I would strongly propose that as a result, we need to use artificial intelligence for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector mapping. There is a need to identify the impact of climate change variation on functionality of water points.
More than 900 million people worldwide, are not receiving their drinking-water from improved water sources like ground water according to the UN’s Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking. The report highlights areas of stagnation and suggests the post-2015 challenges that need to be addressed. Specifically sighted is no- functionality, regarded as one of the key reasons for low access.
Most groundwater originates directly from excess rainfall infiltrating the land surface. Thus land use has a major influence on both groundwater quantity, quality and recharge rates. Different land-use practices leave distinctive signatures on the quantity, quality of groundwater recharge and, in some instances, result in low ground waters hence arid conditions, diffused groundwater pollution, irrespective of climatic conditions. Similarly, land-use practices influence groundwater recharge rates, especially under more arid conditions.
The ability to supply water directly from rainfall using rainwater harvesting, from springs and surface water (with or without piped distribution), or from groundwater using hand-dug wells and boreholes, depends fundamentally on the availability of rainfall, surface water or groundwater – in other words on water resources.
In arid and semi-arid areas of South Africa for instance (and indeed parts of Uganda), communities may only have a limited number of wells and boreholes where they can access groundwater. In dry periods, there are long queues and competition for access between different water users -including livestock.
In absence of technical bits that should be monitored such as (low yields, poor water quality, mechanical breakdown), causal factors (poor siting, poor construction, wrong materials, wrong borehole design, lack of supervision and many others) and the underlying conditions of lack of hydro geological understanding, weak procurement processes and lack of technical and financial capacity of communities, all compound threats to water supply and use. It is only through monitoring that well-informed management decisions and operating principles can be used to improve water security and ensure fair allocation of water.
There is need to strengthen sustainable monitoring approaches to better take account of ongoing threats though the use of ICT/ mobile phones, to ensure sustained access to water supply to vulnerable communities.
I would strongly propose that as a result, we need to use artificial intelligence for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector mapping. There is a need to identify the impact of climate change variation on functionality of water points.
Climate change to date stands as an obstacle to increased access to equitable water and sanitation and governments and scientists disregard a considered response only at the peril of the population, especially in Africa. To prove the concept the sector can do this through an ICT project to use mobile phones to update and repair broken down water points.
This will be the rigorous assessment of the causes of failure, and the outputs of the phone will significantly increase the capacity of availability of information to ensure investment in sustainable services that really achieves lasting water based land use success. Monitoring is essential because Water resources (rural water boreholes with hand pumps) and surface water suffer high failure rates. Understanding the causes of these failures is necessary to carry out more effective service provision. Differential water tables, Low yield and poor water quality are symptomatic of human activity and poor land use, poor siting, construction and materials selection. Underlying causes lie in poor practices of implementing agencies, and especially the lack of competent real-time information for various sustainability actions. Luckily, technology is here and must be embraced and utilised to the full.
Green industry is an approach that realizes the potential for industries to decouple economic growth from excessive and increasing resource use, thereby reducing pollution and generating additional revenues. It foresees a world where industrial sectors will minimize waste in every form, use renewable resources as input materials and fuels, and take every possible precaution to avoid harming workers, communities, climate, or the environment. Green industries will be creative and innovative, constantly developing new ways of improving their economic, environmental and social performance.
Enterprises in developing countries and countries with economies in transition are facing numerous challenges in their effort to maintain or increase their competitiveness on the local market and access to international markets with good-quality products, comply with environmental standards and reduce operational costs. In order to assist companies in dealing with such challenges and to direct them towards the “green industry” paradigm, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) designed a specific methodology, the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology (TEST), which exists as both an integrated approach and a global programme.
TEST combines the essential elements of tools like Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production, Environmental Management Systems and Environmental Management Accounting, and applies them on the basis of a comprehensive diagnosis of enterprise performance. As a result of the customized integration and implementation of these tools and their elements, the key output is the adoption of best practices, and new skills and management culture, as well as corporate social responsibility, enabling the company to carry on the improvement journey towards sustainable entrepreneurship.
The first TEST pilot programme was launched in 2000 in the Danube River Basin. Since then, TEST has been replicated in several regions worldwide within industrial hot spot areas, contributing to the prevention of the discharge of industrial effluents into international waters (rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastal areas) and thereby protecting water resources for future generations.
In 2009, UNIDO launched the MEDTEST initiative with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Italian government to promote the transfer and adoption of cleaner technology in industries in three countries of the Southern Mediterranean region: Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
The project aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of introducing best practices and integrated management systems in terms of cost reduction, productivity increase and environmental performance. A pool of 43 manufacturing sites – mostly small and medium-sized enterprises – across seven industrial sectors in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia actively participated in MED TEST during 2010-2011.
A core objective of the MED TEST initiative was building national capacity. This was achieved by extensive training and a technical assistance programme that targeted six national institutions and service providers and 30 local professionals, in addition to the staff of the 43 demonstration companies. As a result, a network of local resources is now engaged in promoting the TEST approach and will be able to extend the experience gained to other industries in the region. The active participation of the staff of the demonstration companies in the training and in the implementation of the project ensures the sustainability of all identified actions at company level, as well as that of
newly developed projects.
With growth driven by vital reforms in state service—taxation, transport services and waste management—Lagos state remains the economic hub of Nigeria twenty five years after it was replaced as the country’s official capital. The state’s potential to generate revenue has now been boosted even further by confirmation of oil production. Targeted investment is expected to follow the state’s oil production activities and under the terms of Nigeria’s resource control, as an oil-producing state, Lagos will become entitled to a 13% cut of revenues generated by Nigeria’s government through its oil and potentially earning millions of dollars.
Lagos’ success has set it apart as a benchmark for other states in Nigeria. Internally generated revenue (IGR), mainly through taxes stoodat $1.3 billion in 2015—three times more than the state with the second most IGR and 39% of the total IGR by Nigeria’s 36 states. But Lagos’ success looks even better compared to other African nations.
With GDP in 2014 pegged at $90 billion, Lagos’ economy stands as the 7th largest in Africa- bigger than Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, two of the continent’s most promising economies.
A finely tuned IGR model and a growing economy has made Lagos into Africa’s leading city and one of the world’s fastest growing megacities. Now with oil production, it will grow even quicker. Remarkably, Lagos’ immense commercial potential belies its size. The smallest state out of Nigeria’s 36, Lagos’s size area is dwarfed in comparison with Africa’s biggest economies.
While its newly found oil will earn Lagos more revenue, it also presents dangers of environmental effects of oil especially as the state is very densely populated with over 20 million people. A reminder of those dangers lies in Nigeria’s south coast where Ogoniland has been set back by decades of pollution through multiple oil spills. Cleaning up the region is estimated to cost billions of dollars over the next three decades.
Plans announced by Boris Johnson would see the capital’s drivers encouraged by signs and volunteers to turn off their engines in traffic jams
London drivers will be encouraged by volunteers and signs to turn off their engines in traffic jams to tackle the capital’s illegal air pollution levels, under plans announced by Boris Johnson on Thursday.
But campaigners accused the mayor of failing to take hard measures to cut the city’s pollution problem, which has seen six sites including Oxford Street, Knightsbridge and Brixton Road already breach annual limits just weeks into 2016.
Johnson’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) for cutting pollution does not come into effect until 2020 and only covers central London. The schemes unveiled today are those that have won £5m from an air quality fund.
Nearly £200,000 will be spent on new electronic signs and measuring equipment at Tower Bridge to ask drivers not to leave their engines idling when the bridge opens, causing congestion for the 31,000 cars that cross it daily. But there will be no enforcement or incentive for doing so.
Another scheme will see “friendly, trained volunteers” sent out on to the streets of eight boroughs including the City of London on high pollution days, to talk to drivers about turning their engines off.
Only 3.3% of SA’s urban population regularly recycles, choosing instead to dump everything and leave it to the bin pickers, writes Georgina Crouth.
Only 3.3 percent of South Africa’s urban population regularly recycles, choosing instead to dump everything in a general bin and leaving it to the bin pickers
In our consumerist, throw-away society, we buy products, use them and discard them without giving it a second thought until the bin pickers arrive on garbage collection day. We complain about litter and pollution in our cities, but don’t give limited landfill space a second thought.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa generated 108 million tons of waste in 2011, with 98 million tons of that going to landfills. A study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) found we generated 19 million tons of municipal waste, of which a quarter included glass, paper, tins and plastic. Much of the country’s current recycling activity is focused on paper and packaging waste (paper, plastic, glass, tins), and we’re doing a pretty good job currently with that, recycling around 52 percent.
Yet this is a relatively small component of the recyclable waste streams. A large proportion (about 30 to 40 percent) is organic waste and building rubble – both problematic waste streams in terms of illegal dumping but with potential for recycling, yet we don’t currently do enough with these.
Gauteng contributes 45 percent of the municipal waste and they’re filling up quickly. Only a few of the province’s landfills will still be around in 10 years. Cape Town, which contributes 70 percent of the municipal waste in the Western Cape, is also running out of landfill space.
Pikitup chief executive Amanda Nair was recently quoted as saying it costs R1 billion to build a new landfill, which takes into account engineering, lining, drainage and road networks.
As much as 65 percent of the general waste that we generate could be recycled, yet we only currently recycle about 10 percent of our waste (as at 2011). This despite the fact that recycling not only saves landfill space, but can also reduce environmental impacts caused by waste, such as reducing carbon emissions. Recycling also creates jobs.
As Wilma Strydom, a researcher at the CSIR, explained in a 2010 study about post-consumer recycling behaviour in South Africa: “It is alarming that two-thirds of the more than 2 000 urban South African households surveyed do not know where to dispose of their household recyclables.
“Furthermore, the majority of the participants in the study said that they do not know how nor what to recycle.”
This survey found more than 73 percent of people living in urban areas do not recycle at all. About 27 percent of urban South Africans recycle a little and only 3.3 percent sort their recyclables from their household waste and recycle it on a frequent basis.
While the CSIR is currently finalising last year’s “recycling behaviour” survey to gauge whether household recycling has improved over the past five years, the 2010 survey highlighted poor attitudes towards recycling. Some of the reasons given by South Africans as to why they don’t recycle include a lack of space and time, it’s a dirty job, they don’t know what can be recycled, and recycling facilities are often inconvenient.
One positive initiative is from the glass industry body, The Glass Recycling Company, a private sector initiative that works with the Department of Environmental Affairs. Glass recycling rates have increased dramatically since 2005 due to the work of the initiative. Their statistics show glass recycling stood at 18 percent in 2005, rising to 40.9 percent in 2014 (latest stats only out in May). Today, all new glass produced in South Africa consists of at least 40 percent recycled content.
Their success is attributed to their public awareness campaigns, especially on radio, their installation of glass banks in suburbs to make recycling convenient, and assistance they offer to recycling entrepreneurs. Their contribution to glass collection infrastructure has been vital, providing collectors with large volume bags, gloves, goggles and scales as well as drop-off facilities where they can sell the glass.
Another hugely successful industry initiative is the plastics body Petco – it has done even better than glass recycling, seeing an increase from 16 percent in 2005 to 49 percent in 2014.
The CSIR’s 2010 survey results indicate people are more likely to recycle and continue to do so if it is convenient.
“The results show that a two-bag system – simply separating dry waste from wet waste like food scraps – combined with a regular kerbside collection service, would create the best opportunity to mobilise South Africans to start recycling,” Strydom said.
With landfill space running out, the solution is obvious: people need to reduce the amount of waste they produce and start recycling.
Professor Linda Godfrey, principal scientist in the CSIR’s pollution and waste department, said while household recycling rates were low, the country doesn’t fare badly by global standards when it comes to the recycling of paper and packaging waste.
But mindsets need to be changed because it’s generally not the consumer contributing towards this recycling: we rely on others to do this work. “Our very active informal sector recovers recyclables by sorting through bins at the kerbside, or at landfill. An estimated 80.9 percent of the packaging waste that we currently recycle is collected by the informal sector.”
The South African Waste Pickers’ Association estimates there are about 60 000 waste pickers in the country who are making a living from recycling while also providing this service.
“Improved consumer awareness would benefit South Africa, both in terms of reducing littering, which is a major problem and requires that municipalities spend a considerable percentage of their budgets clearing up litter and illegal dumping, but also by increasing household recycling, thereby supporting secondary resources economy, including job creation,” Godfrey says.
It starts with individuals: people must stop littering and dumping, recycle as much as they can in the home and think about what they’re buying.
Godfrey concludes: “There is an opportunity to educate consumers on ‘what’ they buy, in an attempt to drive sustainability and the circular economy agenda, and to reduce consumption. It’s about making smarter choices when buying products, (basing our) choices not only on price, but on issues such as packing type, and quantity. It’s about creating environmentally conscious consumers who understand the impact of their decisions.”
Wise up. Here’s how
Metals: beverage cans, food tins, metal lids, aluminium foil, paint, sheet metal, metal toys, oil and aerosol cans.
Glass: all glass except drinking glasses and light bulbs (some retailers have special bins for light bulbs and batteries, which should not go into general waste).
Paper: except for laminated/plasticised or waxy paper. Most plastics, including cling film (check for a recycling logo).
These cannot be recycled: pyrex, tableware (unless you put them to creative use in mosaics), ordinary batteries, light bulbs, medicines, crystal, spectacles, windowpane glass, windshields and mirrors.
Separate at home: recyclables must be separated from general waste.
Get everyone involved as it teaches children to be conscious about consumption and to care for the environment.
Use bins, bags or other containers to separate the following: glass, plastic, cans and metal, paper and general waste (not for recycling).
If you have a compost heap, use it for vegetable peels, table scraps, egg shells and suitable organic material.
Do not compost meat, bones or fish scraps (they will attract pests), weeds or diseased plants.
Pet manure, banana peels and orange rinds are unsuitable for composting.
What to do: separate your rubbish into special bins or bags and either leave them on the pavement or take them to collection points or municipal drop-off sites or buy-back centres.
You can also organise a collection service to pick up your waste from your home or office.
E-Waste: electronic waste is a growing problem and the goods should never be thrown into general waste. Most municipal sites have e-waste facilities.
In Cape Town, Clearer Conscience collects in the City Bowl, Atlantic seaboard and southern suburbs.
You can have your recyclables collected once a month or twice a week.
They also take clothes, plants, e-waste and green waste by prior arrangement.
Recycle 1st is a new business collecting recyclables from homes and businesses in Cape Town’s northern suburbs. Collections are twice a month.
There are several businesses that contribute to climate change. The business owners are very well aware of the harmful effects being caused. They are opting for several methods to control pollution and the waste that is generated. To operate a green business the companies are being part of online service providers.
How online services support green cause
Online services have become a boon for several companies as it supports green cause. Earlier filing system was prevalent in offices and companies but now the files can be easily uploaded and downloaded online. Services, such as conference lines and screen sharing tools, offered by various companies like CheapWritingHelp.com have made it easier to carry out online training and meetings.
Going digital is the need for us and environment
The printing industries have introduced eco-friendly methods of printing. To go digital means choosing green and this step has proved to be beneficial for the environment. Going digital has a good impact on the environment as it reduces maximum chemical and physical waste. At the same time, digital printing is reliable, effective and of high quality.
Going digital means less use of paper
Digital printing requires paper material but the usage is very less. The energy resources required by print media are more and going digital not only saves the resources but reduces the use of paper giving us a healthy environment. Going digital helps in reduction of costs and wastes as well.
Spreading awareness and advertisement
Encouraging the employees to minimize the use of paper by going digital and choosing online services that support green cause will help the environment. Advertisements through internet and mails can be the best methods of spreading awareness.
Using online services means saying no to the paper records. Everything can be done electronically to support green cause. Online services like go green account, e-commerce have benefitted our environment and it’s beings. In short, going digital is need of the hour.
More than a billion people make a living from wetlands.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is conducting research aimed at protecting, enhancing and rehabilitating wetlands in South Africa.
Coinciding with World Wetlands Day celebrated yesterday, the CSIR said local wetlands were of concern and were important in the environmental, planning and the water sectors.
Thus, the CSIR is committed to conducting science that is crucial in properly understanding the link between wetlands and these sectors to ensure sustainability, as these sectors may have far reaching impacts on wetland ecosystems.
This year’s World Wetlands Day theme aims to help spread awareness about the importance of wetlands and to demonstrate the vital role they play in securing a future for humanity.
“A sound and defensible scientific base is needed to evaluate the significance of threats on wetlands and how to potentially limit or mitigate these threats,” said Leanie de Klerk, CSIR researcher specialising in aquatic ecotoxicology and limnology (inland waters).
“Sustainable development, utilisation and the management of wetlands is non-negotiable for improving the quality of life and human health in South Africa.”
According to the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands, more than a billion people make a living from wetlands.
Livelihoods from fishing, rice farming, travel, tourism, and water provision all depend on wetlands.
Wetlands, however, are currently under threat of over utilisation for short term benefits, thereby compromising their ability to sustain the provision of benefits for human beings and the environment in the future.
Unfortunately, wetlands are often viewed as a wasteland.
In South Africa, a considerable threat to the sustainability of wetlands is contamination through pollution.
The CSIR is working hard in ensuring the sustainability of wetlands in South Africa.
Along with the Water Research Commission, Coaltech and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi), the CSIR recently pooled together their resources and skills to rehabilitate a portion of the Zaalklapspruit Wetland in the Mpumalanga Province.
Researchers from CSIRO and Imperial College London have assessed how widespread the threat of plastic is for the world’s seabirds, including albatrosses, shearwaters and penguins, and found the majority of seabird species have plastic in their gut.
The study, led by Dr Chris Wilcox with co-authors Dr Denise Hardesty and Dr Erik van Sebille and published today in the journal PNAS, found that nearly 60 per cent of all seabird species have plastic in their gut.
Based on analysis of published studies since the early 1960s, the researchers found that plastic is increasingly common in seabird’s stomachs.
In 1960, plastic was found in the stomach of less than 5 per cent of individual seabirds, rising to 80 per cent by 2010.
The researchers predict that plastic ingestion will affect 99 per cent of the world’s seabird species by 2050, based on current trends.
The scientists estimate that 90 per cent of all seabirds alive today have eaten plastic of some kind.
This includes bags, bottle caps, and plastic fibres from synthetic clothes, which have washed out into the ocean from urban rivers, sewers and waste deposits.
Birds mistake the brightly coloured items for food, or swallow them by accident, and this causes gut impaction, weight loss and sometimes even death.
“For the first time, we have a global prediction of how wide-reaching plastic impacts may be on marine species – and the results are striking,” senior research scientist at CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Dr Wilcox said.
“We predict, using historical observations, that 90 per cent of individual seabirds have eaten plastic. This is a huge amount and really points to the ubiquity of plastic pollution.”
Dr Denise Hardesty from CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere said seabirds were excellent indicators of ecosystem health.
“Finding such widespread estimates of plastic in seabirds is borne out by some of the fieldwork we’ve carried out where I’ve found nearly 200 pieces of plastic in a single seabird,” Dr Hardesty said.
The researchers found plastics will have the greatest impact on wildlife where they gather in the Southern Ocean, in a band around the southern edges of Australia, South Africa and South America.
Dr van Sebille, from the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said the plastics had the most devastating impact in the areas where there was the greatest diversity of species.
“We are very concerned about species such as penguins and giant albatrosses, which live in these areas,” Erik van Sebille said.
“While the infamous garbage patches in the middle of the oceans have strikingly high densities of plastic, very few animals live here.”
Dr Hardesty said there was still the opportunity to change the impact plastic had on seabirds.
“Improving waste management can reduce the threat plastic is posing to marine wildlife,” she said.
“Even simple measures can make a difference. Efforts to reduce plastics losses into the environment in Europe resulted in measureable changes in plastic in seabird stomachs with less than a decade, which suggests that improvements in basic waste management can reduce plastic in the environment in a really short time.”
Chief Scientist at the US-based Ocean Conservancy Dr George H. Leonard said the study was highly important and demonstrated how pervasive plastics were in oceans.
“Hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world come face-to-face with this problem during annual Coastal Cleanup events,” Dr Leonard said.
“Scientists, the private sector and global citizens working together against the growing onslaught of plastic pollution can reduce plastic inputs to help protect marine biodiversity.”
While the debate over climate change continues to rage, most people agree that the era of cheap, easy access to water is over. Estimates suggest demand for water will exceed viable resources by 40% by 2030if we continue business as usual.
Water issues are not, of course, the same the world over; drought in California is mirrored by flooding in Bangladesh. Nor are they limited to these extreme examples.
Brazil, a typically rainy country, has had to implement water rationing, and even Britain has opened a desalination plant to tackle water shortages. But what do companies need to know to adapt to this new era?
1. Water is a source of value
Water has long been a tick box on the corporate social responsibility to-do list, but has now become an operational issue as regulation gets stricter and water starts to hit the bottom line.
Martin Stuchtey, director of the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, says the value of water goes beyond the cost of sourcing freshwater and disposing of effluents. Water carries heat, chemicals, products and pollutants; its value is derived from what is placed into and removed from it. “You are losing value if you are not recovering nutrients and energy out of your effluents,” he says.
2. Water regulation (or lack of it) poses a major challenge
Policymakers are under pressure to tighten water regulations amid growing concern about scarcity and pollution. China, for one, has established strict water resource management requirements setting mandatory limits on usage, efficiency and quality. Regulations do not, however, always translate into improvements on the ground due to a lack of transparency, difficulty with enforcement and differences between local and national policies.
For business, a weak regulatory regime can be as problematic as a plethora of new rules. The UN’s CEO Water Mandate states: “Regulatory risk is also present when governments are not able to effectively manage their water resources.” It notes that a lack of water quality regulations can cause rampant pollution to the extent that local industries must pay high costs to treat their incoming water before it is suitable for use.
3. Water can destroy a company’s reputation
If companies have water when communities do not, their reputation is at stake and they could lose their so-called social licence to operate, says Hannah Greig, Water Aid’s private sector adviser. Nestlé, has faced major protests for continuing to bottle water in California despite the ongoing drought.
“Perception is as important as reality,” says Greig. “Even if a company is bringing water in by tanker and they are not taking from the community, it doesn’t matter.” Local people will still resent their presence and may choose to obstruct operations.
She says good water management and provision of safe WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) can help lower this risk. Companies are expected to protect the human right to water and sanitation under the UN’s Guiding Principles on business and human rights. This also makes good business sense, says Greig. “If there is a decrease in water-related diseases you can reduce absenteeism, so there is a more productive workforce. Access to WASH in communities means children and especially girls staying at school longer, so you’ve got a more educated population to draw from.”
4. Sectors need to work together on water management
As California enters its fourth year of crippling drought, competition for water is ramping up. Agriculture, the state’s thirstiest water user, has been exempt from some of the mandatory water cutbacks, sparking outrage in other industries and among the population.
Stuchtey says sectors must work together to manage water more efficiently. “There might be ways that a handshake between the agriculture and industries might provide the better solution. Industrial grey water, if it’s not too contaminated, could in fact be an interesting input into agriculture. We need to go across sectors and manage water in more effective and circular ways.”
5. Business needs to shift to a circular economy for water
At present, water moves through the system getting more and more polluted until it cannot be used again. Instead businesses must see water as part of a circular economy, where it retains its value after each use and eventually returns to the system. Stuchtey says: “We need a completely new mindset of not contaminating water in the first place. We need to treat it like a durable and keep it in closed loops; or like a consumable, but return it in a way so that it is cheap or beneficial to take into second or third use.”
6. Companies need to look beyond their fences
Businesses are increasingly expected to address water management outside of their own operations. Diageo recently set a target to improve its water efficiency by 50% by 2020, against a 2007 baseline, and ensure 100% of wastewater from its operations is returned to the environment safely. Significantly, the company said that these targets will extend to its supply chain for first time. Chief executiveIvan Menezes said: “We know we cannot do this on our own. We will need to collaborate with others, experts in this field, and I encourage our suppliers, partners, customers and others to work with us.”
Coca-Cola, meanwhile, teamed up with the US Department of Agriculture to help restore and protect damaged watersheds around the US last year. While some activists expressed concern that deals like this could result in conflicts of interest, others argue that large corporations must engage in sustainability efforts. Greig says: “An individual business could be the most water-efficient possible, but that doesn’t matter because they are part of a bigger hydrological cycle with other water users, competing demands and different impacts.”
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Since time immemorial humankind has had a special relationship with water. Its life-giving essence has been the foundation for all development. Great civilizations have been built around water and in the future wars may well be fought over it.
Water is life – without it nothing can flourish or grow. At the 7th World Water Forum (WWF) held in April in South Korea it became apparent that there was an urgent need to turn words into action. The WWF specifically looked at the need to find solutions to the world’s water and sanitation challenges.
According to the UN, a child dies every 15 seconds from a waterborne disease, and an estimated 200 million hours are spent each year by women and girls carrying water to their homes. More than one in three people across the planet have no access to decent sanitation facilities, and one in seven have no choice but to defecate in the open. An estimated 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in open water courses every day.
Given these stark realities, South Africa must act. For us to realise sustainable development, we must secure our water supply in line with the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals developed by a UN working group last year. These goals are up for discussion at a UN summit set to take place in September in New York and are to replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire at the end of this year.
Under Goal 6 countries are expected to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. This will be done by pursuing six clear targets that must be achieved by 2030.
Equitable access to safe, drinkable water for all.
Access to adequate sanitation and hygiene for all.
Improvements to water quality through the reduction of pollution.
Substantial increases in water-use efficiencies.
Implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels, including through trans-boundary co-operation.
Protecting and restoring water-related eco-systems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes (this to be achieved by 2020).
The deliberations in Korea culminated in the release of an “implementation roadmap”, widely expected to act as a mechanism to turn long-spoken-of water and sanitation solutions into actions that will benefit those suffering shortages on the ground. It will also provide major inputs for the UN’s September summit.
It is important to stress that solving the world’s water and sanitation challenges must take local solutions into account. A one size-fits-all approach does not work. What we need is a single vision and many voices, and embrace local solutions.
We support the results of the 7th World Water Forum and look forward to the ‘Implementation Roadmap’, along with its relevant monitoring system, which could be considered as a reference for establishing implementation and monitoring guidelines of water-related goals in the post-2015 development agenda.
Challenges facing our department include: ageing water and sanitation infrastructure, a rising lack of technical skills, poor water services planning and prioritisation at many municipalities, shifting patterns in water demand, climate change and changing rainfall patterns and inadequate water supply in several areas of the country, with winter being a critical period.
Despite these challenges, South Africa has managed to exceed the Millennium Development Goal target set in 2000 by the UN. South Africa, the world’s 30th-driest country, hit the MDG target of countries halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2005 and 2008.
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