Tag Archive for 'china'

China’s water squeeze worsens as wetlands shrink 9 pct

Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com

“China’s wetlands have shrunk nearly 9 percent since 2003, forestry officials said on Monday, aggravating water scarcity in a country where food production, energy output and industrial activity are already under pressure from water shortages.

China has more than a fifth of the world’s population but only 6 percent of its freshwater resources, and large swathes of the nation, especially in the north, face severe water distress.

Since 2003, wetlands sprawling across 340,000 sq. km. – an area larger than the Netherlands – have disappeared, officials of China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) told reporters.

“The investigation shows that China is facing various problems with wetlands protections,” Zhang Yongli, vice director of the forestry body, told a news conference, adding that loopholes in protection laws imperil the shrinking wetlands.

The lost wetland areas have been converted to agricultural lands, swallowed by large infrastructure projects or degraded by climate change, the forestry administration said.

Wetlands lost to infrastructure projects have increased tenfold since the government’s last survey in 2003, Zhang added.”

Read more: Reuters


Water – Making It Personal: Communicating A Sustainable Future

“Throughout history, journalism and storytelling have defined civilization. Journalists are the first responders to global crises, the pointers to important trends and the translators between disciplines. Good journalists seek out knowledge, ask thoughtful questions, listen carefully and tell unforgettable stories. The art of the story, well-told, is a powerful force because it compels the resilience and connectedness of humanity.

In China, we have one of the richest, most complicated stories unfolding that the planet has ever seen. The country is the second largest economy after the US, and its economy tripled between 2000 and 2010. China’s GDP is expected to grow by more than 7% each year over the next 10 years.166

Yet our reporting found that the priceless energy beneath Wu Yun’s family grasslands may be trapped. China faces severe constraints to its GDP growth because it may not be able to continue to mine and process its coal at current rates. 167 Mines use copious amounts of water to extract and process coal, and as water supplies dwindle, production will slow.

Just as the account of Wu Yun’s life and choices framed the reporting that introduced the existence of water and energy stresses in Inner Mongolia and China, lives of people offer keen insight into the challenges and opportunities of sustainability, consumption and the dreams that drive them.”

Read More: Circle of Blue

China Is Top Dam Builder, Going Where Others Won’t

Photo retrieved from: www.cambodia.org

“Up a sweeping jungle valley in a remote corner of Cambodia, Chinese engineers and workers are raising a 100-meter- (330-foot-) high dam over the protests of villagers and activists. Only Chinese companies are willing to tame the Tatay and other rivers of Koh Kong province, one of Southeast Asia’s last great wilderness areas.

It’s a scenario that is hardly unique. China’s giant state enterprises and banks have completed, are working on or are proposing some 300 dams from Algeria to Myanmar.

Poor countries contend the dams are crucial to bringing electricity to tens of millions who live without it and boosting living standards. Environmental activists and other opponents counter that China, the world’s No. 1 dam builder, is willing and able to go where most Western companies, the World Bank and others won’t tread anymore because of environmental, social, political or financing concerns.”

Read more: International Rivers

Emerging Powers Harnessing Neighbours’ Hydroelectricity

The Madeira river, where Brazil hopes to build a hydropower plant under an agreement with Bolivia. Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Emerging countries like Brazil and China are building numerous hydroelectric dams at home and abroad to help drive their economic growth. But while in Latin America the phenomenon is touted as an integration process, in Asia it has generated tension over the shared use of rivers.

Brazil, the leader of this strategy in Latin America, has an agreement to build five hydropower dams in Peru, and is interested in building two similar plants, which would depend on reaching agreements with Bolivia: a joint venture between the two countries on the stretch of the Madeira river that forms part of the border between them, and a Bolivian plant.

A large part of the energy generated by these projects will be exported to Brazil, whose government projects an annual 5.9 percent increase in demand for energy from now to 2019, when the country will need 167,000 MW, over two-thirds of which will come from hydroelectricity.

Building dams outside of the country is one way to evade stiff opposition from environmentalists and indigenous groups in the Brazilian Amazon, where nearly all of the country’s as-yet untapped hydropower potential is found.

Cachuela Esperanza on the Beni river in northern Bolivia, near the Brazilian border, will have a potential of 990 MW, according to a project drawn up by Tecsult, a leading Canadian consulting firm. That is nearly the equivalent of Bolivia’s entire demand for energy. ”

Read more: IPS

Avoiding Water Wars

Photo retrieved from: www.heavenawaits.com

“With the climate change and as a consequence shrinking water availability across the Middle East, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, violent conflict between states is increasingly likely. This matter was on the agenda of annul World Water Week forum in Stockholm held in 2006, but it could not answer the question raised in the meeting whether we are heading for an era of “hydrological warfare” in which rivers, lakes and aquifers become national security assets to be fought over, or controlled through proxy armies and client states? Or can water act as a force for peace and cooperation? It has been estimated by the experts that by 2025, more than two billion people are expected to live in countries that find it difficult or impossible to mobilize the water resources needed to meet the needs of agriculture, industry and households. Population growth, urbanization and the rapid development of manufacturing industries are relentlessly increasing demand for finite water resources. Symptoms of the resulting water stress are increasingly visible. In northern China, rivers now run dry in their lower reaches for much of the year. In parts of Pakistan and India, groundwater levels are falling so rapidly that from 10 percent to 20 percent of agricultural production is under threat.

In the past, there have been wars between the countries over religions, usurpation of territories and control of resources including oil, but in view of acute shortages of water in Africa, Middle East, Asia and elsewhere, the future wars could be fought over water.

In addition to Kashmir dispute, the Indus River Basin has been an area of conflict between India and Pakistan for about four decades. Spanning 1,800 miles, the river and its tributaries together make up one of the largest irrigation canals in the world. Dams and canals built in order to provide hydropower and irrigation have dried up stretches of the Indus River. The division of the river basin water has created friction among the countries of South Asia, and among their states and provinces. Accusations of overdrawing of share of water made by each province have resulted in the lack of water supplies to coastal regions of Pakistan. India and Bangladesh have also dispute over Ganges River water and India is resorting to water theft there as well. Nepal and Bangladesh are also victims of India’s water thievery. India had dispute with Bangladesh over Farrakha Barrage, with Nepal over Mahakali River and with Pakistan over 1960 Indus Water Treaty.”

Read more: Pakistan Observer

Hydropower Projects Speed Up in Tibet

The construction site of the Lhasa Convertor station of the Qinghai-Tibet Power Grid Interconnection Project. Photo retrieved from: www.chinatibetnews.com

“Currently, a number of key hydropower projects are being constructed simultaneously in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibet Daily reported.

In a bid to push forward its economic and social leap-forward development and long-term stability, Tibet recently formulated a medium- and long-term energy development plan to make detailed arrangements for the region’s energy construction.

The Phomdo Water Control Project mainly is aimed at irrigation and power generation with due attention to flood control and water supplies.

With a planned reservoir capacity of 1.23 billion cubic meters, the project will be able to irrigate an overall farmland area of 16,370 square kilometers, expected to produce 255 more tons of grain.

The construction of the Phomdo Project, with a total investment of about 4.57 billion yuan, is estimated to last 69 months.”

Read more: China Tibet Online

Kenyans to Protest Chinese Involvement in Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam

Photo retrieved from: www.ethiofocus.yolasite.com

“The mammoth $1.7 billion Gibe 3 Dam project to be constructed on the Omo River, some 300 kilometres south-west of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, is the largest project to ever be implemented in Ethiopia. Once completed, it will stand at 240 metres high – to become the tallest dam in Africa – and hold a 211 km2 reservoir behind it. Construction begun in 2006 and the first power production was scheduled for 2011, while the dam would be completed in 2012. Ethiopia hopes to produce 1,870 megawatt, more than double the country’s current installed capacity and make $ 400 million from power export to Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti.

Communities living within the Omo River-Lake Turkana basin are opposed to this project that will inflict permanent damage to their way of life and peace in the region. Damming the Omo River will permanently change the river’s flood patterns which the Ethiopian communities living in the lower Omo basin have depended on for centuries. It will also reduce or completely cut out inflow of water into Lake Turkana – which depends on the river for 90% of its water – especially during the period of filling up the reservoir. “These drastic changes will irreparably destroy the lives of some 700,000 already disadvantaged people in both Kenya and Ethiopia”, said Ikal Angelei, Director of Friends of Lake Turkana.

Due to the project’s unpopularity and its potential social and environmental injustices, various prospective donors – including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank (US$341 million loan) – have withdrawn their support. The African Development Bank was also considering funding the project.”

Read more: African Press Agency

China Bids To Ease Drought With $1bn Emergency Water Aid

A villager irrigates his dried wheat field against the winter drought in Jimo, China. Photo retrieved from: www.guardian.co.uk

“China has announced a billion dollars in emergency water aid to ease its most severe drought in 60 years, as the United Nations warned of a threat to the harvest of the world’s biggest wheat producer.

Beijing has also promised to use its grain reserves to reduce the pressure on global food prices, which have surged in the past year to record highs due to the floods in Australia and a protracted dry spell in Russia.

The desperate measures were evident at Baita reservoir in Shandong – one of several key agricultural provinces afflicted by four months without rain. With nearby crops turning yellow, a mechanical digger cut a crude, open-cast well into the dried-up bed of the reservoir. Muddy water from the five-metre deep pit was pumped up to the surface via a hose that snaked past a fishing boat stranded on the cracked earth.

As the water spluttered on to his wheat field, farmer Liu Baojin expressed concern the support may have come too late. Despite the emergency well digging and partial compensation from the government, he fears he may have to seek work in the city if his harvest fails.”

Read more: Guardian

Galloping Growth, and Hunger in India

Farmers plant onions in Jalgaon, India. Even with India’s farming still dependent on manual labor and the vicissitudes of nature, demand for food has risen. Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“Four decades after the Green Revolution seemed to be solving India’s food problems, nearly half of Indian children age 5 or younger are malnourished. And soaringfood prices, a problem around the world, are especially acute in India.

Globally, floods in Australia and drought in China have helped send food prices everywhere soaring — on fears the world will see a repeat of shortages in 2007 and 2008 that caused food riots in some poor countries, including Egypt.

While India’s agricultural problems are part of this bigger global puzzle, in many ways India’s food challenges are more entrenched and systemic than those faced elsewhere.

Western investors may take eager note of India’s economic growth rate of nearly 9 percent a year. But that statistic rings hollow in India’s vast rural areas. Agriculture employs more than half the population, but it accounts for only 15 percent of the economy — and it has grown an average of only about 3 percent in recent years.

Critics say Indian policy makers have failed to follow up on the country’s investments in agricultural technology of the 1960s and ’70s, as they focused on more glamorous, urban industries like information technology, financial services and construction.

There is no agribusiness of the type known in the United States, with highly mechanized farms growing thousands of acres of food crops, because Indian laws and customs bar corporations from farming land directly for food crops. The laws also make it difficult to assemble large land holdings.”

Read more: New York Times

Burmese to Get Just One Percent of Energy from Dams

Shweli River Hydropower Station, located at the main stream of Shweli River near the Sino-Burmese border. Photo retrieved from: www.irrawaddy.org

“Since China is the main investor in the dam projects, it will receive most of the electricity. China will get 48 percent, while 38 percent will go to Thailand and 3 percent to India. Only one percent will be available for domestic consumption,” said Sai Sai, the coordinator of Burma Rivers Network (BRN), one of the groups that took part in the seminar.

The remaining 10 percent, he added, will be used by the Burmese military and on large-scale development projects such as the construction of a natural gas pipeline from western Burma’s Arakan State to China.

According to BRN, the 21 dams being built in Kachin, Shan, and Karenni states and Mandalay and Sagaing divisions will produce a total of 35,640 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Following visits to Burma by Chinese officials late last year, Chinese investment in the Tasang dam, located on the Salween River in Shan State, is set to increase from US $6 billion to $10 billion, said Sai Sai, who added that the dam will be the largest in the state when it is completed.”

Read more: The Irrawaddy