Inter Press ServiceCombating Desertification and Drought – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Sat, 19 May 2018 21:14:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Africa Gains Momentum in Green Climate Solutionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/africa-gains-momentum-green-climate-solutions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-gains-momentum-green-climate-solutions http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/africa-gains-momentum-green-climate-solutions/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 13:07:54 +0000 Sam Otieno http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155804 Promoting the widespread use of innovative technologies will be critical to combat the hostile effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and many African countries are already leading the way with science-based solutions. The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) provide support for countries in making sound policy, […]

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Kenyan farmer Veronicah Ngau shows off her young six-week old maize crops inside (left) and outside (right) of planting basins, an adaptation technique that conserves water. Credit: Ake Mamo/IPS

Kenyan farmer Veronicah Ngau shows off her young six-week old maize crops inside (left) and outside (right) of planting basins, an adaptation technique that conserves water. Credit: Ake Mamo/IPS

By Sam Otieno
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 2018 (IPS)

Promoting the widespread use of innovative technologies will be critical to combat the hostile effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and many African countries are already leading the way with science-based solutions.

The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) provide support for countries in making sound policy, technology, and investment choices that lead to better approaches for mitigation, adaptation and resilience.A satellite program in Kenya measures the progressive impact of drought on loss of forage, triggering timely insurance payouts to help vulnerable pastoralists.

From biogas to solar installations and improved water conservation, success stories abound on the continent. The challenge now, experts say, is to scale them up. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Africa’s renewable power installed capacity could increase by 290 percent between 2015 and 2030 — compared to 161 percent for Asia and 43 percent for Latin America.

The global Paris Accord is underpinned by its commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, securing funding for alternative sources of energy and adaptation of technology in everyday activities that are geared towards shrinking humanity’s carbon footprint on the planet.

African countries have internalised and made considerable efforts towards these goals despite budgetary constraints, with the United Nations lauding the continent for embracing technology and innovation in its journey to fight climate change.

Jukka Uosukainen, CTCN’s director, spoke with IPS during the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) Africa Regional Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya April 9–10, stressing that technology is already changing the fortunes of people in the continent.

For instance, Mali has successfully applied field contouring technology in rural areas such as Koutiala, reducing the volume of water runoff from 20 percent to 50 percent depending on the soil type.

“This has improved the yield of crops in an area that experienced severe drought and bettered the quality of livelihoods owing to a rise in income,” he noted.

Uosukainen said that Senegal has launched massive biogas digester projects through the National Biogas Program by implementing biomethanisation technologies that facilitate faster access to cleaner energy within the republic. The country also utilises tri-generation and co-generation technologies that use waste as raw materials for energy production.

Furthermore, Mauritius has aptly integrated the use of boiler economizers, which capture the waste heat from boiler stack gases (called flue gas) and transfer it to the boiler feedwater.

This has reduced the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, cutting energy costs and boosting socioeconomic growth amongst its citizens.

Morocco has adopted photovoltaic technology that harnesses solar power for greater energy production. The Noor Ouarzazate IV power station spans 137 square kilometres and generates 582 megawatts of renewable energy for over 1 million people. This has helped increase the nation’s uptake of renewable energy sources to an impressive 42 percent, lessening the rate of air pollution and enhancing quality of life.

In Kenya, a 630 MW geothermal plant has come on line, providing electricity for 500,000 households and 300,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. Kenya alone has the potential to generate 10,000 megawatts from its geothermal resources, says an analysis by Bridges Africa.

Tony Simons, director general of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), said that most African countries have chosen clean energy technologies as a part of their environmental solutions and ICRAF supports these efforts through its work in developing cleaner options for woody biomass-based energy, a key technology used across the continent.

According to ICRAF, Kenya is using water conservation technologies like sunken-bed kitchen gardens and terracing to successfully increase yield production and improve food security.

ICRAF has partnered with several eastern Africa countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi in a project dubbed Trees for Food Security Project which conducts extensive research and development into special tree species for each nation.

This involves detecting the seedlings suitable for specific areas and ensuring modern agricultural techniques are employed during planting. The forest cover helps prevent desertification, reduces carbon dioxide emissions through photosynthesis and enhances of the aesthetic beauty of the lands.

And the Green Cooling Africa Initiative implemented in Ghana and Namibia encompasses modern air conditioning and refrigeration appliances that use minimal electricity and generate lower volumes of toxins into the atmosphere.

Simons called for gender equality in any strategies to address climate change because in all communities, knowledge of agricultural and natural resource management differs by gender, making it is essential to include women’s perspectives in addressing climate change at the farm and local level.

Rehabilitation of water projects is another field that’s getting attention, as African countries seek to reduce the overexploitation of such resources for the benefit of all stakeholders.

For instance, in Kenya, a policy of “green water” technology has been operationalized with the support of various local and international partners with the aim of curbing water shortages and channeling it to better uses.

This technology has enabled arid and semi-arid areas to have regular instances of water supply which is used for irrigation, animal husbandry and subsistence in homesteads. Therefore, it has limited the struggles that rural people undergo in search of water and pasture.

Also the government of Kenya, in partnership with the World Bank Group, the International Livestock Research Institute, and Financial Sector Deepening Kenya, implemented the Kenya Livestock Insurance program (KLIP) in the northern part of the county. KLIP, which is Africa’s large scale public-private partnership livestock insurance program, uses satellite imagery technology to provide early warning of drought.

The satellite measures the progressive impact of drought on loss of forage in the vulnerable pastoral regions of Kenya. It then triggers timely insurance payouts to help vulnerable pastoralists to purchase fodder and animal feed supplements to keep their core breeding alive until the drought has passed.

Acceptance of climate change technologies and innovations has resulted in better farming methods, higher crop yields, lower energy consumption and a reduction in carbon emissions throughout Africa.

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Climate Finance: The Paris Agreement’s “Lifeblood”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/climate-finance-paris-agreements-lifeblood/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-finance-paris-agreements-lifeblood http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/climate-finance-paris-agreements-lifeblood/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 18:22:15 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155775 As negotiators concluded ten days of climate talks in Bonn last week, climate finance was underlined as a key element without which the Paris Agreement’s operational guidelines would be meaningless. The talks, held from April 30 to May 10, were aimed at finalising the PA’s implementation guidelines to be adopted at the annual climate conference […]

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UN Climate chief Patricia Espinosa making a point during a media roundtable. Credit: Friday Phiri

By Friday Phiri
BONN, May 15 2018 (IPS)

As negotiators concluded ten days of climate talks in Bonn last week, climate finance was underlined as a key element without which the Paris Agreement’s operational guidelines would be meaningless.

The talks, held from April 30 to May 10, were aimed at finalising the PA’s implementation guidelines to be adopted at the annual climate conference to be held in Katowice, Poland in December.

The guidelines are essential for determining whether total world emissions are declining fast enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, which include boosting adaptation and limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

Climate finance dialoge

However, the catch is that all this requires financing to achieve. For instance, the conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) from developing countries in implementing the Paris Agreement are pegged at the cost of 4.3 trillion dollars to be achieved.

“Finance is a very critical component for us,” said Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, Zambian Delegation leader and UNFCCC focal point person. “Agriculture, general adaptation and the APA agenda for implementation modalities form the core issues we are following keenly but we believe all these are meaningless without finance.”

It has always been the cry of developing countries to receive support through predictable and sustainable finance for it is the lifeblood of implementation of mitigation and/or adaptation activities. And Least Developed Countries (LDC) Chair Gebru Jember Endalew agrees with Zambia’s Shitima on the importance of finance.

“Finance is key to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the face of climate change, poor and vulnerable countries are forced to address loss and damage and adapt to a changing climate, all while striving to lift their people out of poverty without repeating the mistakes of an economy built on fossil fuels. This is not possible without predictable and sustainable support,” he said.

The civil society movement was particularly unhappy with the lukewarm finance dialogue outcome. “The radio silence on money has sown fears among poor countries that their wealthier counterparts are not serious about honouring their promises,” said Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead, Christian Aid.

He said funding is not just a bargaining chip, but an essential tool for delivering the national plans that make up the Paris Agreement. And adding his voice to the debate, Mithika Mwenda of the Pan African Justice Allaince (PACJA) expressed dismay at the lack of concrete commitments from developed country parties.

“We are dismayed with the shifting of goal posts by our partners who intend to delay the realization of actual financing of full costs of adaptation in Africa,” said Mwenda.

Civil society campaigners protest big polluters at the negotiating table in Bonn. Credit: Friday Phiri

Civil society campaigners protest big polluters at the negotiating table in Bonn. Credit: Friday Phiri

But for Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the final analysis of the talks revealed a more hopeful outlook.

“I am satisfied that some progress was made here in Bonn,” said Espinosa at the close of the ten-day talks. “But many voices are underlining the urgency of advancing more rapidly on finalizing the operational guidelines. The package being negotiated is highly technical and complex. We need to put it in place so that the world can monitor progress on climate action.”

According to Espinosa, the presiding officers of the three working bodies coordinated discussions on a wide range of items under the Paris Agreement Work Programme, and delegations tasked them to publish a “reflection note” to help governments prepare for the next round of talks.

She said the preparatory talks would continue at a supplementary meeting in Bangkok from September 3-8, at which the reflection note and the views and inputs by governments captured in various texts in Bonn would be considered.

The Bangkok meeting would then forward texts and draft decisions for adoption to the annual session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Poland.

“We have made progress here in Bonn, but we need now to accelerate the negotiations. Continuing intersessional streamlining of the text-based output from Bonn will greatly assist all governments, who will meet in Bangkok to work towards clear options for the final set of implementation guidelines,” she explained.

The Talanoa Dialogue

In parallel to the formal negotiations, the Bonn meeting hosted the long-awaited Fiji-led Talanoa Dialogue.

Following the tradition in the Pacific region, the goal of a ‘talanoa’ is to share stories to find solutions for the common good. In this spirit, the dialogue witnessed some 250 participants share their stories, providing fresh ideas and renewed determination to raise ambition.

“Now is the time for action,” said Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and President of COP23. “Now is the time to commit to making the decisions the world must make. We must complete the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement on time. And we must ensure that the Talanoa Dialogue leads to more ambition in our climate action plans.”

The dialogue wrote history when countries and non-Party stakeholders including cities, businesses, investors and regions engaged in interactive story-telling for the first time.

“The Talanoa Dialogue has provided a broad and real picture of where we are and has set a new standard of conversation,” said the President-designate of COP24, Michał Kurtyka of Poland. “Now it is time to move from this preparatory phase of the dialogue to prepare for its political phase, which will take place at COP24,” he added.

All input received to date and up to October 29, 2018 will feed into the Talanoa Dialogue’s second, more political phase at COP24.

The Koronovia work Programme on Agriculture  

Farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as prolonged droughts and shifting rainfall patterns, and agriculture is an important source of emissions.

Despite this importance however, agriculture had been missing and was only discussed as an appendage at the UN climate negotiating table, until November 2017 when it was included as a work programme.

Recognising the urgency of addressing this sector, the Bonn conference made a significant advance on the “Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture” by adopting a roadmap for the next two-and-a-half years.

“From our perspective as Zambia, our interest is in line with the expectations of the African group which is seeking to protect our smallholders who are the majority producers from the negative impacts of climate change,” said Morton Mwanza, Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture focal point person on Climate Smart Agriculture.

And according to the outcome at the Bonn talks, the roadmap responds to the world’s farming community of more than 1 billion people and to the 800 million people who live in food-insecure circumstances, mainly in developing countries. It addresses a range of issues including the socio-economic and food-security dimensions of climate change, assessments of adaptation in agriculture, co-benefits and resilience, and livestock management.

Nevertheless, key to this roadmap is undoubtedly means of implementation—finance and technology. Developed countries pledged, since 2009, to deliver to developing countries 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 for climate action.

However, the withdrawal of 2 billion dollars’ worth of support by the Trump administration because of its decision to leave the Paris Agreement, leaves the climate finance debate unsettled, and a major sticking point in the talks.

Big polluters influence

And some campaigners now accuse some fossil fuel lobbyists allegedly sitting on the negotiating table to be behind delayed climate action.

According to a study, titled “Revolving doors and the fossil fuel industry,” carried out in 13 European countries, failure to deal with conflict of interest by the EU is due to cosy relationships built up with the fossil fuel sector over the years. It calls for the adoption of a strong conflict of interest policy that would avoid the disproportionate influence of the fossil fuel industry on the international climate change negotiations.

“There is a revolving door between politics and the fossil fuel lobby all across Europe,” said Max Andersson, Member of the European Parliament, at the Bonn Climate Talks. “It’s not just a handful of cases—it is systematic. The fossil fuel industry has an enormous economic interest in delaying climate action and the revolving door between politics and the fossil fuel lobby is a serious cause for alarm.”

According to Andersson, to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and keep global warming to as close as 1.5 degrees as possible, there is need to clamp down on conflicts of interest to stop coal, gas and oil from leaving “their dirty fingerprints over our climate policy.”

Interestingly, there was good news for the ‘big polluters out’ campaigners at the close of the talks. “No amount of obstruction from the US and its big polluter allies will ultimately prevent this movement from advancing,” Jesse Bragg of Corporate Accountability told IPS. “Global South leaders prevailed in securing a clear path forward for the conflict of interest movement, ensuring the issue will be front and center next year.”

And so, it seems, climate finance holds all the cards. Until it is sorted, the implementation of the Paris Agreement in two years’ time hangs in the balance.

 

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Optimal Use of Water Works Miracles in Brazil’s Semi-Arid Regionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/optimal-use-water-works-miracles-brazils-semi-arid-region/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=optimal-use-water-works-miracles-brazils-semi-arid-region http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/optimal-use-water-works-miracles-brazils-semi-arid-region/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 15:49:14 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155678 Cattle ranching has been severely affected by drought in Brazi’s Northeast region, but it has not only survived but has made a comeback in the Jacuípe river basin thanks to an optimal use of water. José Antonio Borges, who owns 98 hectares of land and 30 cows in Ipirá, one of the 14 municipalities in […]

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José Antonio Borges is surrounded by the forage cactus, ready to be harvested, that he planted on his farm. It is the basis of the diet of their 30 cows, which allows them to produce 400 litres of milk per day, using an automatic milking system twice a day, in Ipirá, in the Jacuípe basin, in Brazil’s northeastern semi-arid ecoregion, where the optimal use of water is transforming family farms. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

José Antonio Borges is surrounded by the forage cactus, ready to be harvested, that he planted on his farm. It is the basis of the diet of their 30 cows, which allows them to produce 400 litres of milk per day, using an automatic milking system twice a day, in Ipirá, in the Jacuípe basin, in Brazil’s northeastern semi-arid ecoregion, where the optimal use of water is transforming family farms. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

By Mario Osava
IPIRÁ-PINTADAS, Brazil, May 8 2018 (IPS)

Cattle ranching has been severely affected by drought in Brazi’s Northeast region, but it has not only survived but has made a comeback in the Jacuípe river basin thanks to an optimal use of water.

José Antonio Borges, who owns 98 hectares of land and 30 cows in Ipirá, one of the 14 municipalities in the basin, in the northeastern state of Bahia, almost tripled his milk production over the last two years, up to 400 litres per day, without increasing his herd.

To achieve this, he was assisted by technicians from Adapta Sertão, a project promoted by a coalition of organisations under the coordination of the Human Development Network (Redeh), based in Rio de Janeiro.

“If I wake up and I don’t hear the cows mooing, I cannot live,” said Borges to emphasise his vocation that prevented him from abandoning cattle farming in the worst moments of the drought which in the last six years lashed the semi-arid ecoregion, an area of low rainfall in the interior of the Brazilian Northeast.

But his wife, Eliete Brandão Borges, did give up and moved to Ipirá, the capital city of the municipality, where she works as a seamstress. Their 13-year-old son lives in town with her, in order to study. But he does not rule out returning to the farm, “if a good project comes up, like raising chickens.”

Borges, who “feels overwhelmed after a few hours in the city,” points out as factors for the increased dairy productivity the forage cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica Mill), a species from Mexico, which he uses as a food supplement for the cattle, and the second daily milking.

“The neighbours called me crazy for planting the cactus in an intensive way,” he said. “We used to use it, but we planted it more spread out.” Today, at the age of 39, Borges is an example to be followed and receives visits from other farmers interested in learning about how he has increased his productivity.

Normaleide de Oliveira stands in front of the pond on her farm that did not even run out of water during the six years of drought suffered by Brazil's Northeast region. Water availability is an advantage of family farmers in the Jacuípe river basin, compared to other areas of the country's semi-arid ecoregion. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Normaleide de Oliveira stands in front of the pond on her farm that did not even run out of water during the six years of drought suffered by Brazil’s Northeast region. Water availability is an advantage of family farmers in the Jacuípe river basin, compared to other areas of the country’s semi-arid ecoregion. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

He started after being taken to visit another property that used intensive planting, in an effort to convince him, said Jocivaldo Bastos, the Adapta Sertão technician who advised him. “Actually I don’t use cacti,” Borges acknowledged when he learned about the innovative tecnique.

The thornless, drought-resistant cactus became a lifesaving source of forage for livestock during drought, and is an efficient way to store water during the dry season in the Sertão, the popular name for the driest area in the Northeast, which also covers other areas of the sparsely populated and inhospitable interior of Brazil.

Also extending through the semi-arid region is the construction of concrete tanks designed to capture rainwater, which cost 12,000 reais (3,400 dollars) and can store up to 70,000 litres a year. With this money, 0.4 hectares of cactus can be planted, equivalent to 121,000 litres of water a year, according to a study by Adapta Sertão.

But that requires attention to the details, such as fertilisers, drip irrigation, clearing brush and selecting seedlings. Borges “lost everything” from his first intensive planting of the Opuntia forage cactus.

Parched, hard-packed land without vegetation is now green and fertile thanks to farmer and livestock breeder José Antonio Borges, who regenerated the land, supported by technicians from Adapta Sertão. It is now what he refers to as "the forest" where he grows watermelons and fruit trees, in Brazil's semi-arid Northeast. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Parched, hard-packed land without vegetation is now green and fertile thanks to farmer and livestock breeder José Antonio Borges, who regenerated the land, supported by technicians from Adapta Sertão. It is now what he refers to as “the forest” where he grows watermelons and fruit trees, in Brazil’s semi-arid Northeast. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Then he received advice from agricultural technician Bastos and currently has three hectares of cactus plantations and plans to expand.

At the beginning, he was frightened by the need to increase investments, previously limited to 500 Brazilian reais (142 dollars) per month. Now he spends twelve times more, but he earns gross revenues of 13,000 reais (3,700 dollars), according to Bastos.

The second milking, in the afternoon, was also key for Normaleide de Oliveira, a 55-year-old widow, to almost double her milk production. Today it reaches between 150 and 200 liters a day with only 12 dairy cows, on her farm located 12 km from Pintadas, the city in the centre of the Jacuípe basin.

“It is the milk that provides the income I live on,” said the farmer, who owns 30 more cattle. “I used to have 60 in total, but I sold some because of the drought, which almost made me give it all up,” she said.

The Jacuípe basin is seen as privileged compared to other parts of the semi-arid Northeast. The rivers have dried up, but in the drilled wells there is abundant water that, when pumped, irrigates the crops and drinking troughs.

This concrete tank is being built on a large rock on the farm of Normaleide de Oliveira, in the municipality of Pintadas, to be used for fish farming. Stones were used to make the walls using cement, on top of a rock in order to facilitate irrigation by gravity, in an example of agricultural development that optimises the use of the scarce water in the Sertão eco-region in Northeastern Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

This concrete tank is being built on a large rock on the farm of Normaleide de Oliveira, in the municipality of Pintadas, to be used for fish farming. Stones were used to make the walls using cement, on top of a rock in order to facilitate irrigation by gravity, in an example of agricultural development that optimises the use of the scarce water in the Sertão eco-region in Northeastern Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Oliveira has the advantage of having two natural ponds on her property, one of which never completely dried up during the six years of drought.

Now she is building a concrete tank on a large rock near her house that she will devote to raising fish and irrigating her gardens. Its location up on a rock will allow gravity-fed irrigation for the watermelon, squash and vegetables that Oliveira, who lives with her daughter and son-in-law, plans to grow.

The pond was proposed by Jorge Nava, an expert in permaculture who has been working with Adapta Sertão since last year, contributing new techniques to optimise the use of available water.

Adapta Sertão’s aims are to diversify production and strengthen conservation, and incorporate sustainability and adaptability to climate change in family farming.

In Ipirá, Borges has a pond one metre deep and six metres in diameter, with 23,000 litres of water, surrounded by his cilantro crop. In the pond he raises 1,000 tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), a species increasingly popular in fish farming.

Nearby is what he calls “the forest” – several dozen fruit trees on sloping ground with contour furrows, where he already used to plant watermelons using drip irrigation, which now coexist with the new project.

José Antonio Borges' family members enjoy themselves in the 23,000-litre concrete pond built on his farm to irrigate the orchards and raise fish, taking advantage of the water in boreholes drilled on his land in Ipirá , in the semi-arid region of Northeastern Brazil. Credit: Courtesy of Jorge Nava.

José Antonio Borges’ family members enjoy themselves in the 23,000-litre concrete pond built on his farm to irrigate the orchards and raise fish, taking advantage of the water in boreholes drilled on his land in Ipirá , in the semi-arid region of Northeastern Brazil. Credit: Courtesy of Jorge Nava.

“In 70 days he harvested 260 watermelons” and soil that was so dried up and hardened that the tractor had to plow several times, by thin layers each time, is now covered in vegetation, said Nava. “In 40 days the dry land became green,” he stated.

Contour furrows contain the water runoff and moisten the soil evenly. If the furrows were sloping they would flood the lower part, leaving the top dry, which would ruin the irrigation, the expert in permaculture explained.

This “forest” will fulfill the function of providing fruit and regenerating the landscape as well as making better use of water, boosting soil infiltration and acting as a barrier to the wind which increases evaporation, he said.

These are small gestures of respect for natural laws, to avoid waste and to multiply the water by reusing it, making it possible to live well on small farms with less water, he said.

In critical situations it is only about keeping plants alive with millilitres of water, until the next rain ensures production, as in the case of Borges’ watermelons.

Nava attributes his mission and dedication to seeking solutions in accordance with local conditions and demands to what happened to his family, who migrated from the southern tip of Brazil to Apuí, deep in the Amazon rainforest, in 1981, when he was three years old.

To go to school sometimes he had to travel nine days from his home, through the jungle. He became aware of the risk of desertification in the Amazon. The shallow-rooted forests are highly vulnerable to drought and deforestation, he learned.

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Belt and Road Initiative Vows Green Infrastructure with Connectivityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/belt-road-initiative-vows-green-infrastructure-connectivity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=belt-road-initiative-vows-green-infrastructure-connectivity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/belt-road-initiative-vows-green-infrastructure-connectivity/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 12:04:47 +0000 Diana G Mendoza http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155665 “My son in primary school did not attend a birthday celebration because it was cancelled due to bad air — and we live in Seoul, a great place to live,” said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). He was speaking to delegates of a forum that discussed creating environmental policies […]

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Belt and Road Initiative Vows Green Infrastructure with Connectivity

Belt and Road Initiative Vows Green Infrastructure with Connectivity

By Diana G Mendoza
MANILA, May 8 2018 (IPS)

“My son in primary school did not attend a birthday celebration because it was cancelled due to bad air — and we live in Seoul, a great place to live,” said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

He was speaking to delegates of a forum that discussed creating environmental policies while enabling economic and regional cooperation among countries in the Belt and Road route during the 51st annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that concluded over the weekend.The initiative covers more than 65 countries -- or more than 60% of the world's population -- that includes Africa and Europe and plans to mobilize 150 billion dollars in investments over the next five years.

The forum took cues from Rijsberman’s story of living in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, one of the poorest countries that in 50 years became an example for many developing countries to demonstrate the importance of economic growth while being mindful of air quality and the overall livability of the environment.

The “Green Growth and Regional Cooperation” forum was a side event hosted by GGGI with an expert panel that discussed China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and, with many references to “green growth,” “green policies” and “green investments,” looked at putting in place policies to accelerate green investments and green technology while exploring ways to create opportunities that address poverty across countries.

“Climate change is already exacting its toll, particularly in the Asian region, so rapidly that technological and economic growth (that may have worsened issues like air quality) should also be our most immediate driver of action to do something,” said Rijsberman.

He said there is a need for countries to have “green growth,” a new development approach that delivers environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth that is low-carbon and climate resilient; prevents or remediates pollution; maintains healthy and productive ecosystems and creates green jobs, reduce poverty and enhance social inclusion.

Rijsberman said the GGGI will join the Green Belt and Road Coalition and currently cooperates with the China Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the ASEAN Center for Environmental Cooperation on regional cooperation and integration that facilitates sustainable urban development and supports high-level policies and impactful knowledge sharing on the adoption of sustainable growth in the Belt and Road countries.

Prof. Dongmei Guo, China state council expert of the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Center, said the BRI brings together two regional trade corridors: the Silk Road Economic Belt that will link China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea though Central Asia and West Asia with three routes:  China-Central Asia-Russia-Europe through the Baltic Sea; China-Central Asia-West Asia-Persian Gulf through the Mediterranean Sea and China- Southeast Asia-South Asia through the Indian Ocean; and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that stretches from the South Pacific Sea to Europe with two roads — Coastal China-South China Sea-Indian Ocean-Europe and Coastal China-South China Sea and South Pacific.

The initiative covers more than 65 countries — or more than 60% of the world’s population — that includes Africa and Europe and plans to mobilize 150 billion dollars in investments over the next five years. Initiated in 2013, the BRI aims to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation, including policy coordination, trade and financing collaboration, and social and cultural cooperation.

“The BRI provides great opportunities for promoting green transformation and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030,” said Guo, mentioning environmental-related SGDs 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15 as the same targets envisioned in the initiative.  “The global sustainable development process has entered a new stage through the BRI and it must be green.”

Goals 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15 enjoin countries to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation and sustainable consumption and production patterns, to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Guo said among some of the concerns in the countries along the route are water shortages, water pollution, agricultural pollution, tailings, industrial wastes, and nuclear waste for Central Asia, biodiversity loss, water pollution and urbanization-led pollution in South Asia, and biodiversity, forest fire and haze brought by conventional pollution in Southeast Asia.

Winston Chow, GGGI country representative for China, said the program is still in its initial phase but is seeing an estimated investment of 500 billion dollars through 2030 that will be invested in the developing world along the BRI route, with 300 billion of that being carbon-related.

“What that means is that we have to consider the impacts of these economies in the long term and a major opportunity to decarbonize, which is a big step as we enhance global development,” he said. “We have to look at 2030 development goals and align our efforts at helping member countries contribute as they implement development projects.”

Organized under five guiding tasks of policy coordination, unimpeded trade, facilities connectivity financial integration, and people-to-people bond, Chow said the BRI aims to utilize Chinese government policy, financing and technology in enhancing strong projects in the developing world. The GGGI will facilitate the work with member states on how to deploy green projects and we have talked to a number of country governments such as those in Mongolia, Jordan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Vietnam and the Philippines.”

He cited the strong collaboration with Mongolia after its policy makers were introduced to energy efficiency with air quality restrictions and environmental impact reductions through the introduction of the electric vehicles tariff in the capital Ulaanbaatar that successfully reduced bad air from 2016 to 2017.

Jordan, Indonesia and Ethiopia are also underway in their ecological restoration and water treatment practices. Transformative projects among Chinese technologies in solar energy use, e-transportation and e-mobility technology, land restoration, water and solid waste treatment and solar, wind and energy building efficiency projects will also be shared as well with participating countries.

But with BRI being recently introduced, Chow mentioned a few challenges in financing schemes such as gaps between what China wants to invest in and what developing countries are ready to do but have financial needs that are complex to underwrite. For instance, he said “the debate is still out on countries that have electricity grids not quite ready for global energy integration that may not necessarily yield benefits financially or socially.”

The gap is also shown in Chinese investments in green projects that can be worth 100 million dollars but some countries can only do projects in the 20 or 30 million range. He cited BRI large scale projects such as airports in Cambodia or Vietnam’s hydropower plants and dams.

In his press conference prior to the GGGI side event, ADB President Takehiko Nakao lauded China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a key program to connect countries and regions and to broaden integration and cooperation across Asia, and that the ADB will participate in this initiative when needed. He enjoined countries along the route to be careful not to take out excessive loans when they get involved in the initiative to finance their projects and to look closely at the benefits the projects can give to their citizens.

“If countries borrow too much for certain projects without seriously looking at the feasibility, it might bring more trouble in repayment,” he said, stressing the need to “look at debt sustainability issues very seriously.”

Ayumi Konishi, special senior adviser to the president of ADB, told the side event “the ADB intends to cooperate with BRI because of its strong preference for green projects such as renewable energy or sustaining transport projects.”

Since the BRI initiative was announced in September 2013 advocating for improved connectivity for shared prosperity and after China signed an agreement with six multilateral development banks, he said the ADB is in agreement as “we share the same vision; we need the entire portfolio of cooperation projects to make them greener and make them less vulnerable to potential bad impacts of climate change.”

Rijsberman, GGGI’s director-general, said the GGGI, a treaty-based international organization headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, is seeing good examples of green efforts such as the Pacific greening in Vanuatu, the eco-towns in the Philippines, the business models in Indonesia that prevent fires and rehabilitate forests, the efforts in Rwanda to eradicate plastics and the biodiversity protection efforts in the Greater Mekong area.

“Efforts go beyond protecting environment but more on promoting it,” he said, stressing that such initiatives are all anchored on landmark agreements such as the UN SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.

The 2018 ADB Annual Meeting, themed “Linking People and Economies for Inclusive Development,” was held on May 3-6 2018 in Manila, its headquarters. It gathered more than 4,000 delegates and brought together experts of different disciplines who discussed framing global economic shifts, re-examined governance structures, explored governments and development institutions’ adapting new opportunities while addressing challenges presented by an increasingly digital future.

The ADB estimates Asia’s infrastructure needs could reach 22.6 trillion dollars through 2030, or 1.5 trillion annually. If climate change adaptation measures are adopted, the cost would rise to over 26 trillion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled 32.2 billion dollars, including 11.9 billion in co-financing.

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Low Awareness Restrains Growth of Solar Technologieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/low-awareness-restrains-growth-solar-technologies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=low-awareness-restrains-growth-solar-technologies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/low-awareness-restrains-growth-solar-technologies/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 00:04:46 +0000 Tonderayi Mukeredzi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155638 Every year, Amos Chandiringa, 43, a farmer in Nemaire village in Makoni district in northeastern Zimbabwe, laboriously waters his tobacco nursery with a watering can. The toil of the job often leaves him without the energy or time to do other household chores. “I live near a dam, so I’ve access to plenty of water, […]

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A young woman admires a parabolic solar cooker at a solar fair in Rusape, Zimbabwe. Credit: Tonderayi Mukeredzi/IPS

A young woman admires a parabolic solar cooker at a solar fair in Rusape, Zimbabwe. Credit: Tonderayi Mukeredzi/IPS

By Tonderayi Mukeredzi
RUSAPE, Zimbabwe, May 7 2018 (IPS)

Every year, Amos Chandiringa, 43, a farmer in Nemaire village in Makoni district in northeastern Zimbabwe, laboriously waters his tobacco nursery with a watering can. The toil of the job often leaves him without the energy or time to do other household chores.

“I live near a dam, so I’ve access to plenty of water, but I cannot do much with the water because I lack the necessary technology to mechanise my farming. Installing an electric or diesel water pump have been options, but that is expensive,” he tells IPS.Government, solar last mile distributors and development agencies say using solar electricity to power irrigation pumps, process harvests and for preservation of crops can transform rural lives.

In February, Chandiringa was privileged to host a combined farmers’ field day and solar fair at his homestead for the first time in his area and in the history of his farming career.

Solar entrepreneur Isaac Nyakusendwa says farmers like Chandiriga could make light work of their farming and multiply their yields if they used solar pumps to draw water from the dam to irrigate their crops or to use in the home.

Although farming is the occupation of most people in Rusape and other areas of rural Zimbabwe, the usage of solar photovoltaic systems remains limited mainly to lighting and entertainment.

Government, solar last mile distributors and development agencies say using solar electricity to power irrigation pumps, process harvests and for preservation of crops can transform rural lives by providing better crop yields, higher incomes and reducing the physical labor of farming.

Nemaire councillor Sam Maungwe says farmers in his area earn good money, mostly from tobacco farming, but due to poor knowledge of solar technologies, many of them spend their earnings on radios and household furniture.

“Farmers here largely grow tobacco, hence the area suffers from a double strain of wood cutting for tobacco curing and firewood. The use of solar in farming by our farmers would be good as it will lengthen their farming season and increase their income,” Maungwe tells IPS. “But more importantly, we want our farmers to extend the use of solar to tobacco barns so that they stop the indiscriminate cutting down of trees for tobacco curing.”

Petronella Karima, an extension officer, says there should be more platforms to educate rural farmers and expose them to new, affordable technologies because most of them are not aware of the capabilities of solar products.

“Many use solar for entertainment. Some have big solar home systems in their homes, but they don’t know that they can use it to water their crops and install water in their homes. With the knowledge they got from the solar exhibition, I believe many will now use solar to irrigate their crops and to harvest water,” Karima says.

Chiedza Mazaiwana, the Power for All Campaign Manager at Practical Action Zimbabwe, says awareness of renewable energy solutions is relatively low, with market penetration of solar lighting and home systems estimated at only 3%.

She says consumer literacy on renewable energy products is critical in unlocking the huge potential of renewable products in off grid rural communities.

“Lack of knowledge is a major barrier to the development of the solar market. Most potential rural customers are unaware of recent advances in solar technology, reductions in the cost of the technology, availability of financing solutions such as the pay-as you-go (PAYG) model that allows them to access technologies and products that would ordinarily be beyond their reach,” she adds.

The past distribution of poor quality products and installations have also undermined trust and reduced demand, making it very hard for businesses to establish a presence in rural areas.

However, as part of a rural solar market development effort, government, renewable energy firms and development agencies are concertedly using field days and solar fairs to encourage the use of solar energy as a way of improving livelihoods in rural areas.

Solar fairs are emerging as a key platform for awareness raising and consumer education on solar for off-grid communities and for solar distributors to create business linkages with farmers. Other methods include media campaigns and the use of trusted opinion leaders such as chiefs, head teachers and faith leaders to spread the word about the novelty of renewable energy solutions. This method has proved particularly effective in East Africa.

Nyakusenda, who is the chairman of the Renewable Energy Association of Zimbabwe, a grouping of solar distribution companies says, “Lack of knowledge about solar energy and its capabilities is one of the many barriers scuttling the development of the solar market. Through combined field day and solar fairs, we are facilitating, and giving farmers a perfect and rare opportunity to shop for and to interact with suppliers of solar products in one place thereby expose them to quality products and genuine companies.”

He says the PAYG model allows the farmers to pay a nominal deposit for a renewable product of their choice, and finish the payment in small, cheap monthly instalments.

During the fairs, young males and females have been particularly attracted to solar powered lighting, entertainment and communication gadgets while women liked solar cooking stoves and older males got attracted to water pumping systems.

Practical Action’s gender officer Tony Zibani says the use of solar technology can ease the triple burden of work on women and reduce gender-based violence in the homes as chores performed by women would be lessened by technology.

Over 60% of Zimbabwe’s population do not have access to energy and rely on solid biomass fuels such as firewood, charcoal and kerosene as their main cooking fuel – solutions that are expensive, unreliable and environmentally unsustainable.

While the demand for energy in rural areas is increasing, the provision of electricity is skewed greatly towards higher-income households and urban areas, leaving out a large proportion of the rural population.

Mazaiwana asserts that decentralized electrification solutions are the fastest, most cost-effective and sustainable approach to universal energy access, in addition to providing economic opportunities for communities.

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Leading from the Front: Zambia Launches Plant a Million Trees Initiativehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/leading-front-zambia-launches-plant-million-trees-initiative/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=leading-front-zambia-launches-plant-million-trees-initiative http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/leading-front-zambia-launches-plant-million-trees-initiative/#respond Thu, 03 May 2018 12:42:00 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155598 As global climate experts meet in Bonn this week to discuss how to take climate action forward, Zambia counts itself amongst the leaders as President Edgar Lungu officially launches the Plant a Million (PAM) trees Initiative. In fact, the initiative is even more ambitious than its name implies, and aims at planting at least two […]

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President Edgar Lungu just before planting a tree during the launch of Plant a Million Trees Initiative in Chinsali District. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

President Edgar Lungu just before planting a tree during the launch of Plant a Million Trees Initiative in Chinsali District. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

By Friday Phiri
CHINSALI, Zambia, May 3 2018 (IPS)

As global climate experts meet in Bonn this week to discuss how to take climate action forward, Zambia counts itself amongst the leaders as President Edgar Lungu officially launches the Plant a Million (PAM) trees Initiative.

In fact, the initiative is even more ambitious than its name implies, and aims at planting at least two billion trees by 2021. According to President Lungu, the initiative is in line with the country’s Seventh National Development Plan whose aim is to diversify the economy from copper dependency.

President Lungu says the initiative, which targets young people through schools, colleges and universities, will be used as a vehicle for mindset change among Zambians to begin to value the importance of planting trees as a tool for economic diversification.

“This initiative marks the beginning of growing money through trees and government stands ready to support it and ensure that it succeeds,” he said during the launch at Kapasa Makasa University in Muchinga Province, Northern Zambia.

In line with the country’s commitments to international treaties, especially the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change, President Lungu said government envisages not only creating a tree-based economy, but also mitigating climate change through the initiative.

He is particularly concerned with the country’s alarming deforestation rate of 276,021 hectares per year, making Zambia one of the most deforested countries in Africa.

“The Plant A Million initiative will significantly contribute to reducing deforestation which has earned Zambia a bad name of being one of the most deforested countries in Africa as a result of uncontrolled harvesting of trees,” he said.

The Zambian president added that he was impressed with the youth involvement model through schools, colleges and universities, saying it will help push the agenda of mindset change because “when our learners appreciate the importance of trees, it will in turn create a positive impact in families and the communities at large.”

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu planting a tree while Minister of Lands and Natural Resources looks on. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

Speaking earlier, Higher Education Minister Nkandu Luo said her Ministry would use the initiative to redefine the education system from exam-based to real-world practices.

“Over the years, the thinking in our school system has been that education is passing exams but we are redefining this thinking, so that people know that education is total transformation of a human being, and this programme is one of the ways to do it,” she said.

As one of the brains behind the initiative, Professor Luo said that Zambia was aiming to break the world record of planting the most trees, which is currently held by India. Last year, Volunteers in India planted more than 66 million trees in just 12 hours in a record-breaking environmental drive.

About 1.5 million people were involved in the huge campaign, in which saplings were placed along the Narmada river in the state of Madhya Pradesh throughout Sunday.

India committed under the Paris Agreement to increasing its forests by five million hectares before 2030 to combat climate change.

“We are aiming to beat the world record, to go above 66 million trees done by India. We aim to plant at least a billion trees by 2019, and another billion plus by 2021; and I am positive that with universities’ involvement, it is doable,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata is optimistic that the initiative will not only add value to people’s livelihoods through income from the sale of fruit and other forest products, but also contribute to the country’s ambitious mitigation targets as set in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

“As you may be aware, tree planting plays an important role in addressing impacts of climate change, and mitigating effects of climate change. In this regard, the Zambia Plant A Million initiative is also responding to national efforts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Zambia has undertaken, and is still implementing, several tree planting and preservation projects across the country. Central to such initiatives has been the goodwill of the country’s first president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who was a pioneer of tree planting during his time in office.

And according to Emmanuel Chibesakunda, PAM initiator and project manager, the initiative wants to build on this foresight and activism of the 94-year-old freedom fighter and founding father of the nation.

“I am pleased to announce this morning that Dr. Kenneth Kaunda has kindly agreed to be the goodwill ambassador for this initiative,” announced Chibesakunda amid thunderous applause from those who gathered to witness the ceremony in a district which is also home to Dr. Kaunda. “Dr. Kaunda did not only lead our country into independence, but also pioneered tree planting in Zambia.”

Chibesakunda shared his inspiration for the initiative, which he said was from his father who taught him that talent was like a seed which needed to be planted in the right soil to germinate into beautiful fruit. This led to his passion for trees, and especially the involvement of children and young people.

“My father told me that we all have talents, but what matters is where we plant them,” he told the gathering. “And my desire for this project is that we plant the knowledge in the young generation, let us put the future into their hands.”

So far, tree nurseries have been set up at 12 schools in Lusaka, and the project expects to reach 720 schools in the next two years in 60 districts across the country.

 

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Over to You, Children! Zambia’s ‘Plant a Million Trees’ Takes Roothttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/children-zambias-plant-million-trees-takes-root/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=children-zambias-plant-million-trees-takes-root http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/children-zambias-plant-million-trees-takes-root/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 00:38:06 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155418 Trees are a vital component in the ecosystem—they not only give oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give refuge to wildlife, but also provide materials for tools, shelter and ultimately, food for both animals and human beings. In fact, according to the World Bank statistics, some 1.3 billion people around the world depend on […]

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Matero East primary school students collecting water. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

By Friday Phiri
LUSAKA, Apr 24 2018 (IPS)

Trees are a vital component in the ecosystem—they not only give oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give refuge to wildlife, but also provide materials for tools, shelter and ultimately, food for both animals and human beings.

In fact, according to the World Bank statistics, some 1.3 billion people around the world depend on forests for their livelihood—that is a fifth of the global population. This includes income from the sale of trees and tree-related products. It also includes the value of fruit, fodder, medicines, and other direct or indirect products that they consume.

In monetary terms, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates the annual net benefit of restoring 150 million hectares of land at approximately 85 billion dollars per year. Additionally, it would sequester massive amounts of greenhouse gases.

However, it is globally recognised that forest restoration requires an integrated approach which appreciates and understands forests along their entire value chain. Thus, it is crucial to see forest landscape restoration efforts as much more than just protecting forests, but as a force for economic growth and poverty reduction.

It is from this background that several game-changing initiatives such as the decade-long United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s Great Green Wall, UN REDD plus strategy for carbon trading, and national governments’ annual tree planting exercises are being implemented to restore the world’s degraded landscapes and in the process transform millions of lives.

Seedlings thrive at Chunga School. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

For Zambia, the forestry sector contributes significantly to household incomes for forest dependent communities, particularly in rural areas. Nationally, according to recent data by the Integrated Land Use Assessment (ILUA) project, the forestry sector contributes 5.5% to GDP.

But for a country which boasts 44 million hectares of forests covering 58.7 percent of the total land surface area, 5.5% contribution to GDP is not good enough. And an alarming annual deforestation rate of 276,021 hectares confirms this challenge that require immediate attention.

“Growing population and economic pressure has increased demand for economic and social development, forcing people to just take from the environment instead of growing from it,” says Richard Jeffery, a conservation expert. Jeffery believes “Plant A Million” (PAM) initiative could reverse this trend as it is promoting an economic benefit model.

What is PAM?

“Plant A Million” (PAM) aims to plant at least two billion trees by 2021. According to Emmanuel Chibesakunda, PAM initiator, sponsor and project manager, the vision is to accelerate and scale up a tree-based economy for socio-economic change in Zambia and mitigate climate change impacts.

“Plant A Million is a joint public-private tree planting initiative that is promoting a tree-based economy and sustainable development through local school and community participation,” Chibesakunda told IPS. “This initiative focuses on developing the future of Zambia with the full set of skills and know how, through promoting thought leadership and innovation, social responsibility, leadership skills and helping children to connect to the world.”

Therefore, he adds, the project has taken a deliberate strategy to entrust the future in the hands of future leaders—children, thus the emphasis on public schools and community participation.

Under this strategy, he says, education and attitude change are key project outcomes:

“We want to shift away from the focus on number of trees planted as the wrong success factors. Key is how many trees survive the critical first two years, and the value they add to the community. Our focus is attitude change, and it has to start with the future leaders—children.”

Children as key players

There is a common adage in one of Zambia’s local languages, Bemba, which states: imiti ikula empanga, loosely translated as “today’s seedlings are tomorrow’s forests.” In a nutshell, the values being imparted in today’s children will determine the future world view.

Roy Lombe, an educator, believes that today’s seedlings have to be well nurtured through a practical hands-on approach. “Our generation has mishandled forests due to poor attitude, and so we don’t want to fall in the same trap,” he says. “Once they learn the value of a tree while young, they will not depart from it when they grow into adults.”

Confirming this nurture-analogy, is Maureen Chibenga, a 16-year-old Grade Eleven pupil at Lake Road PTA School.

“When the project team came to our school, I did not hesitate to be a champion, as my interest in trees dates back to my early life family values—farming,” Chibenga told IPS. “My grandfather has a farm, my father has a farm, so I saw this as an opportunity to grow my knowledge of trees and their value to humanity.”

For 15-year-old Subilo Banda, also in Grade Eleven at the same school, his motivation, he says, is to correct the wrongs of the past.

“I think our generation is open-minded. The old generation’s mistakes have taught us what we know. That’s why I think it is a very good idea to start with us in terms of mindset change,” he says, adding that there is a better possibility for his generation to embrace a ‘green’ lifestyle due to this early exposure and education.

As an incentive, the schools involved will be earning an income. Chilando Chella, Lake Road PTA School Manager, cannot wait for this exciting opportunity to make extra cash: “We have targeted to raise 50,000 seedlings this year from which we expect to earn thousands of kwacha. And we plan to plough back this money into skills training, for we know that not all of our learners will end up in the formal sector.”

So far, the project has already reached out to 12 schools with 15,000 students in Lusaka district, who are growing 500,000 tree seedlings. A further 132 schools are on standby to be included in the program within the next eight months with the target from the vice president to reach 720 schools in all 10 provinces in the next two years involving approximately one million children.

Zambian Vice President Inonge Wina (right), with Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Jean Kapata, during the launch of the 2018 tree planting exercise. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

Government buy-in

With the project announced by Republican Vice President in February 2018 during the National Tree Planting day, almost all ministries are already keyed-in. Strategic among them are the Ministries of National Development Planning (overall coordination), General Education and High Education (Schools, Colleges and Universities), and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, which holds the forestry sector portfolio.

Professor Nkandu Luo is the Minister of Higher Education. With a considered view that her ministry is the bedrock on which development is anchored, Professor Luo also believes the project is in tandem with, and supports the value system agenda that government is promoting, as espoused in the country’s constitution.

“Honesty and hard work are some of the key values that our constitution is promoting, and I think this project is timely in this regard. Teaching our young ones to learn the value of hard work, of honesty and being able to earn based on one’s input and not expecting to earn where one has not sown. So, this project will be used by the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs to push the value system agenda as advocated in our constitution.”

Meanwhile, for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the approach of not looking at plantations but individuals is very important, considering the high deforestation rate that the country is recording.

“I am not afraid to mention here, and let me put it on record, that for as long as we do not provide alternative energy solutions for our people, they will continue cutting trees,” laments Jean Kapata, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources.

“But I am happy to report that we have started looking at several alternative options one of which is the bamboo for charcoal which we believe will be a game changer if well implemented.”

According to Kapata, government is considering scaling up plantations of some fast-growing bamboo species which can be harvested starting at four years and can go on up to fifty years.

However, attitude change requires information. And Dora Siliya, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, argues for a narrative change regarding the climate change and development discourse.

“We have been looking at this climate change issue wrongly, only thinking about how to mitigate, adapt and conserve, we have not thought of what wealth and jobs can be created from this agenda…so it is time we took a different approach as communicators on how to publicise these issues for mindset change, and this ministry is taking a lead on that front.”

In terms of scale, PAM is an ambitious project that could change Zambia’s forestry landscape forever. However, with several initiatives undertaken in the past, which have seemingly not achieved the desired results, there is always room for caution.

Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen provides some guidance to the PAM initiators:

“Finland has directly and indirectly contributed to Zambia’s efforts to have sustainably managed forests, over the last 50 years of development cooperation between the two countries. However, some of the projects and programmes have not been hugely successful; it is therefore imperative for you to understand reasons why some of the initiatives of the past have not yielded much results, there are key lessons to be learnt.”

As the project awaits its official launch by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu later this month, the children already involved are keen to be key influencers.

“I wouldn’t blame charcoal makers for it is a source of livelihood for some of them, but let them learn to plant more than what they cut,” says 15-year-old Mutwiva Upeme, Grade Eleven pupil at Chunga School. “Thank you for letting us get involved—we are the future!”

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New GCF Project Signals Paradigm Shift for Water-Scarce Barbadoshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/new-gcf-project-signals-paradigm-shift-water-scarce-barbados/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-gcf-project-signals-paradigm-shift-water-scarce-barbados http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/new-gcf-project-signals-paradigm-shift-water-scarce-barbados/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 00:02:28 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155338 At the start of 2017, the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPN) warned eastern Caribbean countries that they were facing “abnormal climate conditions” and possibly another full-blown drought. 

 For Barbados, it was dire news. Previous drought conditions impacted every sphere and sector of life of this historically water-scarce country. But a new project […]

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Dr. Donneil Cain (right), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre's (CCCCC) project development specialist who worked with the BWA on the Barbados Water Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project, in discussion with Dr. Adrian Cashman from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill on the educational institutions that assisted with the project's development. Credit: Zadie Neufville

Dr. Donneil Cain (right), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre's (CCCCC) project development specialist who worked with the BWA on the Barbados Water Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project, in discussion with Dr. Adrian Cashman from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill on the educational institutions that assisted with the project's development. Credit: Zadie Neufville

By Desmond Brown
BRIDGETOWN, Apr 19 2018 (IPS)

At the start of 2017, the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPN) warned eastern Caribbean countries that they were facing “abnormal climate conditions” and possibly another full-blown drought. 



For Barbados, it was dire news. Previous drought conditions impacted every sphere and sector of life of this historically water-scarce country. But a new project promises a new water future for Barbadians by increasing the awareness of islanders to the water cycle and the likely impacts of climate change on the island’s drinking water supply.

The Water Sector Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project for Barbados (WSRN S-Barbados) is expected to build resilience in the sector by reducing the vulnerability to severe weather impacts, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce consumption, promote appropriate uses of diverse water sources and build the legislative safeguards to support climate smart development in water sector.

The project is being funded by the Green Climate Fund and is a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) with assistance from University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus (UWI-CHC), and University of South Florida (USF).

WSRN-Barbados was one of several Caribbean funding commitments announced at the GCF 19th Board meeting in Korea in February to the tune of 45.2 million dollars (including 27.6 million in GCF funds and counterpart funding of 17.6 million from the BWA).

“To quantify the impact, there will be over 190,000 persons directly benefitting from this project and over 280,000 persons indirectly benefitting,” said Dr Elon Cadogan, project manager at the BWA.

He explains that within the project, there are provisions for collaboration among academic partners like UWI-CHC and USF. The aim is to develop a sharing platform that will serve as an incubator for novel ideas that will boost efforts to combat the impact of climate change and propel the discussion on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“This project proposes to gather the relevant human resources from these institutions and form a team of scientists and engineers to drive the in-depth operational research to build capacity,” Dr Cadogan explained.

The WSRN S-Barbados project will replace 16 kilometres (about 10 miles) of existing mains to reduce leakage by 0.03 MGD per km. This is expected to result in greater availability of water, which when valued at current costs, is an avoided expense to society of 1.3 million dollars.

“Increased availability of water will reduce the instances of water outages currently being experienced by many customers,” Dr. Cadogan explained.

“Previous instances of outages have had the adverse effects of persons reporting for work late or absent from work and businesses closing. Schools have had to close due to lack of water and the potential unsanitary conditions are likely to increase health treatment costs. In addition, there have been some cancellations of tourist stays and bookings,” he continued.

Tourism is one of the backbones of Barbados’ economy. In 2014, the total contribution of tourism and travel accounted for 36.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed 37.5 percent of total employment (WTTC, 2015).

Another vital sector is agriculture. Agriculture, which in 2014 contributed 1.4 percent (value-added) of GDP and employed 2.7 percent of total employment (WDI, 2016), is essential for food and nutrition security and household income.

From the feasibility study, it was found that Barbados’ already dwindling water resources are not sufficient to meet demand in the medium to long terms. Implicit in that analysis is the demand for water by the tourism and agriculture sectors.

“This project contributes to the stability of Barbados’ macroeconomic environment, mitigates its susceptibility to inflationary pressures and external shocks and increases revenue to the government,” Dr Cadogan said.

“Barbados will benefit from foreign currency savings resulting from reduced dependence on fossil fuels due to the installation of photovoltaic panels. Barbados imported 322.7 million dollars of crude oil (2014 figures) and a significant portion is used in the production of electricity and transportation.”

The WSRN S-Barbados project will ensure that there is improved resilience to climate change and that communities have access to clean potable water.

Additional benefits include reduced leakage and the related number of disruptions, increased water available to the public, a stable price for water, increased water and food security via storage and rainwater harvesting, improved/increased resilience to storm events, and increased access to adaptation and mitigation financing (micro-adaptation and mitigation funding).

With respect to vulnerable populations as well as hospitals, polyclinics, schools and community centres, water tanks for water storage will be installed.

The project is expected to create 30 new jobs at the Belle Pumping Station, while the efforts to implement rainwater harvesting initiatives will create another 15 new jobs.

“In addition, the BWA will also ensure that Barbados plays its part to reduce the fossil fuel consumption by engaging in renewable energy solutions by the use of photovoltaic technologies. By using RE technologies, this would ensure that the Government of Barbados would have some stability with respect to tariffs and therefore be able to assist the most vulnerable on the island,” Dr Cadogan said.

“It is also envisioned that there will be (a) enhanced capacity, knowledge and climate resilience in institutions, households and communities, (b) improved knowledge on water conservation and recycling and (c) improved policy and legislative environment for climate proofing and building climate resilience,” he added.

Meanwhile, over at the CCCCC, the regional agency charged with coordinating the region’s response to climate change, project development specialist Dr. Donneil Cain, the point man on the WSRN-Barbados, is looking for the next opportunity for resilience-building in the region.

“This is why we do it,” he said. “The satisfaction comes from getting these projects up and running.”

The post New GCF Project Signals Paradigm Shift for Water-Scarce Barbados appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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DR Congo’s Mai-Ndombe Forest ‘Savaged’ As Landless Communities Strugglehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/dr-congos-mai-ndombe-forest-savaged-landless-communities-struggle/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dr-congos-mai-ndombe-forest-savaged-landless-communities-struggle http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/dr-congos-mai-ndombe-forest-savaged-landless-communities-struggle/#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 16:10:51 +0000 Issa Sikiti da Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155317 Thousands of logs loaded into makeshift boats at the port of Inongo at Lake Mai-Ndombe stand ready to be transported to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Inongo is the provincial capital of the Mai-Ndombe Province, a 13-million-hectare area located some 650 km northeast of Kinshasa. The logs have been illegally […]

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The DRC has the world’s second largest rainforest, about 135 million hectares, which is a powerful bulwark against climate change. Credit: Forest Service photo by Roni Ziade

The DRC has the world’s second largest rainforest, about 135 million hectares, which is a powerful bulwark against climate change. Credit: Forest Service photo by Roni Ziade

By Issa Sikiti da Silva
INONGO, Democratic Republic of Congo, Apr 17 2018 (IPS)

Thousands of logs loaded into makeshift boats at the port of Inongo at Lake Mai-Ndombe stand ready to be transported to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Inongo is the provincial capital of the Mai-Ndombe Province, a 13-million-hectare area located some 650 km northeast of Kinshasa. The logs have been illegally cut from the Mai-Ndombe forest, an area of 10 million hectares, which has some trees measuring between 35 and 45 meters.“Evicting the guardians of the forest risks losing the forest." --Marine Gauthier

Destined for overseas export

“We witness this kind of spectacle every day, whereby tons and tons of logs and timber find their way to the capital either via the Congo River or by road, where they will eventually be shipped overseas, or just sold to the black market,” environment activist Prosper Ngobila told IPS.

Mbo, the truck driver who brought the load, confirmed: “This stock and others that are already gone to the capital are destined for overseas export. I’m only a transporter, but I understand that the owner of this business is a very powerful man, almost untouchable.”

Thousands of logs cut from trees 20 meters in height are currently lying in the Mai-Ndombe forest waiting to be hauled off, while thousands more have been left there to rot for years, Ngobila added.

“It’s shocking to say the least,” he said.

Rich in natural resources

The forests of Mai-Ndombe (“black water” in Lingala) are rich in rare and precious woods (red wood, black wood, blue wood, tola, kambala, lifake, among others). It is also home to about 7,500 bonobos, an endangered primate and the closest cousin to humans of all species, sharing 98 percent of our genes, according to the WWF.

The forests constitute a vital platform providing livelihoods for some 73,000 indigenous individuals, mostly Batwa (Pygmies), who live here alongside the province’s 1.8 million population, many of whom with no secure land rights.

Recent studies also have revealed that the province – and indeed the forests – boasts significant reserves of diamond, oil, nickel, copper and coal, and vast quantities of uranium lying deep inside the Lake Mai-Ndombe.

Efforts to save the forests

The WWF and many environmental experts, who deplore the gradual destruction and degradation of these forests for their precious wood and for the benefit of agriculture, continue to plead and lobby for their protection.

The DRC has the world’s second largest rainforest, about 135 million hectares, which is a powerful bulwark against climate change.

In an effort to save these precious forests, the World Bank in 2016 approved DRC’s REDD+ programmes aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fight forest’s deforestation and degradation, which it would fund to the tune of 90 million dollars annually.

The projects, which are currently estimated at 20, have since transformed the Mai-Ndombe Province into a testing ground for international climate schemes. And as part of the projects, indigenous and other local people caring for the forests and depending on them for their livelihoods were supposed to be rewarded for their efforts.

Flaws and fiasco

However, Marine Gauthier, a Paris-based expert who authored a report on the sorry state of the Mai-Ndombe forest, seems to have found serious flaws in these ambitious programmes.

The report, released a few days before the International Day of Forests on March 21 by the Rights and Resources’ Initiative (RRI)), cited weak recognition of communities’ land rights, and recommended that key prerequisites should be addressed before any other REDD+ funds are invested.

In the interim, it said, REDD+ investments should be put on hold.

Gauthier, who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to stop the funding from doing more damage to the people of the forest, told IPS in the aftermath of the report’s release, “In DRC and more specifically in the Mai-Ndombe, the history of natural resources management has always been done at the expense of local communities.

“Industrial logging concessions have been granted on their traditional lands without their consent and destroyed their environment without any form of compensation, and protected areas have been established on their lands prohibiting them to access to the forest where they hunt, gather, conduct traditional rituals, hence severing them from their livelihood and culture – again, without their consent.”

Struggle for landless peasants

Under the DRC’s 2014 Forest Code, indigenous people and local communities have the legal right to own forest covering an area of up to 50,000 hectares.

Thirteen communities in the territories of Mushie and Bolobo in the Mai-Ndombe province have since asked for formal title of a total of 65,308 hectares of land, reports said, adding that only 300 hectares have been legally recognised for each community – a total of only 3,900 hectares.

Alfred Mputu, a 56-year-old small scale forest farmer who is among the people still waiting for a formal title, told IPS: “I have been working and living in this land for decades, but as long as I don’t have a formal title that gives me the right to own it, I wouldn’t say it belongs to me.

“What if the government decides to sell it to foreign companies or to some rich and powerful people? Where will we go to live?”

The consequences of these communities living in and around these forests with no secured land rights could be dire, according to experts.

Zachary Donnenfeld, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) senior researcher for African futures and innovation, told IPS: “They could have their land sold out from under them by the government, likely to a private multinational company.

“Even if they are allowed to stay on their land, the environmental degradation caused by this industry could cause a noticeable deterioration in the quality of life for people in the area.”

Pretoria-based Donnenfeld added: “My guess is that the government is more interested in selling these resources to multinationals than it in seeing it benefit the community.

“To be fair, the government could be trying to sort out competing claims among the local groups. There could have been some overlap, for example communities bidding for the best land, and the government could be deciding what’s fair based on historical use or something. That said, my guess is that communities won’t get most of this land – at least in a secured land rights sense.”

Poverty and conflicts

Gauthier pointed out that these situations create poverty and conflicts between project implementers and communities, as well as between communities.

“Instead, when communities get secured land rights and are empowered to manage their lands themselves, studies show that it is the best way to protect the forest and even more efficient than government-managed protected areas.

“REDD+ opens the door to more land-grabbing by external stakeholders appealed by carbon benefits. Local communities’ land rights should be recognised through existing legal possibilities such as local community forest concessions so that they can keep protecting the forest, hence achieving REDD+ objectives.”

Gauthier said if their land rights are not secured, they can get evicted, as has already happened elsewhere in the country, such as South Kivu in the Kahuzi Biega National Park where 6,000 pygmies were expelled.

“Evicting the guardians of the forest risks losing the forest, when enabling them to live in and protect the forest as they have always done is the best way to keep these forests standing.”

Many observers say situations such as these impact negatively on the most vulnerable – women and children – who are already bearing the brunt of a country torn apart by dictatorship, economic mismanagement, corruption and two decades of armed conflict.

Chouchouna Losale, vice-coordinator of the Coalition of Women for the Environment and Sustainable Development in the DRC, told IPS that a humanitarian crisis has ensued in the Mai-Ndombe Province after the savannahs donated to women were ‘given’ to an industrial logging company.

“There are now cases of malnutrition in the area,” Losale said.

The Coalition of Women for the Environment and Sustainable Development advocates for the recognition of rights and competence of women in general, and aboriginal women in particular, in the Congolese provinces of Mai-Ndombe and Equateur.

“I urge the government to advance the process of land reform in order to provide the country with a clear land policy protecting forest-dependent communities,” Losale said, adding that proper consultation with communities should be done to avoid conflict.

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Caribbean Eyes Untapped Potential of World’s Largest Climate Fundhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/caribbean-eyes-untapped-potential-worlds-largest-climate-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-eyes-untapped-potential-worlds-largest-climate-fund http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/caribbean-eyes-untapped-potential-worlds-largest-climate-fund/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 00:01:25 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155243 The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) also known as the 5Cs, is looking for ways to boost the region’s access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Centre is on the hunt for proposals from the private and public sector organisations around the region that want to work with the Centre to develop their […]

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Deputy Director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr. Ultic Trotz (left) in conversation with farmers at a unique agroforestry project in Belize, one of many implemented by the Centre to boost the region's resilience to the effects of climate change. Credit: Zadie Neufville

Deputy Director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr. Ultic Trotz (left) in conversation with farmers at a unique agroforestry project in Belize, one of many implemented by the Centre to boost the region's resilience to the effects of climate change. Credit: Zadie Neufville

By Zadie Neufville
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Apr 12 2018 (IPS)

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) also known as the 5Cs, is looking for ways to boost the region’s access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The Centre is on the hunt for proposals from the private and public sector organisations around the region that want to work with the Centre to develop their ideas into successful projects that are in line with their country’s national priorities to build resilience to climate change.

The 5Cs, the agency with responsibility for coordinating climate action in the Caribbean, has doubled its efforts in wake of the 2017 Hurricane Season which saw the devastation of several islands and which exacerbates the need for climate proofing critical infrastructure a building resilience.

“We welcome proposals from all areas and industries,” said, Dr. Kenrick Leslie executive director of the Centre, noting that as an accredited entity: “We are able to assist organisations to access Green Climate Fund (GCF) grants for climate adaptation and mitigation projects of up to 50 million dollars per project”.

The GCF has approved a couple hundred million in preparation funding for several countries across the region, but the 5Cs boss is particularly proud of the achievements of his tiny project development team.

On March 13, the Bahamas became the second of the four countries for which the Centre is the Delivery Partner, to launch their GCF readiness programme. In 2017, three countries – the Bahamas, Belize, and Guyana, and more recently St. Lucia – were approved for grants of 300,000 to build in-country capacities to successfully apply for and complete GCF-funded projects that align with their national priorities, while simultaneously advancing their ambitions towards becoming Direct Access Entities (DAEs).

Each ‘readiness’ project is expected to run for between 18-months and 2 years and include developing operational procedures for Governments and the private sector to engage effectively with the GCF; providing training about its processes and procedures, how to access grants, loans, equities and guarantees from the GCF; and the development of a pipeline of potential project concepts for submission to the Fund. These activities are not one-off measures, but will form part of an ongoing process to strengthen the country’s engagement with the Fund.

Guyana’s ‘readiness’ project began in October 2016 and is expected to end in April this year; while the Bahamian Ministry of Environment and Housing and the Centre’s recent hosting of a project inception workshop, marked the start of that programme. The Belize project is expected to begin next month and St Lucia’s will kick-off in May, and run for two years. The readiness projects are being funded by the GCF at a cost of approximately 300,000 dollars each.

Aside from these readiness grants, the Centre secured 694,000 dollars in project preparation facility (PPF) grants for a public-private partnership between the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Company.

The project is intended to enable Belize to utilise the indigenous plant locally known as wild cane (scientific name Arundo donax) as a sustainable alternative source of energy for electricity generation. The grant will provide the resources needed to conduct the necessary studies to ascertain viability of the plant, with the intention of facilitating large-scale commercial cultivation for energy generation purposes.

In addition, the Centre partnered with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to develop the proposal for the Water Sector Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project (WSRN S-Barbados) for which the GCF announced 45.2 million dollars in funding – some of which is in counterpart funding – at the 19th meeting of the Board in Korea in March this year.

BWA’s Elon Cadogan noted that the project would directly impact 190,000 people on an island which has been described as “one of the most water stressed” in the Caribbean. The frequency of lock-offs has been costly for the country.

“Schools have had to close due to lack of water and the potential unsanitary conditions are likely to increase health treatment costs. In addition, there have been some cancellations of tourist stays and bookings,” Dr Cadogan, who is the project management officer at the BWA said.

Because of its unique operating structure, the Centre is able to call on its many partners to speedily provide the required skills to complete the assessments required to bring a project to the submission stage for further development or full project funding. In the case of the Arundo donax project, the Centre provided several small grants and with the help of the Clinton Foundation, completed a range of studies to determine the suitability of the grass as an alternative fuel.

For the Barbados project, the 5Cs worked with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and South Florida University (SFU) and the BWA to complete the submissions on time.  With the Centre’s own GCF accreditation completed within six months, the 5Cs is turning its attention to assisting countries with their own.

Head of the Programme Development and Management Unit (PDMU) and Assistant Executive Director at the Centre Dr. Mark Bynoe said that even as the Centre continues its work in project development and as a readiness delivery partner, the focus has now shifted.

“We are now turning our attention to aiding with their GCF accreditation granting process and the completion of their National Adaptation Plans (NAPS). Each country has an allocation of 3-million-dollar grant under the GCF window for their NAP preparation,” he said.

The GCF is the centrepiece of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) efforts to raise finance to address climate change related impacts. It was created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenges posed, and opportunities presented, by climate change through a network of National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and Accredited Entities (AEs).

As a readiness delivery partner, the Centre will provide the necessary oversight, fiduciary and project management, as well as monitoring and evaluation of these ‘readiness’ projects, skills that are critical to ensuring that those projects are speedily developed and submitted for verification and approval.

Every success means the Centre’s is fulfilling its role to deliver transformational change to a region under threat by climate change.

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Pakistan Needs Global Climate Funds to Combat Shifting Weather Patternshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/pakistan-needs-global-climate-funds-combat-shifting-weather-patterns/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pakistan-needs-global-climate-funds-combat-shifting-weather-patterns http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/pakistan-needs-global-climate-funds-combat-shifting-weather-patterns/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 06:07:40 +0000 Rabiya Jaffery http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155024 As shifting weather patterns and extreme climates become the norm, access to climate funds are deemed essential for developing countries, such as Pakistan, that are facing the brunt of climate change. Based on the ADB Climate Change profile of Pakistan, a number of mitigation and adaptation measures have been taken by the government using domestic […]

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By Rabiya Jaffery
KARACHI, Pakistan, Mar 26 2018 (IPS)

As shifting weather patterns and extreme climates become the norm, access to climate funds are deemed essential for developing countries, such as Pakistan, that are facing the brunt of climate change.

Based on the ADB Climate Change profile of Pakistan, a number of mitigation and adaptation measures have been taken by the government using domestic resources.

But Pakistan is still awaiting international funding required to intensify its efforts using capacity building and technology for its National Adaptation Plan, says Fatima Fasih, Program Manager for Sustainable Development at the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB).

According to UNFCCC, climate finance is critical in addressing climate change because large-scale investments are required to adapt to changing climates, reducing emissions, and shifting to a more sustainable future.

Pakistan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) submitted to the 2015 Paris Agreement, aims to reduce up to 20% of its 2030 projected GHG emissions — using international grants for adaptation and mitigation of approximately $40 billion.

The Paris Agreement commits countries to pledge not to just keep global warming “well below two degrees Celsius”, but also to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C by 2018.

Several researches including one carried out by Daniel Mitchell and others at Oxford University states that while the difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees will be marginal in annual average temperature, it would have a significant impact on reducing the probability of destructive weather events like floods, droughts, and heat waves.

“It is very important for temperatures to remain below 1.5 degrees because natural extreme weather events are going to become the norm – especially in Pakistan and other mid-latitude countries,” says Sidra Adil, an environmental engineer and GIS analyst .

Over the past 50 years, the annual mean temperature in Pakistan has already increased by roughly 0.5 degrees.

The government expects to get international grants worth $7 billion to $14 billion every year to be able to adapt to climate change and the senate passed a policy in 2017 that called upon the creation of Pakistan Climate Change Authority to manage the proposed fund.

But not only has little has come out of it, so far, and there is no concrete indication that the Global Climate Fund will be providing the required financial resources.

“There is little or no knowledge of any such funding from the GCF (Global Climate Fund) to help in the mitigation and adaptation against climate change,” says Fasih.

According to some statistics, between 1997 and 2016, Pakistan suffered from 141 extreme weather events and lost an average of 523.1 lives per year due to climate change effects.

The super-flood in 2010 killed 1,600 people, affecting an area of 38,600 square kilometers and caused a financial loss of more than $10 billion and the heatwave in Karachi in 2015 lead to the death of more than 1,200 people.

And as average global temperatures rise, impacts across the country will vary widely from glacial melting in the North to increase in sea levels at coastal areas.

Many of these will be unpredictable and possibly volatile — “such as increase in number of extreme events, such as droughts and hurricanes,” explains Fasih.

But some of the repercussions can be predicted.

“The impacts of rising temperatures are huge as increase in glacial melt will increase in flooding around the flood banks of River Indus over the next few decades,” says Fasih.

Based on ADB’s Climate Change profile of Pakistan, the sea level is expected to rise by an additional 60 centimetres by end of the century. The melting glaciers will also lead to more freshwater converting to seawater and worsen water scarcity.

“Even a rise of 1.5 isn’t desirable but that extra 0.5 degrees will make the situation a lot more dire,” says Adil. “We don’t have enough water storage options and are well on the way to becoming a water scarce nation.”

For a country where more than 50 per cent of the population is directly or otherwise dependent on agricultural activities, the impacts of this would be detrimental.

“The [difference of] 0.5 degrees increase in temperatures means a lot for people that depend largely on the weather cycles for their business and farms – which is majority of our business sector and rural areas,” Fasih says.

The loss of freshwater supply will also lead to production of hydropower at dams, such as Mangla & Tarbela.

“Considering how big the issue of energy is to us Pakistanis, this impact will surely hit across the country,” adds Fasih.

Adil states that while no rise in temperatures is ideal – that 0.5 degree difference is trivial.

“It won’t be as bad or as intense as 2C of course,” she says. “1.5 degrees gives us the room for a trade-off to work on climate strategies.”

According to a report by Yale University, should global emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable.

“It is very important to transition to renewable energies but our emissions aren’t that high – the main problem right now is that we are on the receiving end of high emissions from other countries,” says Adil.

The Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid pointed out at the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference that– despite ranking amongst the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change– Pakistan emits less than 1% of total annual global greenhouse gases.

“Climate influences us as a whole – it is not a region concept. It is a global concept,” Adil adds.

This is an almost unanimous international agreement -that climate change is a global phenomenon and none of the countries alone can deal with the issue.

And the technology-driven transition to 100% renewable energy globally is well under way, a trend that made the 2015 Paris climate agreement possible -and there are already signs that this is paying off.

Just in the past three years, global emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have levelled after rising for decades as major polluters and other nations are starting to boost renewable energy sources.

According to Mission 2020, the installed capacity of renewable energy set a new record of 161 gigawatts in 2017; in 2015, investment levels reached $286 billion worldwide, more than 6 times that in 2004.

And over half of that investment, $156 billion, was for projects in developing and emerging economies.

“This is a sign that policies and investments in climate mitigation are starting to pay off,” says Andrew Higham, CEO of Mission2020, in a report. “But there is still a long way to go to decarbonize the world economy.”

For Pakistan, this transition to renewable energy could take at least a decade, if not more but experts states that implementation of natural climate solutions on a smaller scale is as important a step today.

“We can’t even provide electricity to 60% of our population through coal – that we have an abundance of,” says Adil. “So it is impossible for us to transition to renewable energy right away. Policies have to change and this will take 10-15 years for the very least.”

But for that to take place, the government needs to allocate the right resources, hire trained individuals, lose short-sightedness for projects that bring quick profits at the expense of sustainability, and create awareness about the triviality of the issue.

“Despite having a Ministry of Climate Change, there is very little that it has done thus far, since most of its powers and budget has been slashed by the current elected government,” says Fasih.

But that is not speaking for the entire country- the private sector may be moving in a different direction.

Fasih, who works on the private sector’s track record on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Pakistan says that a lot of efforts being made by the private sector – both by big business, as well as entrepreneurs to combat climate change in Pakistan.

Textile and agriculture based companies, for instance, that comply to standards abroad are now actively pursuing environmental stewardship, via waste reduction, ethical consumption, water conservation and reduction in emissions.

Many NGOs, such as Climate50, founded by Adil, are also working on building expert networks to work on awareness and implementation of natural climate change solutions.

But Fasih adds that it is necessary at present is to engage local communities (both urban and rural) to understand climate change, mitigate against it, and adapt natural solutions to climate using citizen and civic movements.

“Unless the government does not prioritize increasing awareness amongst the citizens, very little difference can be made by projects that require billions of dollars in funding,” adds Fasih.

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Is Desalination an Answer to the Water Crisis?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/desalination-answer-water-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=desalination-answer-water-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/desalination-answer-water-crisis/#comments Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:58:22 +0000 Doug Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154929 Doug Brown is the CEO of AquaVenture Holdings (NYSE: WAAS), a multinational provider of water purification solutions.

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

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Clean water is still a pipe dream for more than 300 million Africans. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Doug Brown
TAMPA, Florida, Mar 21 2018 (IPS)

On World Water Day, March 22, universal access to clean water continues to be a privilege, when it should be a right. Experts predict that by 2030 the global water demand will exceed supply by 40%.

Despite the fact that our oceans and seas make up more than 97% of the earth’s water resources and half the world’s population lives no further than 40 miles from the water, we’re experiencing one water crisis after another. Adding to that frustration is the fact that solutions exist today which could ameliorate our water issues.

From the water shortage in Cape Town, South Africa — where the current supply is less than 90 days — to the well-documented issues in Flint, Michigan — where an outdated water delivery system delivered lead-tainted water to the city’s population — it is clear that steps must be taken to ensure an ongoing supply of clean water not only to drink, but to maintain the fabric of our society.

We rely on clean water to produce food, electricity, cars, clothing and myriad other things that are difficult to live without. In fact, even if you exclude irrigation, less than five percent of purified water is used for consumption; most of the supply is used for washing, flushing and manufacturing.

For centuries, people prayed for rain and collected it but that alone is no longer an option. There simply isn’t enough. What’s more, rain is unpredictable; it may or may not come. But with a limitless supply of water in the ocean, there is a viable option: desalination.

Back in the 1700’s ocean going ships had their own desalination plants in order for them to have a continuous fresh water supply while at sea. In the early days, seawater was boiled and then condensed. The condensate had little to no salt and the remaining brine was then disposed.

In the 1960’s technical advances in reverse osmosis made this form of water purification more widely available. Today, more than 18,000 desalination plants operate in over 150 countries, and the process requires 80 percent less energy than it did 20 years ago.

According to the International Water Association, the energy required to produce a year’s worth of fresh water from sea water for one household is less than that consumed by the family’s refrigerator.

We must also look at delivery systems. As was evidenced in Flint, much of our underground piping systems are in disrepair and can produce contamination from lead and other toxins. , Disinfectants are used to control biological growth but they can pose an increased risk of cancer and create bad tasting water.

While conventional wisdom would say we need to fix the crumbling infrastructure, there is another option: point-of-use (POU) purification. Since typically only 5% of the water in a distribution system is actually used for drinking water, it is far more efficient to use POU filtration to purify that water at the point it is being consumed.

Additionally, POU filtration is much more environmentally friendly than delivering purified water – from the plastics used in 5-gallon jugs to the greenhouse gasses emitted by the delivery trucks — point of use eliminates those issues and purifies only what is needed, when it is needed.

Finally, we must still stress conservation and using existing water supplies more thoughtfully and efficiently. However, conservation and reuse alone will not avoid water crises around the world. Desalination and point of use systems must supplement conservation.

With the technology available to us today, there shouldn’t ever be a water shortage, particularly when private industry can work in partnership with local, state and federal governments to help supply clean drinking water.

As an example, the mining industry is a key economic driver in South America and it is heavily reliant on clean water to operate its mines. Population and industrial growth have put major strains on the natural supply of clean water, leading to a scarcity that has pitted industry, government and citizenry against each other.

In one example in Chile, rather than putting more pressure on the already limited supply, the Caserones mining company opted to not only supply desalinated seawater to its mine but also provide desalinated drinking water to the local population in Caldera thereby creating a crucial resource for the community.

As a society – our objective should be that every human has access to clean drinking water. It is no longer sustainable – from an environmental, social or civic perspective – for private industry to rely solely on municipalities for their water needs.

The diversification of our water supplies is required to bring the unlimited water in our oceans and seas to our tables and businesses, and guarantee fresh water for all.

The post Is Desalination an Answer to the Water Crisis? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Doug Brown is the CEO of AquaVenture Holdings (NYSE: WAAS), a multinational provider of water purification solutions.

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

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We Must Take Care of Nature, Because Without Rain There Is No Fresh Waterhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/must-take-care-nature-without-rain-no-fresh-water/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=must-take-care-nature-without-rain-no-fresh-water http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/must-take-care-nature-without-rain-no-fresh-water/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:02:37 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154931 This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on Mar. 22.

The post We Must Take Care of Nature, Because Without Rain There Is No Fresh Water appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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"Waters of the Planet," an installation of the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, exhibited in the Citizen’s Village at the 8th Water Forum, held in the capital of Brazil, is a large cube with satellite photos showing the Earth’s seas, rivers and lakes from space. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

"Waters of the Planet," an installation of the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, exhibited in the Citizen’s Village at the 8th Water Forum, held in the capital of Brazil, is a large cube with satellite photos showing the Earth’s seas, rivers and lakes from space. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

By Mario Osava
BRASILIA, Mar 21 2018 (IPS)

Confidence in large rivers and giant aquifers plummeted in many parts of the world, in the face of the expansion of water crises after intense and prolonged droughts in the last decade.

Water resources in the soil and subsoil do not hold up if the dry season lasts longer than usual for several years, as seen in several parts of Brazil and in other countries such as India, South Africa and Australia.

Brasilia, which hosts the 8th World Water Forum on Mar. 18-23, is a prime example, because no one could have imagined that the Brazilian capital, nicknamed the “birthplace of the waters” for its three large basins, would have to endure water rationing since early 2017.

“High levels of population growth, scarce investment in infrastructure and three years of below-average rainfall caused a water crisis,” said the governor of the Federal District, Rodrigo Rollemberg, at the official opening of the Forum, on Mar. 19, before highlighting works carried out by his government to ensure supply in the near future.

“Rain is the source of fresh water, sometimes moisture in the air is overlooked, because it’s not visible to the eye,” said Gerard Moss, a pilot who from 2007 to 2015 conducted the Flying Rivers project, which studied the air currents that carry water vapour through the Amazon basin.

“It is essential to maintain the rains and forests are indispensable in this sense, helping the moisture from the ocean to reach the interior of the continent. The ocean water would not travel 2,500 or 3,000 km to produce the rains that allow estate owners in Mato Grosso (in east-central Brazil) to produce two or three harvests a year,” he told IPS.

Moss’s research, which identified “flying rivers” in the Amazon rainforest that supplied several cities in Brazil, was discontinued, but it serves as a tool for the environmental education of children and adults, promoted by his wife Margi Moss, an initiative that will be moved to Europe.

Knowledge of the phenomenon of humid air currents that carry water to the rainforest provides a further argument to the theme adopted by UN-Water this year for World Water Day, which is celebrated on Mar. 22: “Nature for Water”.

UN-Water says nature-based solutions are the answer to many problems related to water, such as droughts and floods that are alternating with increasing frequency around the world, and to pollution.

The 8th World Water Forum began on Monday, Mar. 19, in the Ulysses Guimarães Convention Centre in the capital of Brazil. Credit: EBC

The 8th World Water Forum began on Monday, Mar. 19, in the Ulysses Guimarães Convention Centre in the capital of Brazil. Credit: EBC

Reforesting and conserving forests, restoring wetlands and reconnecting rivers with floodplains are some of its recommendations.

It’s about “not reinventing the wheel to deal with extreme weather events,” Glauco Kimura, a World Water Forum consultant, said regarding the campaign. “There is natural infrastructure, such as mangroves and other ecosystems, that help curb the impacts of hurricanes and excess rainfall,” he told IPS.

“Without forests around the springs and aquifers, there is less water, as discovered by São Paulo,” which was hit by severe shortages in 2014 and 2015, Kimura said.

To coexist with drought, the consultant recommended learning from the inhabitants of Brazil’s semi-arid Northeast, who have built tanks to collect and store rainwater to get them through the dry season. “In central and southern Brazil that culture does not exist,” he lamented.

During the drought that has lasted since 2012 in the Northeast, there has been no massive exodus of desperate people to cities to the south, where they even looted shops during earlier, less severe, droughts.

This is largely due to social programmes such as Bolsa Familia and pensions for workers and disabled people, but also to the more than one million water tanks built mainly by the Articulação no Semi-Árido Brasileiro (roughly, Networking in Brazil’s Semiarid Region – ASA), a movement of some 3,000 social organisations working on behalf of rural families vulnerable to drought.

Another example of nature-based solutions is the Cultivating Good Water Programme, promoted by Itaipú Binacional, the company that operates the second largest hydroelectric plant in the world (in terms of installed capacity), shared by Brazil and Paraguay on the Paraná River.

Some 23 million trees were planted, restoring 1,322 km of riverbank forests, and 30,000 hectares of land received protection, on the Brazilian side, said Newton Kaminski, director of coordination in Itaipu.

Protests against the governor of the Federal District, Rodrigo Rollemberg, accused of being responsible for water rationing in Brasilia. The water crisis broke out after he took office in 2014, but it was an inherited problem, which now resonates in the 8th World Water Forum, held Mar. 18-23 in the capital of Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Protests against the governor of the Federal District, Rodrigo Rollemberg, accused of being responsible for water rationing in Brasilia. The water crisis broke out after he took office in 2014, but it was an inherited problem, which now resonates in the 8th World Water Forum, held Mar. 18-23 in the capital of Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

“The key was the river basin management, with integrated actions on all fronts, not just restoration of water sources and groundwater recharge areas. Reforestation without conservation of the soil does not bring about major results. Also necessary are social participation, education, and agriculture that does not deteriorate the soil,” Kaminsky told IPS.

The president of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, stressed in his speech before nine other government leaders participating in the opening of the World Water Forum that learning to “live in symbiotic harmony with nature” was fundamental to overcoming the hunger and thirst suffered by his people in recent years because of drought.

“Preserving nature and making rational use of the resources that it provides us, changing the relation of human beings with nature,” is the lesson learned from this experience, he said. “We broke the dry season-hunger tandem,” he said.

Sea water desalination and rainwater collection contributed to the improvement of the water situation, and the goal is to ensure 90 liters per person per day, below the 110 liters recommended by the United Nations.

Reforesting and conserving recharge areas and combating the degradation of soil due to change in use are the recommendations of Fabiola Tábora, executive secretary of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in Central America.

Droughts in Central America have a worse impact along the Pacific west coast, which concentrates 70 percent of the sub-region’s population and is known as “the dry corridor”. That hurts food security and hydropower generation, which accounts for half of the national energy supply, she told IPS.

Another positive experience was the recovery of the La Poza micro-basin, in the southwest of El Salvador, involving broad community participation in integrated management, Tábora mentioned.

In Costa Rica and Guatemala, she highlighted the work with private companies and the government to generate environmental funds, which are invested in the management and conservation of watersheds.

These were cited as solutions in response to numerous references to world tragedies during the initial sessions of the 8th World Water Forum: nearly 700 million people without access to water in the world, two billion people drinking contaminated water, 3.5 billion without sanitation, a thousand children dying a day because of poor water quality and projections that the situation will worsen in the future.

The government leaders that were present followed the World Water Forum theme “Sharing Water”,by making continuous calls for cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experiences, since 40 percent of the world’s population depends on transboundary waters.

The post We Must Take Care of Nature, Because Without Rain There Is No Fresh Water appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on Mar. 22.

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Restoring U.S. Aid Crucial to Avoid a Water Catastrophe in Gazahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/restoring-u-s-aid-crucial-avoid-water-catastrophe-gaza/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=restoring-u-s-aid-crucial-avoid-water-catastrophe-gaza http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/restoring-u-s-aid-crucial-avoid-water-catastrophe-gaza/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 09:45:32 +0000 Matthias Schmale http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154927 Matthias Schmale is Director of Operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

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Drinking water in Gaza is causing a rising number of its residents to fall ill and the UN says scarcity and pollution of water resources are at the forefront of the territory's scourges.

By Matthias Schmale
GAZA CITY, Mar 21 2018 (IPS)

World Water Day (March 22) could not come at a more critical time for the people of Gaza who are facing a humanitarian catastrophe The recent decision by the United States to reduce funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), jeopardizes its role as a critical source of clean drinking water when Gaza’s supplies slow to a drip.

An estimated 1.2 million Gaza residents have no access to running water. For those who do, up to 97 percent of the water they receive is too polluted with salt and sewage to drink. The salt comes from seawater, which penetrates Gaza’s only aquifer when the water table drops too low. Palestinians in Gaza consume on average fewer liters per person per day than the World Health Organization recommends, and less than a quarter of the average per capita consumption in Israel.

Nevertheless, the combination of rapid population growth and regional climate change extracts 200 million cubic feet of freshwater each year from an aquifer that receives only 60 million cubic feet of diminishing rainfall annually.

As the water level steadily drops, more seawater seeps in, increasing the aquifer’s salinity. Only around 22 percent of wells in Gaza produce water with acceptable salt concentrations. The rest are anywhere from two to eight times saltier than global standards, with some wells exceeding the official standard for “brackish.” The high salinity puts Gazans in jeopardy of kidney stones and urinary tract problems.

But high salinity is not the worst of Gaza’s water problems. Years of conflict have damaged or destroyed much of its critical water and sanitation facilities—including wells, pumps, desalinization plants and sewage treatment plants.

The crippled infrastructure that survives can only be used the few hours a day Gaza receives electrical service. A newly completed World Bank wastewater treatment plant in Beit Lahia, for example, sits idle much of the time because Gaza doesn’t have enough electricity to run it.

Without adequate facilities, untreated sewage backflows onto Gaza’s streets, and the equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools—more than 100 million liters—discharges into the Mediterranean Sea every day.

The raw sewage contaminates 75 percent of Gaza’s beaches and washes ashore in adjacent Israeli coastal cities, elevating the risk that waterborne diseases like cholera or typhoid could trigger an epidemic.

For 70 years, UNRWA has been fulfilling its mandate delivered by the UN General Assembly, including the United States, to provide humanitarian assistance, food, health care, and education and emergency assistance to Palestine refugees registered with us.

When Gaza’s water situation grows dire, UNRWA provides clean water as emergency assistance in the best interests of its beneficiaries in Gaza. During the 2014 conflict, when hostilities destroyed critical facilities, and the flow of water to much of Gaza slowed to a trickle, UNRWA was there, trucking water twice a day to more than 90 UNRWA schools, where nearly 300,000 Palestinians sought shelter until the violence subdued.

When Palestinians in Gaza struggle to access clean water, sanitation suffers and every child in Gaza is put at risk of contracting waterborne diseases. Last summer, the incidence of diarrhea in children under three doubled.

UNRWA responded by teaming with humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps on a project to provide the 30,000 refugees in the Maghazi camp—which experienced some of the highest incidences of diarrhea—with at least three liters of potable water per day.

When, despite these efforts, poor sanitation triggers an outbreak of waterborne, communicable disease, UNRWA is there as well, employing over 1,000 individuals at 22 medical clinics in Gaza, caring for the sick and facilitating more than four million patient visits each year.

The long-term solution to Gaza’s water crisis is a robust sewer and drainage system and restored water treatment facilities. But efforts to rebuild water facilities are limited because up to 70 percent of the materials required raise alleged “dual use” security concerns by Israel authorities and are either rejected or delayed from entering Gaza.

Since 2014, only 16 percent of the nearly 3,000 items requested to rebuild Gaza’s water infrastructure have been approved for entry into Gaza. Until Gaza’s infrastructure is rebuilt, the area remains in constant crisis as demand for water increases, conditions worsen and functional infrastructure deteriorates.

Yet, in January, the United States—UNRWA’s single largest and generous supporter for more than six decades—unexpectedly reduced its annual contribution by 83 percent (from $360 million to $60 million).

UNRWA has a humanitarian mandate that is beyond politics and UNRWA implements this mandate in accordance with the four humanitarian principles adopted by the UN General Assembly.

We function based on the mandate affirmed by the UN General Assembly, which has consistently renewed our charge since UNRWA was created, confirming the need for UNRWA to continue providing assistance pending a just and lasting resolution to the question of Palestine refugees.

Humanitarian funding should be preserved from political considerations and remain consistent with universal principles of humanitarian assistance—humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence.

The U.S. funding reduction also jeopardizes UNRWA’s operations, including our life-saving provision of emergency water to Palestine refugees, our critical sanitation programs and the international community’s long-term efforts to rebuild Gaza’s water treatment infrastructure.

When you are without it, water is more valuable than gold, even the limited amounts UNRWA provides during an emergency. Without UNRWA acting as an essential back-stop, Gaza’s ongoing water crisis could quickly devolve into a dramatic humanitarian catastrophe, affecting regional stability and undermining efforts to establish a lasting peace.

The U.S. should reconsider its reduction of funding. It is in the interests of Gaza’s neighbors and would restore some hope for a life of greater dignity for many of the civilians living in Gaza.

The post Restoring U.S. Aid Crucial to Avoid a Water Catastrophe in Gaza appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Matthias Schmale is Director of Operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post Restoring U.S. Aid Crucial to Avoid a Water Catastrophe in Gaza appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Why You Should Care About the Water Crisishttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/care-water-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=care-water-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/care-water-crisis/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:19:12 +0000 Tim Wainwright http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154924 Tim Wainwright is Chief executive, WaterAid, UK

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post Why You Should Care About the Water Crisis appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Malika pours water in front of her home in Tillabéri region, Niger. Niger is among the countries with lowest rates of access to clean water close to home. Credit: WaterAid/Aisha Augie-Kuta

By Tim Wainwright
LONDON, Mar 21 2018 (IPS)

For the past weeks, many have been anxiously tracking the approach of Cape Town’s Day Zero: the day its taps will run dry. To everyone’s relief, current predictions are that careful conservation may stave off such a catastrophe in the coastal South African city until the rains arrive.

It is not nearly often enough that a water crisis makes headlines around the world. The Mozambican capital of Maputo, home to nearly 1.2 million people, is facing a severe drought and water shortage that, despite the urgency, has received little attention.

A new WaterAid report, The Water Gap: The State of the World’s Water 2018, reveals that more than 60 percent of the world’s population lives in areas where the water supply does not, or will not, consistently meet demand. There are 844 million people struggling to access what everyone needs most to live: water.

Uganda, Niger, Mozambique, India and Pakistan are among the countries where the highest percentages or largest numbers of people cannot get clean water within a half hour trip. This means millions of people with long walks for water, which is often dirty and likely to make them ill.

Those without power are the worst affected

The report also shows disturbing new data on the often-sizeable gap between rich and poor when it comes to access to water, demonstrating that even those countries making progress are leaving the poorest behind. The least powerful, such as those who are older, ill, or disabled, are most affected because they may be more susceptible to illness and infections from the use of dirty water, with potential fatal consequences.

In Mali and Niger, land-locked nations exposed to drought and flooding in the barren lands of the Sahel, the gap in access to water between rich and poor is vast. In Niger, ranked second least-developed nation in the world in 2016 by the UN, 72% of the wealthiest people have access to water, compared to only 41% of the poorest. While neighbouring Mali made significant progress and secured access for 93% of the rich, only less than half of the country’s poorest can say the same.

This inequality impacts women and girls more, because they bear the brunt of water fetching responsibilities. Think about this: the UN-recommended amount of water per person per day is 50 litres. If it takes 30 minutes round-trip to collect water from the nearest water source, that is two and a half months a year to collect the minimum amount for a family of four – 75,000 litres. That is a lot of time during which young girls should study, and when adult women might be able to care for families or earn an income.

Only 12 years left to fulfil our promise

First and foremost, political will and financing are critical in addressing the water crisis. This year, there is an opportunity to change that.

Nearly three years ago, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and thus made a promise to end extreme poverty. This summer, world leaders will convene at the UN to review the progress made on Global Goal 6; to deliver water and decent toilets to everyone, everywhere by 2030.

In this, however, the world is dramatically far behind. At the current pace, global access to clean water will happen only by 2066 and global access to decent toilets not until the next century. Meanwhile, nearly 300,000 children under five continue to die every year because of diarrhoea linked to dirty water, poor toilets and poor hygiene.

If we don’t achieve the water goal, other Global Goals for progress in education, nutrition, health, equality and stability will most certainly fail too. Ending extreme poverty is impossible without universal access to clean water and decent toilets.

India has shown us that swift progress is possible. Since 2000, India has reached over 300 million people with clean water close to home; that is nearly the entire population of the United States.

But to make this kind of progress requires focus and political prioritisation – it does not happen by accident. So as world leaders prepare to meet later this year it is an absolute priority that they move to provide water, sanitation and hygiene to everyone, everywhere by 2030, regardless of social or economic standing.

The post Why You Should Care About the Water Crisis appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Tim Wainwright is Chief executive, WaterAid, UK

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post Why You Should Care About the Water Crisis appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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High and Dry: Can We Fix the World’s Water Crisis?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/high-dry-can-fix-worlds-water-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=high-dry-can-fix-worlds-water-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/high-dry-can-fix-worlds-water-crisis/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 23:01:41 +0000 Mxolisi Ncube http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154913 This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post High and Dry: Can We Fix the World’s Water Crisis? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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While Cape Town may be in the spotlight, more and more urban centres, especially in Africa, are facing or on the brink of a similar crisis. Credit: Bigstock

While Cape Town may be in the spotlight, more and more urban centres, especially in Africa, are facing or on the brink of a similar crisis. Credit: Bigstock

By Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG, Mar 20 2018 (IPS)

April 12 is expected to be the infamous “Day Zero” in South Africa’s second largest city of Cape Town, a tourist hub which attracts millions of visitors every year.

Just last year, the city reported a record-breaking increase in its tourist arrivals, with a slew of attractions that include Table Mountain Cableway, Robben Island and Cape Point — overall, about 28 percent more visitors than the previous year. Tourism provides more than 300,000 jobs in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, but they could soon be under threat as a water crisis threatens to put paid the city’s booming service industry.“In some places there is too little water, in some there is too much, and almost everywhere the water is dirtier than we would want. " --Jens Berggren of SIWI

Among a slew of new rules as taps began to close, residents are now being forced to limit their water use to as little as 50 liters a day — in other words, bathe for a few seconds and flush the toilets once a day — or face stiff penalties

Patricia de Lille, the mayor of South Africa’s troubled “Mother City”, recently warned that the time to beg residents to save water had elapsed, meaning the city would now force residents to comply. Businesses, including hotels, are also not being spared the stringent water rationing measures.

Sisa Ntshona, head of South Africa’s tourism marketing arm, recently told the press that although tourists were still welcome in Cape Town, they were expected to save water “like locals” due to the fast-drying of the city’s water sources, which stood at 19 percent of their total capacity last week, following months of droughts.

City experts warn that without a substantive amount of rain within the next few months, Cape Town could run out of water by July 9.

That would grossly affect South Africa’s economic prospects. Tourism contributes more than 3 billion dollars to the Western Cape’s coffers every year, according to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.

Population growth, drought and climate change are among the key causes of the water crisis, according to a report from Groundup, a joint project of Community Media Trust and the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Social Science Research, who state that since 1995 the city’s population has grown 79 percent, from about 2.4 million to an expected 4.3 million in 2018. Over the same period dam storage has increased by only 15 percent.

The Berg River Dam, which began storing water in 2007, has been Cape Town’s only significant addition to water storage infrastructure since 1995. Its 130,000 megalitre capacity is over 14 percent of the 898,000 megalitres that can be held in Cape Town’s large dams. Had it not been for good water consumption management by the City, the current crisis could have hit much earlier, adds the organisation.

Cape Town is in the middle of a drought, with decreased rainfall during the past two years for Theewaterskloof, the dam supplying more than half our water, adds the report.

While Cape Town may be in the global spotlight at the moment, the water crisis is not limited to the South African city, as more and more urban centres, especially in Africa, are facing or on the brink of a similar crisis.

The African non-governmental organization, the Water Project, estimates that at any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to clean water. The number rises to about 80 percent in developing countries.

Beyond natural causes and consumption levels, experts say that water waste, poor water conservation policies and lack of political goodwill are some of the main reasons behind the water crisis afflicting most major cities.

South Africa, for example, is losing 37 percent of its water supply through leaks across its many cities, according to a 2017 GreenCape market intelligence report.

“The main cause of water crises in urban centres, and in almost every place, is poor water management,” Steven Downey, Global Water Partnership Head of Communications, told IPS.

“Sure, droughts are bad, but they are not impossible to deal with. It takes a combination of planning, prevention, and mitigation, not waiting until the crisis actually happens. Global Water Partnership calls for action in three areas: participation (involve stakeholders in decision-making), integration (taking into account all sectors), and finance (provide money for infrastructure and for good governance of the resource),” he said.

Jens Berggren, the Director of Communications for the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), notes that there are several different types of water crises in urban centres across the world and in Africa.

“In some places there is too little water, in some there is too much and almost everywhere the water is dirtier than we would want. With so many different types of water challenges it is impossible pinpoint the main cause,” says Berggren, who also notes that mismanagement is one of the causes.

“On a very general level, the cause is that water is not being sufficiently well managed. In some places there is a lack of appropriate infrastructure, for example dams, treatment plants, boreholes, rainwater harvesting systems, pumps and pipes. In other places there is a lack of policies and/or of their enforcement resulting in poor service delivery, inefficient use, pollution, bad planning and/or implementation of projects. In many places, there is a lack of both governance and infrastructure.”

There is also increasing water variability, especially in the transition areas between wetter and dryer climate zones (very roughly around 10 degrees and 30 degrees north and south of the equator), adds Berggren.

There is also an increase in both the frequency and the intensity of extreme water and weather events, like downpours and droughts, increasing the need for both governance and infrastructure, while great inequality within urban areas in Africa and elsewhere — where some citizens are well served with and protected from water while others are struggling to get by on small and variable amounts of unsafe drinking water and get unsanitary floods when it rains — are also some of the causes.

Ways of alleviating the problem depend a lot on the local situation.

“Generally, improvements in governance and infrastructure need to go hand in hand, one without the other doesn’t work. The scope and size of the challenge also varies a lot,” Berggren said.

“In places with very unequal water situations, some citizens must be incentivized to reduce their water use while others are encouraged to increase theirs (in order to stay healthy),” adds the SIWI official, who says in some places supply and demand doesn’t match up over the year, for example during short but intense rainy seasons. That means different methods and techniques exist for storing water.

Where current demands exceed supplies, the possibilities for managing demand may include tiered pricing and expanding supply- transferring water from other basins, looking for new sources like ground- or rainwater, or treating “wastewater” for reuse. In view of the rising water variability, good water management will increasingly be about planning for the unexpected.

“There is a lot to be learned but also a lot to be taught. Experiences and knowledge from urban water management in Africa seems increasingly sought after. For example, water reuse was pioneered in Windhoek, Namibia, and there is a huge interest in how Cape Town has managed the current drought but also in how they managed to reduce the water intensity – per capita as well as per economic activity, of the city before that,” says Breggren.

“Once again, it is impossible to generalize, but a lesson that I think and hope is dawning on the western and northern parts of the world is that there has been overreliance on and overconfidence in infrastructure made of concrete and metal. Working with nature, e.g. avoiding floods by having spongy surfaces in and around cities, using so called green infrastructure or nature-based solutions is becoming more important. The key here is of course to know when to use what how and having governance structures (institutions, laws, guidelines, etc.) that allows and supports both kinds of infrastructure. I am sure that this is an area where African cities could both learn and lead the way.”

While Cape Town’s water problems have attracted international headlines, South Africa’s northern neighbor, Zimbabwe, has silently lived with a serious water crisis for more than two decades. Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, has for close to two decades struggled with water  purification problems that resulted in a serious outbreak of typhoid fever a few years ago.

The country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, is forced to ration its water supply almost every year, due to siltation in its supply dams, all located in the drought-stricken southern parts of the country.

A recent BBC report warned that 11 other cities in the world, which include Sao Paulo (Brazil), Cairo (Egypt) and Beijing China, could be headed to equally stormy waters. It would therefore, be fundamental for the city authorities to heed the advice from experts.

The post High and Dry: Can We Fix the World’s Water Crisis? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post High and Dry: Can We Fix the World’s Water Crisis? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Balancing Green & Grey this World Water Dayhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/balancing-green-grey-world-water-day/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=balancing-green-grey-world-water-day http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/balancing-green-grey-world-water-day/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 21:10:07 +0000 Torgny Holmgren http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154910 Torgny Holmgren is Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

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Credit: Bigstock

Credit: Bigstock

By Torgny Holmgren
STOCKHOLM, Mar 20 2018 (IPS)

Going into World Water Day, I have an ambivalent feeling. This year’s theme The Answer is in Nature can sound almost like mockery considering how badly parts of the world have been hit in recent years due to water-related natural disasters, be it floods, storms or droughts.

The relationship between humans and the rest of nature is not always easy. We have entered the Anthropocene – an era in which our species has emerged as a major force of nature. This is particularly visible in relation to water, where human interventions occur throughout the hydrological cycle: Change in land use alters evaporation which in turn can change atmospheric movements of moisture and cause droughts or floods in distant river basins.

Once on the ground, the fate of rainwater is largely determined by human activities, culture and infrastructure. Who gets how much water, and of what quality, often depends as much on human laws as it depends on the laws of nature.

And now we are supposed to look back at nature for answers? It might seem contradictory, but there are two things to keep in mind. The first is that, in this era of ‘alternative truths’, nature is a fact. It doesn’t budge, scare or care. The second thing to remember is that nature’s solutions are tried and tested over thousands of years.

Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) - BalancingGreen & Grey this World Water Day

Torgny Holmgren

The smart thing is to work with nature and learn as much as we can from it.  One important step in that direction is to guide the so called ‘human nature’ to align with the rest of nature. This is a matter of water governance, balancing our demands and activities against what nature can sustainably provide and withstand.

We cannot, for example, influence the frequency of hurricanes in the short term, but by restoring or retaining spongy surfaces in and around cities we can decrease the risk of storms resulting in flooding.

Green spaces in a city can also help to capture rain and allow infiltration. Paving over the saw-grass prairie around Houston reduced the city’s ability to absorb the water that hurricane Harvey brought in August 2017.

In Singapore, green spaces have become a vital tool for capturing rainfall. Ranked as one of the most water-stressed countries in the world 2015, the city-state is turning into a poster town for urban water management, partly because of its decision to invest in expanding urban greenery.

A wonderful thing about these green infrastructure solutions is that they are inherently multi-functional. City parks capture rain, but they also boost quality of life, improve the city’s microclimate and often look good doing so.

Another great feature is that green infrastructure solutions are often much more resilient. They tend to bend under pressure, rather than break, and they can repair themselves and restore their functionality even after significant damage.

The smart thing is to work with nature and learn as much as we can from it. One important step in that direction is to guide the so called ‘human nature’ to align with the rest of nature. This is a matter of water governance, balancing our demands and activities against what nature can sustainably provide and withstand.

Around the world, we have long acted under the assumption that grey infrastructure, purpose-built by humans, is superior to what nature itself can bring us in the form of mangroves, marshes and meadows. To some extent and under certain circumstances it may well be.

Grey infrastructure in the form of dams, levees, pipes and canals, are very efficient at fulfilling a single purpose, such as transporting water. Storing water in liquid form against the pull of gravity high up in a catchment for power production isn’t what nature does best.

Although trees have an incredible system for extracting soil moisture from the ground and lifting it – sometimes a hundred meters up-  pumps and pipes are unmatched when it comes to supplying residents of the top floors of high-rises with water.

The point is that it isn’t a question of either/or. We need both green or grey, and we need to be wise in choosing what serves our current and potential future set of purposes best. To make sure that this deliberation takes place, we need governance systems that help us by posing the right questions and by incentivizing behaviours that align individual desires with societal good.

In addition to the current governance systems, increasing water variability with more frequent and intense extreme water events requires us to plan more for the unexpected. It may become necessary to have parallel water governance strategies: one that guides us in times when water availability is close to the historical normal and one that helps us get through times that are abnormally wet or dry.

Water management in the Anthropocene will require smart combinations of green and grey infrastructure. Technology and infrastructure to manage water is desperately neededto enablehuman and economic growth and development. It is needed to service people and businesses with the right amount of water at the right time and of the right quality.

But inorganic infrastructure solutions are often inflexible making them less suitable in changing environments and increasingly uncertain times. Nature and ecosystems can offer softer, more malleable solutions.

Biotechnology offers an illustrating example of working with nature: by creating suitable conditions for the kind of microorganisms that carry out functions that we are after, we can make water treatment more efficient and transform a pollution problem into valuable resources. Finding the right physical structures that match the microbes demands, and the desired difference in quality between incoming and outgoing water requires knowledge, skills and patience.

Here lies the crux of the matter. The wonderful diversity in ecosystems, in political preferences, and in the way water varies within and between years, makes it impossible to pinpoint a singleright balance between grey and green.

Managing water will always be as much about politics as it is about physics.If we can manage it, the payback will come in the form of reliable, rich and resilient lives and livelihoods for all of us.

The post Balancing Green & Grey this World Water Day appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Torgny Holmgren is Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post Balancing Green & Grey this World Water Day appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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How Nature Can Quench Our Thirst & Bring Water Back to Our Ecosystemshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/nature-can-quench-thirst-bring-water-back-ecosystems/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nature-can-quench-thirst-bring-water-back-ecosystems http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/nature-can-quench-thirst-bring-water-back-ecosystems/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:16:34 +0000 Yeonju Jeong http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154908 Yeonju Jeong is UN Environment freshwater expert

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

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How Nature Can Quench Our Thirst & Bring Water Back to Our Ecosystems - Readily accessible freshwater – which is found in rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers – accounts for less than one per cent of the world’s water supply

Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, Chile - Photo credit: Santiago Antonio Castro (Flickr)

By Yeonju Jeong
NAIROBI, Mar 20 2018 (IPS)

Freshwater makes up only 2.5% of all water we have on earth. Readily accessible freshwater – which is found in rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers – accounts for less than one per cent of the world’s water supply. It is vital for the existence of nearly every species on earth.

We use it for drinking, bathing, growing our food and sustaining our livestock, and to keep our industries running. Yet when we turn on our taps or take a hot shower, most of us don’t realize just how precious the water that comes out truly is.

We are seeing global water supply dwindle to critical lows. Today, around 1.9 billion people live in severely water-scarce areas. By 2050, this could increase to around 3 billion people.

Some of the world’s biggest cities, like Sao Paolo, Jakarta and Mexico City are facing water challenges. In Cape Town, threatened freshwater supplies could force the government to shut down the water supply, leaving citizens to collect water at ration points.

Some of the world’s biggest cities, like Sao Paolo, Jakarta and Mexico City are facing water challenges.  In Cape Town, threatened freshwater supplies could force the government to shut down the water supply, leaving citizens to collect water at ration points.

We simply cannot afford to be careless with this vital resource. So how did we get here? And more importantly, how can we get back to a stable water situation?

As global population grows, freshwater supplies are threatened by industrial development, demand for more agricultural and meat production, pollution and climate change. Consecutive years of drought have reduced water reservoirs to critical lows, sparking water emergencies. Now, water scientists are looking to nature for the answer.

 

Forests need water, water needs forests

Liquiñe, a rural town in the Los Ríos region of Chile, had a once lush, natural environment with abundant vegetation and fast flowing rivers. A combination of climate change and deforestation depleted the region’s natural watercourses.

But when Chile’s National Forest Corporation (CONAF) intervened with the support of the UN-REDD programme, part of the native forest around the town has since been restored.

The case of Liquiñe demonstrates how Nature-Based Solutions such as reforestation can revive our freshwater ecosystems. As Fabián Carrasco, president of the Rural Drinking Water Committee of Liquiñe, puts it: “If there are no forests, there is no water. Sometimes people understand it backwards, so that is why it is necessary to make the population understand that the whole earth is in a tight balance and we must protect it.”

 

Only part of the solution:

Reforestation is just one example of how protecting natural resources can be a powerful solution to address global water challenges. Of course, Nature-Based Solutions cannot solve every water problem, but they can provide innovative and cost-effective options to supplement insufficient or ageing water infrastructure.

Smartly managed natural landscapes can improve water availability, supply and quality, while managing future risks. For example, there is ample evidence that natural wetlands and “green” groundwater reservoirs, can be more sustainable and cost-effective than building “grey infrastructure”, like dams and canals. Forests and sustainably-managed fields can regulate and improve water quality.

Green infrastructure, such as strips of land along watercourses planted with native trees, can help buffer pollution from agriculture. Cities can be made more resilient against extreme weather events and the effects of climate change, averting future risks to freshwater supplies, by connecting rivers to floodplains, or by planting vegetation along riverways.

 

World Water Day

On World Water Day March 22, UNESCO, the Convention on Biological Diversity and UN Environment will be celebrating Nature Based Solutions and how they can help us manage threats to our freshwater ecosystems in the 21st century.

The commemoration is meant to inspire people to take actions, and share their personal connection to water and nature around the world, as well as to encourage further research on nature-based solutions among academia and the business sector.

Nature-Based Solutions don’t solve every water problem. Sometimes grey infrastructure such as dams and concrete reservoirs provide effective relief for overstretched water sources. But incorporating solutions which nature can offer is vital for long-term freshwater sustainability – and averting future threats.

There is no question that freshwater is one of the earth’s most vital resources. And as we look to protect our communities from droughts and floods, and ensure that we have enough water to keep us thriving for generations to come, the answer is in nature.

The post How Nature Can Quench Our Thirst & Bring Water Back to Our Ecosystems appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Yeonju Jeong is UN Environment freshwater expert

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post How Nature Can Quench Our Thirst & Bring Water Back to Our Ecosystems appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Achieving Universal Access to Water and Sanitationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/achieving-universal-access-water-sanitation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=achieving-universal-access-water-sanitation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/achieving-universal-access-water-sanitation/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:27:04 +0000 Miroslav http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154904 Miroslav Lajčák is President of the UN General Assembly

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

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Achieving Universal Access to Water and Sanitation - The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Miroslav Lajčák, briefed the press on his priorities for the Assembly's seventy-second session, on 10 October 2017 at the United Nations Office at Geneva. ©UNIS/GENEVA

The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Miroslav Lajčák, briefed the press on his priorities for the Assembly's seventy-second session, on 10 October 2017 at the United Nations Office at Geneva. ©UNIS/GENEVA

By Miroslav Lajčák
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 20 2018 (IPS)

At the start of the seventy-second session of the General Assembly of the United Nations I emphasized our common goal: peace and a decent life for all people on a sustainable planet. Many leaders echoed this overarching priority at the general debate and beyond.

One very important element of this is universal access to water and sanitation. At a most basic level, human beings cannot survive without water. Equally important is sanitation, a lack of which negatively affects our quality of life and claims the lives of millions each year.

One thing is clear: we all share a common goal of achieving universal access to water and sanitation. We have come a long way towards achieving this goal but we have much further to go.

The statistics on water and sanitation are alarming. In 2015, 844 million people still lacked access to safe drinking water. More than 2.3 billion people still did not have basic sanitation services and 892 million people practised open defecation.
Water runs through every single United Nations priority. Lack of access to water and sanitation can undo progress made in the areas of development, human dignity, and peace and security.

The pressing question is: how can we meet the existential challenge of ensuring access to water and sanitation for everyone once and for all?

I would like to reflect on three things: many problems in accessing water and sanitation still exist; we have come a long way in combating these problems; and we have a lot more work to do. The launch in March of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2018 will propel us to reach further.

 

Where we are today

The statistics on water and sanitation are alarming. In 2015, 844 million people still lacked access to safe drinking water. More than 2.3 billion people still did not have basic sanitation services and 892 million people practised open defecation.

For people on the ground, especially the vulnerable, these numbers translate into hardship, insecurity and loss of livelihoods. For instance, women and girls in some developing countries still embark on dangerous journeys in search of drinking water or to defecate in the open because they do not have access to toilet facilities, which exposes them to violence, including sexual abuse.

Further, children are dying from entirely preventable diseases, resulting from poor quality water and sanitation. Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age.

Water can also be the source of disasters and conflicts, presenting an obstacle to meeting many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The frequency and severity of water-related disasters are increasing dramatically. They claim lives and disproportionately affect progress towards achieving the SDGs in developing countries, in particular the most vulnerable, such as small island developing States and the least developed countries.

Due to the constantly growing demand for water provoked by many factors, including population growth, food and energy production, and the adverse impacts of climate change, water resources will become increasingly scarce. Therefore, it is expected that tensions over access to water could intensify at both the national and international levels.

In this context, the Global High-level Panel on Water and Peace estimates that by mid-century, close to 4 billion people, which represents about 40 per cent of the world’s population, will live in water-stressed basins.

 

Progress Made

Despite these alarming projections, providing access to water and sanitation is possible and we have made some improvement. However, the progress achieved has been uneven and many people are still being left behind.

It is against this backdrop that Member States of the United Nations have put a special focus on the critical issue of access to water and sanitation during the last few decades, starting from the first United Nations Water Conference, held in 1977, in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

More and more, the United Nations General Assembly has been recognizing the centrality of water to sustainable development. From the Millennium Development Goals, which established a target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water to the General Assembly’s recognition of water and sanitation as a human right, the United Nations has laid the foundations.

Mindful of the critical importance of water and sanitation, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has a dedicated goal to this issue, SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

This goal, as well as other related goals and targets, aims to address all issues related to the water cycle, including access to adequate water and sanitation, improving quality and efficiency of water delivery, sustainable water management as well as strengthening international cooperation. At the upcoming high-level political forum on sustainable development, we will learn of progress being made on SDG 6, including at the national level.

 

International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028

More recently, the General Assembly unanimously proclaimed the period from 2018 to 2028 the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, to commence on World Water Day, 22 March 2018. The formal launch of this Water Decade, which is the second of its kind, will be an important opportunity for the international community to reiterate its commitment to achieving water-related goals and targets. It will also offer an opportunity to contribute to the follow-up and review of SDG 6, at the high-level political forum in July 2018.

Throughout the Decade, our focus should be on people. The true measure of the relevance of the United Nations is the meaningful change it brings to people’s lives around the world. We should emphasize the implementation of the various frameworks related to water and sanitation, with a particular focus on women and children, who are disproportionately affected by the lack of access to these services.

The Decade should also be catalytic in building new and innovative partnerships to achieve water-related goals. It should offer a platform for advocacy and networking in support of our universally agreed goals.

I look forward to the opportunity to launch the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028. On 22 March, at the launch, we will present the Action Plan for the Decade and have a dialogue about how the International Decade for Action can help to advance the implementation of water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda.

Let us ensure that no one is left without access to water and sanitation by the end of this decade.

 

Looking Ahead: We Need All Hands on Deck

We have the tools to achieve access to water and sanitation for all. In some cases, the tools need to be enhanced; in other cases, we need simply to use them.

Meeting water and sanitation goals and targets means taking action, both nationally and internationally, and adopting a holistic approach that addresses the entire water cycle. Further, we must treat water as a cross-cutting issue, the scope of which extends beyond SDG 6.

At the international level, the United Nations system must continue to play a leading role in promoting cooperation and building partnerships, and should offer a platform for continued discussion, policymaking and mainstreaming of water-related issues to relevant processes.

We must also address international governance issues related to water. Within the United Nations system, water and sanitation is addressed in a fragmented and poorly coordinated manner.

This is despite efforts by the UN-Water mechanism as well as the work undertaken by different agencies, funds and programmes. Going forward, we need a platform for regular intergovernmental deliberations to keep track of and push for progress on the implementation of water-related goals.

The alignment of the agendas of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and their subsidiary bodies with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the repositioning of the United Nations development system, could offer solutions to this challenging situation.

The conclusions and recommendations of the working dialogue, convened during the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, on: “Improving the integration and coordination of the work of the United Nations on the water-related goals and targets under its sustainable development pillar, with particular emphasis on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, could also contribute to resolving the governance challenges.

While cooperation at the international level remains important, governments bear the primary responsibility to meet water and sanitation needs of their populations. Water and sanitation need to be mainstreamed into national development planning and budgeting processes, and must include sustainable use and efficiency, address wastewater, promote education and raise awareness.

For effective cooperation nationally and internationally, involvement of all stakeholders is critical. Financial institutions, the private sector, civil society and high water-use sectors, such as energy, agriculture and industry must all be involved in developing plans and policies.

Importantly, we must mobilize financing for infrastructure and building capacities for access to water and sanitation. Traditional financial sources, including official development assistance, are not sufficient, even though critical for many developing countries. We must rely on all sources available, national and international, public and private, as well as blended and innovative financing.

Finally, prevention of water-related conflicts is essential. As always, we need to promote dialogue, international cooperation, hydro-diplomacy and water-related mediation to address transboundary water issues.

This could contribute to strengthening regional peace and security in the long run. Cooperation between States to establish frameworks on the use, management and benefit-sharing of water resources, should be pursued. This concerted action will help prevent tensions from escalating into violence.

The United Nations, Governments and all stakeholders have an obligation to people to deliver on water-related goals and targets. I am committed to maintaining momentum towards this end.

This article first appeared in the UN Chronicle, published by the Department of Public Information. The link follows: https://unchronicle.un.org/article/achieving-universal-access-water-and-sanitation

The post Achieving Universal Access to Water and Sanitation appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Miroslav Lajčák is President of the UN General Assembly

 
 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

The post Achieving Universal Access to Water and Sanitation appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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A Breath of Fresh Air in Indiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/breath-fresh-air-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=breath-fresh-air-india http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/breath-fresh-air-india/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 00:44:02 +0000 Ranjit Devraj http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154898 With India’s citizens clamouring for breathable air and efficient energy options, the country’s planners are more receptive than ever to explore sustainable development options, says Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). Rijsberman, who was in India to attend the first International Solar Alliance Summit on March 11, told IPS in an […]

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Vehicle ownership in India is projected to hit 400 million by 2040 from the 170 million recorded in 2015, which could prompt a five-fold increase in poisonous gases emitted by cars and trucks. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

Vehicle ownership in India is projected to hit 400 million by 2040 from the 170 million recorded in 2015, which could prompt a five-fold increase in poisonous gases emitted by cars and trucks. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

By Ranjit Devraj
NEW DELHI, Mar 20 2018 (IPS)

With India’s citizens clamouring for breathable air and efficient energy options, the country’s planners are more receptive than ever to explore sustainable development options, says Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

Rijsberman, who was in India to attend the first International Solar Alliance Summit on March 11, told IPS in an interview that the GGGI was prepared to support the Indian government to explore energy alternatives and improve the country’s growth model.

India is not yet a member country of the GGGI but is recognised as a partner, says Rijsberman. He points to the fact that GGGI has had small but successful projects running in India such as a collaboration to get India’s first electric buses running in Bangalore city.

“The electric buses are an example of how local level innovation can yield positive results in energy efficiency,” said Rijsberman. “The success of this project is in line with India’s Intended  Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) commitments to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.

GGGI’s recognition of the potential for expanding its activity in India can be seen in the fact that  the organization has been recruiting top managerial talent for its India country office.

Frank Rijsberman. Credit: GGGI

“For us, it is a bit of restart in India trying to position GGGI well at a time when the Indian government clearly wants to have more leadership internationally and project its own cleantech or green growth initiatives,” Rijsberman said.

So far, the successes have not been on the scale of what India is capable of, says Rijsberman. “In other countries we sit with ministries — the ministry of planning and investment in Vietnam and Laos for instance — and help with national green growth strategy or in the next five-year plan.

“Last year, said Rijsberman, “we helped member countries get 500 million dollars’ worth of green and climate finance – we’ve had no such breakthrough in India.”

Still, Rijsberman finds encouraging the “growing concern over deteriorating air quality and other things that is convincing citizens and politicians that the quality of growth really matters — we are looking at what GGGI can do to help the Indian government shift to a model of growth that is cleaner and more sustainable.”

India has experience in increasing the share of renewable energy in its overall energy mix and GGGI is keen to work with the government, particularly the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA), to share India’s expertise, and knowhow with other developing countries facing similar developmental challenges

“India has wonderful experiences that can be shared with countries like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and in other cases we could help share experiences from other countries that could support India’s green growth initiatives,” Rijsberman said.  

It has not all been smooth sailing though. Last year, Rijsberman said, GGGI had worked with the MNRE to find a combination of financing from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and other sources to improve India’s small and medium industries. “In the end we could not get the seal of approval from the environment ministry — so it has got a bit stuck.”

An important international finance mechanism, the GCF is  mandated to support developing countries to access international climate finance by developing projects to achieve renewable energy targets.

India country representative for GGGI, Shantanu Gotmare, said the project has not actually been shelved and is still in process. “We haven’t given it up yet,” said Gotmare, a career bureaucrat who has taken a break from government work to lead the GGGI in India.

Gotmare explained that much of GGGI’s work, so far, has been with provincial governments like those of Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab states. “We have developed comprehensive green growth strategies and supported these state governments in adopting integrated analytical approaches to assess green growth challenges and prioritise opportunities in energy, water, agriculture and forestry.

“We supported these three state governments in implementing specific green growth opportunities by formulating detailed project proposals, policy implementation roadmaps, and capacity building initiatives,” Gotmare said.

The plan for the immediate future is to scale up GGGI’s programmatic activities to launch green growth interventions at the national level.

“Our aim is to support the government to deliver on its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ambition by helping to develop policy frameworks, mobilising domestic and international climate finance and helping to introduce clean technologies and finally to create and share green growth knowledge and best practices,” Gotmare said.

There is an immediate opportunity to finance off-grid energy (OGE) access to millions of households in India that have limited or no access to electricity. GGGI is designing an innovative finance mechanism to support the government’s goal of ‘electricity for all’.

“This is a plan that is expected to simultaneously achieve social, economic and environmental  benefits,” Gotmare said.

According to Gotmare, as India’s citizens demand more power, it is a challenge for the government to make sure that there are energy options that are cleaner than the traditional coal or diesel-fired power plants. “This is precisely where GGGI comes in,” he said.

GGGI’s experience, says Rijsberman, allows it to work closely with the government to rapidly ramp up India’s electrification plans in a clean and sustainable way and use solar solutions to extend electrification services to India’s most marginalised households.

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