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Special Essay

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Funding, Malawi’s challenge in water supply — P3 Malawi’s journey towards meeting MDGs on water — P7

Water, a plentiful yet scarce resource P2

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Special pullout the nation 22 march 2013

wATER CO0PeRATION: HARNESSING THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF WATER
by Chris Carroll This article was written for EarthTalk (www.emagazine.com)

special essay

The following are institutions a n d organisations that are promoting World Water Day in Malawi
1. Agas 2. OG Plastics 3. Plan 4. Polyplast 5. Pump Aid 6. Toppers 7. Unicef 8. Water Aid 9. WES Network 10. World vision

eople often wonder how there can be ‘water scarcity’ when water is the most plentiful thing on Earth. Ocean water may cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, but thirsty humans rely on finite supplies of freshwater to stay alive. And with exploding human population growth, especially in poor countries, these finite supplies get quickly spoken for. Further, in places without proper sanitation, water can become tainted with any number of diseases and parasites. Billions of people lack clean water: According to the World Bank, as many as two billion people lack adequate sanitation facilities to protect them from water-borne diseases, while a billion lack access to clean water altogether. According to the United Nations, which has declared 2005-2015 the “Water for Life” decade, 95 percent of the world’s cities still dump raw sewage into their water supplies. Thus, it should come as no surprise to know that 80 percent of all the health maladies in developing countries can be traced back to unsanitary water. Water scarcity likely to increase as population grows: Sandra Postel, author of the 1998 book, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, predicts big water availability problems as populations of so-called “waterstressed” countries jump perhaps six-fold over the next 30 years. “It raises tons of issues about water and agriculture, growing enough food, providing for all the material needs that people demand as incomes increase, and providing drinking water,” says Postel. Developed nations using disproportionate amount of water: Developed countries are not immune to freshwater problems either. Researchers found a six-fold increase in water use for only a two-fold increase in population size in the United States since 1900. Such a trend reflects the connection between higher living standards and increased water usage, and underscores the need for more sustainable management and

Water, a plentiful yet scarce resource P
PHOTOGRAPH: Nation Library

Water is useful in many ways
use of water supplies even in more developed societies. Environmentalists oppose desalination solution: With world population expected to pass nine billion by mid-century, solutions to water scarcity problems are not going to come easy. Some have suggested that technology—such as largescale saltwater desalination plants—could generate more freshwater for the world to use. But environmentalists argue that depleting ocean water is no answer and will only create other big problems. In any case, research and development into improving desalination technologies is ongoing, especially in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Japan. And already an estimated 11 000 desalination plants exist in some 120 countries around the world. Water and market economics Others believe that applying market principles to water would facilitate a more efficient distribution of supply everywhere. Analysts at the Harvard Middle East Water Project, for example, advocate assigning a monetary value to freshwater, rather than considering it a free natural commodity. They say such an approach could help mitigate the political and security tensions caused by water scarcity. Personal action to conserve water resources As individuals, we can all rein in our own water use to help conserve what is becoming an ever more precious resource. We can hold off on watering our lawns in times of drought. And when it does rain, we can gather gutter water in barrels to feed garden hoses and sprinklers. We can turn off the faucet while we brush our teeth or shave, and take shorter showers. As Sandra Postel concludes, “Doing more with less is the first and easiest step along the path toward water

 World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

World Water Day

FACTS

 An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.  Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water and is coordinated by Unesco on behalf of UN-Water.

 About 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.  Six to eight million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

Special pullout the nation 22 mARCH 2013

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fEATURES
ALBERT SHARRA Staff Reporter

wATER CO0PeRATION: HARNESSING THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF WATER

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he saying water is life is not just a simple idiom. Its meaning, context and the demands attached to it live to challenge all of humankind. It is estimated that only about 83 percent of the over 14 million population has access to safe clean water and the remaining 17 percent still rely on streams, rivers and unprotected wells to access water, according to a recent Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) figures. International reports also identify Malawi as one of the Southern African countries likely to experience absolute water scarcity by 2025. However, this happens to a country with 21 percent of its territory covered by water that flows in rivers, streams, lakes and mountains. Water service providers— Lilongwe, Blantyre and Northern Region water boards—may be operating in a country with many water sources. Nonetheless, funding remains a greatest challenge. Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) public relations officer Trevor Phoya says some of the projects planned by his office to improve access to water have stalled due to lack of funds. He says this affects their quest to ensure more people have access to clean water. “It is a challenge. Production of water requires heavy investment and with the recent economic challenges, costs have gone high. There have been many companies and institutions that assist us, but we have observed that most companies are prioritiSing supporting projects that require little funds and with a shortterm impact,” says Phoya. He adds that the board’s main project, which also carries all the hopes to reduce water problems in Lilongwe scheduled to be carried along Diamphwe River has stalled due to lack of funding. “There is a lot of potential water in Diamphwe River and we want to construct a multipurpose dam to keep water from the river and distribute it to people. We believe the project will help us to reach many people who have no access to water and of course, keeping taps running throughout,” he says. Phoya adds that the money the company gets from its services is not enough to carry out new projects and says he is happy that this year’s World Water Day theme ‘Water cooperation’ challenges the issue that stands in the way of effective water supply in the country. “The issue of water supply needs everyone’s support and we thank government and other organisations for their support when we are struggling. Our

Funding, Malawi’s challenge in improving water supply
request is that, let us join hands and work together to reduce water scarcity,” says Phoya. Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) public relations officer Edward Nyirenda agrees. “What we get from water bills is very far from what we need for new projects. We rely on grants, donations and support from government. In the absence of these, we are helpless, particularly in our quest to reach more people in areas without water supply,” Nyirenda says. He cites the delay in the kick-off of the construction of the Ramberambe Dam to be constructed in Chikangawa Forest as an example of how poor funding is affecting its project. Nyirenda says the board has been relying on its old water supply dam, but says the demand for water has been growing at an alarming rate, thereby surpassing their capacity to supply water. He adds that Chitipa is still using pipes planted many decades ago. He says boreholes have not entirely solved the problem as they break down frequently. Nyirenda says his office is planning to tap water from Kalenge River and distribute it to various areas that have no access to clean water in Chitipa, but says it all depends on availability of grants and help from the corporate world and government. This situation is shared by Blantyre Water Board (BWB), thwarting hopes that more people in the country will one day have access to piped water. At the moment, LWB produces 95 000 cubic metres of water against a demand of between 120 000 and 130 000 cubic metres per day. On the other hand, BWB produces a maximum of 86 million litres (eight million from Mudi and 78 million from Walker’s Ferry), but the demand is estimated at 96 million litres of water per day. For these figures to grow, the boards need a lot of investment to create new water sources and pumping systems. Budget allocations to water programmes are not attractive as well. According to a 2012 draft national budget analysis done by Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn), Christian Aid and Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa), indicates that allocation to the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development is not much. “For the 2011/2012 fiscal year, the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development was allocated K7.3 billion compared to K5.14 billion in the 2010/11 revised budget, representing 41.3 percent increase. Of this total annual provision, K4.4 billion (60.2 percent) has been earmarked for implementation of National Adaptation Programme of Action (Napa) relevant budget actions. However, the allocations for such Napa interventions as water resource management are quite lower and inadequate. This sector has performed quite impressively and needs to be encouraged, especially on being consistent in targeting tangible outputs from one year to the other,” reads the report. There was also hope in 2006 when government introduced the National Dispersed

Women drawing water at a borehole

Borehole Construction programme. The programme was expected to construct 965 boreholes, five for each of the 193 constituencies. However, the programme has been implemented at a slow pace and has been hit by increased vandalism, as confirmed by Water for People Malawi, an organisation working on providing clean water to rural people. By October last year, the project had constructed 946 boreholes. Again, five boreholes are not enough for the whole population in a constituency. This calls for extra funding and extra borehole projects from the corporate world. Ritchie Muheya, Minister of Irrigation and Water Development admitted in The Nation on September 8, 2012 that his office knows that the demand for boreholes in rural areas is high compared to those being provided, but said there are several nongovernmental organisations that are constructing boreholes to complement governments efforts.

PHOTOGRAPH: Nation Library

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Special pullout the nation 22 march 2013

wATER COoPeRATION: HARNESSING THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF WATER

special essay

Polluted water, can it be treated safely?
The treatment of wastewater requires significant amounts of energy, and demand for energy to do this is expected to increase globally by 44 percent between 2006 and 2030, especially in countries where wastewater currently receives little or no treatment. Pollution knows no borders either. Up to 90 percent of wastewater in developing countries flows untreated into rivers, lakes and highly productive coastal zones, threatening health, food security and access to safe drinking and bathing water Over 80 percent of used water worldwide is not collected or treated. Cooperation, a contrasted reality There are numerous examples where transboundary waters have proved to be a source of cooperation rather than conflict. Nearly 450 agreements on international waters were signed between 1820 and 2007. Over 90 international water agreements were drawn up to help manage shared water basins on the African continent. The impact of climate change The IPCC predicts with high confidence that water stress will increase in central and southern Europe, and that by the 2070s, the number of people affected will rise from 28 million to 44 million. Summer flows are likely to drop by up to 80% in southern Europe and some parts of central and Eastern Europe. Europe’s hydropower potential is expected to drop by an average of 6%, but rise by 20–50% around the Mediterranean by 2070. The cost of adapting to the impacts of a 2°C rise in global average temperature could range from US$70 to $100 billion per year between 2020 and 2050 (World Bank, 2010). Of this cost, between US$13.7 billion (drier scenario) and $19.2 billion (wetter scenario) will be related to water, predominantly through water supply and flood management. Water cooperation The fulfilment of basic human needs, our environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are all heavily dependent on water. Good management of water is especially challenging due to some of its unique characteristics: it is unevenly distributed in time and space, the hydrological cycle is highly complex and perturbations have multiple effects. Rapid urbanization, pollution and climate change threaten the resource while demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion people, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses. Water is a shared resource and its management needs to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests. This provides opportunities for cooperation among users. In designating 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, the UNGA recognizes that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share this precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace. Promoting water cooperation implies an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, as well as religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions. 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation.

SAMUEL CHIBAYA Staff Reporter

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here there is no safe drinking water, people either go thirsty or resort to quench their thirst with dirty water. Millions of Malawians go either way as they strive to access water. Besides the country being blessed with many water sources, residents do not equally share the resource. In the 1970’s, Malawi Government had a beautiful plan to construct water schemes across the country in order to improve access to water in the country. As such, schemes such as Lufilya in Karonga and Miseu-Folo in Chikhwawa were introduced. But decades later, all these dreams have collapsed. Water experts have realised that implementation of the system was wrong. Government was both provider and supervisor of the systems. The beneficiaries lacked a sense of ownership. And as such, the communities cared less and equipment was damaged until collapse. Prisca Kutengule of National Water Development Programme (NWDP) says experience has shown that usually, things that are provided for free tend to be abused. “People lacked ownership of the water schemes, they would say ndi za boma (this is for the government) and they expected the government to repair the systems,” she says. Similarly Professor Zachary Kasomekera, programme manager for the NWDP said: “The rural areas have, for some time now, developed a notion that infrastructure will be provided and maintained by government. This has resulted in poor local ownership of rural

Cooperation and sustainability hold future of water supply

Communities need to take responsibility for their water sources
water infrastructure, hence the need for extensive rehabilitation of water systems.” Now government has adopted a different approach where villagers are expected to take full responsibility of running the systems. Government simply rehabilitates or build the water system, trains the locals to run it, then the locals take their turn to own and manage the system. It is already happening at Lufilya, Nkhamanga, Usisya, Misuku, Chizumulu and Likoma Islands Ntonda, Mvula Mpira-Balaka, Zomba East, Lirangwe, Chikhwawa East Bank, Chapananga and Miseu-Folo. The communities also pay small amounts as a contribution towards repair works. “This initiative government has taken is good because it will ensure that it is the people, the chiefs, parliamentarians and others running and managing the water schemes. This is what we call power to the people,” says Kasomekera. Senior Chief Kalonga of Karonga supports the idea. “Since people have to pay for the water, that is part of civic education for them to know that they shoulder the responsibility of taking care of the system,” he says.

PHOTOGRAPH: Nation Library

Special pullout the nation 22 mARCH 2013

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Special pullout the nation 22 march 2013

Special pullout the nation 22 mARCH 2013

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Special pullout the nation 22 mARCH 2013

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fEATURES
Samuel Chibaya Staff Reporter

wATER CO0PeRATION: HARNESSING THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF WATER

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here have been clear efforts by both government and non-governmental organisations, towards attaining the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the number of people without access to safe water by 2015. An expert from Water Aid, a non-governmental organisation dealing with water issues, says the country has excelled in its efforts to meet the target. One way of ensuring the achievement is sustained is through allowing water systems to be managed by the locals. Apart from government, Water Aid managed to resuscitate a fallen water system at Mgona in Lilongwe where residents had a rude awakening when their water system shut down. After maintenance works and the handing over of the water system to locals, the water users now pay a small fee for the water which caters for repair works, thereby ensuring sustainability. Mercy Masoo, country representative for Water Aid, said it is such interventions that have helped the country to move towards reaching the MDG target by 2015. “By 2015, we will have achieved what we planned for,” she said. “Currently, we have achieved 83 percent of access to safe water.” The percentage includes both functioning and nonfunctioning water systems. But, if non-functioning systems are taken on board the percent of people enjoying the safe water drops. Some boreholes broke down, some water taps are dry, pumping stations failing to pump adequate water. Which means, behind the high statistical mark, there are lives that still yearn to access the much needed safe water. Future of water supply after 2015 Already Water Aid has planned for the future of water after the 2015 MDG journey ends. The new plan targets the

Malawi’s journey towards meeting MDGs on water
year 2030. Instead of halving the population with access to potable water, the new target is 100 percent access by 2030. Masoo said the organisation has done a report titled: Everyone, everywhere—a vision for water, sanitation and hygiene post-2015. to be released during this year’s World Water Day commemorations. The new plan is based on ensuring there are sustainable water systems that reach out to everyone. However, to achieve this, three things have to happen: inclusion of a goal on universal access to basic water and sanitation services as a fundamental human right. Secondly, to set 2030 as a year to achieve universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene globally and thirdly to “ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene targets and indicators focus explicitly on reducing inequalities, by targeting poor and disadvantaged people as a priority, and on improving the sustainability of services to secure lasting benefits.” For this to happen, Masoo said there is need for cooperation in delivering water. “Water cooperation is key to security, poverty eradication, social equity and gender equality: it generates economic benefits: is crucial to preserving water resources and protect the environment and water cooperation builds peace,” says Masoo. Cooperation holds key to water sustainability where accrued benefits trickle to everyone. “For instance, there is reduced disease burden, people have continuous access to functioning water systems and many others,”

Masoo: Water cooperation is crucial to preserving water resources
she says. Esnat Mwale of Mchezi in Lilongwe is one of the people that will be happy if water reaches everyone. She walks long distances every day to fetch water for household use, and where she gets it, the water is not even safe. “I and my colleagues have been drinking from a dirty stream where all sorts of garbage is dumped,” Mwale says.

Water: A resource without borders
Water is not confined to political borders. An estimated 148 states have international basins within their territory, and 21 countries lie entirely within them. There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world (64 transboundary river basins in Africa, 60 in Asia, 68 in Europe, 46 in North America and 38 in South America). One hundred and eight-five out of the 276 transboundary river basins, about two-thirds, are shared by two countries. 256 out of 276 are shared by 2, 3 or 4 countries (92,7 percent), and 20 out of 276 are shared by 5 or more countries (7,2 percent), the maximum being 18 countries sharing a same transboundary river basin. Forty-six percent of the globe’s (terrestrial) surface is covered by transboundary river basins. One hundred and fortyeight countries include territory within one or more transboundary river basins. 39 countries have more than 90 percent of their territory within one or more transboundary river basins, and 21 lie entirely within one or more of these watersheds. Russian Federation shares 30 transboundary river basins with riparian countries, Chile and United States 19, Argentina and China 18, Canada 15, Guinea 14, Guatemala 13, and France 10. Africa has about onethird of the world’s major international water basins – basins larger than 100,000 km2. Virtually all subSaharan African countries, and Egypt, share at least one international water basin. Depending on how they are counted, there are between 63 and 80 transboundary river and lake basins on the African continent. Rich nations are tending to maintain or increase their consumption of natural resources, but are exporting their footprints to producer, and typically, poorer, nations. European and North American populations consume a considerable amount of virtual water embedded in imported food and products. Each person in North America and Europe (excluding former Soviet Union countries) consumes at least 3 m3 per day of virtual water in imported food, compared to 1.4 m3 per day in Asia and 1.1 m3 per day in Africa.

PHOTOGRAPH: samuel chibaya

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Special pullout the nation 22 march 2013

Special pullout the nation 22 mARCH 2013

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Chlorine in drinking water
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ccording to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chlorine levels of four parts per million or below in drinking water—whether from a private well or municipal reservoir—are acceptable from a human health standpoint. Chlorine was first used in drinking water to reduce waterborne infectious diseases in the USA more than a century ago. It was so effective at destroying potentially harmful bacteria and viruses that the practice soon spread far and wide. But others are not so sure that any chlorine in drinking water should be considered safe. Opponents of chlorination point to studies linking repeated exposure to trace amounts of chlorine in water with higher incidences of bladder, rectal and breast cancers. The problem lies in chlorine’s ability to interact with organic compounds in fresh water to create trihalomethanes (THMs), which when ingested can encourage the growth of free radicals

Drinking water should be free from impurities
that can destroy or damage vital cells in the body. Those with their own private wells who are skittish about chlorine have other options for disinfecting their water. One step would be to replace chlorine with chloramine, an ammonia derivative that doesn’t dissipate into the environment as rapidly as chlorine and has a much lower tendency to interact in bad ways with organic compounds in the water. Another option, though somewhat costly, would be to purchase a machine to purify the water. Perhaps the most sensible and affordable approach is to filter the water at the faucets and taps. Carbon-based tap- or pitcher-mounted filters can work wonders in removing impurities from drinking water. —EarthTalk

PHOTOGRAPH: worldvision.com

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Special pullout the nation 22 march 2013

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wATER COoPeRATION: HARNESSING THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF WATER

FEATURES

his event responds to the invitation of Member States to convene a HighLevel Interactive Dialogue during the 67th session of the General Assembly in New York on World Water Day, to mark the 2013 International Year of Water cooperation and the 20th anniversary of World Water Day. Taking place in the context of current discussions on the Post-2015 development framework and the process of developing a set of SDGs, the main objective of the event is to identify and discuss waterrelated challenges and key areas which in the future will require stronger political support and international cooperation. The event will also explore concrete strategies and practical solutions to overcome these challenges and discuss the potential role that all stakeholders including the UN-System could play in this context. In addition, this year also marks the 20th anniversary of the commemoration of World Water Day and in this regard, the event will provide an opportunity to share experiences and highlight the lessons learnt over the past 20 years. At the occasion of World Water Day, Friday, 22 March 2013 1. Background At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20), Member States recognised that “water is at the core of sustainable development as it is closely linked to a number of key global challenges”. Water is essential for human health and well-being, food and energy production, social and economic stability, and for protecting and maintaining healthy ecosystems. But water is also a finite and vulnerable resource under mounting pressure. Around the world, freshwater resources are threatened by climate change, urbanisation, population growth, pollution and other drivers of change. Analysis suggest that by 2030 demand for freshwater will outstrip supply by 40 percent. Between 2000 and 2050, the number of people living in river basins under severe water stress is expected to more than double, reaching almost four billion people. While too little water can have devastating effects on humanity, too much water can also be fatal. In recent decades, the frequency and intensity of water-related disasters such as floods and droughts have been rising substantially, claiming the lives of millions of people and damaging the economies of many countries. The UN General Assembly

High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly

International Year of Water aims at ensuring that more people have access to fresh water
declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation (A/RES/65/154). Enhancing cooperation and building partnerships at the local, national and transboundary levels will be critical to address freshwaterrelated challenges. A wide range of activities around the world will help raise awareness on the potential and challenges to water cooperation, facilitate dialogue among stakeholders and promote innovative solutions. This year’s World Water Day 2013 on 22 March will be also dedicated to the theme of water cooperation. The High-Level Interactive Dialogue on Water Cooperation of the UN General Assembly will provide the opportunity to identify and discuss waterrelated challenges and key areas which will require stronger political support and greater cooperation at the international level. The event will also explore strategies and cooperative solutions to overcome these challenges and discuss the potential role that all stakeholders, including UN-System could play in this context. The High-Level Interactive Dialogue on Water Cooperation complements the Official World Water Day celebrations to be held on the same day in The Hague. The Interactive Dialogue will address the four global key messages of the International Year of Water Cooperation (poverty reduction, economic benefits, environmental protection and peace building) as well as water security from a political perspective. In addition the session will also address the issue of extreme hydrological events and the challenges that emanate from them with a view to also exploring possible solutions. 2. Objective and expected outcome: This event responds to the invitation of Member States to convene a High-Level Interactive Dialogue during the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly in New York on 22 March 2013, World Water Day, to mark the 2013 International Year of Water cooperation and the twentieth anniversary of World Water Day (A/67/204). Taking place in the context of current discussions on the Post-2015 development framework and the process of developing a set of SDGs, the main objective of the event is to identify and discuss waterrelated challenges and key areas which in the future will require stronger political support and international cooperation. The event will also explore concrete strategies and practical solutions to overcome these challenges and discuss the potential role that all stakeholders including the UN-System could play in this context. In addition, this year also marks the 20th anniversary of the commemoration of World Water Day and in this regard, the event will provide an opportunity to share experiences and highlight the lessons learnt over the past 20 years. The main output of the highlevel interactive debate will be a President’s summary that will inform ongoing discussions on the Post-2015 development framework and Open Working Group on SDGs, as well as forthcoming freshwater-related events such as the High-Level International Conference on Water Cooperation to be hosted by the Republic of Tajikistan in August 2013, Stockholm World Water Week in September 2013 and the Budapest Water Summit hosted by Hungary in October 2013. 3. Programme: The High-Level Interactive Dialogue will start with an opening session featuring statements by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary General (SG) and several leaders from UN Member States. The opening session will be followed by a video link with the event taking place in The Hague. The event will also feature two panel discussions: the first panel will set the stage with indepth discussions on pressing freshwater-related challenges and areas that require better cooperation at the international level, while the second will look at concrete proposals, strategies and cooperative solutions for the period after 2015.

PHOTOGRAPH: flickr.com

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Special pullout the nation 22 march 2013

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Special pullout the nation 22 march 2013

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Making water, sanitation for all a reality

wATER CORPORATION: HARNESSING THE MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF WATER

special essay

oday, on the 20th anniversary of World Water Day, WaterAid is calling on international leaders to support an ambitious target of providing access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all Africans by 2030. The call comes as over 50 000 people take part in more than 30 mass walking events across Africa to call on their governments to keep their promises on access to clean water and safe sanitation. They are joining more than 350 000 people worldwide who are participating in World Walks for Water and Sanitation between Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 March. WaterAid’s report ‘Everyone Everywhere’ launched today by Sirleaf at a UN event on water in the Hague, in the Netherlands. The report finds that, lack of progress in improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene is acting as a brake on progress in economic and human development particularly in child health, nutrition and education. WaterAid cites World Health Organisation figures that show the economic gains that Africa could make through everyone on the continent having access

Many Africans have no access to clean water
to water and sanitation. Africa could gain $33 billion every year from everyone having access to water and sanitation. Of this $4.5 billion would come from reduced healthcare costs; $7.2 billion could be gained from reduced mortality; $2 billion from less time taken off from work; and a staggering $19.5 billion in general time saved. It is estimated by the Institute of Health Metrics that around 550 000 people die of diarrhoea diseases every year in SubSaharan Africa, 88 percent of whom, according to the World Health Organisation, can be attributed to a lack of water, sanitation and hygiene that equates to 480 000 deaths due to a lack of these services on the continent. Nelson Gomonda, WaterAid Pan-Africa programme manager said nothing could better demonstrate that Africa has truly begun to realise its potential and is coming true on its promise of progress and development, than achieving the fundamental goal of every African having safe drinking water. “About 330 million Africans today live without access to clean water, so the road to travel is long, but we can for the first time see the end in sight.

With more than 1 000 African children under the age of five dying every day from diseases brought about from a lack of water and sanitation, Africans will not accept failure. We have to reach this target,” said Gomonda. Currently, in subSahara Africa, 334 million people (39 percent of the population) lack access to clean drinking water, while under 600 million (70 percent) lack access to sanitation. To tackle this problem now, WaterAid is calling on international leaders to: 1. Recognise the need for the framework that replaces the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 to reflect the contribution of water, sanitation and hygiene to other areas of poverty reduction, including health, educatio. 2. Set a new global target to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030. 3. Identify ways of accelerating future rates of progress on sanitation if the goal of universal access is to be met by 2030.—WaterAid.

PHOTOGRAPH: flickr.com