her municipal arrears reach $1300.

The first water disconnection by city authorities was in January 2000. Manqele explained in the documentary film, Plumbing the Rights, “That man came now to close the water. I haven’t got water after that I haven’t got food too, and then I’m thinking one way may be to sell my body there, I’m thinking food again to I’m thinking I can’t got there to prostitute me I’m old. All night I can’t sleep and high blood pressure is high.”

Chatsworth activists then helped Manqele illegally reconnect the pipes, allowing her and the seven children to consume more than the 25 litres per person (two flushes of the toilet each) that the city was allegedly supplying free each day. But as Naidoo recalled, the water only kicked in once arrears were cleared: “What kind of free water service is that – when people can’t afford to pay their daily bill, how are they going to pay off their arrears to get their free water? So that’s just a false hope.”

The turn to illegality was demonstrated on film by Chatsworth organiser Brandon Pillay, later elected an ANC city councilor: “There’s a copper disc that’s placed inside of this pipe and that actually shuts off the water so what we do is we just try to open up this pipe, and on opening this pipe we just remove the disc and then we have water.”

Manqele told the filmmaker a few months later, as cholera joined the diarrhea and AIDS pandemics, ” “That’s why me now I go back there to open the water… I’m scared for the cholera and then I need the water because me my condition… and I’m worried for the children, the suffering of the children, that’s why now if I never did that thing [illegal reconnection] now I’m going to die, I can’t stay without water.”

Read more: Links


Water wars: 21st century conflicts?

Last modified on 2011-06-29 19:09:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution,” said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. “The world’s water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs.”

“Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Of all the water on earth, 97 per cent is salt water and the remaining three per cent is fresh, with less than one per cent of the planet’s drinkable water readily accessible for direct human uses. Scarcity is defined as each person in an area having access to less than 1,000 cubic meters of water a year.

The areas where water scarcity is the biggest problem are some of the same places where political conflicts are rife, leading to potentially explosive situations.

Some experts believe the only documented case of a “water war” happened about 4,500 years ago, when the city-states of Lagash and Umma went to war in the Tigris-Euphrates basin.”

Read more: Aljazeera




800 Somali Kids Arrive In Kenyan Camps Daily

Last modified on 2011-06-28 21:36:48 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“An international aid group says over 800 Somali children arrive at Kenyan refugee camps each day to escape their country’s devastating drought.

Save the Children says that the children are part of the nearly 1,300 people who come each day to the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya.

The group said Tuesday that some families walk through sand and searing heat for more than a month looking for food, water and shelter.

The U.N. refugee agency says 20,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya over the past two weeks alone, a sharp increase from last year when some 6,000 to 8,000 Somalis were arriving in Kenya each month.

Save the Children says the children arrive from Somalia exhausted, malnourished and severely dehydrated.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

Floods, Droughts, And A Global Water Warning

Last modified on 2011-06-27 17:58:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE ), a joint satellite mission by NASA and the German space agency DLR, tracks freshwater availability over the globe. And according to hydrologist James Famiglietti at the University of California, Irvine, it’s not revealing a pretty picture. His team has observed steadily declining groundwater reserves in many of the world’s major aquifers, particularly those in the arid and semi-arid parts of the globe. Between 1994 and 2006, annual fresh-water flow increased 18% suggesting an acceleration in the global water cycle of evaporation and rainfall.

Translation: More intense storms, flooding, and drought.

A redistribution of precipitation from the mid latitudes to higher and lower latitudes means that wet regions get wetter and dry get drier . Famigliette’s research is among the first to demonstrate that these conditions–previously predicted by climate models–are already happening. And this isn’t just a story about available drinking water because it causes tremendous concerns about food, energy, economic, and international security.”

Read more: Wired


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