Pakistan turning into a water-scarce country, say experts

ISLAMABAD: Leading experts on water resources are of the view that there is not sufficient awareness among the policy-makers of the impending water crisis in Pakistan, which is posing a threat to the country’s security, stability and environmental sustainability.

Former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Shamsul Mulk highlighted water security issues discussed in a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, ‘Development Advocate Pakistan’.

Pakistan’s water policy does not exist and key policy-makers act like ‘absentee landlords’ of water in Pakistan, he said. “Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share’’.

A draft report on water resources was framed at the expressed request of the ministry of water and power. Mr Mulk said it was unfortunate that the federal cabinet never allocated the time for its review and approval.

“The worst example of landlordism is in Sindh. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Pushtoon society is a lot more egalitarian. In general, landlords don’t want the poor to become economically self-sufficient to remain in power. So, this water issue is very political in nature,” he said.

Mr Mulk pointed out the extreme variability of river flows season-wise— 84 per cent of flows in summer and only 16pc in winter—as a major problem.

According to the report, with a Kharif to Rabi ratio of two to one, the seasonal needs were about 66pc in summer and 34pc in winter, showing surpluses of 18pc in summer and shortages of 18pc in winter.

The surpluses of summer create floods, inflicting major damages to the infrastructure in the Indus plains and shortages in water disable Rabi crops from its optional yields. Owing to the lack of a strong government, this disability continues to hurt Pakistan and its economy, said Mr Mulk.

According to Director General of Federal Water Management Cell of the ministry of national food security and research, Muhammad Tahir Anwar, 18 million acre feet (MAF) of rainwater or hill torrent potential have not been realised in the overall policy framework.

It is imperative that a comprehensive policy framework inclusive of river basin, groundwater and rainwater and hill torrents be developed and adopted to ensure sustainable use of scarce water resources, he said.

According to all indicators, Pakistan was rapidly becoming a water-scarce country, said Chairman of Pakistan Council of Research in water resources, Dr Mohammad Ashraf. However, there is little awareness of this looming disaster amongst stakeholders, particularly policy-makers and they cannot foresee the real picture of its repercussions on social and economic fronts, he added.

He said that the draft ‘National Water Policy’ should be approved which provides policy guidelines for sustainable management of water resources, adding that provinces should develop their own strategies within the framework of the national water policy.

Source: dawn

National Water Week and World Water Day: The Importance of Managing Our Resources

The increasing demand for water on the African continent is forcing water utilities to expand and improve their treatment and distribution capacities. African Utility Week event director Evan Schiff says the upcoming National Water Week (17-23 March) and International Water Day (22 March) “are important days to make us aware of the challenges, remind us that every drop counts and that water is a finite resource.”

“The African water industry is changing,” Evan Schiff adds. “In recent years, Africa’s economic growth rates have averaged around 5.2% per annum, making the continent one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Coupled with high population growth, urbanisation and changing lifestyles, the demand for natural resources especially water continues to increase rapidly on the continent with no signs that both growth and demand will slow down any time soon. This highlights an urgent need for water utilities to broaden and expand their infrastructure. At the same time, water as a sector is difficult to manage because conflicting industries are vying for the slice of this liquid pie.”

He continues: “innovation is on the increase and there is an ever growing awareness of the opportunities provided by sharing experiences and new smart water technologies. Once again at the 15th African Utility Week, taking place in Cape Town from 12-14 May, the water conference track offers an exciting spectrum of speakers on the state of the water industry today with both local and global experts sharing their success stories and valuable lessons. The event expo boasts Africa’s largest showcase of technology and service providers in water treatment, leak detection, metering and monitoring and control. It provides an opportunity to invest in knowledge and secure solutions to improve cost reduction strategies, sustainable business models, water management, treatment, supply and infrastructure. Importantly it will aim to find the answers to securing the future of water resources for Africa.”

Water experts and technology

Peter Flower, Director: Water and Sanitation, City of Cape Town, is one of the headline speakers and will address the water delegates on the “Continuous improvement in water management: The Cape Town perspective.” Says Mr Flower: “the City’s water department has been able to very successfully manage its demand growth over the last 15 years, through the co-operation of the residents of Cape Town and the successful implementation of the City’s Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy. An indication of the success of these efforts is that, to date, the City has never exceeded the water demands experienced in 2000. This is remarkable when you consider there was significant population growth during this period. This has also enabled the city to defer the high capital expenditure on water resources and infrastructure development to a later time-frame.”

More conference highlights include:

“The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has adopted a 10-year Water Demand Management Strategy, comprising of programmes to effectively address, separately, technical and non-technical water losses.”
The evolution of water metering technology and the selection process
– Dorothy Batenegi Mabuza, Divisional Head: Water Revenue Management Water & Sanitation Department, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality

“By 2030, the water industry will provide continuous quality water supply services to 100% of the existing urban and peri-urban residents of the inhabited areas.”
Panel discussion: Securing the future of water resources
– Engineer Harry Sikoma, Western Consulting, Zambia

“By adopting appropriate strategies and technologies, it is possible for utilities to serve and make money in the poor segments of society.”
Delegated management model: An answer to water service provision challenges in informal settlements
– Engineer David Onyango, Managing Director of the Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company Limited, Kenya.

“Currently in South Africa we have a water loss of around 38%, but we believe it is possible to reduce the loss by up to 20%.”
Smart water systems – Using the network
– Klaus Gruebl, Sensus country manager in South Africa

“There is quite a lot of impressive work going on in trying to operationalize the nexus perspective on the continent.”
North-South development cooperation: Best practices across borders
– Paul T. Yillia, consultant at Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

“SeeSaw is working in Angola’s second city, Huambo, to help the government and water utility gain a better understanding of the service level that customers experience.”
The pros and cons of prepaid versus mobile-enabled postpaid approaches for African water utilities
– David Schaub-Jones, Co-Founder, SeeSaw

The 15th African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa is expected to again attract more than 5000 attendees and features 250 exhibitors, 190 speakers, eight conferences, free technical workshops on the expo floor, three high-profile plenary sessions and the coveted industry awards gala dinner. During the African Utility Week Industry Awards, the African Water Utility of the Year, will also be announced.

DNV-GL has already confirmed its exclusive diamond sponsorship of the event while Accenture, Building Energy, MarelliMotori, Rubbytad and Edison Power Group are the platinum sponsors.

African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa are organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK.

African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa dates and location:
Exhibition & Conference: 12-14 May 2015
Industry awards: 13 May 2015
Site Visits: 15 May 2015
Location: CTICC, Cape Town



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Working together to achieve sustainable water for all

by Dr Jim Taylor

Water is the life-blood of every nation. When the New York City fore-fathers established the city they ensured, early on in the planning process, that the Catskills Mountain range, New York’s very own water factory, was secured. This means that today New York probably has the cleanest water supply of any large city in the world! Not only is the water supply sufficient in quantity but the quality of the water means that little money is spent on cleaning the water for human use.

South Africa’s largest water factory is the uKhahlamba (Drakensberg) Mountain Range which provides an ideal backbone, or watershed, for Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Seventy per cent of all South Africans get their water from the Orange-Senqu river basin which has its headwaters in this remarkably productive watershed. Inter-basin transfers, such as the Tugela-Vaal and the Orange-Senqu/ Johannesburg transfer scheme all rely on the clean water that is ‘manufactured’ in the Drakensberg and Maluti mountain range on the border between Lesotho and South Africa.

Water governance in South Africa

South Africa is a water-stressed country, and such is the magnitude of water risks that the government has appointed a dedicated Ministry and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to address water and sanitation issues. It is also apparent that government cannot manage water quality and quantity issues alone. Partnerships with civil society organisations, therefore, form a key part of South Africa’s water management strategy.

Massive water awareness campaigns such as 20/20 vision and Baswa le Meetse have also been conducted to create much needed understanding of how scarce and vulnerable our water supply really is. These campaigns include massive street processions where cities like Boksburg close the streets so that thousands of people can demonstrate their commitment to a cleaner, water-wise future. Such campaigns have done a great deal to raise awareness, but on their own cannot enable the much needed change practices that will bring about greater care of our water resources.

It is thus becoming clear that awareness raising campaigns can only play a small part in solving our water issues. To enable South African Society, as a whole, to manage water resources more wisely, well-informed management is crucial.

To achieve this, more creative and engaging human capacity development programmes are vital. For substantial change in the way in which people use, and learn not to abuse water supplies, we need a framework, or scaffolding, that provides a coherent pathway from current, unsustainable practices to more sustainable and wise ways of managing and using our water resources. In essence, these are the goals that the WESSA human capacity development programmes for wise water management are seeking to achieve.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) – working with WESSA to secure sustainable water practices

Through a creative partnership DWS is currently supporting WESSA to manage a country-wide project that involves schools and school communities across South Africa. This partnership, the DWS/WESSA Eco-Schools Water Project, is demonstrating how civil society partnerships can support DWS to achieve its mission and vision. In just over four months of concerted activity, 50 water-wise projects have been established in schools and communities across South Africa (See Geographical Distribution Map below). Such projects are going beyond awareness-raising and many schools are already reporting how they are saving thousands of litres of water every month.

WESSA: Supporting adult based accredited training in specifically targeted priority areas

Supporting schools to undertake meaningful water projects is just one level of society engagement. Adult-based training and service delivery expertise is also imperative in achieving a nation that is able to manage its water resources well. In this regard WESSA, an accredited training service provider, is empowering local municipalities and even district municipalities in integrated water resource management. Of particular significance here is the range of courses on environmental practices which support municipalities, who are the legal guardians of our water resources, to fulfil their mandated obligations.

Lemson Betha, the manager of the Umngeni catchment-based capacity building programme, points out how WESSA is supporting the uMsunduzi local municipality and the Umgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) to meet their Integrated Development Plan (IDP) obligations and commitments: “Working closely with senior staff of uMsunduzi, such as Thami Vilakazi (Msunduzi Education and Training Development Practitioner), Nosipho Moyo (UMDM Control Environmental Officer) and Mandisa Khomo (UMDM Chief Planner) we are able to provide relevant, work-place-based training programmes that support people to understand and meet their water conservation targets.”

To change behaviour one needs to start with the very behavioural practices people are engaging in. Training courses do this by commencing with the practices that are problematic at a municipal level and work from there to reduce the impacts. One reason that awareness-raising has such limited potential is that it is essentially a ‘centre-to-periphery’ or ‘top-down’ process, from those who know to those they are seeking to inform. Such one-way transfers of information cannot provide adequate, active engagement in the water-use issues or water-use practices.

It is here that WESSA’s environment practices courses really do make a difference. Early on in the course participants document their water resource use challenges and, working with well- trained tutors, develop practical methods to change the way water is managed. Course participants then implement change projects at their workplaces. These change projects provide support for changing practices in the use and management of water. The change project then becomes the measure of how water is conserved and used more wisely. The change projects are also part of the methodology through which the course outcomes are evaluated.

A ‘Portfolio of Evidence’ (POE) is developed and submitted to WESSA and the National Qualifications framework (NQF) to secure the qualification for the successful local government officials.

In just six months, from January to June 2014, more than 800 local government officials, including supervisors, managers and workers, have successfully completed environment practices training through WESSA’s own accredited training department, SustainEd.

Going beyond awareness with citizen science practices

“Today we all became important scientists, working with WESSA to explore our streams through the Stream Assessment Scoring System” (Pam Tshwete, Deputy Minister, DWAS, 1 July 2014)

One of the most effective ways of going beyond awareness-raising is to use citizen science to mobilise people to find out about water issues and to take action to solve them. Pierre Spierer, Vice- Rector for Research of the University of Geneva, describes citizen science as ‘… a grass-roots movement which challenges the assumption that only professionals can do science. Given the right tools and incentives, and some online training, millions of enthusiastic volunteers can make a real difference, contributing to significant scientific discoveries’.

On 1 July, 50 school teachers and over 100 pupils joined Pam Tshwete, her senior staff and other WESSA members to explore and document the water quality of the Modderfontein stream which flows through Johannesburg close to OR Tambo International Airport. Using a simple identification sheet, developed by GroundTruth and WESSA, participants were able to identify the insects that live in the stream.

These insects have a story to tell and, because some of them are sensitive to pollution, the miniSASS research methodology helps participants to work out a river health index for the stream. Because the Modderfontein stream is part of the main drainage system of the eKurhuleni industrial area, the river health index only scored 4.25 which means the stream quality is very poor (this indicates that the natural stream has been transformed by human activities).

Once the test had been completed the results were loaded onto the miniSASS Google Earth platform at The score is represented on Google Earth as a ‘purple crab’ which now appears on the map and the Deputy Minister named the site the ‘Tshwete science’ biomonitoring site! This now means that anyone can see the stream quality, and eKurhuleni, who are responsible for water resources in this municipality, have made a commitment to improve the water quality. This is not an easy task in an industrial area such as this.

The miniSASS project won the Water Research Commission’s (WRC) community empowerment award for 2013! In a further development the British High Commission have invested in a project to build a network of skilled miniSASS trainers across South Africa and into the SADC region.

The WESSA Water Programme: Vision and Overview

The vision of the WESSA Water Programme is to work together in using South Africa’s water resources wisely, thus securing safe, adequate and fair water supply to realise our current and future aspirations towards a common good and healthy life support systems.

The Water Programme aims to improve the quality, availability and distribution of water resources in order to enhance the goods and services that they provide. With a focus on water issues in catchment areas, river and estuarine systems, human settlements and SADC transboundary areas, WESSA works with government departments, local and traditional authorities, urban and rural communities and representatives of SADC countries to strengthen water governance and management; improve stewardship; and make social, ecological and economic contributions.

Human Capacity Development in the Umngeni Catchment – An urgent national priority

The Umngeni River currently provides fresh water for over 5 million people who live and work in the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

Although this area is South Africa’s second most important economic region, its water resources are being overexploited and polluted at an alarming rate.

Although awareness about the predicament is high, little is being done to overturn the unsustainable utilisation or to prevent the pollution, which includes solid waste, nutrient loading and total coli-form, from entering the river. Since many organisations and institutions are responsible for water management in the Umngeni Catchment, WESSA,withthesupportofWWF,undertook a research process to establish just who the priority groups were that should undergo capacity building.

This study, which included stakeholder consultation through a socio-ecological

power-mapping process, clarified who the main influencing organisations in the catchment really are. The research then established which organisations had high influence, but low understanding of sustainable water-use practices, so that these groups could participate in a coherent and well organised learning programme.

This research work has now been taken further and has been used to plan a capacity building programme within the Umngeni Catchment through which Councillors, Planners, Local and District Municipal staff and other members of the public are involved. All participants in this training process are learning about, and beginning to undertake, wise water management practices. Our hope is that these efforts will not be too little, too late.


Many people and organisations are contributing to human capacity development to ensure that the quality, quantity and equitable access to water becomes a reality in South Africa. In particular WESSA would like to acknowledge support from the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Water Research Commission, GroundTruth, WWF (Maas Maasen), The British High Commission, SANBI and USAID.

Source: The Sustainable Water Resource Handbook Volume 5


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Majuba water outage going well


The planned Majuba tie-in and maintenance outage on the bulk water pipeline supplying Kriel in Emalahleni Local Municipality was under way and proceeding according to plan, the water and sanitation department said on Thursday.

“This outage started on Monday, 23 February and is planned to end on 9 March 2015,” spokesman Sputnik Ratau said in a statement.

“All prior preparations in this regard have led to a smooth start and operation of the outage over the past few days of the first week.”

The department was performing maintenance work on the pipeline, installing new valves and replacing leaking pipes with new ones as Eskom was busy with the construction of a railway line from Ermelo to Majuba power station.

The railway line crosses the department’s pipeline between Rietspruit reservoir and Davel.

“Eskom therefore requested a 1/8department 3/8 outage to tie in with the permanent deviation of the pipeline to the existing structure as per 1/8department 3/8 approved design,” Ratau said.

“The deviation of the structure has been approved by the 1/8department 3/8 engineers and the 1/8department 3/8 engineers are involved with the quality control during the construction phase.”

The department and Emalahleni local municipality were supplying water to the area through strategically placed tanks within a reasonable distance.

“The department is confident in the capacity of its workforce engaged in this task and that the work will be completed within the time targeted,” Ratau said.

“The work that has already happened gives the department the full confidence that all care is being taken to ensure there are no glitches and the work has demonstrated how single-mindedness of purpose can achieve a lot.”

The department and all stakeholders requested patience and cooperation from all who were affected so that the planned outage period was not exceeded.

The department apologised for the inconvenience caused, but the planned outage was important for maintenance and sustainability of the infrastructure, he said.

Source: IOL

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Rwanda: Conserving, Recycling Water Is Best We Can Do for This Precious Resource

Where some nations wrestle and struggle with ecology versus energy demands in form of coal and oil, Africa has to consider something more fundamental: the need for water to survive! It has been said that water is second only to air in importance for life.

We can survive many days or even weeks without food, but we can only survive a few days without water. According to, about 750 million people, that is about one in nine, lack access to clean water.

More than twice that many, about 2.5 billion people, do not have access to a toilet. This grim picture demonstrates the urgent need of having access to clean water. It has been predicted by that population levels will rise by around 2.7 billion, close to a 40% increase, by 2050.

If this happens, extreme pressure will be placed on our precious and already hard-pressed freshwater resources in our surroundings. A report issued in November 2009 by the UN suggests that by 2030, in some developing countries water demand will exceed supply by 50%.

According to the UN, already more than two and a half billion people in the world live in the most abysmal standards of hygiene and sanitation. Helping them would do more than reduce the death toll; it would serve to protect the environment, alleviate poverty and promote development. That is because water underpins so much of the work we do in these areas.

In fact, the need for innovations in water conservation has never been greater. According to the World Water Council, although the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources grew six-times. The increased industrialisation and the added demand for water will have somber consequences on water supply in future.

There should be increased awareness that freshwater resources need protection and sensitize companies, individuals and communities to seek innovative solutions in water conservation.

Rwanda uses less than 2% of its available fresh water resources; there is scope for increased use of the resource in the economic and social transformation. In planned developments in energy, agriculture, infrastructure, industry and domestic supply, indicate that water demand will increase in the next 5 – 10 years.

The high population growth is expected in the developing regions of the world where already clean water is often incredibly hard to come by. The problems associated with water supply are not just about quantity.

A growing number of contaminants such as heavy metals, distillates and micro pollutant are entering our water resources, supplies , making conservation more challenging. Figures on access to water and sanitation in many developing countries vary depending on the source of information . The fact that many rural water systems are not functioning properly makes it even more difficult to estimate effective access to improved water supply.

Water is very essential to survival. Unlike oil, there are no substitutes. But today, fresh water resources are stretched thin. Population growth will make the problem worse. The global economy grows concurrently with its thirst that needs to be quenched.

Indeed water is life, not only is the human body estimated to be 60 percent water, the resource is also essential for producing food, clothing, and computers, moving our waste stream, and keeping us and the environment healthy.

Most of the health and development challenges faced by the poorest of the world’s population-diseases like malaria or Tuberculosis , rising food prices, environmental degradation-the common denominator often turns out to be water.

International World water day is almost here with us, March 22nd and this year provides an important opportunity to consolidate and build on the previous World Water Days to highlight water’s role in the sustainable development agenda.

Just like the many nations on earth and Rwanda as always joins the rest of the world in marking the importance of this vital resource, there is utmost need to create awareness of its recycling and as its conservation.

The water resources in Rwanda face growing challenges arising from pressures of rapidly changing demographic patterns, the demands of intensified socio-economic development, degradation from unsustainable and inappropriate land use practices; and the uncertainties created by climate change, among others.

Millennium Development Goals has set a target of cutting by half the number of people without access to safe water by 2015. Water Resources Master Plan derived from the Rwanda National Policy for Water Resources Management that was approved by the Cabinet in February 2012 has one of its objectives to provide an equitable allocation framework for water resources recognizing water as a finite resource.

The challenge we face now is how to effectively conserve, manage, and distribute the water we have. National efforts encourage us to explore the local and global trends defining the world’s water crisis.

As it is often argued, whenever there is less land available, and less water to make that land productive, competition for that land can turn violent.

Strangely enough, as Claudia Ringler, a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington observes, “On a per capita basis, water availability is not that bad in Africa. In Ethiopia and Somalia, the water is there, but it is not getting to where it needs to be.”

Source: All Africa

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