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Global water insecurity calls for water infrastructure maintenance

The growing funding gap to keep up with the rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of ageing water infrastructure is a global concern, particularly in the current age of austerity, says global engineering firm Aurecon.

The firm emphasises that new water systems need to be built to cope with increasing populations, shifting consumption patterns, improving technologies, an uncertain future and a changing climate.

“This is the only way we can guarantee the security of our water in the complex times of our future,” say Aurecon waterresources design director Dr Verno Jonker.

To tackle the outlined challenges, he suggests that there must be a global mindset change. “We need to create new sustainable and resilient water realities, based on a comprehensive understanding of problems, imaginative approaches, cooperation, new paradigms, and new technologies.”

In a South African context, Aurecon’s studies indicate the critical importance of constructing integrated bulk water supply infrastructure to mitigate negative impacts associated with limited water supply. This is already seen in the Western Cape’s forced Level 4 water restrictions, which have meant households and businesses have had to take extreme and immediate action to comply with critical water-saving measures.

“Almost every day, there are constant reminders of the increasing scarcity of water and the importance of managing this essential natural resource in the face of increasing demands, degrading environmental conditions and climate change,” says Aurecon water resources engineer Dr James Cullis.

The Value of Water 
Cullis explains that clean, safe drinking water is an important prerequisite for life, the environment and healthy living. He adds that, while many countries globally spend up to 20% of their national budgets on healthcare, investment in quality water supply remains inadequate.

“Globally, 1.1-billion people still do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.6-billion people – half of the developing world – lack even basic sanitation facilities.”

As a result, Jonker reveals that four out of five illnesses in developing countries have been linked to poor water and sanitation, and one death in five of children under the age of five worldwide is related to waterborne diseases. Even in developed countries, a lack of attention to the protection of critical water supply sources can have significant human health implications.

Food is also dependent on water and without water security, crops and livestock are put at risk,” he points out.

He further highlights that, by 2050, it is expected that foodproduction will demand 20% more water than it currently does, owing to the increase in global standards of living and the trend towards diets consisting of meat and dairy products.

“The amount of water required in the cultivation and production of food and other products is significant. It takes 600 ℓ of water to produce 500 g of wheat, 1 000 ℓ of water for 1 ℓ of milk, and 4 600 ℓ to produce one 300 g beef steak.”

Water as a Catalyst for Peace

Moreover, Cullis explains that one of the greatest challenges for the future is how to ensure sufficient and sustainablewater supply for a growing global population in excess of seven-billion. Sustainable water resources management requires collaborative partnerships among diverse stakeholders.

The human right to water and sanitation acknowledges wateras a shared resource, which brings with it complex hydrological, social, environmental and economic interdependencies, notes Cullis.

“Our growing world will demand more water and generate more pollution. This impacts and threatens ecosystems, water sustainability, peace and security. This, in turn, threatens the future and certainty of the world’s watersupply.”

Water supply risks are exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure spending, maintenance and poor managementand governance. However, Jonker postulate that this could be a necessary catalyst for improved cooperation between countries, especially in regions such as Africa, with 59 transboundary river basins.

The challenge of ensuring that water infrastructure is invested in and maintained is integral to water security. The value of water is only known when it is no longer accessible, he concludes.

Source: Engineeringnews

Throttling explanation for water cuts just doesn’t wash

Pretoria – The furore which erupted over the weekend could have been avoided if the City of Tshwane had properly managed the compulsory water restrictions, Rand Water has said.

Water supply to communities west of Pretoria was cut off from Saturday, leaving residents angry and feeling like “second class” citizens.

“The city should have managed it properly to avoid confusion,” Rand Water spokesman Justice Mohale told the Pretoria News.

He said Rand Water convened technical meetings in Joburg every Monday and representatives from the city were always among the participants. The meetings discussed, among other issues, water restrictions, he said.

Mohale said all municipalities in the province participated in the throttling exercise, launched by the Department and Water and Sanitation in an effort to save dwindling water resources. Municipalities are supposed to take 15% from water supplied to residents.

“Most municipalities are doing very well; we have had no complaint about the methods used.”

Laudium residents had their water cut off without prior notice on Saturday, and this threw them into a frenzy, demanding answers and the immediate restoration of the service.

In his response to social media queries on Sunday afternoon, mayor Solly Msimanga said: “We are aware and working on the water problem in Laudium. The problem is a result of over-throttling from Rand Water as part of the restrictions.”

But that explanation was rejected by the residents, who said the city would have known before implementation. “We would have been warned and told to prepare,” a resident said at a public meeting to discuss the water situation in Laudium. The residents held an emergency meeting, where they said 36 hours without water, with no official explanation, was a sign of disrespect.

They said it was a service delivery and human rights violation and wanted the mayor to address them on the matter. The municipality acknowledged the lack of water in the area and dispatched 10 tankers of 10 000 litres each to the affected communities, adding four more by Monday morning.

City spokesman Lindela Mashigo said reservoirs had become low by Saturday. When water started trickling into the area Monday morning, he said: “The reservoir recovered a bit and managed to supply water to low lying areas.”

The high lying areas would battle until there was enough water to apply pressure upwards, he said. Night time when water use was very low would allow that, Mashigo added.@ntsandvose

Source: iol

Africa Needs More Funds to Achieve Clean Water and Sanitation – AfDB

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has warned that water and sanitation will remain one of the key development challenges facing African communities and nations, with direct impacts on economic growth.

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The statement from AfDB has been made at the 6th Africa Water Week (AWW6), held in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, from July, 18 which has ended today.

“Africa is one of the developing regions that have not met the drinking water and sanitation targets. More than 50% of Africa’s population currently does not have access to safe and reliable water and sanitation services. Also an estimated of 1 million Africans die every year from lack of adequate sanitation, hygiene and from water borne diseases,” Mohamed El Azizi, AfDB’s Water and Sanitation Director, said.

The AfDB is in a unique position to help African countries better cope with water and sanitation challenges. “We have track records in implementing water, sanitation and climate change resilience projects as well as a robust experience in managing dedicated trust funds and tools: the award-winning African Water Facility, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, African countries can really benefit from our experiences and lessons learnt,” said El Azizi.

“Expanding access to clean water and better sanitation is a strategic priority for the AfDB. Overall, our projects created 116,000 m3 of drinking water capacity between 2013-2015, with more than 6.1 million people benefiting from improved access to water and sanitation as a result of our projects,” he added.

The AfDB and the African Water Facility an instrument established by the African Ministers’ Council on Water and hosted by the AfDB took part in a series of events aimed at translating the high-level commitments on water security and sanitation into implementation.

Discussions have allowed to identify the main “game changers” and the policy shifts that are needed to reach the 6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6) endline to “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all” Participants also tried to develop a common understanding of policy design options and financing requirements for practical implementation of climate change resilience projects.

“Getting the right design is critical for financing of any infrastructure. Key design parameters for water infrastructure are hydrological information. In many countries this information is weak and the uncertainties introduced by climate change make projections even more difficult. A new program Hydromet can support better information for design in climate resilient infrastructure,” said Jean-Michel Ossete, acting coordinator, African water facility.

“To meet SDG6 targets in Africa, realistic and comprehensive financing plans are needed based on the costs of providing both hardware and software components, as well as operations and maintenance to ensure services operate efficiently and sustainably,” added Jochen Rudolph, water and sanitation expert, AfDB

AWW6 was an opportunity to explore and identify opportunities for linkages and collaboration across global, regional, and sub-regional monitoring initiatives in order to better track progress on SDG6.

The Bank’s delegation to AWW6 also seized the opportunity to explain how AfDB’s top five priorities or “High 5s” as well as its climate finance strategies can help accelerate the attainment of SDGs.

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Source: allafrica


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Durban bulk water project on track

Durban’s largest ever bulk water pipeline, the Western Aqueduct, is making steady progress and reaching important milestones.

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The head of the eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS), Ednick Msweli, said the Western Aqueduct would have a significant impact on the future development of the eThekwini region.

“With unemployment at record highs and a need to fast-track the establishment of industry that will beneficiate commodities and manufacture for export, in order to both grow the regional economy and create jobs, the provision of good water infrastructure has never been more important. With the completion of the aquaduct, Durban will have some of the best water infrastructure in the country,” he said.

The project – divided into two phases – will bring water into Durban from the Midmar Dam and recently constructed Springrove Dam. It will significantly strengthen the capacity of bulk water supply and meet the needs of the greater eThekwini region for the next 30 years.

The first phase, which measures 20km and stretches from the Umlaas Road Reservoir to Inchanga, was commissioned at the end of 2012.

The R1.8-billion second phase, which continues from Inchanga to Ntuzuma, is expected to be commissioned next year. Martin Bright, the project manager for the second phase, explained that the massive phase had been divided into a number of related contracts.

The first two contracts – comprising 14km of pipeline extending from Inchanga to Alverstone Station, and then on to Ashley Drive in Hillcrest – have been completed by Cycad Construction and WK Construction respectively.

Both these contractors have already moved off site.

Msweli said the eThekwini Municipality was pleased that both projects had been completed and had met stringent quality standards.

As a result of the severe drought experienced lately, the rehabilitation of areas where the pipeline was laid had been delayed, but since been completed under difficult circumstances.

Work on the 25km stretch of the pipeline from Ashley Drive to Ntuzuma being carried out by Esor Construction, is on schedule for completion in September 2017.

He said a 7km branch line to Tshelimnyama was being carried out by Esor and was on track for completion towards the end of this year.

This pipeline runs along Haygarth Road, and under the N3 to the water reservoir in Tshelimnyama, and will alleviate water shortages in this area.

The large Ashley Drive Break Pressure Tank, designed by the Western Aqueduct Consultants Joint Venture, has been completed by ICON Construction. This 20-million litre Break Pressure Tank has just won the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) Award for Technical Excellence at the Saice Durban Branch Awards.

In the submission entry, the following aspects of this project were highlighted: that it showcased the civil engineer’s leadership and management skills, not to mention technical competence, in bringing together a team of specialists in the disciplines of civil, structural, hydraulic, geotechnical, roadwork, mechanical, electrical, electronic and telecommunications engineering, as well as other related fields such as environmental, heritage, security and planning.

A second reservoir – known as the Wyebank Break Pressure Tank – is also well on the way to completion during the third quarter of 2017. This break pressure tank has also been designed by Royal Haskoning DHV and is currently being built by ICON.

Msweli thanked eThekwini residents for their patience during the construction of the completed sections of the pipeline and during on-going construction.

“Unfortunately, traffic disruption will still be felt as a result of work in Kloof, Wyebank and Kwadabeka. The section of the M13 off-ramp to Willingdon Road is due to begin next month. The temporary railway crossing at Kloof Station will terminate at the end of this month, and traffic will revert to flow along Church Street as the pipeline along Church Street is now complete,” he said.

He said work would continue along Wyebank Road for the foreseeable future.
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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 negatively impacting on livelihoods and quality of lives. The region experienced a delayed onset of the 2015/2016, rainfall season, followed by erratic rains. Analysis of rainfall performance shows that the October to December 2015 period, which represents the first half of the cropping season, was the driest in more than 35 years in several southern parts of the region. During the same period, higher than average temperatures were consistently experienced across the region. These dry conditions mostly affected Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Following the dry conditions from the beginning of the season in October 2015, heavy rains set in across most parts of the region for close to 30 days, between 21 FebruarySADC Regional Situation Update 15 May 2016
while in northern Botswana, parts of southern Angola, northern South Africa, southern Zambia and western Zimbabwe, rainfall was close to twice the normal amount. Despite this improvement in rainfall, water availability for hydro-power generation for Zambia and Zimbabwe is still below normal. Most areas received above-normal rainfall during this period. The rains received helped to increase the amount of water available for human and livestock use, as well as improving pasture conditions. These rains were, however, too late for crops which had already wilted and died or were not even planted due to earlier dry conditions.

Although national, regional and international forecasts had by September 2015 predicted poor rainfall performance and high temperatures for the 2015/16 season, the severity of the drought conditions has been such that it has overwhelmed the disaster preparedness capacity in most of the affected Member States.

The 2015/16 El Niño follows closely on a previous poor

Rainfall: 21 Feb – 20 Mar 2016 expressed as a percent rainfall season. The effect of the previous drier-than-normal of average rainfall for the same period.
season for most SADC countries resulted in reduced crop production, increased use of stored food reserves and savings used to buy food and non-food (such as seed and other agricultural inputs) commodities, reduced water levels, reduced pasture availability and increased strain on the revenue of most governments that were in the process of recovering from the earlier effects of global financial crises. The situation was further compounded by the fall in prices of commodities on the global market, an aspect that has reduced the revenue base of most governments, thereby increasing the strain on the revenue of most governments and their capacity to support socio protection programmes for the people affected by the drought. Cereal supply and demand analysis for the 2015/16 marketing year showed that the region recorded an overall cereal deficit of about 7.8 million tonnes. The 2015 regional food security and vulnerability assessments showed that the number of food insecure people during the 2015/16 marketing year was more than 27 million people, which is about 9% of SADC’s total population.

The already serious problem of acute and chronic malnutrition in the region is expected to worsen, increasing risks of mortality of young children and the elderly. Steep food price hikes are expected in the 2016/17 marketing year due to poor grain production and the depreciation of the regional currencies against the US dollars. This El Niño event has seriously crippled agricultural production including crops and livestock; and dried up many water sources and reservoirs, with serious impacts not only on agricultural but energy supplies. Increased incidences of diseases are likely due to water shortages, lack of safe drinking water, and inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices; all which contribute to higher risk of preventable waterborne diseases. Additionally, the drought heightens financial constraints caused by food price increases that have recently been recorded. Furthermore, the production and supply of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs have also been adversely affected. These factors will constrain recovery in the medium term for the affected communities and thereby negatively impacting on agricultural plans for the next cropping season. The welfare of millions of households is in serious jeopardy due to the current crippling food shortages and future recovery input shortages.

The number of people at risk of food insecurity during the 2015/16 marketing year is estimated at 1.25 million, which represents a 65.8 per cent increase compared to the previous marketing year. The most affected provinces are Cunene, Huila, Benguela, Kwanza Sul, Namibe and Cuando Cubango. The figures are expected to continue rising as we move through 2016. Crop losses are expected to be as high as 75 per cent in parts of the south.

The country is battling an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, which is adding to livestock deaths. A yellow fever outbreak is also proving difficult to contain. Since the yellow fever outbreak began in December 2015, 1,975 suspected cases of yellow fever (618 laboratory confirmed) and 258 deaths have been reported, the majority of them in the capital, Luanda, and in 2 other provinces, Huambo and Huila. Amid concerns that the virus will spread to other urban areas and to neighboring countries, a large-scale vaccination campaign was launched in February 2016 and has so far reached almost 7 million people.

Coordination and Response
An inter-ministerial Drought Emergency Commission has been established, led by the Ministry of Planning, to support emergency efforts. To strengthen the international cooperating partners’ humanitarian coordination, the United Nations has established an Emergency Country Team to complement Government’s coordination efforts
The Ministry of Agriculture is planning to conduct a quick assessment of the situation that will provide additional details of the progress of the season so far

Botswana: Most parts of the country received below average rainfall since the season started in October 2015. Normal to above normal rainfall amounts received in central and western parts of Botswana in December helped to reduce water deficits and to improve vegetation conditions in some areas. However, many of the eastern areas, which include the primary crop growing areas of the country, received below normal rainfall. Some of the areas have not been planted due to lack of rains.

This has negatively impacted on crop production prospects with permanent wilting reported in some parts of the country. A few exceptions are in the northern and north-western parts of the country where slightly above average rainfall was received during the last two months. The poor rainfall conditions have also affected the availability of drinking water and pasture for livestock. This has resulted in poor livestock condition with reports of livestock deaths in some areas. In response to the drought impacts on livestock, the Ministry of Agriculture has increased subsidies on certain livestock feeds to 50 per cent.

The number of vulnerable people is estimated at over 30,000 or about 4 per cent higher than last season, according to the Botswana Vulnerability Assessment Committee. A national drought assessment is currently underway, earlier than usual this year, due to the severity of the current drought. This is expected to provide more details about the performance of the season across the country.

Lesotho: one of the worst affected countries in the region, with reports showing that the 2015/16 agricultural season has failed. For the May/June harvest period, 80 per cent of farmers are not expecting to harvest anything significant. Rain was received during the early months of 2016, which helped improve the water crisis that had been crippling the country. The Government of Lesotho on 22 December 2015 declared a state of drought emergency. The Government’s declaration was accompanied by a jointly developed response plan (ICPs and Government) as well as an appeal for international support. The response plan is asking for a total of US$40.3million.

The results of a multi-stakeholder Rapid Drought Assessment conducted in January 2016 show that about 534,502 (more than 1 in 4) people are at risk of food insecurity until June 2016, with the situation expected to worsen in the second half of the year and the beginning of 2017 due to poor 2016 harvest. Poor and very poor households are experiencing a 44per cent decline in their food and cash income compared to normal conditions. The current food and cash income is 31% below the survival threshold. This is exacerbated by the decrease in the number of people receiving remittances from South Africa mainly due to recent retrenchments, thereby affecting their ability to buy enough food. Despite recent rains, increasing difficulties are being experienced with regards to accessing water with rationing, increased waiting times and water purchasing widely reported. The elderly, people living with HIV and AIDS and/or TB, the disabled and the sick were indicated as the most affected by water shortages. Protection concerns were also highlighted in the report, including use of negative coping mechanisms and sexual and genderbased violence.

Coordination and Response
The UN and NGOs are working jointly with the Government of Lesotho to complete further assessments. A market assessment is being conducted to complement the rapid assessment. This exercise will further inform the programming of emergency response activities and targeting. An Inter-Ministerial Task Force has been established to support the coordination efforts by the Disaster Management Authority. To further strengthen the humanitarian coordination, the United Nations, together with NGOs has established a Humanitarian Country Team (HCT).

Madagascar: The south-western parts of the country are experiencing El Niño -induced drought conditions. Low rainfall and high temperatures in January intensified dryness in the southern half of Madagascar, especially over Androy, Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana regions. The drought, which has affected these regions since October 2015, ha negatively impacted on crops and livestock, water availability, food prices, livelihoods and nutritional wellbeing. Households food and nutrition situation has significantly deteriorated.
More than one million people in these regions are food insecure, of which 665,000 are severely affected. This represents 80 per cent of the population in the seven most affected districts of Amboasary, Ambovombe, Tsihombe, Bekily, Beloha, Betioky and Ampanihy. The communities’ coping strategies are weakened by successive years of shocks. They are adopting negative coping strategies such as the sale of assets (including livestock), increasing wood collection activities; reducing the number of meals per day; withdrawing children from schools; and migrating to other areas of the country. The deterioration of households’ food security affects the nutritional status of children under five. In February 2016, global acute malnutrition (GAM) levels reached an average of 8 per cent within this group. GAM rates were higher than the critical threshold of 10 percent in some areas. The district of Tsihombe is the most affected, with an average of 14 percent of children under five presenting signs of acute malnutrition.

Malawi: On 12 April 2016, the President of Malawi declared a State of National Disaster due to prolonged dry spells during the 2015/16 season, with an estimated 2.8 million people being food insecure. Second round crop estimates show an expected 1.07 million tonnes national maize deficit, nearly five times the registered deficit last year. This implies that the number of people in need of relief food assistance will significantly increase over the next 18 months.

A pre-harvest MVAC assessment (released in March) found that the country’s three regions experienced dry spells due to effects of the El Niño, with the central and southern regions hit harder than the north. At the same time, heavy rains continue in the northern region, and could last until June, exacerbating the current flooding situation. At least seven displacement camps have been established with more than 35,000 flood-affected people.

Food insecurity continues to aggravate Malawi’s fragile nutrition situation, with vulnerable groups and people on ART/TB treatment feeling the heavy consequences of drought. Admissions to health clinics for moderate acute malnutrition have risen four-fold since January. A nutrition survey planned for April/June will further inform the nutrition response. The annual MVAC (a rural vulnerability and food security assessment) will be conducted from early May.

The country is also experiencing a cholera outbreak that started in December 2015. According to the Ministry of Health, as of 31 March 2016, a cumulative total of 1,073 cholera cases were registered in 10 out of Malawi’s 28 districts. Twenty-one deaths have been recorded, representing a case fatality rate of 1.96%, which is above the acceptable rate of 1%, as per WHO standards.

Coordination and Response
The Government of Malawi is leading the response, through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), with support from humanitarian partners, including NGOs, the UN System and donors. The cluster system has been activated, and inter-cluster meetings are taking place to ensure proper cross-sector coordination. The Office of the Vice President, through DoDMA, convenes meetings of the Humanitarian Response Committee to monitor the implementation progress of the food insecurity response. In addition, DoDMA is facilitating the finalization of the 2015/16 National Contingency Plan as well as district level contingency plan reviews and coordination capacity strengthening.

Mozambique: Throughout much of the season, Mozambique has experienced well below average rainfall in the southern and central parts of the country, while above average rainfall has been received over the northern parts. Most parts of the country received good rains briefly in late January, as well as in late February through April. These late rains, while providing some moisture that contributed to pasture re-growth were insufficient to eliminate the prevailing rainfall deficits. Vegetation conditions remain well below average in most of the south.

On 1 April 2016, the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) released the results of the latest food and nutrition security assessment which indicated that 1.5 million people are acutely food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance in the Central (Zambezia, Manica, Sofala and Tete provinces) and Southern regions (Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo provinces). An estimated 191,000 children are expected to be severely acutely malnourished in the next 12 months and GAM rates for children under 5 are 15.3% and 15.5 % in Sofala and Tete provinces respectively. Very few households have any cereal reserves for consumption and as a result, there has been a sharp reduction in the quality of diet between November 2015 and March 2016. Prices of the staple food, maize, have increased by almost 100 per cent in markets when compared to this time last year. The nutritional status of children is worrisome, particularly in Sofala, Tete and Manica provinces; there are very high GAM rates (over 15 per cent in two provinces) with additional aggravating factors (weak health systems and water and sanitation challenges). Increasingly, children, particularly girls, are dropping out of school to help fetch water and food or because families are moving to areas with better conditions. In view of this alarming situation, the Government of Mozambique declared on 12 April a 90-day institutional red alert, the highest level of national emergency preparedness, for the central and southern areas of the country. This measure aims to intensify and expand response actions, disburse additional Government funds planned for emergency situations and mobilize resources through cooperating partners.

Coordination and Response
The response actions to the current drought in the country are in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala and Tete provinces. The response activities include food assistance, drilling/rehabilitation of water boreholes and in some cases water trucking to affected communities.
The Government of Mozambique through the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) is leading the coordination of drought response in the affected provinces. The coordination meetings of the Technical Council for Disaster Management (CTGC) are being held at least once a week to continue monitoring the drought situation, response and gaps. The ICPs’ Humanitarian Country Team continues to ensure coordination among the partners responding to the situation in support of the Government.

Namibia: Poor rainfall in the first half of the rainfall season resulted in delays in planting and a lack of pasture and drinking water for both animals and humans. Namibia experienced an extended delay in the effective onset of rains, with little to no rainfall being received in October and November. In many areas, the onset was delayed by between 20 to 40 days. This extended dryness, combined with very high temperatures, and a poor 2014/2015 rainfall season, resulted in significant negative impact on grazing lands and water resources for both humans and livestock. Veld fires were also report and these contributed to a reduction in the availability of grazing. The situation improved in December as good rains were received throughout much of Namibia, while January was much drier, especially in the northern-central and north-western areas. The northeastern and central parts of the country received normal to above-normal rainfall. As a result of the mixed rainfall pattern, the vegetation is at mixed growth stages with the eastern half of the country showing above-normal vegetation conditions, and below-average conditions in the western half.

The number of people at risk of food insecurity is estimated at 370,316. The cabinet approved about N$350 million (US$22.5m) to support various kinds of interventions

South Africa: Rainfall improved in many parts of the country in January and continued through February to mid-March, after several months of very poor rainfall had prevented many farmers from planting. The protracted delays in the rains resulted in large reductions in the planted area. The rains were insufficient to eliminate rainfall deficits since October, and seasonal rainfall totals are still well below average in most parts of the country. Commercial maize production in 2016 is estimated at 7.44 million MT, 25 per cent down from 9.96 million MT in 2015, and about 40% below the 5-year average, while sorghum production remained almost the same as last year at about 0.12 million MT.

Demand and supply analysis for the 2016/17 marketing year shows that the country will face cereal deficits in maize and wheat of 1.61 million tonnes and 1.55 million tonnes respectively. Sorghum is expected to record a small surplus of 23.7 thousand tons. These deficits will be more than offset by net imports.

The Government declared seven out of the country’s nine provinces as drought-related disaster areas in November 2015, and set aside ZAR 236 million (approximately US$14.5 million) to alleviate the impacts of the drought.

Commercial beef slaughters have increased significantly due to culling influenced in part by the drought. Droughtrelated cattle deaths have also been reported. The country’s dams were reportedly at 55 per cent of full supply capacity by end of January, 27 per cent lower than what was observed at the same time last year.

South Africa continues to export maize to neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia, which is projected to amount to about 820,000 tonnes in the 2015/16 marketing year.

Swaziland: The El Niño-induced drought has seriously affected food and nutrition security and water availability across Swaziland. The Swaziland Drought Rapid Assessment Report estimates maize production of 33,000 tonnes, a 64 per cent reduction compared with last year’s season, which itself was below average. Results confirm that 320,000 people, about 30 per cent of the total population, are in need of immediate food assistance. The hardest-hit regions are Lubombo and Shiselweni. An estimated 64,000 cattle have already perished in the drought, threatening lives and livelihoods. Swaziland has a very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS: 26 per cent among the adult population (15-49 years). A comprehensive joint health and nutrition rapid assessment was conducted in late March and results show that lack of access to food is reducing adherence to anti-retroviral treatment (ART).

The next main harvest season is not until April 2017, meaning food and nutrition indicators can only be expected to deteriorate over the coming months, which is of great concern given the already high rates of chronic malnutrition (according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) 2014 data, about 25.5 per cent of the children under age 5 are stunted in growth).

To address the impacts of the drought, the Government of Swaziland declared a National Drought Emergency on 18 February 2016. Following the declaration, Government published the National Emergency Response Mitigation and Adaptation Plan (NERMAP), which is requesting a total of US$80.5m. The comprehensive multi-sectoral response plan was developed by Government, with support from partners. US$16.5m was pledged by Government for both immediate and longer term interventions. The Government has requested the international community to assist though the provision of financial and technical support.

Coordination and Response
The Government of Swaziland has committed approximately US$7 million to meet the immediate needs of the most affected, which will cover around 25 per cent of health and nutrition needs and 20 per cent of rural WASH needs. The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) approved US$3.14 million to commence immediate, life-saving humanitarian interventions. This funding will enable the World Food Programme and UNICEF to provide food and emergency water and sanitation services to 95,000 of the most vulnerable people.

Following the development of NERMAP, Government with partners is finalizing the development of a humanitarian needs overview (HNO), based on NERMAP, prioritizing critical humanitarian needs. A multi-sectoral drought rapid assessment was completed in February 2016 and results are being incorporated into the response. In addition, the UN is supporting the Ministry of Health to conduct a more comprehensive assessment on the health and nutrition situation, including the capacity of health facilities to respond to the drought emergency.

Government convenes an inter-sectoral coordination forum to deliberate on critical issues and provide strategic direction for the response. There are various sector coordination meetings, led by the Government, co-chaired by the UN. The forums provide technical support for the coordination mechanism. A UN Technical Working Group for Drought has been established and is actively coordinating UN agencies involved in the response, arranged by sectors (Food Security and Agriculture, Health and Nutrition, WASH, Education, and Protection).

Tanzania: Tanzania has been receiving good rainfall in most areas since the onset of the season. Crops and pasture were generally reported to be in good condition. High rainfall resulted in flooding in some eastern and central districts, causing damage to crops such as rice and maize. Pastures and grazing lands were reported to be in good condition, and water supply for livestock is sufficient. Livestock were also reported to be in good condition.

The country is experiencing a cholera outbreak that started in August 2015. As of 14
April, 20,810 cases have been reported countrywide, with 327 deaths, a case fatality rate of 1.6 per cent. The Ministry of health is leading the response, supported by ICPs.

Zambia: Following delayed onset of rains, most areas in the southern half of the country received below average rains and experienced delays in planting. This continued until the 3rd dekad of January when the situation improved. In several areas, the rains arrived in time to allow resuscitation of crops that had been affected by the preceding dryness. The rains continued consistently into late March (mid-April in some areas), resulting in average to good crop conditions in many areas. Recent crop estimates released in May put the expected 2015/16 maize production at 2.87 million MT, up 9.5% from last year’s production, and representing a surplus of 634,000 MT. The country has, however, currently banned export of maize.

A multi-sectoral impact and needs assessment is expected to be published by the Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZVAC) by the end of May.

The country is currently experiencing a cholera outbreak. As of 1 April, 5 districts were affected with 567 cumulative cases and 6 deaths reported. An analysis of the cases shows that the spread of the outbreak is mainly due to unsafe drinking water and fecal contamination. The affected areas are high densely populated residential areas served by unimproved pit latrines and mostly shallow wells. The Ministry of Health (MoH) is leading the cholera response using existing coordination structures for emergency preparedness and response. The frequency of coordination meetings is weekly at the national level and daily at the provincial and district levels. The National Coordination Committee is chaired by the Minister or Deputy Minister of Health. UNICEF and WHO are represented in all the subcommittees with high level representation from all relevant ministries, departments and other partners (Red Cross, Centre for Disease Control and University of Zambia).

The combination of a poor 2015 harvest, an extremely dry early-mid season (October to mid-February) and hotter-than-average conditions has led to a scenario of extensive crop failure and food insecurity in Zimbabwe. With some 2.8 million people, more than a quarter of the rural population, already estimated to be food insecure, the number is projected to rise significantly over the next year, with the main harvest period in May expected to bring minimal relief. The provinces with the highest prevalence of food insecurity are Matabeleland North (43%), Midlands (33%), Masvingo (32%), Mashonaland West (30%) and Matabeleland South (28%). Several interventions are underway to assist the affected households.

These projections prompted the Government to declare a state of national drought disaster on 4 February 2016, and subsequently issued an international appeal of $1.5 billion.

Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Rapid Assessment revealed a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 5.7%, a level not reached in the country in 15 years. Nationally, 7,058 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) have been admitted to therapeutic treatment programmes between December 2015 and May 2016. Almost 17 per cent (1,162) of these admissions took place in emergency response districts where active nutrition screening is taking place. In these same districts the number of children admitted for SAM treatment has more than doubled compared to the same period last year.

An estimated 62,000 drought affected children, women and men were provided with access to safe water to prevent water and sanitation related diseases through the rehabilitation of piped water schemes and boreholes. There has been a significant decline in new typhoid cases comparing weekly epidemiological data. To date, 1, 206 typhoid cases have been reported, out of these 75 have been laboratory confirmed, with 5 typhoid related deaths reported.

Coordination and Response
Government established a Cabinet Committee on Emergency Response to the El Niño -induced Drought Disaster chaired by Vice President. This Cabinet Committee has been mandated to coordinate responses to meet immediate and medium-term needs of the current drought. The current response has been coordinated by coordination platforms, led by Government Ministries, supported by the United Nations. In order to provide strategic guidance, a Humanitarian Country Team was established in 2015 and an inter-sectoral coordination group established in April 2016 to coordinate between sectors and to provide a platform for inter-sectoral discussion. Sectoral meetings are ongoing among the 5 sectors identified as critical to this response i.e Food Security and Agriculture, Health, WASH, Education and Protection. An Early recovery Sectoral Working Groups has been established.
Regional Coordination and Response

• The SADC Council of Ministers meeting of 15 – 16 March 2016 approved:

 that the Region should declare a Regional Drought Disaster and prepare an Appeal of Assistance from International Cooperating Partners; and

 the establishment of a Regional Response Team at the SADC Secretariat to coordinate a regional response in close collaboration with Member States.

• The SADC Secretariat has since established a Regional Response Team with the main objective of effectively and efficiently coordinating the responses to the negative effects of the 2015/16 El Niño phenomenon in the region.

• The Regional Response Team is composed of staff from SADC Secretariat, Regional based United Nations’ Agencies and other International Cooperating Partners.

• While the Regional Drought Disaster Declaration is yet to be made, the Regional Response Team has already started compiling data and statistics for a possible Regional Appeal document. Meanwhile, the Team will continue to publish El-Nino Drought Situation Reports like the current one on a monthly basis.

• Member States are currently conducting their national vulnerability assessments for the 2016/17 marketing year which are expected to be completed by early June 2016. Information from these assessments will form the basis for a possible Regional Appeal.

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Water and Sanitation Intervenes in Waste Water Management

PRESS RELEASE

As the custodian of South Africa’s water resources, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is responsible for the effective management of the nation’s water resources to meet the needs of the current and future generations. As South Africa is a water scarce country, it is of utmost importance that our water resources are well looked after so as to prevent the pollution of our limited water.

In discharging its oversight functions, the department encountered high levels of sewer pollution which negatively impacted on water quality in our water resources. Upon further investigations, it was discovered that the pollution came mostly from dysfunctional municipal waste water treatment plants. Waste water treatment works in most municipalities are in a state of decay due to poor maintenance. The situation is also compounded by the fact that communities are growing but the infrastructure is still the same, which leads to overloading, leading to the spillages we experience. Most plants are operating above their design capacity.

In preventing the further pollution of our water resources, the DWS is intervening in the municipalities mostly affected by sewer spillages through the funding of the refurbishments of the waste water treatment works. Waste water treatment works need to be operating optimally to ensure that treated effluent of acceptable standards is discharged into the water resources.

Some of the municipalities benefitting through the Accelerated Community Infrastructure Programme (ACIP) in the Mpumalanga Province include Emakhazeni and Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme local municipalities. Refurbishment projects are currently underway in Waterval Boven, Machadodorp and Belfast in Emakhazeni Local Municipality and in Amersfort in the Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme Local Municipality to ensure that the plants are compliant.

The department is also gravely concerned with the poor performance of most municipalities in terms of the Green Drop report, which is one of the main reasons for the interventions into the municipalities that negatively affect the water quality in the sources such as rivers, streams and dams.

We all need to work together as responsible citizens and government to ensure that our waste water treatment works are in good condition and prevent unnecessary sewerage spillages that pollute our water resources. Residents are urged to prevent contributing to the spillages by not throwing foreign objects into the systems, the sewers especially. These can block the sewer systems. The community members must also immediately report blockages and spillages in their areas.

Issued by: Department of Water and Sanitation

Source: allafrica


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Bid to monitor sanitation service

A DRAFT policy which elevates sanitation as a priority and holds municipalities to account has received the backing of social justice groups.

The last time the policy on sanitation was reviewed was 10 years ago.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has drafted a new policy, and opened it for public comment until March14, with some of the focus areas being the right to access to basic sanitation services and prioritising hygiene and basic sanitation services to vulnerable people and unserviced households.

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Marie Brisley, the department’s water policy chief director said it will play a stronger role in ensuring municipalities budget properly and meet the standards in terms of wastewater works.

There has been no substantive policy regulating sanitation provision in South Africa, which has left implementation haphazard and without basic standards, Social Justice Coalition (SJC) spokesperson Axolile Notywala said on Tuesday.

Brisley admitted that sanitation provision had not received the necessary attention it required, and was usually the last thing municipalities budgeted for.

“That is why a lot of the wastewater treatment works are neglected and the water that goes back into the water resources does not meet the standards,” Brisley said.

At a public consultation in the city yesterday, SJC deputy general secretary Dustin Kramer said he liked aspects of the draft policy, and Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement leader Loyiso Nkohla said the policy considered a wide range of issues.

Ses’Khona spearheaded a campaign for the installation of permanent toilets in informal settlements by dumping human faeces in public areas, notably the Cape Town International Airport.

“The government has done a wonderful job in covering issues on a wider spectrum. But they have neglected to include consultation from groups before drafting the policy,” Nkohla said.

In a statement, Notywala said: “Over several years, the SJC has led a campaign for clean and safe sanitation in informal settlements.

“Access to clean, safe and dignified sanitation facilities for all is one of the most basic rights. It is not a luxury. The continued violation of this right is one of apartheid’s greatest legacies and today’s most difficult challenges.

“We encourage communities and relevant stakeholders to make submissions and to ensure that the policy ultimately adopted is appropriate, and has the impact so urgently needed.”

Brisley said the country was expected to experience increased urbanisation, which will put strain on urban sanitation systems.

But at the same time, growing and changing settlements in rural areas are also putting pressure on small and limited sanitation systems.

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Source: iol


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South Africa: Waste Water Treatment Plants Show Improvement

Pretoria — The Department of Water and Sanitation has commended the improvement of over 198 waste water plants in municipalities during the 2014 Green Drop assessment period.

The 2014 Green Drop Progress report is based on a self-assessment by municipalities and is confirmed by the department to ensure credibility. The department’s team that served as moderators is made up of a trained group that not only assesses performance but also ensures that regulatory advice is given to municipal wastewater management for further improvement on their systems.

The department said the main objective of the exercise is to develop measures that will gradually improve the level of wastewater management in South Africa.

The department assessed and verified 824 waste water treatment plants and 152 municipalities throughout the country. The report presents the current risk profile and a six-year trend analysis of wastewater treatment plants.

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Water Services Manager in the department, Noxolo Ncapayi, said there are various factors that contribute to the mismanagement of waste water treatment plants. Industries that dump their effluent on river catchments and farmers and abattoirs disposing of their pesticides and carcasses within the catchments contribute enormously to the pollution problem.

“Hartbeestpoort Dam in Brits, North West, is a classic example of a downstream water resource that is subjected to heavy pollution by industries. The dam receives water from Crocodile River, whose main tributary is Jukskei River. Jukskei, which runs through Johannesburg and Alexandra township, is one of the worst polluted rivers in the country,” said Ncapayi.

However, the assessment shows that although some plans are still not satisfactory, the overall improvement is encouraging.

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Source: allafrica


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Municipal agency moves to pioneer framework contracts in water milieu

The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (Misa) aims to release an expression of interest in March, followed by a tender, for a pioneering framework contract in the municipal water and sanitation environment. Through the process, Misa, an agency falling under the Department of Cooperative Governance, aims to award zero-value contracts by July to managing contractors across 20 regions. Print Send to Friend 4 0 Municipalities would then have the option of contracting against the framework contract – where the mark-up is fixed and transparent for three years – with the winning bidder or bidders in their region. They could also sustain those defined contract terms across multiple water and sanitation projects for three years, without having to reissue a tender. Misa CEO Dr Sean Phillips tells Engineering News Online that the concept is designed to make it “easier, quicker and cheaper” for municipalities to procure contractor services for urgent water and sanitation works.

However, he stresses that Misa has agreed with the National Treasury not to make it compulsory for municipalities to use the framework contracts. “If we can prove, though, that these contracts provide good value for money, then the National Treasury might consider, at some point, requiring municipalities to explain why they purchased more expensively outside of these contracts,” Phillips reveals. The idea is also to reduce the scope for corrupt procurement, but much hinges on Misa itself overseeing a corruption-free procurement process. Once the contracts are awarded, though, there should be good visibility of what the market-related price is for managing-contractor services. The decision to pioneer the model in the water milieu arose from an analysis, which showed an urgent need to accelerate the delivery of greenfield and brownfield water and wastewater projects across various municipalities. The analysis was also informed by the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Blue Drop and Green Drop certification process, which highlighted dire backlogs in a number of territories. Phillips says framework contracts have already been partially proved in the accelerated delivery of new universities in Kimberley and Nelspruit, as well as in the roll-out of university accommodation and other infrastructure at the University of the Witwatersrand. Infrastructure Options director Dr Ron Watermeyer, who is consulting to Misa on the creation of the framework contracts and an associated information technology monitoring system, says the model deviates from the traditional “one job, one tender” approach. Instead it favours having contracts in place to allow municipalities to proceed rapidly to project development as soon as they are scoped. “So if there are multiple projects spread over a number of years, the municipality can use the existing relationship to move from one job to the next,” Watermeyer explains, adding that project and development outcomes are likely to improve as lessons are transferred form one project to the next and community and empowerment relations are sustained. The idea is to ensure that fewer resources are dedicated to procurement, while more resources are focused on project implementation. Early contractor involvement is also expected to reduce the project lead times. Separate project managers and cost consultants would, however, also have to be appointed to ensure adequate checks and balances and to protect the client’s interests throughout. “It’s a mind shift, because you are moving from buying a refurbished water-treatment plant to buying a service, over a period of time, to refurbish and build new water-treatment capacity,” Watermeyer explains.

Source: engineeringnews


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Lighting up Africa: the UK’s plan to expand access to energy

New UK international development minister Nick Hurd wants to boost off-grid solar power in the only region where those without access to modern energy is set to rise

For a man who has only recently started his job, international development minister Nick Hurd seems sure of his priorities.

“Energy Africa makes perfect sense to me,” he says. “In the next few weeks and months we’re going to be shaping what DfID [the Department for International Development] does in the next five, arguably 10 years. But improving access to energy in Africa is my particular focus at the moment.”

After spending four years as minister for civil society under the coalition government, Hurd has been parachuted into the job at DfID to replace Grant Shapps, who resigned in the midst of allegations that bullying in the Tory party had led to the death of one of its activists.

Although his new portfolio covers a range of issues including water, climate change, sanitation, education and health, his immediate priority is to “keep up the momentum” of the Energy Africa campaign launched by Shapps in October.

Hurd has his sights set on the seventh sustainable development goal: universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030. But sub-Saharan Africa is currently 50 years behind, the only region in the world where the number of people denied access to modern forms of energy is set to rise and, based on current trends, predicted to hit the goal by 2080.

Inspired by Barack Obama’s flagship Power Africa programme, Hurd hopes that Energy Africa can make a key difference. Last month the US and UK projects came together to create a new partnership to address specific issues such as the need for shared power across borders, resources for geothermal power, and to boost the number of women participating in Africa’s solar industry.

But unlike Power Africa, which has been catalysing a wide range of renewable energy projects that will connect to the national grid – from a vast solar farm in Rwanda to the first wind power project in Senegal – Energy Africa has a very specific objective: to accelerate off-grid solar power for households using private investment.

Grid investment will only reach 40% of the population and leave more than 500 million people still without electricity access in 2030,according to the Overseas Development Institute. Critics say that the impact of DfID’s campaign will be only “incremental” because the continent needs large-scale infrastructure and while NGOs push decentralisation, Africans want a grid connection.

But it is well known that these incremental changes can create significant new possibilities in the lives of individuals and communities, from lanterns that enable pupils to study at night, to mobile phone chargers, to lights for huts that keep animals safe from predators.

Hurd is adamant about the need and value of off-grid investment. “The question is: what can we do for the 60% now?” he asks. “It strikes a chord with ministers wrestling with energy access in their countries. On-grid is massively important but most of the projections suggest that’s going to take a long time and won’t reach all the population. That’s why Energy Africa is focused on household solar energy. We think there is huge potential in off-grid particularly, because we see this market developing which we think we, with partners, can turbo charge.”

A host of factors have coalesced to create what Hurd describes as a “pivotal moment” for household solar in Africa. In the past six years, the price of panels has dropped by around 70%, making it as cheap as fossil fuels in some areas. The price and quality of battery technologies is also improving fast while the spread of mobile money systems on the continent is making solar an increasingly feasible prospect for the individual householder.

Six countries have signed up to DfID’s Energy Africa campaign. Ministers from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Somalia were the first to complete an agreement, followed by Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda. Eight other countries have been identified as potential targets, including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Uganda.

The countries were chosen because they were “biting our hand off” says Hurd. “We are responding to demand.”

Working in fragile states is one of DfID’s explicit objectives, partly driven by national security interests. More than half its budget is committed to work in such regions, but implementing clean energy is a challenge in states grappling with terrorism and conflict, such as Nigeria and Somalia.

Problems vary from country to country, but the industry has been held back by a lack of legal and tax structures. The International Finance Corporation is currently working to establish a new set of product standards. DfID say it is its role to work out how to streamline the bureaucracy, and the specific challenges in each country are still being identified.

Providing electricity at the household level comes with additional challenges. For rural communities miles from a grid connection, energy poverty is entrenched by lack of access to financial systems. Pay-as-you-go schemes offered by mobile phones are changing this, but penetration fluctuates from country to country. DfID hopes that the campaign will be able to support non-bank financial providers to create mobile payment systems. In places where regulation makes it unfeasible, alternatives such as scratch cards will make up the difference.

The campaign is not a “traditional aid programme” says Hurd. Its aim is to galvanise private investment in countries where DfID has formed a partnership with the government. “It’s a different model,” he says. “It’s not about a huge chunk of public money; it’s not a DfID programme as such. It’s a private-sector solution to this challenge.”

But in a debate where creating clean energy is often pitted against economic development, it does not yet seem to be clear how foreign investment galvanised by the campaign will provide substantial jobs for Africans on the ground.

Although DfID has previously given seed funding to mobile money solar companies in the UK and Africa – such as Azuri Technologies and Persistent Energy Ghana – the majority of investors involved in the campaign will be foreign, with many British companies involved.

“We’re not nationalistic about this. We know it’s going to be private-sector led and we want to support entrepreneurs. At the moment most of the businesses are foreign, but over time my hope and expectation is that this will evolve. There is a hell of a lot going on in trying to increase energy access in Africa. My overriding instinct is to keep asking the question: how does this join up?”

Source: theguardian


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