Inter Press ServiceWater & Sanitation – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 11 Dec 2018 20:07:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Water, an Environmental Product of Agriculture in Brazilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil/#respond Sat, 08 Dec 2018 00:19:26 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159092 For the first time in her life, retired physical education teacher Elizabeth Ribeiro planted a tree, thorny papaya, native to Brazil’s central savanna. The opportunity arose on Nov. 28, when the Pipiripau Water Producer Project, which is being carried out 50 km from Brasilia, promoted the planting of 430 seedlings donated by participants in the […]

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Citizen Action in Europe’s Periphery: “An Antidote to Powerlessness”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/citizen-action-europes-periphery-antidote-powerlessness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=citizen-action-europes-periphery-antidote-powerlessness http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/citizen-action-europes-periphery-antidote-powerlessness/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 13:54:42 +0000 Daan Bauwens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159076 Unjustified extra charges on drinking water, exploitation of labourers in the countryside and uncontrolled property speculation. In Europe’s periphery, citizens’ initiatives show how all too prevalent modern-day ailments can be tackled successfully. More often than not with the help of artists. Spring 2014. Pressured by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European […]

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Polish Mothers in Krakow. Polish artist Cecilya Malik began a campaign against the removal of the obligation for private landowners to apply for permission to cut down trees. Credit: Tomasz Wiech

By Daan Bauwens
GHENT, Belguim, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

Unjustified extra charges on drinking water, exploitation of labourers in the countryside and uncontrolled property speculation. In Europe’s periphery, citizens’ initiatives show how all too prevalent modern-day ailments can be tackled successfully. More often than not with the help of artists.

Spring 2014.

Pressured by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the government of an Ireland suffering from imposed austerity measures decides to introduce an additional levy on drinking water. Spontaneous protest ensue. A single woman, waking up in the middle of the night when workers are installing a water meter outside her house, comes out and blocks their way whilst still her night gown. She manages to get them to leave without finishing the job.

The meter fairy

Thousands follow her example in the following weeks. Some are arrested and convicted. In the southern coastal town of Cobh, citizens set up guard posts on bridges and boats to inform other citizens when the water company is arriving and where exactly it’s heading. Soon the protest receives the support of the trade unions and political parties, leading up to a demonstration march of 120,000 people in October of the same year. Mass demonstrations are subsequently held all through the country, often ending in concerts by popular Irish artists.

The largest protest campaign the country had ever seen forced the government to reduce the proposed water tax by 75 percent. The water tax is currently still on the table, but the Irish now have got the “meter fairy”. Residents of a house where a new water meter has just been installed can text their address to a certain number. The same night craftsmen will come over and remove the meter.

Property speculation

“Let me conclude with a warning,” says Brendan Ogle, one of the leading activists in the protests, “while we are progressing in some ways, we are at the same time slipping back to the darkest of ages.” Ogle refers to the housing emergency in his hometown Dublin, where rents have risen so sharply that this year the city has become most expensive place to live in the Eurozone, leaping ahead of both Paris and London.

“We squatted in an empty building and started a community centre for homeless people where they could stay and sleep,” says Ogle. “The court finally ordered we leave building, stating that while the homeless emergency is important, it is not more important than the right to property. Last Thursday, the 24th person that we housed in the building died on the streets. This in only 16 months.”

It seems to be a trend in cities all over Europe: a housing market under pressure causes speculation, leading to growing numbers of homeless people. The state doesn’t act and the law is not on the side of those who want to solve the problem.

Summit for activists

The same happened to Maria Sanchez of Cerro Liberdad, an citizen’s initiative which occupied an empty Andalusian farm owned by a bank. Sanchez put local labourers to work in decent conditions in a region that suffers from poverty and exploitation, and in March of this year she was arrested. All traces that her movement had left in the farm were erased.

“I did what the government fails to do,” she says, “I told that to the judge. This was not a crime.”

Ogle and Sanchez were just two of the 90 activists from all over Europe present at the summit “The Art of Organising Hope” that was held in early November in the Belgian town of Ghent. At the summit they showed each other how exactly they realised their plans to fight injustice, with the emphasis on the practical side of things.

The summit was the culmination of a research all across Europe that a fellowship of volunteers, journalists, artists and activists undertook in 2016 and 2017. Thoroughly documenting 60 grassroots and civil society organisations, they looked for hopeful discourses, methods and practices to counter the present-day upsurge of Euroscepticism and indifference.

Radical imagination

In the final selection of activists to be present at the summit, the majority turned out to be from Europe’s periphery with an especially large representation from the Balkans. That was no coincidence according to initiator and organiser Dominique Willaert, artistic leader of the Ghent-based social-artistic movement Victoria Deluxe.

“Activism and imagination at Europe’s external borders is much more radical than in Western Europe,” he says, “we brought them here especially to fertilise us with their imagination. During our trips around Europe we noticed that people in the periphery don’t feel as though they belong to Europe. That is most noticeable in countries that have fallen victim to European austerity measures.”

“The difference between them and us is striking,” he continues, “in Western Europe we strive for consensus and negotiation with the government, many organisations depend on the government for funding, so they become policy implementers. The activism and imagination of the external borders is much more radical.”

According to Willaert, it is exactly that imagination and radicalism that Western Europe needs. “We must give citizens the feeling that they have power and can create movements that bring change. Powerlessness can mean the end of Europe.”

Polish mothers on tree stumps

In the citizen’s projects at the summit it was moreover apparent that a large number was led by artists. “In order to develop deep democracy, new methods and symbols are needed,” Dominique Willaert explains his team’s choice, “we must go beyond the idea of parliaments and elected representatives. There is a need for new stories and images that can fertilise communities and mobilise people. That requires the help of artists.”

And social media seem to be quite an effective to tool in bringing that about, it seems. At the main stage, Polish Anna Alboth and Belgian Leen Van Waes told the story of how their Facebook solidarity campaign for for Syrian civilians led to a march that mobilised more than 4000 participants from 62 countries. The Civil March For Aleppo lasted eight and a half months, passing through Europe on foot from Berlin to Syria, an action that got the organising team nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The most mobilising image came from the Polish artist Cecilya Malik. In the beginning of January a controversial new law removed the obligation for private landowners to apply for permission to cut down trees, pay compensation or plant new trees, or even inform the authorities of the plans to cut down trees. Up until now, more than one million trees have been reported cut down with newly cleared spaces in cities, towns and countryside as a consequence.

“I knew I had to do something,” Malik says, “but I had a six-month-old baby. So I came up with the plan to sit on one of the stumps every day, let someone take a picture of me while I was breastfeeding and share that image on social media.” The Polish government did not reverse the law despite the hundreds of mothers following Malik’s example. But the media attention on breastfeeding mothers on tree stumps did lead to a surge in environmental consciousness with the general public. This way, a new draft law excluding the vast majority of NGOs from the consultation process on environmental projects, was shelved for the time being.

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Watering the Paris Agreement at COP24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/watering-paris-agreement-cop24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=watering-paris-agreement-cop24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/watering-paris-agreement-cop24/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:24:34 +0000 Maggie White http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159048 Maggie White is Senior Manager - International. Policies, Swedish Water House

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On the doorstep of finalizing the roadmap to implementing the Paris Agreement, the water community is coming together to leverage opportunities and awareness about water’s role in tackling climate change.

By Maggie White
STOCKHOLM, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

Most people will experience climate change in the form of water – higher frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, an increase in waterborne diseases, and overloaded sewage systems that are unable to cope with new demands.

At the same time, water offers some of the best solutions for reducing our climate impact and tackling effects of climate change. Yet, the role of water is poorly understood and often forgotten in the international climate debate.

Maggie White

The Conference of the Parties (COP) 24 is taking place in Katowice in Poland 2-14 December and there is a lot at stake. The UNFCCC’s 2015 Paris Agreement set goals for reducing carbon emissions and assisting countries in adapting to the adverse effects of global climate change.

At the meeting in Poland, the parties need to agree on the “rulebook” for the agreement, i.e. how it should be implemented. But water is largely absent from the agreement. However, many of the parties who ratified the Paris Agreement made water a central component of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

At the doorstep of finalizing the road map for implementing the Paris Agreement, the water community fears a missed opportunity to leverage water’s full potential to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. With recent estimates saying that emissions must come down dramatically in the next few years, this is a risk the world cannot afford.

Similarly, the most powerful manifestations of climate change are water-related and if that is not acknowledged, it will be difficult for countries to respond adequately. Climate change will also exacerbate water quality and variability, through changed precipitation patterns and changes to evapotranspiration and ultimately the water balance.

Trees, landscapes and agriculture are, for example, key for reducing emissions and mitigating climate change. Forests and wetlands act as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and play a central role in the hydrologic cycle, filtering, storing and regulating surface and groundwater flows.

Forest and wetlands can also act as buffers and provide nature-based solutions to many infrastructure problems that increasingly need to be addressed by decision-makers, not least to make human settlements more resilient to floods and droughts.

To ensure sustainable development, food security and economic stability in face of climate change, it is essential that water is acknowledged and integrated into efforts to mitigate climate change and adapt to its adverse effects.

To take action is also a question of climate justice; the people most affected by effects of climate change are seldom themselves causing major emissions. Yet, at the same time they can be strong agents of change. Inclusion of marginalized groups and stakeholders is consequently key in resilient decision and policy making.

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and AGWA, a network hosted and co-chaired by SIWI, are honoured to be official co-coordinators of the MPGCA (Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Agenda) at COP24.

Along with other partners, we have organised several climate resilient water related events. See our activities on our SIWI at COP webpage, and follow our activities on social media using #SIWIatCOP.

Learn more about AGWA here.

View the UNFCCC’s MPGCA webpage.

Visit the COP24 event page.

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Excerpt:

Maggie White is Senior Manager - International. Policies, Swedish Water House

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Northeast Nigeria: Urgent Need to Combat Deadly Cholera Outbreakshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/northeast-nigeria-urgent-need-combat-deadly-cholera-outbreaks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=northeast-nigeria-urgent-need-combat-deadly-cholera-outbreaks http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/northeast-nigeria-urgent-need-combat-deadly-cholera-outbreaks/#respond Mon, 12 Nov 2018 14:07:40 +0000 Janet Cherono http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158642 Janet Cherono is Norwegian Refugee Council’s Program Manager in Maiduguri

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Overcrowding leading to poor sanitary conditions in IDPs camps and communities contributes to further cholera outbreak in Borno Nigeria.

By Janet Cherono
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Nov 12 2018 (IPS)

The number of people who have been affected by cholera in northeast Nigeria has increased to 10,000. The disease is spreading quickly in congested displacement camps with limited access to proper sanitation facilities.

One of the major causes of the outbreak is the congestion in the camps that makes it difficult to provide adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services. The rainy season has also worsened the conditions.

NRC is calling on the local governments in Nigeria’s northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe to end the cycle of yearly cholera outbreaks.

If more land is not urgently provided for camp decongestion and construction of health and sanitation facilities, Nigeria is steering towards yet another cholera outbreak in 2019.

Over the last decade, northeast Nigeria and other areas of the Lake Chad Basin have been affected by cholera outbreaks almost every year, due to poor hygiene facilities in displacement camps and host communities. More than 1.8 million people are displaced in Nigeria, as a result of ongoing conflicts.

Maiduguri has the highest concentration of displaced people, with 243,000 displaced people cramped in camps, camp-like settlements and already crowded host communities, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration.

In Kagoni Sangaya displacement camp, the eight latrines that were built to cater for about 150 displaced people are now being shared by 500 people. Camp residents said they end up defecating in the open which causes cholera and other water borne diseases in the area.

More than 10,000 people have been afflicted by the ongoing cholera outbreak in Nigeria, according to the government. Of these, 175 were reported dead in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe as of early November 2018.

The number of deaths resulting from the disease is higher than would be expected in a situation where timely and efficient treatment is available. This indicates inexistent or insufficient access to clean water, sanitation, hygiene and health services.

We are calling on the authorities to provide more space in camps and host communities for the construction of new water and sanitation facilities, and for the international community to provide the necessary funding. Only this way can we prevent new cholera outbreaks.

NRC has responded to the cholera outbreak by transporting at least 180,000 liters of clean water daily from Maiduguri to communities around Tungushe and Konduga towns, constructing more latrines where there are space and by sharing information about hygiene and cholera prevention with affected communities.

Facts and Figures:

– By 7th November, the cholera outbreak in northeast Nigeria includes 1762 registered cases and 61 deaths in Yobe State, 2737 registered cases and 41 deaths in Adamawa State, and 5845 and 73 deathsin Borno State, according to figures from the World Health Organization and the Government of Nigeria.

– An estimated 7.7 million people in the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe now depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival.

– NRC is currently providing life-saving assistance including food and livelihood support to help stabilize the living conditions of over 130,000 families displaced from their homes in northeast Nigeria.

– In 2018, NRC provided water, sanitation and hygiene services to over 56,000 people in Borno state.

– The humanitarian response plan for Nigeria is only 55% funded.

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Excerpt:

Janet Cherono is Norwegian Refugee Council’s Program Manager in Maiduguri

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Diversifying Crops to Help Overcome Drought in Brazilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/diversifying-crops-help-overcome-drought-brazil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=diversifying-crops-help-overcome-drought-brazil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/diversifying-crops-help-overcome-drought-brazil/#respond Fri, 09 Nov 2018 16:19:01 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158617 Dozens of trucks used to leave São Gonçalo every day, carrying the local agricultural production, mainly coconuts, to markets throughout Brazil, including the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, more than 2,000 kilometers away. The prosperity of that district in Sousa, a municipality in the northeastern state of Paraíba that has some 70,000 […]

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Rainwater Harvesting Eases Daily Struggle in Argentina’s Chaco Regionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/rainwater-harvesting-eases-daily-struggle-argentinas-chaco-region/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rainwater-harvesting-eases-daily-struggle-argentinas-chaco-region http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/rainwater-harvesting-eases-daily-struggle-argentinas-chaco-region/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2018 23:22:31 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158571 “I’ve been used to hauling water since I was eight years old. Today, at 63, I still do it,” says Antolín Soraire, a tall peasant farmer with a face ravaged by the sun who lives in Los Blancos, a town of a few dozen houses and wide dirt roads in the province of Salta, in […]

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Mariano Barraza (L), a member of the Wichi indigenous people, and Enzo Romero, a technician with the Fundapaz organisation, stand next to the rainwater storage tank built in the indigenous community of Lote 6 to supply the local families during the six-month dry season in this part of the province of Salta, in northern Argentina's Chaco region. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Mariano Barraza (L), a member of the Wichi indigenous people, and Enzo Romero, a technician with the Fundapaz organisation, stand next to the rainwater storage tank built in the indigenous community of Lote 6 to supply the local families during the six-month dry season in this part of the province of Salta, in northern Argentina's Chaco region. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

By Daniel Gutman
LOS BLANCOS, Argentina, Nov 6 2018 (IPS)

“I’ve been used to hauling water since I was eight years old. Today, at 63, I still do it,” says Antolín Soraire, a tall peasant farmer with a face ravaged by the sun who lives in Los Blancos, a town of a few dozen houses and wide dirt roads in the province of Salta, in northern Argentina.

In this part of the Chaco, the tropical plain stretching over more than one million square kilometres shared with Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, living conditions are not easy."I wish the entire Chaco region could be sown with water tanks and we wouldn't have to cry about the lack of water anymore. We don't want 500-meter deep wells or other large projects. We trust local solutions." -- Enzo Romero

For about six months a year, between May and October, it does not rain. And in the southern hemisphere summer, temperatures can climb to 50 degrees Celsius.

Most of the homes in the municipality of Rivadavia Banda Norte, where Los Blancos is located, and in neighbouring municipalities are scattered around rural areas, which are cut off and isolated when it rains. Half of the households cannot afford to meet their basic needs, according to official data, and access to water is still a privilege, especially since there are no rivers in the area.

Drilling wells has rarely provided a solution. “The groundwater is salty and naturally contains arsenic. You have to go more than 450 meters deep to get good water,” Soraire told IPS during a visit to this town of about 1,100 people.

In the last three years, an innovative self-managed system has brought hope to many families in this area, one of the poorest in Argentina: the construction of rooftops made of rainwater collector sheets, which is piped into cement tanks buried in the ground.

Each of these hermetically sealed tanks stores 16,000 litres of rainwater – what is needed by a family of five for drinking and cooking during the six-month dry season.

 

 

“When I was a kid, the train would come once a week, bringing us water. Then the train stopped coming and things got really difficult,” recalls Soraire, who is what is known here as a criollo: a descendant of the white men and women who came to the Argentine Chaco since the late 19th century in search of land to raise their animals, following the military expeditions that subjugated the indigenous people of the region.

Today, although many years have passed and the criollos and indigenous people in most cases live in the same poverty, there is still latent tension with the native people who live in isolated rural communities such as Los Blancos or in the slums ringing the larger towns and cities.

Since the early 20th century, the railway mentioned by Soraire linked the 700 kilometres separating the cities of Formosa and Embarcación, and was practically the only means of communication in this area of the Chaco, which until just 10 years ago had no paved roads.

Dorita, a local indigenous woman, stands in front of a "represa" or pond dug near her home, in Lote 6, a Wichí community a few kilometres from the town of Los Blancos, in Argentina's Chaco region. The ponds accumulate rainwater and are used to provide drinking water for both animals and local families, posing serious health risks. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Dorita, a local indigenous woman, stands in front of a “represa” or pond dug near her home, in Lote 6, a Wichí community a few kilometres from the town of Los Blancos, in Argentina’s Chaco region. The ponds accumulate rainwater and are used to provide drinking water for both animals and local families, posing serious health risks. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

The trains stopped coming to this area in the 1990s, during the wave of privatisations and spending cuts imposed by neoliberal President Carlos Menem (1989-1999).

Although there have been promises to get the trains running again, in the Chaco villages of Salta today there are only a few memories of the railway: overgrown tracks and rundown brick railway stations that for years have housed homeless families.

Soraire, who raises cows, pigs and goats, is part of one of six teams – three criollo and three indigenous – that the Foundation for Development in Peace and Justice (Fundapaz) trained to build rainwater tanks in the area around Los Blancos.

“Everyone here wants their own tank,” Enzo Romero, a technician with Fundapaz, a non-governmental organisation that has been working for more than 40 years in rural development in indigenous and criollo settlements of Argentina’s Chaco region, told IPS in Los Blancos. “So we carry out surveys to see which families have the greatest needs.”

The director of Fundapaz, Gabriel Seghezzo, explains that “the beneficiary family must dig a hole 1.20 metres deep by five in diameter, in which the tank is buried. In addition, they have to provide lodging and meals to the builders during the week it takes to build it.”

“It’s very important for the family to work hard for this. In order for this to work out well, it is essential for the beneficiaries to feel they are involved,” Seghezzo told IPS in Salta, the provincial capital.

Fundapaz “imported” the rainwater tank system from Brazil, thanks to its many contacts with social organisations in that country, especially groups working for solutions to the chronic drought in the Northeast region.

Antolín Soraire, a "criollo" farmer from the Chaco region of Salta, stands in front of one of the tanks he built in Los Blancos to collect rainwater, which provides families with drinking water for their needs during the six-month dry season in northern Argentina. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Antolín Soraire, a “criollo” farmer from the Chaco region of Salta, stands in front of one of the tanks he built in Los Blancos to collect rainwater, which provides families with drinking water for their needs during the six-month dry season in northern Argentina. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Romero points out that so far some 40 rooftops and water tanks have been built – at a cost of about 1,000 dollars each – in the municipality of Rivadavia Banda Norte, which is 12,000 square kilometres in size and has some 10,000 inhabitants. This number of tanks is, of course, a very small part of what is needed, he added.

“I wish the entire Chaco region could be sown with water tanks and we wouldn’t have to cry about the lack of water anymore. We don’t want 500-meter deep wells or other large projects. We trust local solutions,” says Romero, who studied environmental engineering at the National University of Salta and moved several years ago to Morillo, the capital of the municipality, 1,600 kilometres north of Buenos Aires.

On National Route 81, the only paved road in the area, it is advisable to travel slowly: as there are no fences, pigs, goats, chickens and other animals raised by indigenous and criollo families constantly wander across the road.

Near the road, in the mountains, live indigenous communities, such as those known as Lote 6 and Lote 8, which occupy former public land now recognised as belonging to members of the Wichí ethnic group, one of the largest native communities in Argentina, made up of around 51,000 people, according to official figures that are considered an under-registration.

In Lote 6, Dorita, a mother of seven, lives with her husband Mariano Barraza in a brick house with a tin roof, surrounded by free-ranging goats and chickens. The children and their families return seasonally from Los Blancos, where the grandchildren go to school, which like transportation is not available in the community.

Three children play under a roof next to goats in Lote 6, an indigenous community in the province of Salta in northern Argentina. It is one of the poorest areas in the country, with half of the population having unmet basic needs, and where the shortage of drinking water is the most serious problem. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Three children play under a roof next to goats in Lote 6, an indigenous community in the province of Salta in northern Argentina. It is one of the poorest areas in the country, with half of the population having unmet basic needs, and where the shortage of drinking water is the most serious problem. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

About 100 metres from the house, Dorita, who preferred not to give her last name, shows IPS a small pond with greenish water. In the region of Salta families dig these “represas” to store rainwater.

The families of Lot 6 today have a rooftop that collects rainwater and storage tank, but they used to use water from the “represas” – the same water that the animals drank, and often soiled.

“The kids get sick. But the families often consume the contaminated water from the ‘represas’ because they have no alternative,” Silvia Reynoso, a Catholic nun who works for Fundapaz in the area, told IPS.

In neighboring Lote 8, Anacleto Montes, a Wichi indigenous man who has an 80-square-metre rooftop that collects rainwater, explains: “This was a solution. Because we ask the municipality to bring us water, but there are times when the truck is not available and the water doesn’t arrive.”

What Montes doesn’t say is that water in the Chaco has also been used to buy political support in a patronage-based system.

Lalo Bertea, who heads the Tepeyac Foundation, an organisation linked to the Catholic Church that has been working in the area for 20 years, told IPS: “Usually in times of drought, the municipality distributes water. And it chooses where to bring water based on political reasons. The people in the area are so used to this that they consider it normal.”

“Water scarcity is the most serious social problem in this part of the Chaco,” says Bertea, who maintains that rainwater collection also has its limits and is experimenting with the purchase of Mexican pumps to extract groundwater when it can be found at a reasonable depth.

“The incredible thing about all this is that the Chaco is not the Sahara desert. There is water, but the big question is how to access it,” he says.

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Ambitious Agenda, Ambitious Financing? UNGA Shows a Long Way Still to Go for SDGshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/ambitious-agenda-ambitious-financing-unga-shows-long-way-still-go-sdgs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ambitious-agenda-ambitious-financing-unga-shows-long-way-still-go-sdgs http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/ambitious-agenda-ambitious-financing-unga-shows-long-way-still-go-sdgs/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2018 14:06:42 +0000 John Garrett and Kathryn Tobin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158517 John Garrett & Kathryn Tobin, WaterAid

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Aregashe Addis in the water utility store where she works in Debre Tabor, South Gondar, Amhara, Ethiopia. WaterAid and the UK’s Yorkshire Water utility have provided funding and training to improve the capacity and operations of the Debre Tabor Water Utility, ensuring the community’s poorest and most vulnerable people now have access to water. Credit: WaterAid/Behailu Shiferaw

By John Garrett and Kathryn Tobin
LONDON / NEW YORK, Nov 5 2018 (IPS)

There was a much-needed focus on financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the September 2018 opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Three years on from the watershed 2015 conferences in Addis Ababa, New York and Paris, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has released a new Strategy for Financing the 2030 Agenda, covering the period of 2018-2021.

Whilst welcoming the UN Secretary-General’s new ideas and reaffirmation of core Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) priorities, the UN’s 193 member states need to show stronger resolve and political will to break from today’s business-as-usual financing trajectories.

Willing the end, but not the means

With one-fifth of the time available to deliver the 2030 Agenda already gone, a serious disconnect between the ambition of the SDGs and the means of their implementation is opening up. Intending to set the international community on a course to achieve the SDGs, Guterres’s strategy aims to align global financing and economic policies with the 2030 Agenda and enhance sustainable financing strategies and investments at regional and national level whileseizing the potential of financial innovations, technologies and digitalisation.

Discussions around the strategy’s launch revealed plenty of evidence recognising the urgency of transforming economic and financial systems to advance sustainable development. Research by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), launched on the morning of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Meeting, points to alarming trends in several of the SDGs.

Four hundred million people are likely to be living in extreme poverty in 2030; there is slow progress in reducing inequalities in wealth, income or gender; world hunger is on the rise; and access to safe water and sanitation is actually in decline in some countries.

These human development challenges combine with unsustainable pressures on the environment, reflected in the increasing threats of climate change, rising sea levels, biodiversity loss and degradation of fresh water resources.

UNGA discussions also provided a clearer picture of the costs of achieving key SDGs. New estimates from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of the costs for achieving the SDGs in the sectors of health, education, water and sanitation, energy and transport infrastructure found that US$520 billion a year is required in low-income developing countries (LIDCs).

A central role for raising revenue at home

The SG’s strategy emphasises how important domestic public finance is for sustainable development, and we agree that national ownership should be at the heart of financing solutions. The IMF estimates scope for developing countries to raise tax rates by on average 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from current levels.

WaterAid research on public finance and the extractive industries (a dominant sector in many LIDCs) finds that weak tax regimes or corruption are undermining domestic resource mobilisation and the provision of essential services to people.

In Madagascar, the Government received only 6% of the production value of its minerals in 2015, and in Zambia, forensic audits of copper producers released hundreds of millions of dollars to the exchequer in unpaid tax.

But it’s clear that countries’ efforts to raise revenue at home won’t on their own be enough to reach the ambition of the SDGs. To meet this financing gap, the UN has emphasised the role of private finance, including public-private partnerships and blended finance.

As the latest encapsulation of this trend, the Secretary-General’s strategy drew criticism from the Civil Society Financing for Development (FfD) Group for its over-reliance on mobilising private finance. While private finance is an important part of the financing solution, it is no panacea.

In New York, lenders and investors highlighted some of the obstacles to prioritising private finance in low-income contexts: insufficient data, information gaps and unviable risk premiums. Debt vulnerabilities preclude significant volumes of external non-concessional finance in many LIDCs’ contexts – particularly concerning since 40 percent of LIDCs are now in or approaching a state of debt distress.

Aligning investment and lending decisions with environmental, social and governance concerns, as South Africa and the European Union are seeking to do, is essential. The Secretary-General’s strategy sends a clear message that progress is too slow in aligning markets with sustainable development imperatives.

Recent forecasts of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that oil and coal consumption will reach record levels over coming years is one example of the misalignment of public policies and financial markets with Agenda 2030 and the transition to a low- or zero-carbon economy.

Towards transformative financing and national ownership of the 2030 Agenda

How can the urgency expressed at UNGA lead to the actions required to break out from a business-as-usual financing trajectory? The answer lies in two sides of the same coin: increase money coming into, and reduce money coming out from, LIDCs. We suggest three vital areas for greater attention from the international community.

First, curbing tax evasion and avoidance, and stopping illicit financial flows are essential steps to enable the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Reform and restructuring of the taxation paradigms around extractive industries and other corporate investment in developing countries is fundamental, to prevent the ‘race to the bottom’ and ensure countries have both policy space and public finance to pay for their development objectives.

Taking action on tax havens—estimated to store wealth equivalent to 10% of global GDP—addressing transfer mispricing by transnational corporations, and supporting improvements in governance and transparency to tackle corruption are prerequisites.

What prevents countries from allocating sufficient resources to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and to sustainable development in general is just as important as what enables them to do so.

Second, achieving the 2030 Agenda requires a much stronger emphasis on international public assistance in grant form, both Official Development Assistance (ODA) and climate finance, targeted to the poorest countries. ODI’s report indicates that 48 of the poorest countries in the world cannot afford to fully fund the core sectors of education, health (including nutrition) and social protection – even if they maximise their tax effort.

And, while the 2030 Agenda may be voluntary, commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change, once ratified, become binding. The same holds true for human rights commitments.

Industrialised countries, overwhelmingly responsible for global warming and climate change, must fulfil their climate finance commitments as an essential first step towards climate justice. Poor communities urgently need support to adapt to the impacts of climate change—compensation for a looming environmental crisis they have had least responsibility in creating.

We could even propose combining targets for ODA and climate finance into a new SDG target for high-income countries. Merging existing targets for ODA (0.7% of GNI) and climate funding ($100 billion a year by 2020) could promote coherence and consistency, and ensure additionality of climate funding.

It could become a mandatory grant-based contribution for sustainable development from high-income countries (as opposed to loans, which can push countries further into debt). An initial combined target of 1% of GNI could be set with a deadline of 2020, rising again in 2025 to 2.5% of GNI – essentially a new Marshall Plan for global sustainable development. Financial transaction taxes and carbon taxes can be important components of funding this increase, supporting financial stability and the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Third, the international community needs to support institutional strengthening in LIDCs on a much greater scale. IMF research suggests that successful anti-corruption and capacity-building initiatives are built on institutional reforms that emphasise transparency and accountability: for example, shining a light on all aspects of the government budget to improve public financial management and efficient spending. In the water and sanitation sector we find that well-coordinated, accountable institutions with participatory planning processes are necessary to strengthen the sector to enable universal and sustainable access by 2030.

Time is running out

The discussions around financing the 2030 Agenda at UNGA 2018 reminded us that time is running out. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on staying below 1.5 degrees temperature increase adds a new urgency.

Three years into the SDGs’ implementation, where are the ambitious multilateral financing commitments required to ensure that the 2030 Agenda including SDG6 become a reality for everyone across the globe? Fewer than 12 years remain to take urgent action nationally and globally to achieve the 2030 Agenda and ensure all the world’s inhabitants can live in dignity and see their human rights fulfilled.

Between now and next year’s High-Level Political Forum for heads of state in September 2019, the international community must generate the political momentum required for equitable and ambitious financing, to reach the shared commitments of the SDGs.

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Excerpt:

John Garrett & Kathryn Tobin, WaterAid

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Cholera Threatens a Comeback Worldwidehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/cholera-threatens-comeback-worldwide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cholera-threatens-comeback-worldwide http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/cholera-threatens-comeback-worldwide/#respond Fri, 02 Nov 2018 07:21:47 +0000 Anna Kucirkova http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158488 Cholera outbreaks across history regularly killed a hundred thousand or more. It isn’t well known today because it was essentially eliminated in the Western world. It last erupted in the U.S. in the 1800s, eradicated by water and sewage treatment systems that prevented it from spreading via contaminated water. However, cholera is making a comeback […]

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More than 400,000 cases of cholera are suspected in Yemen, and nearly 1,900 people have died from associated cases in the last three months alone.

Tents set up at Alsabeen hospital in Sana'a Yemen for screening suspected cholera cases.

By Anna Kucirkova
TEXAS, USA, Nov 2 2018 (IPS)

Cholera outbreaks across history regularly killed a hundred thousand or more. It isn’t well known today because it was essentially eliminated in the Western world.

It last erupted in the U.S. in the 1800s, eradicated by water and sewage treatment systems that prevented it from spreading via contaminated water. However, cholera is making a comeback around the globe, and it could again become a major killer.

Cholera is caused by eating or drinking something contaminated with the Vibrio cholera bacteria. Because it is waterborne, Western cases tend to occur when someone eats contaminated sea food.

In the developing world, people drinking water from rivers where others bathe and defecate contribute to its spread. That is why the World Health Organization (WHO) records around 150,000 cholera cases per year.

Cholera remains common in places with poor sanitation systems or where they do not yet exist. That is why cholera is considered epidemic in places like Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

Tropical climates that don’t get cold enough to kill the bacteria, wet soil that breeds it, and unsanitary groundwater that mixes with drinking water can cause one patient’s effluent to spread to an entire community.

The literal environment prevents the bacteria from being truly eradicated, resulting in it being found in overcrowded slums. Storms and flooding can interfere with local water supplies, bringing in contaminated water that people then drink.

It periodically erupts in active war zones and overcrowded refugee camps that cannot maintain a clean water supply. The lack of proper hygiene in these places certainly contributes to its spread. Yemen and Syria, both in the midst of civil wars, are the worst examples of this.

The cholera outbreak in Haiti has shown that cholera can come roaring back after other natural disasters that disrupt clean water delivery. Globalism contributes to cholera’s spread, as well.

For example, the Haiti outbreak was likely precipitated by U.N. peacekeepers that picked up cholera in Nepal, arrived in Haiti and then infected the local water supply through poor hygiene. The outbreak killed over ten thousand and infected hundreds of thousands more.

Now a country already struggling to deal with critically damaged infrastructure has to manage cholera, too. This is a tragic blow, since Haiti worked for years to eradicate the disease.

The infection and death rates were made worse by the under-developed medical system that the disaster rendered inoperable. In nations with underdeveloped medical systems, they can’t keep up with the load of the epidemic, spreading faster and killing many more than it would in a better equipped region.

Bangladesh struggles with endemic cholera. One of their solutions was vaccination against the disease. Vietnam, too, has set up a vaccination program to prevent humans from becoming a transmission vector. Both countries have set up programs to curtail their devastating effects, as well.

Globalization can take cholera to countries that have lived without it so long that doctors don’t know what they’re dealing with. This can lead to the disease spreading beyond what can easily be contained.

Within a few hours of symptoms appearing, patients can lose so much fluid that they’re rendered bedridden. This dramatically increases the risk of transmission to others. These few hours are also the ideal time to give someone a mix of fluids and antibiotics to prevent them from becoming dangerously dehydrated. If a patient is misdiagnosed, they could die of dehydration within two or three days.

In tropical countries lacking fully developed water and sanitation infrastructure, the soil and untreated groundwater hosts cholera bacteria that can contaminate public water supplies.

The outbreak is made worse by patients spreading it through bodily fluids to those who may have safe drinking water. And because patients can readily travel, the disease can spread rapidly through new vectors.

The ebola outbreak in Dallas, Texas was caused by a man, who knew he was exposed, booking a flight to Texas to visit family he hadn’t seen in more than a decade. He arrived knowing he might carry the disease and with the hope he’d be treated in the more advanced American hospitals.

Cholera periodically spreads to new areas for the very same reason; people who are sick board buses and planes to get help elsewhere. The less dramatic example is someone carrying cholera traveling by car to an urban hospital, spreading the disease as they travel.

This is the downside of globalization and has long been the basis of strong immigration controls – to make certain that immigrants didn’t bring diseases with them. Tuberculosis was routinely screened for in the 1800s and 1900s, but buses, trains and aircraft make it possible for cholera to go global despite its rapidity.

Overcrowded cities have always provided a place for cholera to claim many victims. One major difference today is scale. A cholera epidemic in London two centuries ago would claim tens of thousands in a city of perhaps a million.

Third world cities that are home to five to fifteen million, many of whom live in slums, could see a million or more deaths in a bad cholera epidemic. And the constant flow of people from the countryside to the city in the developing world creates a constant risk of an epidemic.

Thanks to our understanding of disease transmission, sanitation and treatment, cholera (https://connectforwater.org/cholera-is-becoming-a-serious-problem-heres-why/) outbreaks are rarely as catastrophic as the past. But we need to recognize that modern medicine is still in a war with this ancient foe that will continue to threaten humanity for the foreseeable future.

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Sustainable Coastal Fisheries in the Pacific Depends on Improving Sanitationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/sustainable-coastal-fisheries-pacific-depends-improving-sanitation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-coastal-fisheries-pacific-depends-improving-sanitation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/sustainable-coastal-fisheries-pacific-depends-improving-sanitation/#respond Mon, 29 Oct 2018 06:19:46 +0000 Catherine Wilson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158383 At the mouth of the Mataniko River, which winds its way through the vibrant coastal port town of Honiara to the sea, is the sprawling informal community of Lord Howe Settlement, which hugs the banks of the estuary and seafront. A walk from the nearby main road to the beach involves a meandering route through narrow […]

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The sprawling informal community of Lord Howe Settlement, in Solomon Islands’ capital city of Honiara, lies along the Mataniko River. The piped sewerage system in the capital does not extend to unplanned settlements as waste, especially untreated sewage, has become a dire threat to coastal waters and their fisheries. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Oct 29 2018 (IPS)

At the mouth of the Mataniko River, which winds its way through the vibrant coastal port town of Honiara to the sea, is the sprawling informal community of Lord Howe Settlement, which hugs the banks of the estuary and seafront. A walk from the nearby main road to the beach involves a meandering route through narrow alleys between crowded dwellings, homes to about 630 people, which are clustered among the trees and overhang the water.

An estimated 40 percent of Honiara’s population of about 67,000 live in at least 30 squatter settlements. Sanitation coverage is about 32 percent in the Solomon Islands and in this capital city the piped sewerage system, which does not extend to unplanned settlements, is dispersed into local waterways and along the coastline.

For centuries, coastal fishing has been central to the nutrition, food security and livelihoods of Pacific Islanders, as it will be in the twenty first century. But, as population growth in the region reaches 70 percent and cities and towns expand along island coastlines, waste, especially untreated sewage, has become a dire threat to coastal waters and their fisheries.

“Areas of high population density, such as cities and tourism areas, are associated with excess release of poorly treated wastewater onto reefs. Many coastal communities rely heavily on fishing for their subsistence and household income and endangering the lagoons and fishing areas will threaten their livelihoods,” is the personal view of Dr. Johann Poinapen, who also holds the position of director of the Institute of Applied Sciences at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

Subsistence fishing in near shore areas, typically of finfish, trochus, molluscs, clams, crabs and bêche-de-mer, accounts for 70 percent of all coastal catches in the Pacific Islands and 22 percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Sewage waste pollutes the oceans

Sewage waste is a global issue, accounting for about 75 percent of pollution in the world’s oceans, and every Pacific Island state has identified it as a cause of environmental and health problems, ranging from marine ‘dead zones’ and the loss of reefs to outbreaks of seafood poisoning.

Critically its discharge in coastal areas leads to the loss of habitats for marine life, according to Associate Professor Monique Gagnon, an expert in ecotoxicology at the School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University in Western Australia.

“Effluent, or nutrient pollution, produces eutrophication and the growth of algae can change marine habitats, threatening local fish populations and encouraging invasive species,” Gagnon told IPS.

 

A semi-submerged graveyard on Togoru, Fiji. Sewage waste is a global issue, accounting for about 75 percent of pollution in the world’s oceans, and every Pacific Island state has identified it as a cause of environmental and health problems. Credit: Pascal Laureyn/IPS

A semi-submerged graveyard on Togoru, Fiji. Sewage waste is a global issue, accounting for about 75 percent of pollution in the world’s oceans, and every Pacific Island state has identified it as a cause of environmental and health problems. Credit: Pascal Laureyn/IPS

 

 

Health and environmental issues

Human effluent generates the over-production of algae and cyanobacteria in waterways and the sea. Toxic algal blooms can infect all types of fish and shellfish and lead to the demise of coral reefs and their fish stocks. Sewage also depletes oxygen in aquatic ecosystems, leading to the condition of Hypoxia, which causes the death of fish through paralysis. And the consumption of fish contaminated by biotoxins can cause serious illnesses, such as paralytic shellfish poisoning and ciguatera.

A study of marine pollution in the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 2016 found that nine of ten ocean and lagoon sites surveyed were heavily polluted, particularly with disease carrying bacteria from human and animal waste.  In Samoa, the Ministry of Health has connected typhoid cases with seafood collected near shore which has been spoiled by effluent from coastal villages.

 

Blue Economy Conference

The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and is being co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Over 4,000 participants from around the world are coming together to learn how to build a blue economy.
Acute problem of untreated sewage in urban areas

Lack of sewage treatment facilities and collection services for households in Pacific cities, together with mostly unimproved sanitation in rural areas, are leading to increasing amounts of effluent entering coastal waters or conveyed there from rivers and streams.

The problem is acute in urban areas where under-resourced civic services are struggling to cope with a high influx of people migrating from less developed rural areas. Urban centres are growing at a very high annual rate of 4.7 percent in the Solomon Islands, 3.5 percent in Vanuatu and 2.8 percent in Papua New Guinea.

The situation in Honiara in the Solomon Islands is typical of many other Melanesian towns and cities in the southwest Pacific.

“Upstream [of the Mataniko River] there are sewerage outlets which are coming directly into the river. Then, as you come down, you see these little houses on the riverbanks; these are toilets,” Josephine Teakeni, president of the local women’s civil society group, Vois Blong Mere, told IPS.

 

Lack of resources restricts improved sanitation

The Honiara City Council is involved in manufacturing affordable toilet hardware items, especially for people in settlements who are on low incomes, and provides a septic tank collection service. But lack of resources severely restricts their operations.

“We don’t have the capacity to do this for the whole city, but we can empty septic systems for anyone who can pay the fee of SB$400 (USD51),” George Titiulu in the Council’s Health and Environment Services told IPS.

He admits that there is an environmental problem.

“We have done some studies of the Mataniko River and there is a high level of E.coli in the water,” Titiulu elaborated.

The proportion of people in the Pacific Islands using improved sanitation rose by only 2 percent, from 29 percent to 31 percent, over the 25 year period from 1990 to 2015, reports the World Health Organization.  This leaves a shortfall of 6.9 million people who lack this basic service across the region.

In the Solomon Islands, as in other developing Pacific Island states, the obstacles to better progress include lack of basic infrastructure, expertise, technical capacity and reliable funding. The challenges are even greater to extend basic services into informal settlements because of complex customary land rights and insecure tenure for residents, as well as their frequent location in natural hazard and disaster prone areas, such as flood plains.

 

Subsistence fishing in near shore areas, typically of finfish, trochus, molluscs, clams, crabs and bêche-de-mer, accounts for 70 percent of all coastal catches in the Pacific Islands and 22 percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

 

Significant economic losses expected if pollution is not addressed

Yet the issue will have to be tackled with experts predicting that habitat destruction, together with climate change and over-exploitation of marine resources, will drive a continuing decline in coastal fisheries in the coming decades. For Pacific Islanders, this could lead to significant economic losses, a rise in the cost of fish and diminishing food. The regional development organisation, the Pacific Community, predicts that within 15 years an additional 115,000 tonnes of fish will be needed to manage the food gap.

“Tackling sewage pollution in the Pacific Island region is not an easy feat,” Poinapen told IPS. His personal view is that all stakeholders, not just governments, must be involved in developing and implementing appropriate solutions, as well as educational, policy and legislative approaches.

But, to begin with, he believes that “one of the biggest gaps related to sewage pollution is the lack of baseline data to inform the stakeholders on the severity of the issue.”

“We know there is sewage pollution in many receiving waterbodies, but we do not know the extent of this pollution as we have not conducted a robust and systematic quantification of the various contaminants and their effects,” Poinapen emphasised.

  • The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and is being co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Over 4,000 participants from around the world are coming together to learn how to build a blue economy.

 

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For the Survival of the Nile and its Peoplehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/survival-nile-people/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=survival-nile-people http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/survival-nile-people/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2018 14:25:11 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158229 Running through eleven countries for 6,853 kilometres, the Nile is a lifeline for nearly half a billion people. But the river itself has been a source of tension and even conflict for countries and territories that lie along it and there have been rumours of “possible war for the Nile” for years now. While to […]

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Natural fertility is actually the Nile's biggest legacy for Egyptians. A fisherman fishes for food on the Nile. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.

By Maged Srour
ROME, Oct 17 2018 (IPS)

Running through eleven countries for 6,853 kilometres, the Nile is a lifeline for nearly half a billion people. But the river itself has been a source of tension and even conflict for countries and territories that lie along it and there have been rumours of “possible war for the Nile” for years now. While to date there has been no outbreak of irreversible tension, experts say that because of increasing changes in the climate a shared agreement needs to be reached on the redistribution of water soon.

“Right now I do not think there is a concrete and imminent risk of conflict between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, given the internal difficulties and the unstable nearby area [Libya] of the first, the recent secession suffered by the second and the peace agreement achieved by the third with Eritrea,” Maurizio Simoncelli, vice president of the International Research Institute Archivio Disarmo, a think tank based in Rome, told IPS.

“However, it is certain that if a shared agreement is not reached on the redistribution of water in a situation of increasing climatic changes, those areas remain at great risk,” he said.

No one master of the river Nile

All the cities that run along the river exist only because of these waters. For Egypt, this is particularly true: if the Nile wasn’t there, it would be just another part of the Sahara desert.

Egypt has tried to be master of the river for centuries, seeking to ensure exclusive control over its use. Nevertheless, today upstream countries are challenging this dominance, pushing for a greater share of the waters. Egypt and Sudan still regard two treaties from 1929 and 1959 as technically binding, while African upstream nations – after gaining independence – started to challenge these agreements, signed when they were under colonial rule.

The 1959 treaty allocates 75 percent of the river’s waters to Egypt, leaving the remainder to Sudan. Egypt has always justified this hegemonic position on the basis of geographic motivations and economic development, as it is an arid country that could not survive without the Nile’s waters, while upstream countries receive enough rainfall to develop pluvial agriculture without resorting to irrigation.

“From the Egyptian point of view, it is right [to hold this hegemonic position] because it is true, Cairo has no alternative water resources. Without the Nile, Egypt would die,” Matteo Colombo, associate research fellow in the MENA Programme at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) told IPS.

Egypt – according to Colombo – should therefore aim to open regional forums focusing on cooperation in a broad sense.

Cooperation among countries sharing this watercourse is key. For example, Ethiopia could need more water to produce more electricity, which could in turn diminish the amount of flow towards Cairo. Indeed, Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is currently under construction, will be the biggest dam on the African continent and could diminish the amount of water flowing to Egypt.

Water is not the only gift of this river for Egypt. Each year, rainfall in Ethiopia causes the Nile to flood its banks in Egypt. When the Nile flood recedes, the silt – a sediment rich in nutrients and minerals and carried by the river – remains behind, fertilising the soil and creating arable land. Natural fertility is actually the Nile’s biggest legacy for Egyptians.

“The problem for Egypt is that, from a geographical point of view, it does not hold the knife on the side of the handle,” warns Colombo.

“For this reason, Egypt cannot fail to reach an agreement with neighbouring countries. What Cairo could do is to create a sort of ‘regional forum’, a ‘platform’, where the various disputes with neighbouring countries are discussed and perhaps include other topics in the talks,” Colombo added. “If other themes were included, Egypt could have some more voices than Sudan and Ethiopia, while if the discussion remains relegated to the theme of water, the margin of action for Egypt would be limited.”

The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), created in 1999 with the aim to “take care of and jointly use the shared Nile Basin water and related resources”, could be an example of regional multilateralism to resolve disputes but it remains relegated to discussions about water management.

Institutionally, the NBI is not a commission. It is “in transition”, awaiting an agreement on Nile water usage, so it has no legal standing beyond its headquarters agreement with Uganda, where the secretariat is settled.

Due to differences that have not yet been resolved, the NBI has focused on technical, relatively apolitical projects. This ends up weakening the organisation since Egypt sees technical and political tracks as inseparable. Therefore, Cairo suspended its participation in most NBI activities, effectively depleting the organisation’s political weight.

Populations living on the Nile and the impact

If regional agreements on the management of the Nile’s waters seem difficult, what is certain is that local populations’ living along the river have always been impacted by environmental changes.

The Nubian population are among these affected people. The Nubians, an ethnic group originating in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, have lived along the Nile for thousands of years. In 1899, during the construction of the Aswan Low Dam, they were forced to move and relocate to the west bank of the Nile in Aswan. During the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, over 120,000 Nubians were forced to move for a second time.

Their new home proved far from satisfactory: not a single resettlement village was by the river. And to date, the socio-economic and political conditions of the Nubians have not appeared to have improved.

“I think we are passing through one of the worst moments for us Nubians. Every time we tried to claim some rights in the last few years, the government did not want to listen to us and many of our activists were recently arrested,” Mohamed Azmy, president of the General Nubian Union, a movement that actively promotes the right to return of the Nubian community to their ancestral land, told IPS.

Lorri Pottinger of International Rivers told Al Jazeera that Africa’s large dams have not reversed poverty, or dramatically increased electricity rates, or even improved water supply for people living near them.

“What they have done is help create a small industrial economy that tends to be  companies from Europe and elsewhere. And so these benefits are really, really concentrated in a very small elite,” she had said.

The demographic challenge

The reasons why Egypt faces water scarcity are numerous but the exponential increase in population certainly accelerates the critical situation.

The United Nations estimates that unless the current fertility rate of 3.47 changes by 2030, Egypt’s population is expected to grow from the current 97 million to 128 million. This demographic growth has grave implications as it comes at a time of unprecedented challenges in the climate which in turn has worrisome implications for loss of arable land, rising sea levels and depletion of scarce water resources.

Moreover, the demographic increase is having grave consequences on the entire economic system, as there is insufficient infrastructure and not enough jobs for the increasing young population.

Birth control policies could be and should be part of the solution to overcome these challenges. The government has recently launched a campaign named ‘Kefaya etnen’ (‘Two is enough’), through which it is trying to raise the awareness on controlling birth rates and having no more than two children per family. “I think this is a great initiative from the Egyptian government but it definitely needs to permeate the society, and this will not be easy,” said Colombo.

Egypt needs to curb its population and to turn its youth into an asset for its economy, otherwise the waters of the Nile could be insufficient.

Indeed, the importance of the Nile is felt in the blood of all Egyptians. “Walking along the Nile for me is what makes me relaxed and vent when I need it, in the chaos of the city,” Tarek, a resident of Cairo, tells IPS.

And many Egyptians hope that this gift will be with them forever, because it is not just about survival, but about the essence itself of being part of these lands.

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Water: a Private Privilege, not a Community Resourcehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/water-private-privilege-not-community-resource/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-private-privilege-not-community-resource http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/water-private-privilege-not-community-resource/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 10:31:44 +0000 Shekhar Kapur http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158203 Shekhar Kapur* is director, actor and producer, who rose to international prominence with the 1998 Bollywood movie, Bandit Queen.

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By Shekhar Kapur
MUMBAI, India, Oct 16 2018 (IPS)

Water is becoming a private privilege rather than a community resource. It is also one of the world’s most precious resources. As vital to the survival of the human species as the air that we breathe.

Yet while many of us take water for granted, readily buying a pair of jeans that take 7,600 litres of water to produce or luxuriating in power showers, 844 million people across the world still live without access to clean water. What’s more, an estimated four billion people face severe water scarcity for at least one month every year.

That is why I have created short animation Brides of the Well, with international development charity, WaterAid, adapted from one of my short stories. It tells the tale of Saraswati and Paras; two teenagers living in Punjab, northern India, who are forced into child marriage and a life of servitude, centred round walking long distances to collect water for their aging husbands.

The story, while fictional, tells a universal truth; that we are a world divided between the haves and the have-nots. That while many think nothing of turning on the tap for a glass of clean, safe water, millions of others are forced to walk long distances for this most basic necessity, often from contaminated sources; their health, education, livelihoods and dreams curtailed as a result.

Growing up in India, I would wake between 4am and 5am every day to fill tankards of water for the household because that was the only time it was available. Today, in Mumbai, I see people living in slums struggling to find a safe, clean water source while across the road, wealthier homes have endless supplies on tap.

In India, Saraswati and Paras are typical of a staggering 163 million people – including roughly 81 million women – living without access to clean water close to home, meaning it has the highest population of people in the world without access.

A lack of clean water close to home affects women and girls disproportionately throughout their lives, with many bearing the burden of walking long distances to collect water, often from contaminated sources.

This means that often girls have no choice but to drop out of school from an early age, missing their education and opportunities and – in some cases – making them more vulnerable to early marriage.

Each year, more people gain access to clean water, but at the same time India is facing severe water shortages, with 600 million people affected by a variety of challenges including falling groundwater levels, drought, demand from agriculture and industry, and poor water resource management; all of which are likely to intensify as the impacts of climate change take hold.

According to a government think tank, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply by 2030. India is by no means alone. These rising demands mean that this life-giving resource is increasingly under threat across the globe.

In January, authorities in Cape Town, warned of an impending ‘Day Zero’; when they would be forced to turn off the city’s taps after three consecutive years of drought. While in China, the country’s first National Census of Water showed that in the past quarter century, 28,000 riverbeds have vanished and groundwater levels are falling by one to three metres per year.

Saraswati and Paras might be works of fiction but their story – of lives centred round collecting water from drying wells – is a daily reality for millions of people across the world.

My hope is that Brides of the Well will impress upon people the injustices that result from not having clean water; of lives curtailed and dreams left unfulfilled simply because an accident of birth has denied them this most basic human right.

I hope it will act as a rallying cry for action, encouraging people to think more about where our water comes from, and call for better access for everyone everywhere.

The global water crisis is not a problem for the next generation to tackle; it is a problem playing out across our television screens and in our newspaper headlines today.

We need urgent action, not just from our governments, private companies and the international community to help people currently living without access to this most basic resource. Only then will people like Saraswati and Paras truly be free.

*Shekhar Kapur went on to direct the hugely popular and multi-award winning historical biopics of Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth and its sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age. He has been the recipient of the Indian National Film Award, the BAFTA Award, the National Board of Review Award, and three Filmfare Awards. His most recent project,Vishwaroopam II, is due for release this year.

Shekhar Kapur worked with WaterAid to create the animation Brides of the Well, which highlights the global water crisis. Watch it at www.wateraid.org/bridesofthewell.

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Excerpt:

Shekhar Kapur* is director, actor and producer, who rose to international prominence with the 1998 Bollywood movie, Bandit Queen.

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The Earthquake in Indonesia: How Collaboration Impacts the Global Water Crisishttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/earthquake-indonesia-collaboration-impacts-global-water-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=earthquake-indonesia-collaboration-impacts-global-water-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/earthquake-indonesia-collaboration-impacts-global-water-crisis/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 09:57:31 +0000 George C. Greene http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158197 George C. Greene, IV is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Water Mission*, a nonprofit Christian engineering organization that designs, builds, and implements safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas

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By George C. Greene, IV
SOUTH CAROLINA, USA, Oct 16 2018 (IPS)

On Friday, September 28, the world first heard the devastating news out of Indonesia that a 7.5 magnitude earthquake had struck the island of Sulawesi. The quake caused substantial soil liquefaction — where the earth literally turned to liquid and started to flow — with entire homes sinking into the ground. It also triggered a tsunami, confirmed to be as high as 23 feet, that devastated the coastal areas.

The photos coming out of the impacted region are mind-numbing and include images of cars wrapped around poles and ships that were washed inland sitting on dry land. The stories are heartbreaking and range from reports of children away from their parents at camp being found dead to an older man who is now the only one left alive in his family of 14 people.

When a disaster strikes, safe water is usually the number one need. Water Mission mobilizes personnel and water treatment equipment to provide aid to affected people as quickly as possible. We build and preposition Living Water Treatment Systems — our patented, mobile treatment systems that utilize rapid sand filtration and chlorination.

Once onsite, one system can be set up and functional in two to four hours, providing enough safe water for up to 5,000 people daily. In Indonesia, we were fortunate to already have an established presence, dating back to 2005, with offices on the islands of Sumatra and West Timor.

With twenty staff members and ten Living Water Treatment Systems prepositioned in the country, we have been able to respond quickly and work with our indigenous team to reach the communities most in need.

Aware of the logistical unknowns related to moving our equipment from Sumatra and West Timor to the impacted island of Sulawesi, we also airfreighted equipment from our headquarters in North Charleston, South Carolina, to enable a diversified approach to delivering aid as fast as possible.

We are fortunate to have a unique relationship with FedEx, one of our corporate partners and sponsors, and they expedited a shipment of two additional Living Water Treatment Systems and approximately 1.1 million P&G Purifier of Water packets.

The P&G Purifier of Water packets will provide 11 million liters of clean water, enough to sustain approximately 75,000 people with 20 liters a day for one week. Each Living Water Treatment System can provide enough safe water for an entire community.

The majority of this work is being made possible by another corporate partner and sponsor, the Poul due Jensen Foundation, who offered a significant grant that is allowing us to provide safe water to more than 75,000 people in and around Palu — a large city on Sulawesi that was devastated by the disaster.

The death toll is now more than 2,000 people, and it is estimated that more than 5,000 people are still missing. Conditions are horrendous, and we feel compelled to raise awareness because the need for basic access to safe water and sanitation is critical for the survival of people in the impacted region.

Our goal is to meet this need and help bring stability to a tenuous situation — people are hanging on by a thread while simultaneously trying to process what happened and grieve the loss of loved ones.

Logistics remain challenging as the Palu airport was severely damaged. Our Indonesian team is making the journey to Palu from all across the country, and we are working to bring clean water as quickly as possible while building relationships with the government and local communities in need.

Our team in Indonesia is experienced and equipped with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) best practices and sustainability methods. Having completed more than 150 safe water projects in Indonesia, serving more than 340,000 people, our indigenous staff will not only respond immediately, they will stay and work to help local communities rebuild with the goal of providing long-term access to safe water.

In the coming days, having access to safe water is imperative to ward off the threat of disease and continued loss of life. Unfortunately, more than 2.1 billion people around the world lack access to safe water and more than 4.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation.

This is not a problem for any organization to face alone. Rather, through continued collaboration, we believe humanitarians, nonprofits, governments, and communities can come together and forge an alliance to address one of the world’s most basic needs: water.

Our hope is that, even after this disaster vanishes from the headlines, people will not forget but will unite and advocate to change the harrowing statistics. Every day, 2,300 people die from waterborne illnesses directly tied to a lack of access to safe water and compromised sanitation hygiene and each one of these deaths is preventable.

In disasters, conditions are infinitely worse, compelling us to respond as quickly as possible. We know that people need safe water to live, and we are working diligently on multiple fronts to address this need in Indonesia.

As we continue to respond, working with local communities to provide clean water to impacted people in the region, we are asking for your support. First, to raise awareness about the global water crisis. Second, to join us in prayer for all the families who are mourning loved ones and facing the daunting task of rebuilding.

And finally, to partner with us in our efforts. Everyone has the ability to create change, and I encourage people to think about what they have to offer in four different areas: time, talent, treasure, and influence. It can be overwhelming to read the reports and hear the staggering news that more than 2.4 million people have been impacted by this earthquake and tsunami. But by joining us in our efforts, you can help restore dignity and bring hope to the survivors.

It is encouraging to collaborate with the Poul due Jensen Foundation, the FedEx Cares Delivering for Good Initiative, and P&G, demonstrating our common bond and commitment to helping others when disaster strikes. When we work together and empower each other, we can make a bigger impact and tackle overwhelming problems like the global water crisis.

Our Indonesian team will continue to respond, and we are ready to deploy more resources as needed. If you are interested in updates on our relief efforts in the Palu region, you can follow online at watermission.org.

*Since 2001, Water Mission has used innovative technology and engineering expertise to provide access to safe water for nearly 4 million people in 55 countries.

Note: All photos can be attributed to Water Mission.

The post The Earthquake in Indonesia: How Collaboration Impacts the Global Water Crisis appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

George C. Greene, IV is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Water Mission*, a nonprofit Christian engineering organization that designs, builds, and implements safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas

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Water Scarcity and Poor Water Management Makes Life Difficult for Egyptianshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/water-scarcity-poor-water-management-makes-life-difficult-egyptians/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-scarcity-poor-water-management-makes-life-difficult-egyptians http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/water-scarcity-poor-water-management-makes-life-difficult-egyptians/#respond Thu, 27 Sep 2018 15:24:44 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157820 Local residents in Cairo are becoming concerned and discontent as water scarcity is reaching a critical point in the capital and the rest of the country. Although not all areas of the country are affected in the same way, many Cairo residents say they don’t have water for large portions of the day. And some […]

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Houseboats line the Nile bank in Cairo. Some 85 million Egyptians depend on the Nile for water. According to the United Nations, Egypt is currently below the U.N.’s threshold of water poverty. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.

By Maged Srour
ROME, Sep 27 2018 (IPS)

Local residents in Cairo are becoming concerned and discontent as water scarcity is reaching a critical point in the capital and the rest of the country.

Although not all areas of the country are affected in the same way, many Cairo residents say they don’t have water for large portions of the day. And some areas are affected more than most.

“Where my grandmother lives, in a central area and near a hospital, water is almost never missing, but where I live with my family in a more peripheral area, water is missing several times during the week if not during the day,” one local resident from Cairo, who did not want to be named, tells IPS.

According to the United Nations, Egypt is facing an annual water deficit of around seven billion cubic metres and the country could run out of water by 2025, when it is estimated that 1.8 billion people worldwide will live in absolute water scarcity.

The U.N. World Water Development report for 2018, warns that Egypt is currently below the U.N.’s threshold of water poverty, it is currently facing water scarcity (1,000 m3 per capita) and dramatically heading towards absolute water scarcity (500 m3 per capita).

“The water goes away all the time, we don’t know how to handle this issue. The other day I even opened the tap and the water that came out was stinking of sewer,” the Cairo resident adds.

As highlighted in the ‘Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research’, problems affecting the Nile River’s flow are many and range from inefficient irrigation to water pollution. In addition, the uncontrolled dumping of anthropogenic waste from different drains located along the Nile River’s banks has significantly increased water contamination to a critical level, warns the research. 

The pollution of the river—considered the longest river in the world—is an issue that has been underestimated over the past few decades. “Most of the industries in Egypt have made little effort to meet Egyptian environmental laws for Nile protection, where, the Nile supplies about 65 percent of the industrial water needs and receives more than 57 percent of its effluents,” the study says. 

As so many people rely on the Nile for drinking, agricultural and municipal use, the water quality is of concern. 

The reality is that the Nile is being polluted by municipal and industrial waste, with many recorded incidents of leakage of wastewater and the release of chemical waste into the river. 

But Dr. Helmy Abouleish, president of SEKEM, an organisation that invests in biodynamic agriculture, says there is increasing awareness in the country about its water challenges.

“I can see the awareness towards the water insecurity challenge is now spreading in society more than before,” Abouleish tells IPS. “We all should be quite aware of the fact that whatever we are doing today, our children will pay for it in the future. None of the current resources will be available forever,” he adds.

SEKEM has converted 70 hectares of desert into a green and cultivated oasis north east of Cairo, which is now inhabited by a local community.  

These futuristic innovations is what Egypt needs more of, considering that water availability is progressively worsening in the country.

“In Egypt rainfall is limited to the coastal strip running parallel to the Mediterranean Sea and occurs mainly in the winter season,” Tommaso Abrate, a scientific officer in the Climate and Water Department at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), tells IPS. 

“The amounts are low (80 to 280 mm per year), erratic and variable in space and time hence rainfall cannot be considered a reliable source of water.”  

“Climate models indicate that Egypt, especially the coastal region, will experience significant warming and consequent substantial drought by the end of the century, while rainfall is expected to show just a small decrease in annual means,” Abrate says. 

He warns that other factors like abstraction (removal of water from a source) and pollution, have major effects on water quality. 

Another concern is the fact that the country uses 85 percent of its water resources for agricultural activities—with 90 percent of this being used for conventional agriculture. 

But agricultural wastewater, which carries the residual of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, is drained back into the Nile River.

It is a vicious cycle that is worsening the quality and the sustainability of Egypt’s farmlands.

However, this year the Egyptian government and partners announced the allocation of about USD4 billion in investment to address the water shortage.

“Major efforts are being invested in the desalination of water from the Red Sea and the Mediterranean (for example the mega scale project in Ain Sokhna, which will purify 164,000 cubic litres per day). A regional centre unit will be established to follow water movement using the latest remote sensing techniques to combat this problem,” Abouleish adds.

SEKEM says that it is working to develop a “sustainable and self-sustaining water management system in all of Egypt.” 

“We foster several research projects that are developed by the students and the research team at Heliopolis University to realise this mission. For instance, researching water desalination models from salt water, recovery systems for water from the air as well as waste water recycling systems is now considered in our core focus,” says Abouleish. 

The U.N. agrees that in the next few years Egypt will face a water crisis of considerable size, which will require a more effective management of the available, scarce resources. This should involve a modernisation of the irrigation systems to avoid the current waste. 

If water scarcity is not addressed by those accountable, there is a risk that in the coming decades, a country of nearly 80 million people could run out of water. It could result in a humanitarian crisis that would probably destabilise the entire Mediterranean region with unpredictable consequences.  

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Preservation of the Klamath River – a Life or Death Matter for the Yurok Peoplehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:48:29 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157602 Fishermen are scarce in the Klamath River delta, unlike other fishing season, because climate change has driven up water temperatures which kills off the salmon, the flagship species of this region in northern California. The increase in temperatures favours the proliferation of lethal fish diseases and the absence of fish has devastating effects on the […]

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Yurok lawyer Amy Cordalis (L) explains the impacts of climate change on the Klamath River, such as the drop in the number of salmon, a key species in the traditions and economy of this Native American tribe in the western U.S. state of California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Yurok lawyer Amy Cordalis (L) explains the impacts of climate change on the Klamath River, such as the drop in the number of salmon, a key species in the traditions and economy of this Native American tribe in the western U.S. state of California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
KLAMATH, California, USA , Sep 13 2018 (IPS)

Fishermen are scarce in the Klamath River delta, unlike other fishing season, because climate change has driven up water temperatures which kills off the salmon, the flagship species of this region in northern California.

The increase in temperatures favours the proliferation of lethal fish diseases and the absence of fish has devastating effects on the Yurok, the largest group of Native Americans in the state of California, who live in the Klamath River basin.

“The river level is dropping at a time when it shouldn’t. The water warms up in summer and causes diseases in the fish. This changes the rhythm of the community and has social effects,” lawyer Amy Cordalis, a member of the tribe, told IPS during a tour of the watershed.

Cordalis stressed that the community of Klamath, in Del Norte county in northwest California, depends on fishing, which is a fundamental part of their traditions, culture and diet.

The Yurok, a tribe which currently has about 6,000 members, use the river for subsistence, economic, legal, political, religious and commercial purposes.

This tribe, one of more than 560 surviving tribes in the United States, owns and manages 48,526 hectares of land, of which its reserve, established in 1855, covers less than half: 22,743 hectares.

Conserving the forest is vital to the regulation of the temperature and water cycle of the river and to moisture along the Pacific coast.

The Yurok – which means “downriver people” – recall with terror the year 2002, when the water level dropped and at least 50,000 salmon ended up dead from disease, the highest fish mortality in the United States.

The Yurok are working to conserve and restore the Klamath River basin, to which they are spiritually and economically linked. Part of the restoration involves placing logs in the river, such as these ones that have been prepared on its banks, to channel the water and retain sediment and thus recreate the habitat needed by salmon, the species that is key to the Yurok culture. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The Yurok are working to conserve and restore the Klamath River basin, to which they are spiritually and economically connected. Part of the restoration involves placing logs in the river, such as these ones that have been prepared on its banks, to channel the water and retain sediment and thus recreate the habitat needed by salmon, the species that is key to the Yurok culture. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

And in 2015 no snow fell, which affects the flow of water that feeds the river and is fundamental for the fishery because in March of each year the salmon fry come down from the mountain, Cordalis said. This species needs cold water to breed.

The federal government granted the Yurok a fishing quota of 14,500 salmon for 2018, which is low and excludes commercial catch, but is much higher than the quota granted in 2017 – only 650 – due to the crisis of the river flow that significantly reduced the number of salmon.

The migration of fish downriver has also decreased in recent years due to sedimentation of the basins caused by large-scale timber extraction, road construction, loss of lake wood and loss of diversity in the habitat and fishery production potential.

As a result, the number of chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) and Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata) have dropped in the Klamath River, while Coho or silver salmon (O. kisutch) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The Klamath River in California, the natural and spiritual sustenance of the Yurok people, is facing threats due to climate change, such as reduced flow and increased temperatures, which kill salmon, a species that requires cold water for breeding. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The Klamath River in California, the natural and spiritual sustenance of the Yurok people, is facing threats due to climate change, such as reduced flow and increased temperatures, which kill salmon, a species that requires cold water for breeding. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

A reflection of this crisis, in Cordalis’ words, is the ban on commercial fishing for the third consecutive year, with only subsistence fishing allowed.

Faced with this, the Yurok have undertaken efforts for the conservation of the ecosystem and the recovery of damaged areas to encourage the arrival of the salmon.

In 2006, they began placing wood structures in the Terwer Creek watershed as dikes to channel water flow and control sediment.

“We had to convince the lumber company that owned the land, as well as the state and federal authorities. But when they saw that it worked, they didn’t raise any objections. What we are doing is geomorphology, we are planting gardens,” Rocco Fiori, the engineering geologist who is in charge of the restoration, from Fiori Geo Sciences, a consulting firm specialising in this type of work, told IPS.

Tree trunks are placed in the river bed, giving rise to the growth of new trees. They last about 15 years, as they are broken down and begin to rot as a result of contact with the moisture and wind.

But they generate more trees, giving rise to a small ecosystem. They also facilitate the emergence of vegetation on the river ford, explained Fiori, whose consulting firm is working with the Yurok on the restoration.

Salmon is basic to the diet of the Yurok people, who live in northern California. But the catch has fallen drastically due to a lower water flow in the Klamath River and the increase in water temperature. In the picture, a member of the Yurok tribe seasons fish for dinner on the riverbank. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Salmon is basic to the diet of the Yurok people, who live in northern California. But the catch has fallen drastically due to a lower water flow in the Klamath River and the increase in water temperature. In the picture, a member of the Yurok tribe seasons fish for dinner on the riverbank. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Starting in the fall, this strip is flooded every year, which favours the abundance of organic matter for the salmon to feed on, allowing them to grow and thrive in the new habitat.

In addition, four of the six dams along the Klamath River and its six tributaries, built after 1918 to generate electricity, will be dismantled.

The objective is to restore land that was flooded by the dams and to apply measures to mitigate any damage caused by the demolition of the dams, as required by law.

The Copco 1 and 2, Iron Gate and JC Boyle dams will be demolished in January 2021, at a cost of 397 million dollars. The owner of the dams, the PacifiCorp company, will cover at least 200 million of that cost, and the rest will come from the state government.

“The removal of the dams is vital. It’s a key solution for the survival of salmon,” biologist Michael Belchik, of the Yurok Tribe Fisheries Department, who has worked with the tribe for 23 years, told IPS.

The four reservoirs hold between five million and 20 million cubic metres of sediment, and their removal will provide 600 km of suitable habitat for salmon.

It is estimated that salmon production will increase by 80 percent, with benefits for business, recreational fishing and food security for the Yurok. In addition, the dismantling of dams will mitigate the toxic blue-green algae that proliferate in the reservoirs.

Water conservation projects exemplify the mixture of ancestral knowledge and modern science.

For Cordalis, salmon is irreplaceable. “Our job is not to let (a tragedy) happen again. The tribe does what it can to defend itself from problems and draw attention to the issue. We continue to fight for water and the right decisions. Our goal is to restore the river and get the fish to come back,” the lawyer said.

The Yurok shared their achievements and the challenges they face with indigenous delegates from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico and Panama in the run-up to the Global Climate Action Summit, convened by the government of California to celebrate in advance the third anniversary of the Paris Agreement, reached in Paris in 2015. The meeting will take place on Sept. 13-14 in San Francisco, CA.

This article was produced with support from the Climate and Land Use Alliance .

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Q&A: Achieving Sustainable Goals: “In the End it is All About People. If People Want, it Will Happen.”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:05:07 +0000 Manipadma Jena http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157577 Manipadma Jena interviews the Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute's (GGGI) Investment and Policy Solutions Division, PETER VOS.

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On Bangladesh's extensive estuaries, millions of poorest climate vulnerable families eke out a paltry living from inter-tidal fishing like this father-son team that is selling their catch of catfish to tourists on a power boat. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Manipadma Jena
STOCKHOLM, Sep 12 2018 (IPS)

Today just over two billion people live without readily available, safe water supplies at home. And more than half the world’s population, roughly 4.3 billion people, live in areas where demand for water resources outstrips sustainable supplies for at least part of the year.

Yet the world is not managing water well or making the most of it, the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development said in July this year. This is due above all to failures of policies, governance, leadership and markets."So currently there is emerging a good opportunity to attract conservation finance for nature conservation, for water management, for sustainable landscapes." -- Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute, Peter Vos.

By 2030, investment in water and sanitation infrastructure will need to be around USD0.9 -1.5 trillion per year, according to the New Climate Economy Report 2018. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate released this major report earlier this month.

Maximising returns on water investment requires recognising the potential for natural or green infrastructure to complement or replace built infrastructure. It also requires mobilising private finance and investment at scale and generating adequate revenue returns. It will also be vital to put an appropriate value on water and sanitation services.

This is what the South Korea headquartered Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) helps developing countries and emerging economies do, among other things. GGGI, an inter-governmental organisation with 28 member countries, supports and promotes strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in its partner countries. It supports countries’ national efforts to translate climate commitments, contained in their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, into concrete climate action.

“GGGI delivers green growth services in the water sector that requires [the application of] market-based solutions for managing ecosystem services using innovative financial instruments such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES),” said Peter Vos, deputy director and Global Water Sector Lead during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. Vos has extensive experience in international water projects both in the public and private sector.

He said that GGGI saw the PES model as not only providing a vehicle for incentivising ecosystem management, but also being able to help achieve long-term sustainable goals.

In a presentation on financing water conservation for ecosystem services at the global event organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute, Vos strongly emphasised PES as a powerful tool for enhancing economic, environmental and social returns from investments in integrated ecosystem management. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Peter Vos, Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead in GGGI’s Investment and Policy Solutions Division, said that GGGI saw the Payment for Ecosystem Services model as not only providing a vehicle for incentivising ecosystem management, but also being able to help achieve long-term sustainable goals. Courtesy: Peter Vos

IPS: Please tell us about GGGI’s participation in the World Water Week and how it benefits from it.

PV: What is getting the attention of the water discussion now is ecosystem services. We try to get knowledge about the crucial elements of this aspect. GGGI is implementing PES in the water sector and has been involved in the development of financial instruments to support ecosystem services in several developing countries.

GGGI works to address issues impacting water availability and use by encouraging water-related innovation in industries and investment in green urban infrastructure, and through integration with policies on water allocation in economic sectors.

Secondly, there are the bilateral meetings which hold importance for our future work and at World Water Week we met a cross-section of stakeholders, including from ministries, donors, also NGOs.

We had very intense discussions and made good progress. GGGI is an international organisation focusing on green growth, and we need partners to pursue our agenda, not only in terms of attracting finance but also in ways in which we can work together, to cooperate, expand and have more impact. We are a small organisation and cannot do it alone.

IPS: GGGI’s water sector has been providing a range of appropriate technical guidance towards green growth to low and lower-middle income countries that are tailored to their socio-economic conditions, their capacity and demand. What are GGGI’s working strengths in this area?

PV: GGGI focuses on mainstreaming water resources management in green planning frameworks, decentralised sanitation and water quality investments, and innovation through bio-economy, including climate resilient food systems and payment for ecosystem services.

What makes GGGI’s operations successful is that we are embedded in the government. We are not outsiders but one of them. We have our staff sitting in the ministry itself, discussing constantly how to improve sustainable economic growth, looking at policy reform through the green pathway.

Green growth policies allow for limited water resources to be used more efficiently and enable access to all at a reasonable cost, while leaving sufficient quantities to sustain the environment. New green projects in water and sanitation not only improve overall capacity in sustainable water management, but also create additional green jobs.

The second aspect about the way GGGI works is that it is there with partner countries for the long haul. Our commitments are long term and we see it through from policy reforms all the way to supporting project implementation. We are there monitoring projects even five years after [implementation] and assist governments if something goes wrong.

Our linkages between policy reform and project development ensures implementation. But if it is only about policy reform then it is very likely that it will be written in a report and may never see the light of day. Without policy implementation, policy reform is a toothless tiger; it will not be successful…So we have two pillars. The first is policy reform to create a conducive environment. [And the] second is project implementation that creates the hands and feet of what we jointly want to achieve.

IPS: What are some of the implementation challenges GGGI faces and how does it handle them?

PV: In setting the ground for reforms, yes challenges are there. Politicians are there for the short term. Elected governments may be there for four years but ministers are often changed in a year’s time. One cannot rely on political support only; one has to work with all the layers below it – the civil service and municipalities – to make a policy or a project sustainable and internalise it.

We consider ourselves the strategic advisors, discussing policies and project extensively till the administration is fluent with them. We ensure that we have a broad base of support and not concentrated on one or two [powerful] persons.

We have been very nimble. The world is changing very fast and we need to adapt and respond quickly to the needs and opportunities for our member countries. So in the past year we have strengthened our presence in the countries of operations. With two-thirds of our staff in member countries, and just one-third at headquarters, we are closer than before to ground operations in member countries.

IPS: GGGI also helps member countries with investment strategies for their green projects. What is its investment mantra in an increasingly public fund-squeezed world?

PV: The mantra is that public investments are not sufficient to change the world. We need to attract other financing. Private financing is very important. There is a huge amount of private financing floating around. They are all looking for investment opportunities.

With current low interest rates it is difficult for them to find the right investment opportunities. So currently there is emerging a good opportunity to attract conservation finance for nature conservation, for water management, for sustainable landscapes.

Definitely there is a search for returns on investments but investors want impact; they want to do good for Nature, to do good for people. So this is also helping. Investors, especially in Germany, in the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries, are contributing to this shift. We have to find our opportunity in this shift to attract funding.

Since there is limited public money, we have to use it intelligently. What GGGI is doing is putting government and donor money or contributions from the Green Climate Fund into projects in such a way that the private investor feels confident that their investment will give assured returns. For instance, in Rwanda we are working on energy efficiency and climate change investments. Financial vehicles are designed with a foundation of public funds and this gives comfort to private investors.

IPS: How do you see the earth in 2050 and where do you see hope for sustainability coming from?

PV: In principle I am very optimistic. This is not a scientific answer but a personal opinion. I am also optimistic that we will be able to achieve positive results and in the end remain below the two degree warming limit.

This positivity is fed by the innovations for sustainability I see, that investors now are looking for impact rather than financial returns and the fact that the membership of GGGI increased to 28 members who remain very committed to a sustainable growth path. Countries like China may still be resorting to coal-powered electricity but they are taking big steps towards sustainability simultaneously.

Today, it is a combination of positive and negative factors, but I hope and expect the positive will prevail, that we will be able to turn the ship in the end. In the end it is all about people. If people want, it will happen.

The post Q&A: Achieving Sustainable Goals: “In the End it is All About People. If People Want, it Will Happen.” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Manipadma Jena interviews the Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute's (GGGI) Investment and Policy Solutions Division, PETER VOS.

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Q&A: As Water Scarcity Becomes the New Normal How Do We Manage This Scarce Resource?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-water-scarcity-becomes-new-normal-manage-scarce-resource/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-water-scarcity-becomes-new-normal-manage-scarce-resource http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-water-scarcity-becomes-new-normal-manage-scarce-resource/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 12:42:37 +0000 Manipadma Jena http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157558 Manipadma Jena interviews the executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute TORGNY HOLMGREN

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In south west coastal Satkhira, Bangladesh as salinity has spread to freshwater sources, a private water seller fills his 20-litre cans with public water supply to sell in islands where poor families spend 300 Bangladesh Taka every month to buy drinking and cooking water alone. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Manipadma Jena
STOCKHOLM, Sep 11 2018 (IPS)

Growing economies are thirsty economies. And water scarcity has become “the new normal” in many parts of the world, according to Torgny Holmgren executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

As climate change converges with rapid economic and urban development and poor farming practices in the emerging economies of South Asia, water insecurity for marginalised people and farmers is already intensifying.

By 2030 for instance, India’s demand for water is estimated to become double the available water supply. Forests, wetlands lost, rivers and oceans will be degraded in the name of development. This need not be so. Development can be sustainable, it can be green.

Technology today is a key component in achieving water use sustainability – be it reduced water use in industries and agriculture, or in treating waste water, among others. Low and middle income economies need water and data technology support from developed countries not only to reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on water, which relates to access to safe water and sanitation as well as the sound management of freshwater supplies, but several global goals in which water plays a critical role.

Speakers at SIWI’s 28th World Water Week held last month in Stockholm, Sweden, underpinned water scarcity as contributing to poverty, conflict, and the spread of waterborne diseases, as well as hindering access to education for women and girls.

Women are central to the collection and the safeguarding of water – they are responsible for more than 70 percent of water chores and management worldwide. But the issue goes far deeper than the chore of fetching water.  It is also about dignity, personal hygiene, safety, opportunity loss and reverting to gender stereotypes.

Women’s voices remain limited in water governance in South Asia, even though their participation in water governance can alleviate water crises through their traditional knowledge on small-scale solutions for agriculture, homestead gardening, and domestic water use. This can strengthen resilience to drought and improve family nutrition.

Holmgren, a former Swedish ambassador with extensive experience working in South Asia, among other regions, spoke to IPS about how South Asia can best address the serious gender imbalances in water access and the issue of sustainable water technology support from developed economies to developing countries. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Torgny Holmgren, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), says as water scarcity becomes the new normal, traditional knowledge must be combined with new technology to ensure water sustainability. Photo courtesy: SIWI

IPS: What major steps should South Asian economies adopt for sustainable water services from their natural ecosystems? 

TH: South Asia is experiencing now a scarcity of water as demand now grows, thanks to a growing economy and also growing population. For the region specifically, a fundamental aspect is how its countries govern their water accessibility. We at SIWI have seen water-scarce countries manage really efficiently while those with abundance mismanage this resource.

It boils down to how institutions, not just governments but communities, industries at large govern water – how water systems are organised and allocated. We have instances from Indian village parliaments that decide how to share, allocate and even treat common water resources together with neighbouring catchment area villages.

One good example of this is 2015 Stockholm Water Prize winner Rajendra Singh from India who has worked in arid rural areas with local and traditional water harvesting techniques to recharge river basins, revive and store rain water in traditional water bodies and bring life back to these regions. These techniques can also help to manage too much water from more frequent climate-induced floods.

Even though the largest [amount] water is presently still being consumed for food production, more and more water is being demanded by industries and electricity producers. As competition for the scarce resource accelerates, soon we have to restructure user categories differently in terms of tariffs and allocation because households and food production have to be provided adequate water.

Even farm irrigation reforms can regulate and save water as earlier award winning International Water Management Institute research has shown – that if governments lower subsidies on electricity for pumping, farmers were careful how much and for how long they extract groundwater, without affecting the crop yield. Farmers pumped less when energy tariffs were pegged higher.

IPS: What is SIWI’s stand on the issue of sustainable water technology support from developed economies to developing countries?

TH: Water has key advantages – it connects all SDGs and it is a truly global issue. If we look around we see similar situations in Cape Town, China and California. Water is not a North-South matter. Africa can learn from any country in any region. This is the opportunity the World Water Week offers.

It is true that new technology is developing fast, but a mix of this with traditional technology and local knowledge works well. We also need to adapt traditional technologies to modern water needs and situations. These can be basic, low cost and people friendly. And it could encourage more efficient storage and use of ‘green water’ (soil moisture used by plants).

Drip irrigation has begun to be used more in South Asia, India particularly. There is need to encourage this widely. Recycling and the way in which industries treat and re-use water should be more emphasised.

Technology transfer is and can be done in various ways. The private sector can develop both technologies and create markets for them. Governments too can provide enabling environments to promote technology development with commercial viability. A good example of this is mobile phone technology – one where uses today range from mobile banking to farmers’ access of weather data and farming advisory in remote regions.

Technology transfer from different countries can be donor or bank funded or through multi-lateral organisations like the international Green Climate Fund, but any technology always has to be adapted to local situations.

Training, education, knowledge and know-how sharing – are, to me, the best kinds of technology transfers. Students and researchers – be it through international educational exchanges or partnerships between overseas universities – get the know-how and can move back home to work on advancing technologies tailored to their national needs.

Is technology transfer happening adequately? There is a need to build up on new or local technology hardware. For this infrastructure finance is (increasingly) available but needs scaling up faster.

IPS: How can South Asia best address the serious gender imbalances in water access, bring more women into water governance in its patriarchal societies?

TH: It is important that those in power need encourage gender balance not in decision-making alone but in educational institutions. Making room for gender balance in an organisation’s decision-making structure is important. This can be possible if there is equal access to education. But we are seeing an encouraging trend – in youth seminars sometimes the majority attending are women.

Finding women champions from water organisations can also encourage other women to take up strong initiatives for water equity.

When planning and implementing projects there is a need to focus on what impacts, decisions under specific issues, are having on men and women separately. And projects need be accordingly gender budgeted.

IPS: How can the global south – under pressure to grow their GDP, needing more land, more industries to bring billions out of poverty – successfully balance their green and grey water infrastructure? What role can local communities play in maintaining green infrastructure? 

TH: When a water-scarce South Asian village parliament decides they will replant forests, attract rain back to the region, and when rain comes, collect it – this is a very local, community-centred green infrastructure initiative. Done on a large scale, it can bring tremendous change to people, livelihoods and societies at large.

We have long acted under the assumption that grey infrastructure – dams, levees, pipes and canals – purpose-built by humans, is superior to what nature itself can bring us in the form of mangroves, wetlands, rivers and lakes.

Grey infrastructure is very efficient at transporting and holding water for power production. But paving over the saw-grass prairie around Houston reduced the city’s ability to absorb the water that hurricane Harvey brought in August 2017.

It isn’t a question of either/or. We need both green and grey, and we need to be wise in choosing what serves our current and potential future set of purposes best.

Be it industrialised or developing countries, today we have to make more sophisticated use of green water infrastructures. Especially in South Asia’s growing urban sprawls, we must capture the flooding rainwater, store it in green water infrastructure for reuse; because grey cannot do it alone.

The post Q&A: As Water Scarcity Becomes the New Normal How Do We Manage This Scarce Resource? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Manipadma Jena interviews the executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute TORGNY HOLMGREN

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Salmon Farming, Questioned in Chile, Arrives to Argentinahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 08:07:24 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157530 Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer. The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations. “Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer […]

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A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Sep 10 2018 (IPS)

Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer.
The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations.

“Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer to Chile’s experience, which has been extremely negative,” attorney Alex Muñoz, director for Latin America of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas programme, told IPS from Santiago, Chile.

“In Chile we have suffered the serious impacts of the activity carried out by both local and Norwegian companies. Salmon is native to the northern hemisphere and there is very clear scientific evidence that farming this species is not sustainable in the southern hemisphere,” added the environmental law specialist.

Muñoz is one of the authors of a highly critical report on the Argentine project presented by 23 Argentine and international organisations – such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Oceana and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – grouped in the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence."The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.” -- Max Bello

The Forum is a network formed in 2004 to promote the care of the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and of the Pacific Ocean in Chile.

It was the visit to Argentina in March by King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, who met with President Mauricio Macri, which gave impetus to the initiative.

It would imply the introduction for the first time of an exotic species in the Argentinean sea, since this South American country has only up to now introduced fish in lakes and rivers.

On that occasion, Innovation Norway, a state-owned company and a national development bank that promotes Norwegian investment around the world, signed a cooperation agreement with the Argentine Agribusiness Ministry to study the implementation of “sustainable aquaculture” programmes in this South American nation.

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic animals or plants in all types of water environments in controlled conditions. In the case of salmon in Argentina, feasibility studies are being carried out in the extreme south of Patagonia, off the Argentine coasts of Tierra del Fuego, the southern territory shared with Chile.

IPS’s questions about the project were not answered by the agriculture authorities of Tierra del Fuego province or by the Agribusiness Ministry, which on Sept. 3 was demoted to a secretariat as part of austerity measures aimed at cutting public spending in the midst of the country’s economic collapse.

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

In March, the then minister Luis Etchevere stated that “our relations with Norway will allow us to benefit from that country’s more than 50 years of experience” in aquaculture, and added that “Tierra del Fuego can be a pioneer in development within Argentina.”

Norway, which has both wild and farmed salmon, is the world’s largest producer of this species that is consumed around the world for its taste and nutritional value.

In Chile, salmon farming in sea cages began more than 30 years ago on the island of Chiloé, about 1,100 south of Santiago, in the Los Lagos Region, and from there it grew and spread throughout Patagonia, to the Aysen and Magallanes Regions.

Today salmon is one of Chile’s main export products. Official figures indicate that the sector is expanding, since in 2017 exports amounted to 4.1 billion dollars, 20 percent up from the previous year.

Last year, salmon accounted for more than six percent of the country’s total exports.

According to Chile’s Salmon Industry Association, this year will be even better and sales to 75 international markets will generate more than five billion dollars.

According to the business chamber, the activity generates more than 70,000 direct and indirect jobs.

But “no amount of economic growth justifies the destruction of Patagonian ecosystems,” Max Bello, a Chilean natural resources specialist who has been working for 15 years in marine conservation organisations, told IPS from Santiago.

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Bello added: “The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.”

“Salmon farming has spread in a brutal manner in recent years, affecting not only natural resources but also culture, as it has displaced other activities,” Bello said.

In Argentina, a country whoses population of 44 million mostly eats beef, fish are mostly for export.

In 2017, according to official figures, 706,000 tons of seafood were sold abroad, worth 1.9 billion dollars. The main products are shrimp and squid, both native. In the domestic market, 341,000 tons of seafood was consumed last year.

The report presented by the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence states that, besides the heavy use of antibiotics, the main problem posed by salmon farming is the frequent escape from the sea cages of fish that end up being an exotic species.

In fact, in July, during a storm, four of the five cages of a salmon farm owned by the Norwegian company Marine Harvest in Calbuco, near the city of Puerto Montt, broke and 650,000 salmon ended up in the sea.

“According to the law, the company has to recover at least 10 percent of the fish, because otherwise environmental damage is assumed,” biologist Flavia Liberona, executive director of the Chilean environmental foundation Terram, told IPS.

Regarding the use of chemical products, Liberona explained from Santiago that “because they are not in their environment, salmon in Chile are highly prone to diseases, which is why they use more antibiotics than in Norway.”

“In 2008 there was a major crisis in the industry due to the spread of a virus, which caused the loss of thousands of jobs,” she said.

Biologist Alexandra Sapoznikow, coordinator of the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence, said “this activity has frequent crises and we are concerned that it is seen as a possibility for economic development. Tierra del Fuego receives tourists who are looking for nature, which is this province’s opportunity.”

Speaking to IPS from the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn, Sapoznikow, who teaches Natural Resources Management at Argentina’s National University of Patagonia, added that the introduction of salmon farming would also come into conflict with the project that civil society organisations have been working on with the Argentine government to create marine protected areas in the South Atlantic.

In November 2017, the government sent to Congress a bill for the creation of two marine protected areas near Tierra del Fuego, which would extend the total conservation area from the current 28,000 square km to 155,000.

The initiative, however, has not yet begun to be discussed, while the Ministry of Environment – which drafted it jointly with the National Parks Administration – was demoted on Sept. 3 to a secretariat.

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Four-Year Drought Forces Cuba to Find Ways to Build Resiliencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/four-year-drought-forces-cuba-find-ways-build-resilience/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=four-year-drought-forces-cuba-find-ways-build-resilience http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/four-year-drought-forces-cuba-find-ways-build-resilience/#respond Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:08:20 +0000 Ivet Gonzalez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157503 Eastern Cuba has suffered drought since time immemorial. But the western and central regions of the island used to be almost free of the phenomenon, until the latest drought that plagued this country between 2014 and 2017. “For the first time drought is seen as a major threat, due to the magnitude of the economic […]

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A man rests while his horse drinks water from an almost dry stream near the village of Palenque, in the municipality of Yateras in the eastern province of Guantánamo, one of the worst affected by the long drought that affected Cuba between 2014 and 2017. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A man rests while his horse drinks water from an almost dry stream near the village of Palenque, in the municipality of Yateras in the eastern province of Guantánamo, one of the worst affected by the long drought that affected Cuba between 2014 and 2017. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Ivet González
HAVANA, Sep 7 2018 (IPS)

Eastern Cuba has suffered drought since time immemorial. But the western and central regions of the island used to be almost free of the phenomenon, until the latest drought that plagued this country between 2014 and 2017.

“For the first time drought is seen as a major threat, due to the magnitude of the economic impacts it caused,” agronomist Loexys Rodríguez, who in the eastern city of Guantánamo promotes and carries out research on resilience in the productive sector in the face of drought, told IPS.

Over the past four years, Cuba has faced the most extensive drought seen in 115 years, affecting 80 percent of the country.

Prolonged rationing in the residential sector, with the suspension of water supply for up to a month, caused serious social upheaval, while economic losses amounted to 1.5 billion dollars, according to official figures.

All regions, especially the central part of the country, were ravaged by the so-called “silent disaster,” because it advances slowly and almost imperceptibly.

Latin America has suffered the worst droughts in its history in this century and the subsequent loss of income was four times more than that caused by floods, warned the World Bank, which even called for thinking about a new economy in times of scarcity and variable water supplies.

Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru are among the countries in the region that have experienced the most severe dry spells so far this century, considered part of the effects of climate change.

According to the World Bank, in general terms, this phenomenon has a greater impact on Caribbean island nations such as Cuba.

“It has been demonstrated that these droughts are recurrent, that we are practically living with them,” Rodríguez warned. However, “not all elements of resilience are being given the same level of priority or national scope,” the expert warned.

Because they are the most frequent and dreaded phenomenon in the Caribbean, especially in the islands, hurricanes capture all the attention of the national disaster response systems. Associated with cyclones, the concept of resilience began to be used recently in Cuba’s disaster response system.

With respect to the environment, this term refers to the ability of a community, economic activity or ecosystem, among others, to absorb disturbances such as the onslaught of weather events without significantly altering their characteristics of structure and functionality, so as to facilitate the subsequent return to its original state.

A peasant farmer checks the water level in his backyard well, in the municipality of Horno de Guisa, Granma province, in eastern Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A peasant farmer checks the water level in his backyard well, in the municipality of Horno de Guisa, Granma province, in eastern Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Rodríguez spoke with IPS after presenting a methodological tool that allows farmers and agricultural decision-makers to easily determine how drought-resilient a farm is, at the 10th International Congress on Disasters, held in Havana Jul. 2-6.

The tool is a result of the programme “Sustainable agricultural practices adapted to climate change in the province of Guantánamo, Cuba,” which was implemented in 2016 by local entities with the support of the international humanitarian organisation Oxfam and with aid from Belgium.

In addition to a self-assessment guide, the instrument included in the book “Resilience to drought based on agroecology” includes a perception survey of the phenomenon, possible solutions and a set of local agroecological capacities and services to which farmers can turn to in the face of drought.

The study, which covered the municipalities of Niceto Pérez and Manuel Tames in Guantánamo, establishes 10 features that farms must achieve to be resistant, proposes 64 agroecological practices for farm management and design, and listed more than 50 entities with innovations, services, or funds to be used.

Geologist Yusmira Savón, who also participated in the project, described the tool as “very flexible to achieve collective drought resilience, with a high level of organisation, agroecological bases and the use of local capacities.”

“Droughts are lasting longer and longer, and the duration of rainy and dry seasons is changing,” she told IPS. “It would be very interesting for the country to work harder on the concept of resilience, which allows for the elimination of deficiencies in a proactive way, that is, before disasters happen,” she said.

 A view of a sugar cane plantation after it was destroyed by a fire caused by high temperatures in the municipality of Palma Soriano, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS


A view of a sugar cane plantation after it was destroyed by a fire caused by high temperatures in the municipality of Palma Soriano, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Cuban authorities and scientific institutions are calling for more research and projects to prevent and adapt to drought.

“Living in a semi-arid zone greatly limits development, but it gives Guantánamo a potential that other provinces don’t have,” Ángel Almarales, director of the state-run Centre of Technology for Sustainable Development (Catedes), based in the provincial capital, 929 km east of Havana, told IPS by phone.

This province of 6,167 square km hosts a contrasting geography: in the north the climate is rainy and tropical, to the point that the municipality of Baracoa has the highest level of rainfall in Cuba; in the centre, the landscape is a tropical savannah; while the southern coastal strip is the only large semi-arid part of this Caribbean island nation.

Catedes is a scientific institution focused on finding development solutions for semi-desert area, which means it has know-how that is now needed by other Cuban regions.

Its formula, perfected over more than 10 years, includes the use of renewable energies in the fight against desertification and drought.

“Our big problem (as a province) is that we still don’t know how to manage water,” Almarales said of the key goal to be reached by the department of 511,093 people in its search for resilience to drought and improving quality of life.

Caimanera, a municipality known for adjoining the U.S. Guantánamo Naval Base, is in that semi-arid zone, where economic activities are basically limited to salt production, fishing and public services.
“Production of salt continues to be the main source of employment,” said Pedro Pupo, municipal director of labour and social security, during a June visit by international media to Caimanera, where the largest salt industry is located, which supplies just over 60 percent of national consumption.

Pupo cited as an example that in the municipal district of Hatibonico, “which is the most aridt area, mainly produces charcoal, because of the climatic conditions.” Also some opportunities were created in the local production of construction materials, he added in dialogue with IPS.

However, with the urban agriculture programme that promotes agroecological techniques in urban areas, and production adapted to the aridity of the climate and soil salinity, the local government reports that Caimanera produces 70 percent of the food it consumes.

With a rainy season that usually runs from May to November, Cuba has been implementing the National Water Policy since 2012, a programme that depends on rainfall and which uses 60 percent of the water for agriculture, 20 percent for human consumption, five percent for industrial use and the rest for other economic activities.

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Why India’s Solar Water-Drawing ATMs and Irrigation Pumping Systems Offer Replicable Strategieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/indias-solar-water-drawing-atms-irrigation-pumping-systems-offer-replicable-strategies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indias-solar-water-drawing-atms-irrigation-pumping-systems-offer-replicable-strategies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/indias-solar-water-drawing-atms-irrigation-pumping-systems-offer-replicable-strategies/#respond Tue, 28 Aug 2018 08:54:18 +0000 Ranjit Devraj http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157362 At New Delhi’s Savda Ghevra slum settlement, waterborne diseases have become less frequent thanks to solar-powered water ATMs that were installed here as a social enterprise venture three years ago. “The water is cheap, reliable and fresh-tasting,” Saeeda, a mother of three who lives close to an ATM, tells IPS. Each day, Saeeda collects up […]

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A man draws water from a solar-powered water ATM in New Delhi’s Savda Ghevra slum settlement. Thanks to these machines, which allow users to withdraw water with a rechargeable card, waterborne diseases have become less frequent here. Credit: Ranjit Devraj/IPS

By Ranjit Devraj
NEW DEHLI, Aug 28 2018 (IPS)

At New Delhi’s Savda Ghevra slum settlement, waterborne diseases have become less frequent thanks to solar-powered water ATMs that were installed here as a social enterprise venture three years ago.

“The water is cheap, reliable and fresh-tasting,” Saeeda, a mother of three who lives close to an ATM, tells IPS. Each day, Saeeda collects up to 15 litres of water from the ATM, paying 30 paisa per litre for the water with a rechargeable card. It means she pays 4.5 Rupees (about 6 US cents) for 15 litres of pure drinking water. It is convenient and cheap as bottled drinking water costs about 20 Rupees (about 30 US cents).Over the last 25 years India’s ministry of new and renewable energy, a GGGI partner, has developed specialised programmes for both drinking water as well as irrigation systems using solar water pumping systems of which there are now an estimated 15,000 units.

Installed by Piramal Sarvajal, as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, the decentralised drinking water project for urban slums now provides access to clean water to some 10,000 families in six slum clusters, Amit Mishra, the project’s operations manager, tells IPS.

Mishra says that each water ATM, though locally operated through a franchise system and powered using solar panels, is centrally controlled through cloud technology that integrates 1,100 touch points in 16 states. The result is reduced costs that allow round-the-clock provision of pure drinking water to underserved communities.

Sarvajal Piramal is not the only group that has set up solar-powered water ATMs in New Delhi or other parts of Delhi. Solar-powered water ATMs are part of a plan to use solar power to supply water for India’s vast 1.3 billion people, not only for drinking, but also for agricultural use.

“This is the kind of decentralised, neighbourhood solutions that the Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) is interested in,” the Netherlands-based group’s deputy director and water sector lead, Peter Vos, tells IPS. “However, solutions of this type may not be ideal in all situations, since the networks may require a lot of maintenance and can be costly.”

GGGI, says Vos, is interested in promoting policies that allow efficient use of limited water resources sustainably and at reasonable cost. “We do this by embedding ourselves in key ministries concerned with renewable energy, rural development as well as water and sanitation.”

Currently, GGGI has an approved budget of USD 1.37 million dollars for knowledge sharing, transfer of green technologies and capacity building in order to meet global commitments towards implementation of India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris agreement. “Facilitating the flow of domestic and international climate finance and investment would be a key contribution to support India’s NDC implementation,” Vos says.

India’s setting up of the International Solar Alliance, an alliance that facilitates cooperation among sun-rich countries, provides GGGI an opportunity to disseminate renewable energy best practices with 18 GGGI member countries and seven partner countries—India and China are partner countries and prospective members.

As a predominantly agricultural country, with the world’s largest irrigated area serviced by some 26 million groundwater pumps mostly run on diesel or electricity, GGGI is keenly interested in India’s plans to switch to the use of solar power for irrigation.

Electric pumps are considered unreliable and diesel is costly. To keep them running, India spends about USD 6 million in annual subsidies that create their own distortions. Farmers tend to waste electricity as well as water thanks to the subsidies, Vos explains.

Under India’s National Solar Mission programme, farmers are now supported with capital cost subsidies for solar pump systems. A credit-linked subsidy scheme invites local institutions across the country to provide loans to reduce the subsidy burden on the government and make the system affordable for farmers.

According to a GGGI study released in 2017, the ‘context-specific delivery models’ used in the solar pump programme have resulted in noteworthy initial successes in terms of economic and social benefits, emission reductions, reduced reliance on subsides, increased agricultural output, development of new businesses, job-creation and improved incomes and livelihoods in rural areas.

India’s models offer replicable strategies to support solar irrigation pumping systems in other countries where GGGI has a presence, says Vos. In fact, the Indian government has plans to export solar pumping systems and expertise to countries interested in greener alternatives for irrigation.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), irrigation is becoming an important part of global agricultural production, consuming about 70 percent of global freshwater resources and reliable irrigation. However, using solar-powered systems can increase crop yields four-fold and can be key to national objectives like achieving food security.

Over the last 25 years India’s ministry of new and renewable energy, a GGGI partner, has developed specialised programmes for both drinking water as well as irrigation systems using solar water pumping systems of which there are now an estimated 15,000 units.

The progress has not been entirely without a hitch and, so far, the solar water-pumping market has remained relatively small primarily due to high up-front capital costs and low awareness among farmers as well as users of drinking water provided through ATMs.

A study of the Savda Ghevra slum showed that it took 18 months before the first ATM could be provided to Piramal Sarvajal. And then only 37 percent of the residents were using the ATMs as a primary or secondary source of potable water.

The study found that the ATMs were more than covering operating costs and generating revenue for Piramal Sarvajal, and could reach a wider population with government or other support, especially in the rural areas. The monies generated by Piramal Sarvajal are used to pay salaries and to maintain the machines.

According to the government’s own figures, presented in parliament in 2017; out of 167.8 million households in rural India only 2.9 million or 16 percent have access to safe drinking water. GGGI with its  considerable experience and expertise around the world is well-placed to step in, says Vos.

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How Safe Drinking Water in Rural Vanuatu Will Save Women Time While Aiding in Economic Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/safe-drinking-water-rural-vanuatu-will-save-women-time-aiding-economic-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=safe-drinking-water-rural-vanuatu-will-save-women-time-aiding-economic-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/safe-drinking-water-rural-vanuatu-will-save-women-time-aiding-economic-development/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:00:50 +0000 Nalisha Adams http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157355 Access to safe water for drinking and an adequate supply of water for other purposes is challenging in the rural areas of Vanuatu. A new project, that uses solar water pumping technology, will save time and energy for rural women whose task it is to collect and make water more accessible to their communities. Just […]

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By Nalisha Adams
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 27 2018 (IPS)

Access to safe water for drinking and an adequate supply of water for other purposes is challenging in the rural areas of Vanuatu. A new project, that uses solar water pumping technology, will save time and energy for rural women whose task it is to collect and make water more accessible to their communities.

Just over half the population in Vanuatu had access to appropriate facilities for basic sanitation in 2015, but with an annual progress of 0.2 percent, the country is projected to achieve basic sanitation targets far in the future. For Vanuatu, the rate of progress on water is slow.

The Vanuatu Government is working with ministries and institutions to mobile finance and implement projects to ensure that communities in the country have access to clean and safe drinking water.

A recent partnership to provide solar-powered water pumps to 30 communities in rural areas and on remote islands will address the lack of secure freshwater access, which also results from extreme climatic events such as drought, which frequently hit Vanuatu. 

“This in turn should improve rural livelihoods [and] also improve sanitation and health for the project beneficiaries,” says Paul Kaun, Global Green Growth Institute’s (GGGI) senior project officer for Vanuatu. It will also cut CO2 emissions and improve “opportunities for income generation in rural areas through more reliable and safe water supplies.”

In July, the government of Luxembourg signed an agreement with GGGI committing about USD 1,750,000 to the provision and installation of the solar-powered pumps on Vanuatu. GGGI, an international organisation that works with developing and emerging countries to create programmes according to a sustainable green growth model, will administer the funds through the agreement.

The project will be implemented in close partnership with the Vanuatu ministry of climate change, the department of energy and department of water.

“Vanuatu is one of the small island states in the Pacific region that faces climate change because they are very vulnerable. But given that, there is a lot of potential for sustainable development,” says Dr. André Weidenhaupt, director-general at the department for environment in Luxembourg’s ministry for sustainable development and infrastructure.

Considered the world’s most vulnerable small developing nation to climate change and natural disasters, Vanuatu, which is located just east off Australia’s Queensland coast, is regularly affected by droughts, cyclones and volcanic eruptions. In recent years it has experienced rising sea levels, increased frequency and intensity of cyclones, and drastic changes in weather patterns that affect agricultural production.

Vanuatu ranks 134 out of 188 countries o the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. The project goals address crucial areas of development on the island archipelago as some 43 percent of Ni-Vanuatu are categorised as living in poverty and the nation remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

According to the GGGI Vanuatu Country Planning Framework (CPF) 2017-2021, a strategic planning document which commits GGGI and the Government of Vanuatu to common goals for green growth, “rural electrification rates are very low—under 10 percent of households.” The large majority, 76 percent, “are located in rural areas, where only one in 10 homes, under half of the schools (42 percent), and one in four health facilities have some self-generated electricity (mainly petroleum fuel based).”

“A challenge is to make energy accessible to all, but by means that are climate safe. This can be [done] with small scale photovoltaic systems, which are assessable to everyone, and which is feasible,” Weidenhaupt says.

“The goals [of the project] are at first level to provide clean and safe drinking water and, in parallel, to give access to sustainable energy for all at local and regional level. And at secondary level this allows economic rural development in Vanuatu,” Weidenhaupt adds.

The Need for a Clean Water Supply

In 2015, the category 5 Cyclone Pam—the strongest on record in the region at the time—affected 74 percent of the islands’ 300,000 people. It cost the nation more than half—USD450 million—of its national gross domestic product, says Kaun.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Pam, access to clean water was a major challenge as “68 percent of rainwater harvesting structures were damaged and 70 percent of the existing wells and water systems were contaminated,” Kaun tells IPS via email.

The Vanuatu islands sit 90 centimetres above sea level. But according to a U.N. Children’s Fund report, the sea level has been rising by 5.6 millimetres per year since 1993, and is expected to reach more than 50 centimetres by 2100. As sea levels rise, and people migrate to the islands’ interiors, water quality is under threat. According to the CFP, “access to reliable safe water supplies in rural areas is low.”

The many islands that make up Vanuatu are too small to have significant natural lakes or artificial reservoirs, and “river courses are short and the flows are short lived especially in dry periods,” according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N.

“The migration of people into the islands’ interiors also threatens the quality of surface water supplying downstream coastal villages. The water supply is either taken from groundwater via open wells and bores, from surface water sources, or rainwater collection with storage in ferro-cement or polyethylene tanks,” Kaun says.

The Need of Aid in Building Climate Resilience

The country’s economy depends largely on tourism and agriculture. A government report, funded by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change for the Least Developed Countries, noted “small-scale agriculture provides for over 65 percent of the population while fishing, offshore financial services and tourism also contribute to the government revenues.”

It is one of the reasons why the Luxembourg government/GGGI/government of Vanuatu partnership is key to assist the people of Vanuatu. “Vanuatu has a relatively smaller revenue base. Tourism has been the main contributor of national GDP and also contributes to government revenues, most of which are on government operations. Therefore, Vanuatu relies a lot on external aid for development and building climate resilience,” says Kaun.

Weidenhaupt points out that “this nexus between water supply and renewable energy is a very important one.” He says both technologies can be conceived in a decentralised way that has advantages in places like Vanuatu.

“You can install them in a couple of households, in small municipalities [and] even in larger municipalities. They are like building blocks and can be conceived in whatever dimension,” Weidenhaupt says.

Weidenhaupt notes that GGGI is an ideal partner as the organisation has a wide range of experience and scope in projects that are at the nexus of climate change, sustainable development water management and other environmental objectives.

“In relation to climate action, Luxembourg immediately realised we needed an additional geographic focus, and that’s the small pacific island states. We looked to find a partner for that, and obviously GGGI is very active in this area,” Weidenhaupt says.

 

 

Vanuatu’s Challenge in Accessing Climate Resources

Vanuatu became a member of GGGI in 2015 and since then GGGI has been working with the government of Vanuatu to promote green growth and assist in meeting Vanuatu’s national development objectives.

For the Luxembourg government-funded solar water-pumping project, GGGI has formed a partnership with both the department of energy and the department of water, to implement the project.

“We have also regularly involved other key government agencies such as the ministry of finance and the prime minister’s office in training workshops at both national and regional level and country meetings. These national agencies are consistently involved in GGGI’s in-country activities and programmes,” Kaun says.

GGGI has assisted in reviewing and updating the National Energy Road Map (NERM) in 2016.

“One of the objectives of NERM is to achieve the NDC target of 100 percent renewable energy (RE) by 2030, aimed at reducing the national CO2 emissions. Another objective on the NERM is to use renewable energy for green growth, including in the water sector,” says Kaun. Nationally determined contributions or NDCs are blueprints or outlines by countries on how they plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The government of Vanuatu also aims to achieve 100 percent rural electrification by 2030.

Kaun adds that GGGI’s open and transparent processes played a key role in gaining the confidence and trust of the Vanuatu government.

A Sustainable Way Forward for Vanuatu

Meanwhile, Weidenhaupt envisions the potential for a sustainable economy on Vanuatu.

“There is the whole ensemble of sustainable aqua culture, which can be developed in these island states. There is the whole potential of sustainable tourism which can provide for development [while] staying in the limits of our planet,” he says.

Weidenhaupt notes that in order to benefit from Vanuatu’s resources there is a need to better coordinate management of energy, water and marine sectors and to integrate environmental management with economic development.

But finally, Vanuatu has the potential for rural development, which, Weidenhaupt says, “is very key to sustainable development and which is perfectly adapted to smaller areas like Vanuatu or Luxembourg – to give this as a comparative example.”

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