Monday, June 21, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Children are too often the victims of contaminated water, especially in under-developed regions in the world. Water for Humans is working to save lives by implementing its sustainable clean-water solutions—focusing on under-served populations like the ones highlighted in this article.
SURABAYA - More than 4,000 children die every day across the globe due to lack of sanitation and access to clean water, the World Bank said recently.
The bank’s communication officer Chrishtopher M. Walsh said most of the deaths occurred in the developing world, Xinhua reported.
”About 4,000 children die every day due to lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Most of them are in the developing countries in Africa, East Asia, South Asia and Latin America,” he said at a workshop on Evidence-Based Advocacy for Millennium Development Goals organized by the bank.
Although some progress has been made in implementing sanitation projects, there are worldwide still over 2.6 billion people who don’t have access to clean water and sanitation, said Walsh.
In Indonesia, over 50,000 children under five die every year of diarrhea and other water related diseases, the bank’s communication officer for Southeast Asia Yosa Yuliarsa said.
Reported: April 27, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
South Korea is, in many ways, a model of reforestation for the rest of the world. When the Korean War ended, half a
century ago, the mountainous country was quite deforested. Since 1960, under the dedicated direction of President Park
Chung Hee, the South Korean government put into effect a national reforestation effort. Basing itself on the formation of
rural cooperatives, hundreds of thousands of people mobilized themselves to dig irrigation ditches and create terraces to
help the trees in the arid mountains. Today, the forests cover 65 percent of the country, an area that comes to
approximately 6 million hectares. When I drove through South Korea in November of 2000, I found it gratifying to see the
abundance of trees covering the mountains, which a generation ago were naked.
In Nigeria, the farmers who encountered a serious drought and the desertification of the 1980s, began, while they were
preparing the land for their crops, to allow some acacia shoots that grew in their fields to emerge. When those trees
matured, they reduced the wind velocity, and with that, soil erosion. Acacia, a pulse, fixes enriched nitrogen into the soil
and contributes to increased crop yield. During the dry season, the leaves and the pods supply forage for livestock. The
trees also provide the farmers with firewood. This act of allowing 20-150 shoots per hectare to grow to maturity over
about 3 million hectares has revitalized the agricultural community of Nigeria.
DIFFERENT PLACES IN THE USA.
ONE-EYED ARGENTINE DEER.
COSTA RICA AND THE IRIS.
USING THE IRIS
Thirty years of irresponsibility by the Mexican government has provoked the crisis and made it even worse, and because of this an immediate solution from the society itself is required, assured Gustavo Esteva, director of the University of the Earth (Unitierra).
After learning about the activities during the “Gathering for an Autonomous Life”, he indicated that the crisis has a clear origin and corresponds to a series of political choices by the government itself, where decisions were left in the hands of private corporations.
He says it is obvious that this strategy, in which the government renounced its responsibility, hasn’t worked and now we are living the consequences of the State’s abandonment.
The investigator said that people have tried reacting “but are confronted with a combination of State and commerce that has not only caused the economic disaster, but also environmental degradation, contamination and lack of human development.”
He commented that this isn’t just a Mexican problem; it is a global problem, but in Mexico, there are exact dates: “for 30 years the government has not assumed its responsibilities, and instead, has sunk us.”
Because of this, the crisis must be faced head on before it gets worse, before we face further problems. Now, people are fighting to survive. They can begin acting and using practices to resolve this critical situation.
Along these lines, this Thursday at 4:30 in the afternoon the “Gathering for an Autonomous Life” will begin. It will end the 11th of April in the Juarez El Llano park and will have demonstrated that families to individuals can begin to act with a goal of achieving a satisfactory and autonomous life, meaning not being dependent on commerce or State politics.
“The concrete experience of those who have decided to change their lives or view them in another way drives these activities because we want to recuperate what we have lost.”
He reported that this isn’t something complicated. It doesn’t require a large investment, only an effort and decision.
He added that implementing these actions, in the case of water, has become a grave problem. “We should establish new relations because climate change should also be analyzed from this point of view.”
“We need to begin using concrete practices ourselves, like cultivating food on our patios in order to become less dependent on others,” he said. He commented that the tradition was to do things ourselves “and they [the government] took us down an inappropriate road.” Because of this, it is necessary to recuperate this tradition. “We can’t keep waiting… change is today. The solution comes from below, what we have to do is at the core. We have to be reasonable, no one ‘over there’ can fix this problem,” the investigator emphasized.
He reaffirmed that it is the people who must assume responsibility for the changes and not wait for the government or functionaries. “We are the base.”
As part of the meeting for an autonomous life that initiated the investigation Juan Jose dictated the masterly conference. The tools of autonomous sustainability where he said: They removed from us the water and now pretend to return it as a commodity when water is a good, an asset that does not need to be sold because it is from nature and for those that require it.
He added that the first affected by the transformation of the water to an economic value is the poor.
The problem of the water should be the over exploitation of the aquifers, transference of the waters from another and the desertification stated the investigator. He considered that one has to look for alternatives before the water crisis that lives in the country and world. He mentioned the Federal District case, where it had the inundation, but it is where the water problem also exists.
The Swiss investigator, a nationalized Mexican, said it is characteristic of the society of that greater the abundance, that greater the scarcity.Jean Robert was collaborator of Ivan Illich—author of a series of criticisms of key instructions of progress of modern culture of 30 years duration and works on water themes, energy, habitation, city and transport. Actually he develops his reflections in the wheel of material culture.
The meeting for an autonomous life ends April 11th, and in those days in the El Llano Park will have diverse activities and samples that have to strengthen an autonomous life.
He explained, to the public and to the experts with whom he shared the analytical table in “Search for a sustainable life”, that the vital liquid situation in Mexico is getting more devastating and worrisome.
He pointed out that many of these utopian ideas are carried out by those who maintain political, economic and scientific power, who impose mega-projects on communities, greatly affecting the development of those same communities.
For his part, Roberto Romero of the foundation “Gonzalo Río Arronte,” maintained that Mexico needs to clarify points of analysis in its critical water situation. The culture that the Mexicans, he related, is seen with regard to water use and the integrated management of the basins. The afore-mentioned should be analyzed with a global vision in which the integration of the inhabitants, the authorities and the private institutions that want to support the emerging projects in the convergence of different sectors of society is dealt with.
The participants agreed on the necessity of starting from projects that take into account the current situation of the natural resources, in addition to the needs of the people, since often the governments don’t have a comprehensive vision for optimizing the natural resources and end up detonating important processes.
Finally, they discussed the need to return to pre-hispanic customs left by earlier cultures. The alternative water construction, cultivation and storage techniques are taken from ancestral practices that have been forgotten by Mexicans and aren’t being taken advantage of as they could be.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The social, health and economic impacts of neglecting investment in sanitation and water have been under-estimated. Poor sanitation and water trigger a downward slide into poverty, where the sector economic impact is often found to be excess of 5% GDP.
The economic benefits of achieving universal access to sanitation and drinking water are estimated at US $171 billion per year. Sanitation and water interventions deliver economic returns of at least five times on investment, with an annual rate of return of 20% or more.
This is part of the statement adopted by 20 African and Asian Water Ministers during the Ministerial dialogue on April 22, 2010 on the eve of the first Sanitation and Water for All Global Framework for Action High Level Meeting held in Washington on the April 23, 2010.
The ministers ask the donor community to increase the sanitation and water commitments targeted to low income countries from 42 percent of sector aid in 2008 to 50 percent in 2013. Increasing the percentage of sector aid allocated to basic services from 16 percent to 27% of the total sector aid by 2013, is another demand.
The ministers also call on the donor community to:
- Increase investment for meeting the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets so that no credible national water and sanitation plan goes unimplemented due to a lack of funds.
- Provide catalytic funding for technical assistance to help us address our institutional capacity issues and develop our national plans, thereby enabling the poorest countries to effectively utilise the increased investment in the sector.
- Monitor and report on the implementation of the Paris Declaration Principles and Accra Agenda for Action towards improving aid effectiveness in the water and sanitation sector.
- Enter into partnerships or compacts with our governments based on mutual accountability of donors to our governments and our governments to our citizens.
The ministers commit to advocate and provide the evidence of the benefits of investing in water and sanitation so that this sector is prioritized in their national budgets. Their other commitments include:
- Developing credible National Plans, for meeting the water and sanitation MDG targets and ensuring sustainable service delivery.
- Providing strong sector leadership and ensuring coordination for implementing national plans.
- Identifying and addressing the institutional capacity gaps for implementing these plans.
- Undertake Annual Monitoring and review of progress against our National Plans with the participation of all the key sector stakeholders.
Source: Sanitation and Water for All Water Ministers Statement 230410 , 26 April 2010
Ministers of Water and Sanitation from Africa and Asia
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Stan submitted our grant application for All People Be Happy Foundation. They have responded with questions to clarify the proposal. Rick and Stan are working hard on the next grant from Ashoka Change-makers.
The next step in this process is to send letters to the Governor and newly announced candidates in the Oaxaca State government to formally announce the project and design of the constructed wetland/treatment plant for Villa de Etla and Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo Etla.
We have a great opportunity right now we need to take advantage of. We need to have a full bid proposal ready to submit by Jan 2011, and we need to move rather quickly to meet this deadline. In support of this we have finally secured our second set of blackwater testing. The Instituto Tecnológico del Valle de Oaxaca (ITO) will be analyzing the samples, and Maria and folks from Santo Domingo will be collecting them along with our staff person Nelly. This test will entail taking 6 samples over a 24 hour period for 5 days in a row. Along with the blackwater samples they will be measuring the flow rate. The flow rate and water analysis are critical steps to refine the design of the treatment system.
We are planning to launch a fund raising campaign to support the initial design effort. Part of this fund-raising includes a broadening of the circle of folks and engaging other organizations in or efforts. Last month, Rick was the panel monitor for the Spring Fulbright Conference held in Seattle. Rick moderated a panel discussion about social entrepreneurship with three other social entrepreneurs from the Seattle area. I was fortunate to share the stage with a fellow panelists from the PATH Foundation. PATH supports technology projects for the developing world. From this event Stan and I have been invited to meet with PATH’s Water and Sanitation group later this week.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
May 7, 2010
Aid commitments for sanitation and water fell from 8% of total development aid to 5% between 1997 and 2008, lower than commitments for health, education, transport, energy and agriculture, according to the latest UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) report, launched by UN-Water and the World Health Organization (WHO). This drop occurred despite compelling evidence that achieving the water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) would lower health-care costs, increase school attendance and boost productivity.
The findings from the UN-Water GLAAS report were tabled at the first annual High Level Meeting of Sanitation and Water for All, hosted by UNICEF on 23 April 2010 in Washington, DC. The High Level Meeting provided a forum for Ministers of Finance from developing countries, accompanied by Ministers responsible for sanitation and water from 20 developing countries, and representatives from 12 donor countries to gain a greater understanding of the linkages between water, sanitation, and economic growth, in order to commit the appropriate resources, as well as to promote a culture of mutual accountability, partnership and shared responsibility.
Related web site: UN-Water - Sanitation and Water for All – A Global Framework for Action
Source: Source Weekly, 07 May 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
UN Experts Call for Sanitation For All By 2025April 15, 2010
United Nations University, Institute for Water, Environment and Health
UN experts urge the world community to set a new target, beyond the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015, to the achievement of 100 percent coverage by 2025.
The experts have published a new report that offers 9-point prescription for achieving the Sanitation MDG by 2015.
Far more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet and improved sanitation.
Recent UN research in India, the world’s second most populous country, shows roughly 366 million people (31 percent of the population) had access to improved sanitation in 2008.
Other data, meanwhile, shows 545 million cell phones are now connected to service in India’s emerging economy. The number of cell phones per 100 people has exploded from 0.35 in year 2000-01 to about 45 today.
Worldwide some 1.1 billion people defecate in the open. And data show progress in creating access to toilets and sanitation lags far behind world MDG targets, even as mobile phone connections continue to a predicted 1 billion in India by 2015.
Says Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University’s Canada-based think-tank for water, the Institute for Water, Environment and Health: “It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet.”
“Popular education about the health dangers of poor sanitation is also needed. But this simple measure could do more to save lives, especially those of young people, improve health and help pull India and other countries in similar circumstances out of poverty than any alternative investment. It can also serve as a very significant boost to the local economy.”
The new UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice. Worldwide, an estimated $358 billion is needed between now and 2015 to reach the MDG for sanitation – some of this funding is already mobilized at national and international levels.
“The world can expect, however, a return of between $3 and $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation, realized through reduced poverty and health costs and higher productivity – - an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions,” adds Dr. Adeel, who also serves as chair of UN-Water, a coordinating body for water-related work at 27 UN agencies and their many global partners.
[I]f current global trends continue [there will be] a 1 billion person shortfall from the MDG sanitation goal in 2015 — in all, 2.7 billion will lack access. So, while the world will miss the MDG target, the absolute number of those without access to sanitation will actually go up.
The problem is a major contributor to water-borne diseases that, in the past three years alone, killed an estimated 4.5 million children under the age of five — a death toll roughly equal to the population of Ireland or Costa Rica.
“This report  notes cultural taboos surround this issue in some countries, preventing progress,” says Zafar Adeel, Director of UNU-INWEH. “Anyone who shirks the topic as repugnant, minimizes it as undignified, or considers unworthy those in need should let others take over for the sake of 1.5 million children and countless others killed each year by contaminated water and unhealthy sanitation.”
The UNU-INWEH report synthesizes information from a wide range of UN and sources:
- Of the estimated $358 billion cost to meet the MDG target, $142 billion is needed to expand coverage (mostly to rural areas) and $216 billion to maintain existing services (mostly in urban areas)
- For all of Africa to meet the water and sanitation MDGs, the number of people served must double from the 350 million served in 2006. At current rates of progress in Sub-Saharan Africa, the sanitation MDG might not be met until 2076
- An estimated 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases
- Once girls reach puberty, lack of access to sanitation becomes a central cultural and human health issue, contributing to female illiteracy and low levels of education, in turn contributing to a cycle of poor health for pregnant women and their children
The report offers nine recommendations:
- Address sanitation in the context of global poverty and in concert with the other MDGs as part of an overall strategy to increase global equity;
- Make sanitation a primary focus within the broader context of water management and access to safe water;Integrate sanitation into community life – holistic, community-based and communitydriven.
- Empower local communities (not just households) to identify needs, change behaviour, create demand for ownership and overcome obstacles such as land tenure;
- Make coordinated, long-term sanitation investments focused on both “software” (usage) and “hardware” (facilities). To make monitoring more valuable, integrate failures and successes associated with sanitation delivery in community-based evaluations;
- Redefine “acceptable” sanitation access within the context of gender, economic realities and environmental constraints;
- Adjust the MDG target from a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015 to 100 percent coverage by 2025;
- Co-ordinate the responses of national NGOs to the sanitation crisis and enhance communication, especially regarding lessons learned, to form an effective and vocal sanitation advocacy group;
- Design new business models to develop markets at the bottom of the pyramid and deal with the apexes of the water-sanitation-hygiene triangle concurrently;
- Recommit to official development assistance equal to 0.7 percent of GDP and, within this framework, commit 0.002 percent of GDP to international investments in sanitation.
Says Dr. Adeel: “As president of the G8 in 2010, Canada has announced it will champion ‘a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions,’ making this the top priority of the leaders’ meetings in June. Better nutrition and immunization are foremost among the remedies cited.”
“We would urge, however, that providing decent sanitation be emphasized among the simple, inexpensive solutions available, as it would do more to save the lives than any other possible measure.”
Says report co-author Corinne Shuster-Wallace of UNU-INWEH: “Sanitation for all is not only achievable, but necessary. There is a moral, civil, political and economic need to bring adequate sanitation to the global population.”
 UNU-INWEH (2010). Sanitation as a key to global health : voices from the field. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. Read the full report
Source: UNU-INWEH, Apr 2010