Category Archives: General Water Sector News from Africa

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Why Is No Water Coming Out Of my Tap?: Taking Stock of Cape Town Water Crisis


Khayelitsha township. Cape Town water crisis is posing risk to public health in areas including such as Khayelitsha township, the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa.

Stacey F Williams and Shoks Mnisi Mzolo
February 20, 2018

The protracted drought afflicting Cape Town means many things to different people. It exposes Africa’s most beautiful city for its litany of contradictions and threatens its share of tourism revenue as holidaymakers look elsewhere.

The crisis, precipitated by the merciless climate change, has is also something of a political football as power mongers use it as a pretext to settle scores. A case in point is the shoving of Mayor Patricia de Lille, falsely accused of fraud, as head of the city’s response to the drought – a crisis which would have been sorted had her predecessors acted in time given that meteorologist raised the matter 20 years ago. So, the sudden urgency to desalinate, or to convert sea water for domestic usage, justifies the civil sector’s suspicions that politicians in the Democratic Alliance, which runs the city, and commercials interests conspired. There is more to the raging dryness than meets the eye. Whatever the reasons, it is the poor who stand to lose tourism-related and informal jobs. This category is also stuck between thirst and unsafe tap water, a recipe for diseases.

This is because, to quote Jaye Pather, who lives and works in the central district, prices of bottled water have skyrocketed. Quick research shows that, while bottled-water sellers are profiteering from drought, this good is now out of reach for the lower rungs – limited by the municipality to make do with a daily ration of 50 litres per person – and hence their resorting to unsafe water which, as Pather says, tastes like “metal”. For context, the daily tap water ration is half the 100-litre recommended by the World Health Organisation. This prompted farmer-activist Nazeer Sonday to liken the municipality’s actions, in a newspaper opinion piece, to “slow violence” and termed the crisis “a metaphor for the commodification of our commons – in this case, water”.

Since boiling river water – to treat it so it’s drinkable – can trigger unaffordable electricity bills in poor areas such as Khayelitsha, Langa and Mitchells Plain, some residents drink it unpurified, exposing themselves to an unfolding health crisis contends recent graduate and Cape Flats resident Lebo November also citing adverse economic impact. Jeering at 50-litre restrictions as one-sided, she worries the municipality is “taking away the income” of township businesses like salons, car washes and property owners (renting out their space to small ventures). A case in point is Execuwash which now buys recycled water – naturally lifting overheads and dragging profits south – to stay afloat, says Naieem Hanware of his family-owned car-wash business. In contrast, Wandisa Dzingwe admitted to saving more water in Port Elizabeth than she did in Cape Town, her new home, thanks to her mother’s personal concern about usage.

“Surely the government should’ve seen this coming,” Dzingwe said, when government’s management of the situation came up. She is not alone. “What’s happening is ridiculous, because we’re relying on dams when we know the water will inevitable evaporate and be absorbed into the ground. Then we talk about ‘day zero’ when the dams are empty, but there’s plenty of water underground,” says a recent Masters graduate in hydrogeology. Day zero, likely in May, refers to when the authorities will switch off taps in the city and station water trucks at roughly 200 sites where residents would queue for their water allocation which would be halved to a mere 25 litres (barely enough for a bath and flush).

Broadly, whatever the angle, things are bleak. Pather’s view echoes that of Sibu Mtsi, a Thornton resident who claims that “in poor areas it has [become] harder, especially in terms of getting clean drinking water.”

A totally different picture emerges from wealthy suburbs such as Marlborough Park, to the east of the dry Cape Town formerly known as //Hui !Gaeb and now nicknamed Mother City. Marlborough Park residents refill their pools and use sprinklers to shower lawns. The same applies in many other affluent areas including Bantry Bay and Clifton. That said, municipality restrictions are applied selectively with the rich ignoring the pressing need to preserve water for the sake of the rest of the city that is home to four million people, making it South Africa’s third-largest after Johannesburg and eThekwini (Durban).

A throwback shows a disjuncture between these behaviours and sustainability awards bestowed on the picturesque Mother City. Not only does it stand out as one of the world’s most “green” cities but also received kudos from a climate change-focused global cities initiative known as C40 award for its efforts in the context of water management. In a twisted irony, population growth is driven by low-income earners (a common trend from Bogota to Lagos and London) whose per capita usage pales against what you would find in upmarket suburbs not least Clifton with its glistening swimming pools. So, the improving personal usage ratio – amid wasteful habits by affluent residents – is a direct result of the growth of the low-end

“We have reached the point of no return,” De Lille, the mayor, once told the media, moaning the unashamed waste by sections of her city, a situation she said would precipitate what is known as “day zero” when the municipality would switch off the taps and slash personal provision. “It is quite unbelievable that a majority [of] people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards day zero.” Sonday, a farmer, describes the term as a “fear mongering expression”.

While day zero spells huge profits for the water industry with some households resorting to stockpiling despite inflated prices, the crisis has exposed other fault lines. SA Breweries, an Anheuser-Busch InBev unit, was slammed for its “minimalist offer” of water bottles totalling 9-million litres when taps run dry instead of acting now to prevent a health crisis. At the crux of the outcry is the fact that the brewer benefits from spring water, a national good. “[Your] minimalist offer of handing out bottled water to the masses on day zero was highly insulting when you receive millions of litres of our spring water for free, every day,” retorted the Cape Town Water Crisis Coalition, consisting dozens of civic organisations.

The showering lawns and sparkling swimming pools in rich areas stoke a sense that there is fear-mongering. The postponement of “day zero”, by a month to mid-May, has reiterated this belief. For its part, the municipality says this day was pushed back amid a decline in agricultural usage by farmers in the Western Cape province who draw their water from the same supply system after using up their allocated share. This development is notable because agriculture claims 30% of the provincial water usage.

“This should fall to approximately 15% in March and 10% in April. It must be noted that the city does not have any control over agricultural releases, so this is the best estimate we can make,” the municipality said in a statement but neglected to explain its curious reluctance to clamp on wasteful consumption in leafy suburbs. “[We] need to get our consumption down to 450-million litres per day to prevent the remaining water supplies running out before the arrival of winter rains. We cannot accurately predict the volume of rainfall still to come, or when it will come.”

To keep to a 50-litre daily limit, though applied unequally, means a two-minute shower and flushing the toilet only once a day. Politicians say they are also playing their part to comply. Provincial premier and former Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on social media she was washing in a bowl. “It wasn’t funny,” retorts November. “I don’t know how to talk about this without being emotional.” She insists residents in rich, usually white areas, have sufficient supply. Zille, labelled “pot stirrer” by the Mail & Guardian, is notorious for racist comments. Owing to the legacy of apartheid, a crime against humanity, race tends to determine where one lives and remains a proxy for privilege, economic power and income levels.

The disbelief in the severity of the water crisis seems to be in tension with the claims of the awareness and understanding of city folks. From the affluent to working class areas, residents know the situation is bad thanks to the media coverage (with farmer Sonday deriding ‘day zero’ as a “fear mongering expression”), but rich areas – if you except drinking water – are spared as law enforcement officers hardly venture there whereas “water is switched off in the townships on weekends. No consultation,” complains a livid November.

Since the water provided by the municipality is undrinkable, the tap to spring water in Newlands, to the south of the Mother City, is available to just about anyone. The downside is that the spring, at an SA Breweries complex, is out of the way for the poor of the Cape Flats – near the Table Mountain and home to apartheid-style matchbox houses and slums. A local noted that bathing in buckets and using boiled water has become a way of life in areas like Khayelitsha, also on the Flats. “They (Khayelitsha residents) are affected differently, honestly… ‘Rhondies’ can go to [Newlands] to get water, but Khayelitsha have to use the same water from the same tap as before,” said a woman from Ottery, a southern suburb. Rhondies are residents of a Rondebosch, a middle-class neighbourhood home to the University of Cape Town (UCT).

However, areas open to large numbers of the public have changed their visible water usage. Public toilets have become unpleasant to use, because of poor hygiene habits being practiced in the name of saving water. Students at UCT and elsewhere are concerned about toilets that are not being flushed on campus. Further, hand sanitisers have replaced handwashing water at the Cape Town International Airport. Companies are asking employees to bring water from home and business travelers, used to complementary bottled water, are now required to buy water and hotel visitors urged to stick to the two-minute shower regime. Worse, some toilets don’t provide hand sanitiser, as a local who prefers anonymity lets off. “I just don’t think water should be restricted in public areas,” she says. The size of her family of six adults has forced them to ration their water very carefully to avoid fines and manage without Newlands water, because it is not conveniently accessible to them.

As the city crawls towards dry taps, the question is how residents and political leaders are responding to the threat to their livelihoods. Tourist operators and hairdressers are some of the early victims. Health is already taking pain as airborne and waterborne diseases creep in. There is consensus about the municipality’s local government’s ineptness. “How we respond to this water crisis will determine whether we have access to water as commons – shared equitably by all, or water commodified, privatised and only available to the wealthy,” wrote Sonday, the Philippi Horticultural Area activist. Accusing government of failure to invest to meet water demands of a growing community, he added that the crisis is far-reaching and extends to food security.

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Ghana’s Former President John Kufuor Urges Leaders Not to Abandon the Fight against Climate Change


Ghana’s former President John Agyekum Kufuor (R) speaking to journalist Ama Kudom-Agyemang (L).

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
February 19, 2018

Ghana’s former President John Agyekum Kufuor has stated that, “it will be a mistake and a very sad one, for humanity to throw up our hands and abandon our fight against climate change.”

He explained that climate change “is very real and its related natural disasters and associated problems are bigger than the human mind can comprehend and that is why we must continue to work out solutions.”

President Kufuor expressed these sentiments in response to a question on the seeming waning zeal of some African governments and civil society organisations in the fight against climate change. This was in an exclusive interview on his current perceptions about the phenomenon, following the end of his tenure as one of two Special Envoys on Climate Change for the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The other was Jens Stoltenberg, former Prime Minister of Norway.

The two were assigned to assist in engaging Heads of State and governments around the world to mobilise political will and action on climate change in advance of the 2014 Climate Summit in New York.

Their assignment in a way contributed to the international acceptance of the Paris Climate Accord during the 21st Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dubbed COP 21 held in France in 2015.

The former President said the assignment has made him comprehend climate change issues and the frustrations that come with trying of find solutions. “At times out of desperation, when you tackle a problem and you don’t get the solutions as quickly as you want to, you throw your hands up and just give up,” adding, “but if we can make our mark, we must continue to accept the guidance of scientific research and technological efforts at findings solutions devoid of sentiments.”

He said another impact of the assignment on his life is that “naturally, I’m still interested in and do follow climate change issues and how nations are mitigating and adapting.”

On the issue of climate financing, President Kufuor said every country is supposed to contribute to working out solutions as indicated by the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDCs are key to the Paris Agreement and represents efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

He noted, “the forces that are being unleashed by climate change are so overwhelming and time is not on our side. We need to do whatever we can by ourselves first of all, and external help will come.” He wondered, “how come rains in recent times, are wrecking such havoc, we didn’t use to see such things before.”

Mr. Kufuor urged African countries to do all in their power to reduce emissions and “once we do our part, the industrialized nations will also live up to their expectations, then cumulatively we will be working for the entire world.” He was of the view that once, climate change related activities are streamlined and prioritized, allocations could be made in the national budgets to cater for their implementation.

The former President also touched on the perception that the Chinese were importing climate change into African countries through their numerous projects. He cautioned Ghanaians to beware of speaking in such general terms of the counterproductive activities of some Chinese in the country.

President Kufuor explained that statements like “the Chinese are spoiling our country,” could imply that “it is their government or nation that is behind the activities. But no, no, no…” he emphasized.

His thoughts on these developments were that “now the world is opening up so fast with mobility of people and their individual initiatives all around the world, thanks to advancing technology in transportation and communication. So we may get some people coming in to pursue their own selfish economic and business interests.”

President Kufuor added that, “they come and without conscience, just driven by greed and perhaps ignorance, they liaise with some locals who again for some petty gain, not appreciating the damage they doing to their own environment engage in galamsey (illegal mining) activities, polluting our waters and environment.” He emphasized that when such people are caught the law should deal firmly with them and reiterated that “we have to be careful of not labeling the Chinese government as being responsible for the infamous activities of some Chinese individuals or firms.”

President Kufuor pointed out that “China as a nation is very concerned about the impact of climate change and the devastation it is causing in their environment.” Therefore, the nation has developed a technology for greening deserts. He recalled his visit at the invitation of the Chinese government to witness how the new technology had been employed. “I was impressed that in the huge Inner Mongolia Kubuqi Desert, about 6000 of the 18, 600 sq. km. of the area has been turned all green, with soil nutrient fixing grass, luscious fruits and vegetables.”

According to an article by Charlie Campbell published in the July 27th, 2017 edition of Timeinc.net, “In 1988, the Chinese firm Elion Resources Group partnered with local people and the Beijing government to combat desertification. Almost three decades later, one third of Kubuqi has been greened. Special plants have been grown to grip the shifting sands and to prevent the dunes encroaching on farms and villages.”

Known as the Kubuqi Ecological Restoration Project, the result now is that “the cattle have returned, and secondary industries have sprung up, with tourists flocking to new locally-run hotels and restaurants, eager to explore the dunes on boards and buggies.”

Consequently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates the project to be worth 1.8 billion US Dollars over a 50 year period. Thus, “Kubuqi’s transformation burnishes China’s credentials as an environmental leader at a time when Washington is retreating from its international commitments,” notes the writer.

And President Emmanuel Macron of France affirmed these sentiments, when he stated: “Now China leads,” following US President Donald Trump’s refusal to reconsider withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord.

“So I want to be careful we do not generalize when we’re talking about stray Chinese individuals in collusion with some of our own people,” Ghana’s former President stated.

He compared galamsey activities to the American gold rush where people picked up cutlasses and spades wherever they could find gold, saying “this could go on till policy is brought to bear, regularize and guide such activities. In this wise, he commended the government for taking “some very significant steps to contain the situation.”

“But beyond that,” President Kufuor said, “we should also rally the masses of people in the catchment areas of such places for social education. Let them see the dangers they are perpetrating on themselves and on the nation as a whole, and let them know there could be alternatives, let them know that government is fashioning policies perhaps to move them into cooperatives with concessions away from water bodies and farms so they could pick out their living legitimately.”

He further said, “Extension officers could help drum this into the consciousness of galamsey operators that they are not doing things right,” stressing, “we must not stop the current campaign, but we must use mass education with extension guidance and policies to move people away into legitimate operations with appropriate technologies of small scale operators.”

The ex-Un Special Envoy on Climate Change, also had a word for Ghanaians ahead of the forthcoming global celebration of World Water Day on March 22nd on the theme, ‘nature and water.” “We can’t separate water from nature they are intertwined. We learn from science that as humans our bodies are made up of about 70% water, so how would one say water is there and nature is on the other side.

Water is life and without water, we’re killing nature and this is part of the reason why we should uphold the sanctity of water. Because water, life and creation go together and religious people know this,” he said.

World Water Day (WWD) is celebrated by the international community on the 22nd of March each year, to draw attention to the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The Day was instituted in 1992 by the United Nations, to draw global attention to the importance of water as a vital resource to life.

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Drought, Floods and Chronic Water Shortages: Unholy Trinity Haunting Sikaunzwe Residents


A man canoeing in a dambo. Photo by Newton Sibanda

Newton Sibanda
February 13, 2018

IN Kazungula’s Sikaunzwe area, the combined impacts of inadequate rural water supply, saline groundwater, and the absence of effective drought and flood management have culminated in a water crisis which is taking a serious toll on the health and livelihoods of residents.

During periods of drought, many families in Sikaunzwe temporarily migrate to the banks of the Zambezi River in order to have access to water supply.

This seasonal migration has a hugely disruptive impact on people’s lives; children are forced to miss school for extended periods, and livelihoods suffer as people are unable to tend to their crops.

“About 135 out of 173 learners miss school every day whenever families shift to the banks of the Zambezi River,” lamented Kasaya Primary School Deputy Headmistress Ruth Khondowe.

The seasonal migration has also contributed to the loss of human life and livestock through human- wildlife conflict.

Residents are forced to travel even further in search of a water supply, as far as 15 kilometres, and spend over six hours a day collecting water from unprotected sources such as burrow pits and dambos, and incidents of waterborne disease increase dramatically.

In all this predicament, it is women and children who bear the brunt of the burden of collecting water, and the time wasted collecting water eats into income generating activities and school attendance.

“The water challenges have really crippled our economic activities and made our lives really difficult, especially for women and children,” said Headman Sikuyu.

Drinking water from these unprotected sources poses serious health risks. Due to poor quality water supply, the occurrence of diarrheal diseases in Sikaunzwe is exceptionally high.

A report by the Fair Water Futures Programme notes that in 2014, diarrhoea was the second most prevalent disease amongst children under five at Sikaunzwe clinic.

Fair Water Futures Programme is a joint initiative between local non-governmental organisation (NGO) Action for Water and Water Witness International to generate evidence and advocacy material to improve water resource management and ground water security for all Zambians.

The report notes that in the largely rural Kazungula district, Sikaunzwe suffers from low levels of rural water supply coverage. It is estimated that rural water supply coverage in the district is between 45-50 percent, meaning that half the population of Sikaunzwe, approximately 4,769 residents, are without access to a safe and reliable water supply.

Of the existing boreholes in Sikaunzwe, many yield saline groundwater which is unfit for domestic use.

A 2015 study of boreholes in Sikaunzwe by the Department of Water Resources Development (DWRD) found high levels of electrical conductivity and total dissolved solids, which are indicative of salinity, in excess of Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) drinking water standards and concluded that the groundwater was unfit for drinking and domestic use.

Additional research by the University of Zambia (UNZA) Integrated Water Resources Management Centre recommended that DWRD and the Ministry of Local Government should explore boreholes at different depths, with desalination and rain water harvesting as alternative sources of water supply.

Under the Water Supply and Sanitation Act, local authorities are responsible for proving water supply and sanitation services in areas under their jurisdiction.

However, the Kazungula District Council lacks the capacity and resources to provide sufficient rural water supply.

Kazungula district is vast, and without adequate resources for personnel and travel, the council struggles to oversee the drilling of boreholes, and monitor rural water supply coverage.

This state of affairs is not unique to Kazungula, as the ministry of Local Government noted, the capacity of local authorities to deliver rural water supply “is generally compromised by the mismatch between their mandated functions and the resources available to them to undertake those functions.”

The report further notes that the limited resources of the council and donors are often wasted on drilling boreholes which yield saline water, or no water at all.

The lack of standards and guidelines for borehole drilling, the poor understanding of siting procedures, and the absence of a system to collect and manage drilling data contributes to this state of mismanagement.

The National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) has begun developing a regulation strategy for rural water supply and sanitation, which offers an opportunity for enhanced coordination and accountability, but it has yet to be adopted.

NWASCO spokesperson Mpunga Simukwai notes that as a rural district, Kazungula falls outside the mandate of Southern Water and Sewerage Company (SWSC).

Ms Simukwai however says NWASCO has formulated the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Regulation strategy to be piloted this year.

“Furthermore, the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) will soon launch ground water regulations which will regulate borehole drilling.

And ZABS has since formulated a standard to guide borehole drilling in Zambia,” she said.
Water challenges in Sikaunzwe are compounded by regular periods of drought and flooding, during which water sources are prone to dry up or become contaminated without adequate mitigation and preparedness.

Over the past four decades, Zambia has experienced an increase in the frequency of floods and droughts as a result of climate change, as well as changing rainfall patterns, with shorter rainy seasons and more intense rainfall.

Sikaunzwe is located in the Zone I agro-ecological region of Zambia which has been most effected by the impacts of climate change, and in recent years has suffered from an alternating pattern of droughts and floods.

The report notes that “Despite the tenacious engagement of community representatives in Sikaunzwe, government duty bearers have yet to honour their commitments and address the water challenges in Sikaunzwe.”

To address the problem, the report notes that among other things, the DWRD must develop new infrastructure and rehabilitate existing infrastructure for water storage in Sikaunzwe.

The Ministry of Water Development must prioritise the development and implementation of rural water supply regulations while WARMA must finalise groundwater regulations, and implement a system to license borehole drillers.

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Waste Dumping in Africa Worries UN Environment


African countries face several challenges protecting the planet’s critical ecosystems from contamination by hazardous chemicals and waste. Photo by Fredrick Mugira

PAMACC News Agency
February 7, 2018

The Africa regional director of United Nations Environment, Julliette Biao Koudenoukpo has called on African countries that have ratified the Bamako Convention to work in synergy with the private sector to better reinforce and drive actions against toxic waste dumping in the continent.

She noted that waste dumping in Africa has become a major concern necessitating synergy of actions, innovations and strong political will for more positive results.

« There is need to strengthen cooperation between the public and private sector, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the actions on ground, » she said in an interview on the sidelines of COP2 meeting to the Bamako convention in Abidjan-Ivory Coast January 31st, 2018.

The director enjoined state actors to deepen cooperation with civil society organisations and business partners as part of a broader effort to raise the profile in the fight against toxic waste dumping, poverty and promoting green growth.

She lauded some countries like Ivory Coast that are already heightening efforts to increase the political priority accorded to sound management of chemicals and other waste dumping.

Other UN officials also shared the view of strong partnerships and cooperation to better push the Bamako convention and ensure its effective implementation on the ground by countries that have already ratified the treaty.

“Strengthening synergies between all the different development stakeholders will certainly give a boost to the effective application of the Bamako convention,” says UN Environment Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw said.

He also highlighted the different challenges countries face protecting the planet’s critical ecosystems from contamination by hazardous chemicals and waste and the need for joined support and innovative strategies to overcome them.

“At this critical stage it is important for development stakeholders to commit to providing financial support to help countries address these important challenges,” Ibrahim Thiaw said.

Countries were also called to mainstream sound chemicals management in national agendas, create an integrated chemicals and wastes focal area, and expanding engagement with the private sector.

The youths were challenged to lead efforts at preventing Africa from becoming a dumping ground for toxic waste because environmental issues are concern for the future and better livelihood.

“The youths must make their voices heard and front actions on the ground. They are called to increasingly show commitment to get things change for the better because environmental issues are concerns for the future and for improved livelihood,” says Julliette Biao.

She recalled that African nations have long been at the center of incidents involving hazardous waste dumping and that it was time to bring this unfortunate situation to an end.

Important toxic waste dump incidents include the leaking barrels of toxic waste in Koko, Nigeria in 1988 and the Probo Koala scandal in Cote d’Ivoire in 2006, to the current piles of e-waste threatening the health of West African communities.

In an effort to prevent incidents such as ‘Koko’ and ‘Probo Koala’ from happening again, and to reinforce existing international treaties surrounding the shipment and disposal of hazardous waste as established in the Basel Convention and Bamako Convention African states meeting at the second Conference of the Parties (COP2) to the Bamako Convention are expected to come up with strong binding resolutions.

While pursuing the objectives of the Convention, UNEP officials say COP 2 provides the opportunity for the different stakeholders to ensure the continent rids itself of hazardous wastes and contribute to the achievement of a pollution-free planet.

“The ministers during the high level talks agreed that the time for a new momentum for Africa to rid itself of hazardous waste and contribute to achieving a pollution free planet is now,” Julliette said.

So far only 25 African countries have ratified the Bamako Convention treaty. The new President of the COP2 to the Bamako Convention appealed to the other countries in the continent that are still dragging their feet to ratify and join the struggle.

“We strongly hope countries that are yet to ratify will do so and join in the fight,” says Anne Desiree Ouloto, the new President of COP2 and minister for Public Health, Environment and Sustainable Development of Ivory Coast.

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Zambia: Companies Invest in Water Management


Without consistent access to clean water, businesses in Zambia may face higher expenditure on water treatment as legislation and legal enforcement tighten. Photo by Fredrick Mugira


NEWTON SIBANDA
February 7, 2018

SPIRALING water challenges have evoked awareness of the commercial imperative for sound management of water resources by companies, as the private sector recognises opportunity in water stewardship.

To this end, an innovative initiative has been launched to promote the business case for involvement of companies in the prudent use of water resources.

Launched at the end of last week at Fringilla Lodge in Chisamba, the core goals of the Zambia National Water Stewardship Award are; to promote, incentivise and recognise good corporate water stewardship amongst water using companies in Zambia.

The prestigious award is hosted by the Zambian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI). It will be awarded annually starting in November this year to a leading company that demonstrates sustainable water use in line with international best practices.

The award is a project within the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI), managed by a project task team led by the local non-governmental organization (NGO) Action for Water.

To ensure fairness and multisectoral representation in deciding award recipients, a panel of judges will be appointed from government, industry and civil society. Moreover the judging criteria for the award are based on criteria of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) standard.

A globally-consistent framework, the AWS standard outlines the expectations of responsible private sector operators on water stewardship which is about taking care of something that you do not own.

Lemmy Namayanga, Acting Director General, Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) explained at the launch of the award, that water stewardship is the “use of water that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that involves site and catchment-based actions.

“Currently, we all face significant water challenges in Lusaka. In the last few months, we have all experienced water challenges in one way or another. These challenges can worsen if we don’t take a proactive stance to address them,” said Mr Namayanga.

He added that sound water management goes hand in hand with doing business properly. “It is for this reason that I am excited to introduce and launch the 2018 Zambia Water Stewardship Award today,” he said.

The role of the private sector was underscored. Indeed, some companies have made strides in strides towards water stewardship. “I would like to take this opportunity to recognise Fairy Bottling as the first company pioneering the implementation of the AWS standard in Lusaka.

“Such effort is inspiring and a best practice to be celebrated and followed by others,” said Mr Namayanga.

Fairy Bottling Chief Executive Officer Mohamed el Sahili stressed the business imperative for water stewardship.

“Companies worldwide are now increasingly appreciating that water is an essential raw material in their business operations and the lack of access to adequate or good quality water is posing a huge risk to a lot of businesses particularly those which are water reliant, Dr El Sahili said.

He added that without consistent access to clean water, businesses may face higher expenditure on water treatment as legislation and legal enforcement tighten; possible relocation of operations to sites where water is readily available; and increased operating costs..

Dr El Sahili observed that a balancing act to ensure equity in water use between business and social needs is urgently required.

“Increasing population, climate change, rapid industrialization, deforestation and unsustainable water usage practices, coupled with declining water availability and quality, and weak water governance in many geographic regions are all leading to increased competition for water,” he stressed, especially in the business sector which is now conflicting with social water needs.

He noted that the emerging life threatening paradox calls for an immediate paradigm shift in the way businesses look at their water issues

Dr El Sahili noted that the water stewardship approach, unlike most conventional responses, allows companies to respond to water issues and to effectively understand their own water use., This propels them to proactively respond to water challenges within their operational context, influence and promote collaborative action and good water governance within its operations, community and supply chain.

Fairy Bottling has, among other measures, constructed three water harvesting dams on site as a way of promoting aquifer recharge.

On his part, Robin Farrington, the German Development Co-operation (GIZ) International Water Stewardship Partnership Country Co-ordinator while citing the case of Cape Town, South Africa, where acute shortage of the vital commodity has made its responsible use a necessity and not a voluntary option, summed up: “Water stewardship is going to be absolutely necessary.”

The launch was followed by the Zambia Water Stewardship Masterclass that ran from 22-24 January 2018. The event is a catalyst for improved collaboration between business, government and civil society to improve water security in Zambia and the region.

It brought leading experts on water stewardship together with business leaders and practitioners to learn how water can be better managed to secure inclusive economic growth, and the role of stewardship in business strategy and operations, through application of the AWS Standard.

The masterclass was convened by local NGO Action for Water, LuSWI, Water Witness International, Fairy Bottling, and the International Water Stewardship Partnership.

The participation of companies was to ensure that they receive context specific guidance, advice and support through the process on water stewardship. It was equally meant to; incentivise more efficient and economic use of water in operations; and profile and recognize companies as leading actors in water stewardship.

“WARMA supports initiatives such as the Zambia Water Stewardship Award, as they contribute to sustainable water resources management.

According to Mr Namayanga, the award will motivate businesses to comply with Zambian water and environmental regulations.

“In this way, both this training and the establishment of the award improve the alignment of sector activities with Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.

Additionally, he noted, the award demonstrates the effectiveness of partnerships in water governance.
Meanwhile, partnerships were identified as key to tackling water challenges. As Action for Water Director Monica Chundama observed, no one sector can solve major water challenges alone.

“Roles are increasingly carried out through engagement in partnerships and collaborative frameworks across civil society, and with stakeholders from business, government and international organizations such as LuSWI,” she advised.

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Oudtshoorn water safe after bacteria scare

Cape Town – Water in the Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn is safe for human consumption after Outeniqua Laboratory Services confirmed there was no E.coli in the samples submitted by the municipality on Monday.

Locals were on February 12 encouraged to boil their water after a high bacteria count was found in water samples.

“Urgent intervention” was implemented to disinfect water in the reservoirs, municipal manager Allen Paulse said at the time.

READ: Initial chemical tests show Oudtshoorn water meets standards – municipality

Chlorine dosing at Raubenheimer Dam was increased to maximum and follow-up samples were taken on Tuesday morning for analysis.

Chlorine tablets were also introduced to the Church Street reservoir, the municipality had said in a statement.

By Wednesday, the water was given the all clear.

The town’s dam levels were at 56.69% on Friday, up by 5% from Wednesday.

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KZN is not out of the woods, water levels still critical – Umgeni Water

Pietermaritzburg – KwaZulu-Natal’s water supply is still at serious risk with one of the province’s main storage dam levels critically low.

A senior contingent of Umgeni Water officials, led by acting chief executive Thami Hlongwa, dropped the bomb at a media briefing at Albert Falls Dam, where the full impact of the national drought on the province was explained.

Hlongwa said that while KwaZulu-Natal was in a better position than other provinces, there was still a need for residents and business to save water.

ALSO READ: For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw

He said Albert Falls, a holding dam, provides and stores water for two million Durbanites.

“We do not want a situation like Cape Town and you will find we have never been that bad, even when our drought was at its height in 2015.”

Hlongwa said that KwaZulu-Natal had experienced similar drought levels, but water restrictions and community engagement had helped curtail it.

15% water production reduction

“Residents would not have noticed too much because we have been strategising.”

He said, however, that KwaZulu-Natal was behind on its storage goal of 70% for the vital Mgeni system. The system, which comprises Mearns Weir, Spring Grove Dam, Midmar Dam, Albert Falls, Nagle and Inanda dams, supplies most of the province.

He said this meant that the water utility would continue to reduce potable water production by 15% in municipalities including Msunduzi, uMgungundlovu and eThekwini.

He said households, business, industry and government were also expected to reduce water usage by 15%.

Steve Gilham, an official in Umgeni Water’s engineering services, said that municipalities in the province were only saving 5%.

“People see rain outside and think when it rains there is water. Also, there is general fatigue. People have been hearing and trying to be better for the drought for so long.”

Day Zero ‘impossible’

He said that while some dams were near full, it cost a great amount of electricity to move water between dams.

“We receive R2.5m fines from Eskom for using pumps too much. If you continue pumping, the price of water goes up, and the pumps are not meant to be used 24/7. The dams have to ultimately fill themselves up.”

He said that KwaZulu-Natal was still not out of the woods because of low rainfall in previous years.

“In 2015/16 we had some of the lowest rains we have ever had. In October and November, we had good rains, but in December [and] January did not get the good rains we needed.”

He added: “The Umgeni catchment effects are still lingering because of the lack of rainfall over time.”

He said the 70% target for the Mgeni system was for May.

“If we get to 70%, all restrictions will be lifted.”

He said the province would only experience Day Zero (when tap water supply is shut down) in two years, and that was provided there was no rain at all.

“That is almost impossible.”

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Togo:Togo Charity Wins Award for Improving Access to Safe Drinking Water

Rio De Janeiro — More than 60 percent of Togo’s population lives below the poverty line, and many people lack reliable access to drinking water, education, health and electricity

An African charity that improved access to drinking water and sanitation and reduced the chance of cholera deaths in a village in Togo was on Monday awarded the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize.

The award is granted every three years for outstanding grassroots projects to solve water issues in developing nations.

Judges said the project by the Christian Charity for People in Distress (CCPD), which helped 290 villagers, had cut the risk of disease and death in a community prone to cholera outbreaks.

“The organisation provided a serious and coherent project, with proper monitoring, and demonstrated above all an excellent efficiency,” said Jean Lapègue, a board member of the World Water Council, which adjudicates the award.

Judges also praised the project’s use of ecological toilets as an alternative to pit latrines, Lapègue told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

More than 60 percent of Togo’s population lives below the poverty line, and many people lack reliable access to drinking water, education, health and electricity, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In addition, the UNDP said Togo’s natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce, particularly clean water.

The CCPD will receive the award and the 2 million Japanese yen prize ($19,000) at a ceremony next month in the Brazilian capital Brasilia during the eighth World Water Forum.

Lapègue said the prize should help CCPD to extend its project in rural areas of Togo – a former French colony of 8 million people in West Africa – and would help connect the charity to other actors in the water and sanitation sector.

The award is co-organised by the Japan Water Forum and the World Water Council. CCPD is the second African charity to win – Uganda’s Katosi Women Development Trust won in 2012.

Reporting by Karla Mendes; Editing by Robert Carmichael

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SADC’s regional situation update on El Niño-induced drought

The SADC region is experiencing a devastating drought episode associated with the 2015/2016 El Niño event which is affecting livelihoods and the lives especially for women, children and the elderly in the region.

Please find the link for SADC’s regional situation update on El Niño-induced drought for your information and distribution to your networks. http://www.sadc.int/files/1714/6347/5407/SADC_Regional_Situation_Update_1_El_nino_induced_Drought_as_at_15__May_2016_Circulation_FINAL.pdf

Call for Flagship Project Proposals – NEPAD SANBio

Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (NEPAD-SANBio) has launched an open call for funding of flagship projects in the SADC region.

Funding

Up to ZAR 4.5 million will be disbursed per Flagship project.

Applications for the Flagship Project Grants should be in line with the following priority areas:

Human health:
  • Diagnostics, e.g. point-of-care or surveillance
  • Food safety
  • E-health/M-health
  • Genomics, e.g. host-pathogen interactions
  • Food drug interactions (relevant tools/services and not studies)
  • Herb drug interactions (relevant tools/services and not studies)
  • Food allergies (relevant tools/services and not studies)

Nutrition:

It is widely recognises stunted growth is one of the key challenges in Africa and particularly the SADC region. In addition, Anaemia is a major problem for children under 5 and pregnant women. As such, solutions proposed in the impact area of nutrition should include alternative sources of protein, micronutrients and carbohydrates, e.g. promotion on nutrient-rich foods targeting women and children. The main thematic areas in nutrition that concept notes of applicants should cover include:
  • Food handling and processing, e.g. improved handling and storage, technologies to ensure availability throughout the year
  • Value addition of indigenous foods and neglected foods – nutritional value of indigenous & neglected foods e.g. vegetables integrated into food
  • Food and drink industry in providing healthy and safe products

Health-related Agriculture issues:

  • Animal health (therapeutics and diagnostics)
  • Aquaculture (fish farming technologies)
More information, application guidelines and the necessary forms can be found on our website at http://www.nepadsanbio.org/grants/flagship-grants.html


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