The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says the world's top farm producers in the Group of 20 countries must agree on a coordinated action to ease worries about food prices, as FAO and other experts bemoan a huge global waste of food and water.
FAO director-general, Jose Graziano Da Silva, says that he will not characterise the current food price rise as a crisis, but it could reach that level next year if harvests in the southern hemisphere were disappointing.
Da Silva believes that any coordination should involve avoiding unilateral export bans and encouraging substitution of foods, for instance the eating of beans in Latin American and of casava in Africa.
To read the article titled, “UN body urges G20 action on food prices, waste,” click here.Source:SABC News
A five-day Youth Water Summit – gets underway from 2-7 July 2012 - is aimed at educating pupils about efficient water conservation and the empowerment of school children to invest in the ‘future of water’.
Dubbed ‘2020 vision’, the five day summit will see pupils competing to create innovative water models, in endurance required activities and convey messages through poetry, drama, traditional dance and praise singing.
The pupil winning first prize in the Youth Water Summit will receive a tertiary bursary, laptop, R8 000 and a trip to Sweden to represent South Africa in the Stockholm water protection project.
To read the article titled, “Educating youth about water,” click here.Source:The Citizen
Greenpeace says that power utility Eskom, which generates about 95 percent of South Africa’s power, is steaming ahead with investment into water-hungry coal-fired generation in the face of the world’s growing switch to renewable energy resources.
Speaking at the launch of research into Eskom’s water use in Johannesburg, Greenpeace researcher, Yolandi Groenewald, pointed out that the fight over water resources will have its nexus in the developing Waterberg coal-mining area and the already developed Mpumalanga coalfields, where the new Kusile power station, tipped to come online in 2018, would swallow 71-million litres of water a day.
In the same vein, Greenpeace climate campaigner, Melita Steel, says Eskom planned to double its capacity to 80 000 MW by 2025, with the ‘vast majority’ of this capacity coal-based, and destined for industrial use in a country where about 12 million people were still without domestic electricity.
To read the article titled, “Eskom ‘going wrong way’, Greenpeace says,” click here.Source:Business Day
- My name is Sandra Dube*. Every morning I wake up at 5h00 to go and fetch water for my family. Sometimes my mother accompanies me to the water source, which is about four kilometres away from our home.
On my way to the water source, I usually meet my classmates who will be already heading to school. I am often late for school and on some days I miss classes as the long queues at the water source usually disappear around 9h00. At times, I cannot attend classes because I am too tired.
Imagine walking for four kilometres with a 20 litre bucket full of water on your head. The doctor at the village clinic once advised us that we must be careful with our water loads as heavy loads can lead to physical damage to our backs and necks. Maybe that explains why my mother always complains about her back and now cannot carry heavy loads over long distances.
I wish we had a clean water source near our homestead. I will be able to go to school everyday. I want to become a nurse when I complete my studies, and this can only be achieved if I excel at school and go to a nurses' training institution. However, it is sad that this may remain a dream for me as I may fail to sit for my Ordinary Level (Grade 10 in the South African context) examinations next year.
My grandmother told me that 15 years ago, government officials identified a site to sink the borehole for our community. The site is very close to our homestead. However, little progress has been made to drill the borehole. The village only gets to hear about the project each time there is an election. Once the election is over, the project dies a natural death. Do politicians really care about us?
In 2010, I lost my one-year old brother to water borne disease. My friend who stays at the next homestead lost her mother to cholera. Many villagers fell sick because people had drunk contaminated water from an unprotected water source.
My teacher told us that according to a 2009 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNICEF) report, nearly 4 000 children under five years old die every day from diarrhoea, caused by contaminated food or drinking water around the world. After the death of my young brother, my mother insists that we boil the water first before drinking it. Boiling water from unprotected sources purifies it.
Dube's story is not an isolated case as there are many families in Southern Africa and indeed Africa who are in the same situation.
Access to safe and clean drinking water is a basic human right and is essential for achieving gender equality, sustainable development and poverty alleviation. According to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the world's health sectors could save around US$12 billion a year if everyone has access to adequate and clean water services.
In addition, access to clean water is also critical towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. With the 2015 deadline looming, a 2011 MDG Progress Chart shows that Sub-Saharan Africa's progress around halving the proportion of population without improved drinking water is insufficient to reach the target if the prevailing trends persist.
It is sad that citizens like Dube's grandmother living in rural areas are still experiencing the same water problems as they had 75 years ago. Chances are even higher that future generations could face the same water crises if action is not taken.
In light of this observation, there is need for renewed and intensified efforts by all stakeholders to ensure that poor rural communities have access to clean water.
It is also important for all stakeholders to continue raising awareness on the importance of access to clean water. This way, citizens can more fully understand that water is a human right and can demand accountability from their leaders to keep their promises on improving access to clean water.
If the right policies on water development are adopted and implemented, Southern Africa and indeed the whole world will be in a better position to address the socio-economic conditions it faces and promote sustainable development.
Ultimately, young girls who are in similar situations like Dube will be able to be in school and complete their secondary and tertiary education, which are the gateways to secure economic empowerment.
*Not her real name.
- Kizito Sikuka is a Zimbabwean based journalist. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service. It is republished here with the permission of Gender Links www.genderlinks.org.za.
The Social Justice Coalition says that the toilets in informal settlements are often neglected because they are seen as a temporary arrangement.
Speaking at a South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) public hearing on water and sanitation, the coalition’s policy coordinator, Gavin Silber, says that these areas are seen as illegal and therefore not in need of proper infrastructure.
Silber urges government to change the very nature of communities and the way it views them, adding that, “We have failed to generate and implement policy around how we deliver services to these communities."
To read the article titled, “Informal settlement toilets 'neglected',” click here.Source:News24
The United Nations (UN) has warned that water problems in many parts of the world are chronic and without a crackdown on waste will worsen as demand for food rises and climate change intensifies.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, points out that, “Pressures on freshwater are rising, from the expanding needs of agriculture, food production and energy consumption to pollution and the weaknesses of water management"
Ban, who describes climate change as a real and growing threat, is of the view that without good planning and adaptation, hundreds of millions of people are at risk of hunger, disease, energy shortages and poverty.
To read the article titled, “Water crunch looms without action on waste: UN report,” click here.Source:The Citizen
Two civil society organisations have warned that, despite comments from Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, about the need for improved water management, government policies and practices are yet to show urgent reform.
In a report released this week, the Centre for Environmental Rights, found that pressure on the country’s constrained water resources, including mining pollution, the failure of some municipal water treatment services, and agriculture’s overuse and pollution of water resources, is becoming ‘increasingly acute’.
Last year, the National Planning Commission warned that South Africa needs to pay urgent attention to the proper management of water resources before their poor management and lack of maintenance constrained development.
To read the article titled, “Rights groups warn on water management,” click here.Source:Business Day
Prosperous countries have not lived up to their promises to help the poor, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) declares, saying poor people often go hungry because of polluted water, drought and other environmental factors that are increasing poverty.
In its annual report on the quality of life worldwide, the UNDP says that more should be done to address international environmental concerns and that sustainability must become a way of life as the world population grows above 7 billion.
UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, points out that, "Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue."
To read the article titled, “Lack of water threatens poor: UN,” click here.Source:Times Live
- At the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa Edna Molewa, Chairman of Nestlé and Chairman of the Water Resources Group Peter Brabeck-Letmathe announced today a Declaration of Partnership. Recognizing the critical role that water plays as a catalyst for both economic growth and social development, the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) of South Africa forges a partnership with the Water Resources Group (WRG), an influential public-private global network on water supported by the World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation.
This new public-private group, chaired by the director-general of the DWA, will oversee the activities of a partnership called “South Africa Strategic Water Partners Network” to address critical water issues in South Africa: water conservation, demand management and developing more sustainable management of groundwater resources.
"This new partnership between the Government of South Africa and the Water Resources Group will help identify how South Africa's plans for growth can be met with the water it has safely available. The foresight and leadership of Minister Molewa in this regard should be applauded" remarked Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of Nestlé and Chairman of the Water Resources Group.
In South Africa, water demand is expected to rise by 52% within the next 30 years while the supply of water is sharply declining. If current trends of leakage from aged and poorly maintained municipal infrastructure and the loss of wetlands persist, this growth in demand will intensify competition for water resources across all sectors of the economy (agriculture, energy industry and domestic). Should status quo in management practices remain, a gap of 17% between water demand and supply is forecast by 2030. This gap will have serious social and political implications and strongly impact South Africa’s plans for economic growth.
“The Water Resources Group partnership will enable South Africa to access best practice economics, projects and policies in water management from public, private and civil society sectors around the world, enabling officials to field-test and replicate actions for implementation domestically,” explained Dominic Waughray, Senior Director, Head of Environmental Initiatives at the World Economic Forum, and member of the Water Resources Group.
The group will focus on key areas:
- Water conservation and demand management: increasing water use efficiency (in agriculture, industry and households) and reducing leakage from distribution networks (municipal and others, including irrigation)
- Diversifying the water mix: increasing the reuse of effluent and desalination (sea water and acid mine drainage), and developing more sustainable management of groundwater resources, in particular for rural areas
- Identify a pipeline of potential projects and access its collective potential to close the water volume gap if implementation takes place
- Identify challenges for project replication
- Recommend a strategy to overcome challenges, including incentives for widespread adoption and contributions by each stakeholder to enable replication
- Develop joint public-private expert collaborations to structure and take forward the pilot projects
- Highlight the DWA-WRG partnership at COP 17 in Durban as a practical example of what South Africa is doing to manage its water security and adapt to climate change
- Department of Water Affairs (chairperson: the director-general)
- Industry (key economic sectors such as food/beverage, mining and metals, energy)
- Other governmental departments (national treasury, national planning commission, local
- Development finance institutions (Development Bank of Southern Africa, Industrial
- Development Corporation, International Finance Corporation)
- Business organizations (NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF), Business Unity South Africa (BUSA),
- Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), National Business Initiative (NBI)
- Civil society organizations (including WWF South Africa)
- Multilateral and bilateral development agencies working in South Africa
- A senior representative of WRG
The Water Resources Group (WRG) is a public-private platform for collaboration. It mobilizes stakeholders from the public and private sector, civil society, centres of academic expertise and financing institutions to engage in fact-based, analytical approaches and coalition building initiatives that help governments to catalyse sustainable water sector transformation in support of their economic growth plans. WRG engages with those governments who invite it to work on a comprehensive water sector reform strategy and then it provides a public-private approach to support them.
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Tel.: 082 774 2083
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Date published:05/05/2011Organisation:World Economic Forum
- The United Nations says that rapid urbanisation in Africa over the past five decades is changing the continent's landscape and generating formidable challenges for the supply of water and sanitation services.
In its latest report, According to the Rapid Response Assessment by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-HABITAT, urban centres in Africa are growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world.
NEP executive director, Achim Steiner, points out that, “These are the stark realities and the sobering facts that need to be addressed as nations prepare for the landmark UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012."
To read the article titled, “Urbanisation a challenge for water supply – UN,” click here.Source:Business Live