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23-09-26_Abigael Kima - Africa Climate Summit

26. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-26_Abigael Kima - Africa Climate Summit dagmar.wolf Tue, 26.09.2023 - 02:00 While governments agreed on important issues at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, civil-society organisations did not get enough attention Climate diplomacy More must happen The Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi in early September was an important opportunity for African countries to adopt a shared agenda. While governments managed to agree on several important issues, civil-society organisations did not get the attention they deserve. 26.09.2023Global Sub-Saharan Africa Meinung SDG1 SDG8 SDG9 SDG10 SDG11 SDG12 SDG13 SDG17 Armutsbekämpfung Klima, Energie Global Govervance Kinder, Jugend Nachhaltigkeit Umweltproblematik

The summit was the first of its kind, hosted by Kenya’s government and the African Union. It contributed to shaping the African narrative ahead of the UN climate summit in Dubai in December. Kenya’s President William Ruto had previously emerged as a leader on climate issues. It came as no surprise that the main theme of the Nairobi conference was green growth.

Africa is often painted as a victim in the climate crisis. The continent’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is below four percent, but its nations are hard hit and their ability to bounce back from extreme-weather disasters is limited. The summit in Nairobi showed Africa in a light, emphasising its potential as a hub for solutions and deal maker. Government officials appreciated the opportunity.

Samir Abi 21.06.2023 African responsibility for climate justice

Not everyone was equally happy. Civil-­society organisations, indigenous groups and youth wanted more to happen. On the first day of the summit, they rallied in the streets of Nairobi. Participating groups feel that the governments’ agenda has taken a direction that does not serve climate justice properly.

Adding to the frustration, access to the official summit was quite limited. Voices that should have been crucial in shaping the agenda were not admitted. Some people had traveled to Nairobi from far away, but did not get a chance to attend the summit and share their views. The poor communities who suffer the worst climate impacts were thus excluded once again.

Non-governmental activists expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that carbon markets took center stage in the negotiations. One problem with this approach is that it gives the biggest polluters leeway to keep polluting as long as they can pay. Another downside is that it sidelines the push for the urgently needed loss and damage fund. Indeed, various western governments made pledges towards the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative. The idea is to unlock financial flows to the continent. Merely improving business opportunities, however, is not enough to make progress towards a better future with more sustainable lifestyles. Climate justice demands more.

Jörg Döbereiner 21.11.2022 UN climate summit in Egypt did not deliver on mitigation

Another key issue was green minerals. These natural resources are needed in environmentally sustainable technology. Examples include solar power, electric vehicles and green hydrogen. According to research done by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Africa holds 30 % of the world’s mineral reserves. To meet the expected rise in global demand, production of minerals and metals such as lithium, graphite and cobalt must increase by nearly 500 % by 2050. Such growth is impossible without Africa’s resources. However, history shows that resource extraction in Africa has been detrimental to communities as they are left poor, their landscapes are destroyed and some areas become war zones. Related problems were not tackled in Nairobi.

The Nairobi Declaration, which was adopted by the summit, is not useless, however. It will shape Africa’s position in Dubai and highlights important issues, including reforms of the international financial architecture. It even proposes a global carbon tax. These issues are important because the current global system is indeed putting Africa at a disadvantage. Moreover, the goal to triple Africa’s renewable energy capacity by the end of this decade makes sense too. It is needed to improve the lot of marginalised communities and can contribute to unlocking sustainable energy supply globally.

However, more must happen to empower poor people, as the young generation is demanding. Ahead of the official summit, we convened the Africa Youth Climate Assembly with over 600 delegates from across Africa. The subsequent Africa Climate Summit may not have met our expectations fully, but it was one step towards the Africa we want. We demand – and personally represent – the green transition to the net-zero world that humankind needs. We will keep fighting to be heard.

Abigael Kima is a Kenyan climate justice activist and produces the Hali Hewa Podcast.

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23-09-25_Daniel Edonmi - Nigeria Brain drain in health sector

25. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-25_Daniel Edonmi - Nigeria Brain drain in health sector dagmar.wolf Mon, 25.09.2023 - 02:00 Due to underpayment and overload, thousands of trained health workers are leaving Nigeria to find employment abroad Brain drain Underpaid and overworked health workers in Nigeria Access to good health care is a prerequisite for a decent life and well-being of people everywhere. In Nigeria, thousands of trained health workers are leaving the country to find employment abroad, leaving many health-care facilities fragile and lacking the staff to provide much-needed care to the people. 25.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa Nowadays SDG3 SDG8 Arbeit Armutsbekämpfung Gesundheit, Medizin Sozialpolitik, Sozialentwicklung Volkswirtschaftliche Entwicklung

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with around 220 million people. The sheer size of the population poses development challenges, and many Nigerians say they are living in unprecedented hardship.

Several challenges exist for people in the country. Unemployment tops the list, with many people unable to find a job or decent employment. Added to this is the high cost of living, which has worsened in recent days given the influence of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Infrastructure development, especially, for the country’s energy sector is a key challenge too. Chronic load-shedding is popular in Nigeria and some areas record up to 48 hours of blackouts. In such an environment, even entrepreneurship has suffered as businesspeople are unable to operate or must do so at a higher cost.

The mass emigration of skilled health workers, especially nurses, is a result of this failed system. As multiple challenges exist, many of Nigeria’s nurses look for opportunities outside the country. Moreover, with the challenges that global health systems have faced in recent years, the demand for trained health workers has increased. Countries like Nigeria that cannot offer incentives to keep their workers are suffering losses.

Figures by the United Kingdom Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reveal that the number of Nigerian-trained nurses who are now on the UK permanent register has increased in the last five years to 7,256 from 2,796 in March 2018. And this number just represents those who seek opportunity in the UK; several other Nigerian nurses have migrated to other developed countries.

Nigeria’s health workers are grossly underpaid and overworked. The average monthly wage is said to be less than what a health worker in the western world earns in just three hours. Moreover, it is very common for wage payments to be delayed for months. 

A recent phone conversation I had with a female colleague who just travelled from Nigeria to the UK proved that they are in a much better place. I jokingly asked her: “If all the nurses in Nigeria travel abroad who will be left to man our hospitals and care for the sick?” To which she replied: “Let your corrupt and greedy politicians put on scrubs and do the nursing jobs!”

Nigeria’s government seems helpless to intervene in the recent wave of mass exodus of the country’s health workers. The government has a lot on its table as it is. To retain its personnel, much investment would have to be put into refurbishing health facilities, improving workers’ pay and providing medical supplies. In the short term, there is a small chance that this will happen. The country needs to take bold steps to address this brain drain. In the short term, significantly increasing health workers’ pay could be sufficient. 

Daniel Edonmi is a registered nurse working at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital in Oghara, Nigeria.

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23-09-24_Nayantara Narayanan - India - Nipah

24. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-24_Nayantara Narayanan - India - Nipah dagmar.wolf Sun, 24.09.2023 - 02:00 Where natural environments are healthy, the zoonoses Nipah and KFD are less likely to spread among humans Zoonoses In India, deadly disease is linked to deforestation In India, different diseases show that human health is linked to the health of the natural environment. Two prominent examples are Nipah and KFD. Experience tells us that destroying forests can result in the emergence of deadly illnesses. 24.09.2023South Asia Southeast Asia and Pacific Hintergrund SDG3 SDG11 SDG15 Gesundheit, Medizin Umweltproblematik Nachhaltigkeit Rohstoffe Landwirtschaft, ländliche Entwicklung

In May 2018, two and a half years before the first signs of Covid-19 anywhere in the world, a deadly disease struck the south Indian state of Kerala. Twenty-three people were infected with viral encephalitis. Only two of the infected survived.

The first symptoms were fever, headaches, sore throats and muscle pain. Vomiting, coughing, disorientation and coma followed. The disease spread quickly from the first case — a 27-year-old man named Mohammed Sabith. On a hunch, a doctor tested for the Nipah virus and the outbreak could be traced back to Sabith. This disease had never been seen in Kerala before. After 2018, there were three further Nipah outbreaks in the state. The most recent one was reported in August this year, and by mid-September it had claimed two lives.

Nipah is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen that humans acquire from animals. Such diseases are called “zoonotic”. The coronavirus belongs in this category too.

Sabine Balk 28.09.2022 Pandemic lessons

Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) is another zoonotic disease that haunts parts of South India. This haemorrhagic fever is transmitted by a tick-borne virus and carries the name of the town in the state of Karnataka where it was first discovered in 1957. Since then, 400 to 500 cases have been reported annually, with mortality rates between two and 20 %.

The Nipah Virus

The deadly Nipah outbreak in Kerala in 2018 briefly affected the region’s economy and daily life. Quick action by public health officials and laboratory scientists kept the outbreak under control. The episode was a mere prelude to the far more fearsome global pandemic to come. What Nipah and Covid-19 have in common, however, is the likely spillover from bats.

Nipah was first discovered in the Malaysian town Kampung Sungai Nipah, after which it was named. It infected a large number of pigs and their human handlers, who then passed it on to their families. In the resulting outbreak, half of the infected died.

Subsequently, there were at least 11 outbreaks in Bangladesh between 2001 and 2011, in which close to 200 people were infected and more than 150 died. The major cause for the disease here was people drinking raw date palm sap carrying the pathogen. Nipah has also claimed several dozen human lives in West Bengal, the Indian state bordering Bangladesh.

Studies from both Malaysia and Bangladesh show that the virus most likely spilled over from the Pteropus genus of bats, which are also called “fruit bats” as well as “flying foxes”. These bats are the major reservoir for the Nipah virus.

Malaysia’s intensively managed commercial pig farms had fruit trees where bats could drop partially eaten fruit into pig stalls. Pigs eating fruit contaminated with bat saliva became amplifiers of the Nipah virus. In Bangladesh, date palm sap was likely already contaminated with saliva from bats who also drink the sap.

Pteropus bats are present in various parts of South Asia. In India, seropositive animals have been found not only in Kerala in the south, but also in the north (Haryana State) and east (West Bengal and Assam). Seropositivity means that, at some point, a Nipah infection triggered an immune response in the bat concerned.

The Nipah outbreak in Kerala started in a small forest village in Kozhikode district. Researchers so far have been unable to establish exactly how Sabith, the first patient, picked up the pathogen. 

However, the local forest is home to several bat species, including Pteropus. The researchers found bat bite marks on fruit such as mango and guava in the area where Sabith often worked. Neighbours said that Sabith and his brother had cleaned out a bat-infested well. It is also possible that Sabith handled a Nipah-infected baby bat as a pet. Researchers believe that later outbreaks in Kerala were also caused by sporadic virus spillovers from bats to humans. 

Forests matter 

Deforestation makes such events more likely. Kerala has almost 39,000 square kilometres of land. In 1973, more than 70 % were covered with natural forest, according to an analysis by a research group from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. By 2016, that share had dropped below 50 %. Development work and encroachment are still causing deforestation, driving fruit bats out of their natural habitats. Over the years, residents of Kerala have been reporting increased interactions with bats.

Pragya Yadav of the National Institute of Virology thinks that bats have probably been carrying the virus for some time before the 2018 outbreak and there may actually have been a few human infections that were not reported. In her eyes, environmental destruction is increasing the risk: “Now we are cutting trees, disturbing the ecology and moving closer to these animals”. ­Jayakrishnan Thayyil of KMCT Medical College in Kozhikode points out that groves with large trees and rich biodiversity have been destroyed in Kerala and that construction work is often done “without considering the environmental impact”.

In May this year, Reuters published an analysis of the world’s most likely places for viruses to “jump” from animals to humans, which are called “jump-zones”. The authors found not only that Kerala had some of the leading jump-zones internationally, but also that jump-zones are quickly expanding across India. That trend was also said to be evident in West Africa, China and Brazil.

The Reuters team reported that Kerala has more than 40 species of bats and 35 million people. It added: “Its mountain forests and wooded hillocks, prime bat habitat, have been progressively cleared to make way for homes, agriculture, businesses and industry, with major rail and highway projects still on the agenda.” The report showed that, in 2018, conditions in 83 % of the state were conducive to zoonotic spillovers. That was an increase from 58 % in 2002.

The Kyasanur Forest Disease

KFD has been known in India for close to 60 years. Infections repeatedly occurred in five districts of Karnataka, but the disease has spread to Goa and Kerala as well. Researchers initially thought monkeys played a key role in the transmission, so the illness is still sometimes called “monkey fever”. Indeed, monkeys often carry the ticks that spread KFD but so do other mammals and birds. 

PV Rajagopalan, the researcher who first investigated KFD, thought that initial outbreaks were most likely linked to the construction of a large hydro-power dam. It may well have displaced tick-bearing wild animals, with ticks finding new hosts in domestic animals. When human handlers are bitten by infected ticks, they acquire the virus and the infection.

Bethan Purse of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology specialises in diseases transmitted by ticks and insects. While it is impossible to tell exactly why, how and where KFD first jumped from animals to people, she sees a pattern of infection risks being higher among people whose livelihood depends on forest areas. “In the 1950s, you had fragmentation for roads and human settlements,” says Purse. “Then there has been a shift to cashew and arecanut plantations and also paddy cultivation that has fragmented the forest and brought people into closer contact with infected ticks.”

A recent research paper shows that the risk of KFD outbreaks is associated with lower species richness resulting from deforestation. It was written by a research group lead by Michael G. Walsh of Sydney University.

Ongoing land-use changes contribute to the further spread of the ticks and the disease. For decades, primary forests have kept giving way to infrastructure, agriculture, horticulture and forest plantations. The plantations are commercially attractive, but they lack the biological diversity and resilience of undisturbed nature.

Other zoonoses

Nipah and KFD are only two of many zoonotic spillover events across India. India has a long list of reported wildlife-related zoonoses. Recent events include:

  • Avian influenza caused by H1N1 in Maharashtra and H5N1 in Assam,
  • Crimean Congo fever in Gujarat and
  • Hanta virus infections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

In view of the risk and in the wake of Covid-19, India is preparing a national “One Health” policy. One Health is the idea that public health should recognise the connection between people, animals, plants and the environment. Therefore, a multisectoral, coordinated, collaborative and transdisciplinary approach is needed.

Sabine Balk 22.11.2020 Holistic approach

At the same time, the Indian government has amended the Forest Conservation Act to allow large tracts of forest land to be opened up for non-forest activity. Accordingly, the risk of zoonotic diseases will grow.

Nayantara Narayanan is an Indian journalist based in Bangalore, Karnataka.
@nayantaran on (“X”)

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Sattish Chandra Aryal

22. September 2023 - 16:09
Sattish Chandra Aryal dagmar.wolf Fri, 22.09.2023 - 16:09 Sattish Chandra Aryal

is Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Childaid Network Foundation, Nepal.

Kategorien: english

Nayantara Narayanan

22. September 2023 - 12:37
Nayantara Narayanan dagmar.wolf Fri, 22.09.2023 - 12:37 Nayantara Narayanan

is an Indian journalist based in Bangalore, Karnataka.
Kategorien: english

23-09-22_Adaze Okeaya-inneh - microplastics - EIB report

22. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-22_Adaze Okeaya-inneh - microplastics - EIB report dagmar.wolf Fri, 22.09.2023 - 02:00 The European Investment Bank assesses the risks of microplastics and micropollutants Water pollution Humanity needs more and better wastewater treatment In a recent report, the European Investment Bank shows how human activities contaminate the environment with ever more microplastics and micropollutants. Infrastructure investments would make a difference. 22.09.2023Global In brief SDG6 SDG11 SDG14 Wasser Umweltproblematik Infrastruktur Gesundheit, Medizin

Microplastics are small, fragmented particles of plastic. They are less than five millimetres long and can harm humans as well as the environment. Typically, the eye does not notice them, and the smallest items are invisible. Nonetheless, microplastics are increasingly present in food, air, water and cosmetics products.

Sabine Balk 23.03.2021 Scientists consider tiny chemicals to be health hazards

They are also found in water bodies including rivers, lakes and oceans. About half of the microplastics that end up in oceans result from city dust and tyre use on roads, according to a report of the European Investment Bank (EIB) released in 2023. The other half is mostly linked to consumption patterns, with one-third stemming from synthetic textile. The EIB is an international development bank which belongs to the member countries of the EU.

The report shows that microplastic harms animals in aquatic habitats. The particles gather in the digestive system, and large quantities can kill an animal. Microplastic pollution has been proven to increase the mortality of aquatic animals.

It is worrisome that these particles have become part of the food chain. If you have ever eaten seafood, chances are some particles of microplastics reside in your body. The EIB states clearly that research carried out on human blood showed the presence of small plastics. Less pollution, moreover, has been shown to go along with fewer negative health impacts in humans. The benefits include increased fertility.

Accordingly, European citizens are worried. The EIB states that 89 % express fear for their health, while 88 % express anxiety about the environment.

Some key steps proposed by the EU for the reduction of plastic pollution in water include:

  • deliberate restriction of microplastic addition to products,
  • assessment of how well urban waste-water regulations are working and
  • efforts to reduce the accidental release of microplastics from textiles, tires and plastic.

Microplastic release into the oceans is a global phenomenon. The EU accounts for 10 % of the world’s microplastic release into the oceans. East Asia and Oceania (including China) lead with 31 %, followed by South Asia (including India) with 18 % and North America (including the USA) with 17 %. Africa, the Middle East and South America are each said to release nine percent.

Conventional treatment plants of the kind that process about 90 % of the EU’s wastewater remove microplastics, the EIB writes. However, run-off water from roads and city streets is not treated that way. Moreover, the EIB admits that sludge from treatment plants remains a problem. Around the world, of course, more conventional treatment would help.

Micropollutants are another serious challenge 

They are intangible contaminants (less than one microgramme per litre) that result from both natural and industrial processes. Conventional treatment plants do not affect them.According to the EIB, these particles often change into more toxic compounds than their initial form. Research findings reveal that in humans, micropollutants accumulate in breast milk, blood and fat, causing potentially serious harm to the human body.

Antibiotics are another cause of concern. They are useful to cure bacterial infections, but their effectiveness is waning as an increasing number of pathogens are becoming antibiotic resistant. The more these pharmaceuticals are spread as micropollutants in the environment, the more antibiotic-resistant pathogen strains are likely to emerge.

12.04.2019 How to contain superbugs

The EIB argues that more advanced water-treatment plants can make a difference regarding micropollutants. It thus appreciates EU plans to introduce “fourth” or “quaternary” treatment on top of three conventional treatment stages so far. Quite obviously, that will require massive investments.

The EIB supports the reduction of micropollutants by providing long-term financing to water-resource managers, raising public awareness and facilitating technical assistance. For example, it lends money to public and private institutions for projects designed to reduce microplastic pollution.

EIB, 2023: Microplastics and micropollutants in water.

Adaze Okeaya-inneh is a journalist and screenwriter in Lagos.

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23-09-21_Elaine T. Lawson - Ghana - drinking water - box

21. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-21_Elaine T. Lawson - Ghana - drinking water - box dagmar.wolf Thu, 21.09.2023 - 02:00 Ghana's water supply developed over the last hundred years with the involvement of many institutions and authorities Infrastructure Ghana's water supply Ghana's water supply developed over the last hundred years with the involvement of many institutions and authorities. 21.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa In brief SDG6 Infrastruktur Moderne Technik Nachhaltigkeit Urbanisierung, Stadt- und Regionalplanung Wasser

The institutional framework for ensuring access to safe drinking water for all Ghanaians goes back almost a century. Among the big improvements made to drinking-water provision was the establishment of the Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation (GWSC) in 1965. GWSC was responsible for managing water production and distribution in both rural and urban areas. This dual focus shifted in the 1980s and 1990s, when Ghana underwent significant institutional and legal reforms as part of the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) set out by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The modifications in the water sector included a formal separation of rural and urban drinking-water management.

In 1999, GWSC was transformed into a limited liability company called the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL). Since then, GWCL is only responsible for managing the urban water supply. Urban drinking water is regulated by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), which was set up in 1997 as part of the utility-sector reforms. PURC reviews and approves tariffs and monitors GWCL and other secondary and tertiary water suppliers.

In 1993, the legislature made Ghana’s metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) responsible for improving access to water and sanitation in rural communities and towns with fewer than 10,000 people. The MMDAs receive support from the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), which promotes the development and sustainability of safe water.

The CWSA also coordinates efforts by civil-society organisations (NGOs) and private-sector actors to provide safe drinking water in rural areas. Local user communities manage rural water infrastructure through water and sanitation management teams (WSMTs), who also handle the supervision of drinking-water infrastructure and address consumer concerns.

At the policy level, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (MSWR) is the main government institution responsible for water policy formulation and coordination. Other stakeholders include the Water Resources Commission (WRC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the same time, Ghana still faces multiple challenges in water supply. 

Elaine Tweneboah Lawson 20.09.2023 Promoting access to safe drinking water for all

Elaine T. Lawson is a senior research fellow at the University of Ghana’s Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies.

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Daniel Edonmi

20. September 2023 - 17:00
Daniel Edonmi dagmar.wolf Wed, 20.09.2023 - 17:00 Daniel Edonmi

is a registered nurse working at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital in Oghara, Nigeria. 

Kategorien: english

2023-09-20_Elaine T. Lawson - Ghana - drinking water

20. September 2023 - 2:00
2023-09-20_Elaine T. Lawson - Ghana - drinking water dagmar.wolf Wed, 20.09.2023 - 02:00 While Ghana has made progress towards providing equitable access to safe drinking water, many people still lack this basic service Access to drinking water Promoting access to safe drinking water for all Access to water is a human right. Ghana has made considerable progress in this regard, but there are still significant gaps in coverage. 20.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa Hintergrund Ghana SDG6 Infrastruktur Moderne Technik Nachhaltigkeit Urbanisierung, Stadt- und Regionalplanung Wasser

While Ghana has made meaningful improvements to the provision of safe drinking water, the efforts put in place at the policy level have not resulted in the progress anticipated. In Ghana, water-supply systems are complex. They are made up, on the one hand, of formal state institutions such as GWCL and CWSA, and, on the other, of informal vendors and private institutions seeking to fill in the gaps.

Socio-economic inequalities make it difficult for many people to afford safe drinking water. Poverty is widespread. Ghana’s labour market is dominated by low-wage earners working in the informal sector. According to the Ghana Living Standards Survey Round Seven (GLSS 7), two-thirds of currently employed people are engaged in what is described as “vulnerable employment”. The proportion is higher in rural areas.

The vulnerably employed have difficulty paying more for basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. What’s more, there are no social safety nets to ensure adequate supply of clean water to the poor and vulnerable. The prevailing focus on market-driven approaches and cost-recovery mechanisms is also standing in the way of providing access to all.

There are marked regional differences in access to safe drinking water as well. According to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, there is a glaring rural-urban divide in the quality of water distribution and infrastructure, with urban households more likely to have access to safe drinking water.

However, GWCL is also unable to meet the demand for water in urban areas, resulting in a chronically irregular water supply and a high reliance on informal water sources. The two main sources of drinking water in urban areas are sachet water (51.5 %) and pipe-borne water (33.6 %). Rural areas rely on borehole/tube wells (33.6 %) as well as pipe-borne water (28.8 %).

The average time households without water on their premises need to access any source of drinking water is 19 minutes. People in rural areas generally need longer (22 minutes) than in urban areas (13 minutes). In rural areas, there are also comparatively more households more than 30 minutes away from a drinking-water source.

Girls and women are primarily responsible for fetching water, which affects girls’ school attendance and women’s ability to engage in meaningful employment. It is important to note that these statistics do not adequately cover the growing number of peri-urban and informal settlements with highly irregular and insecure access to drinking water.

For many rural communities, surface water abstraction (such as from rivers, streams and ponds) remains a substantial source of water for drinking and domestic use. This water is most likely polluted. The increase in illegal mining activities (also called “galamsey”, derived from the phrase “gather them and sell”) continues to pollute streams and rivers, disrupting water availability and leading to high treatment costs. Other factors affecting surface water volumes and quality include deforestation, improper agricultural practices, poor sanitation and solid waste-management practices, environmental pollution and climate change.

Getting on track for the future

Obstacles to achieving safe drinking water for Ghanaians are:

  • poor enforcement of existing laws;
  • a lack of affordability and access, especially among the poor and vulnerable;
  • inadequate infrastructure;
  • and a low capacity to manage water systems, especially at the local level.

Water provisioning and governance institutions, as well as the legal framework, need to be updated to address the complex issues challenging water security in Ghana today. These include climate change, illegal mining, biodiversity loss, increasing poverty and the rising number of self-supply points and vendors. The climate crisis especially threatens the water infrastructure system’s ability to supply services. It causes extreme events such as floods and droughts, which reduce the efficiency of dams and reservoirs.

Rafiqul Islam Montu 02.08.2023 The city of millions that is being flooded every day

Access to clean and affordable drinking water is a national policy issue. Not only the climate crisis highlights the importance of greater investment in infrastructure, particularly in water supply storage and flood mitigation systems. Most rural water infrastructure, where it exists at all, is non-functional or outdated, and efforts to retrofit it are slow and insufficient.

Increasing investment in accessible and targeted climate-smart infrastructure could create win-win scenarios for the government and its institutions, as well as water-sector stakeholders. Investing in renewable technology could also help expand water service to areas that do not have connections to the formal water infrastructure. Water-supply systems should be expanded to include wastewater collection and treatment, as well as storm-water systems with storm-water pipes and other infrastructure.

The majority of the water resources that feed drinking-water systems are in rural communities. However, the top-down approach of most policies often ignores local expertise. Including local stakeholders would mean reaching out to local and traditional authorities, as well as incorporating indigenous values and knowledge in measures to safeguard water bodies.

At the same time, water affordability needs to be prioritised. The current focus on cost recovery and tariffs excludes the poor from accessing safe drinking water. Targeted social-protection initiatives that address affordability concerns are long overdue. Such initiatives could include flexible payment systems, developing affordability thresholds and providing subsidies, for example on water-storage systems. The lessons the government learned from providing free drinking water during the Covid 19 pandemic could be valuable in developing such programmes.

Ghanaian civil society should also be strengthened to play its role. There is a high dependence on foreign aid and NGO support. Community-based groups such as WSMTs and water and sanitation (WATSAN) committees need to be adequately resourced and trained to care for rural water infrastructure and advocate for safe water access.

Elaine T. Lawson is a senior research fellow at the University of Ghana’s Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies.

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19. September 2023 - 10:29
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On this page you can find some articles recommended by the editorial board.

Jochen Flasbarth Jörg Döbereiner Katharina Wilhelm Otieno 30.08.2023 Involving local people in order to reach biodiversity goals

At the biodiversity summit of Kunming-Montréal in 2022, Jochen Flasbarth of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) helped to broker consensus in the final stages. In this interview with D+C/E+Z, he talks about what makes mult...

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23-09-19_Sabine Balk - Culture Special - Tsitsi Dangarembga

19. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-19_Sabine Balk - Culture Special - Tsitsi Dangarembga dagmar.wolf Tue, 19.09.2023 - 02:00 The author and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga writes about a young woman’s fight for the right to female self-determination in Zimbabwe Novel The fate of a girl from Zimbabwe Like the protagonist of her novel “Nervous Conditions”, Tsitsi Dangarembga broke new ground in Zimbabwe – as an author, freedom activist and feminist. Persecuted by those in power at home, the 64-year-old is honoured and appreciated in Germany. This is the eighth item in this year's culture special with reviews of artists' works with developmental relevance. 19.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa In brief SDG4 Culture Special SDG5 SDG10 Bürgerkriege, Konfliktmanagement, Peacebuilding Gender, Frauen Kolonialismus, Entkolonisierung Kultur Kinder Menschenrechte Sozialpolitik, Sozialentwicklung Soziokulturelle Faktoren

Tsitsi Dangarembga is a brave woman. She is not intimidated by the increasingly repressive behaviour of the Zimbabwean regime. She even went to prison for her right to freedom of expression – after an action that was actually harmless.

In July 2020, along with journalist Julie Barnes, she held up a sign in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, that read: “We want better. Reform our institutions”. Shortly afterwards she was arrested and charged with public incitement to violence. She and Barnes were given six months’ probation and a fine in late September 2022. There was a large international outcry. The proceedings, which were characterised by numerous errors and delays, were described as a “show trial”. Nevertheless, both women were able to obtain an acquittal in the second instance before the High Court in early May 2023.

The fact that the author has a mind of her own and rejected playing the role of a subordinate woman is also reflected in her work. She is the first female author in Zimbabwe to have written a novel. Particularly notable is her trilogy featuring the adolescent Tambudzai, or Tambu for short, who has some autobiographical traits. The trilogy won Tsitsi Dangarembga the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2021 and introduced her to a wider audience.

Dagmar Wolf 17.08.2023 Experiencing feminism in Uganda

The first volume, which appeared under the title “Nervous Conditions” in 1988, describes the fate of the young Tambu in the Zimbabwe of the late 1960s. Tambu lives in poverty on a farm in what was then Rhodesia. Her father is a lazy good-for-nothing and her mother is an uneducated, hard-working woman. She wants at least one of her children to get a good education so that they can support the family financially later. Tambu’s uncle Babamukuru is her role model and benefactor. He was able to study in England and represents the first generation of the Christian African elite.

The entire family looks up to him. He takes in Tambu’s hated older brother, who is allowed to attend the missionary school where Babamukuru is director. Tambu gets her chance when her brother unexpectedly dies of an illness a few months later. Babamukuru recognises her potential. He wants her to assume her brother’s role and receive a good education. Despite many obstacles – skin colour, class, sex – Tambu is very ambitious and takes advantage of her opportunities.

Dangarembga allows readers to experience Tambu’s thoughts and feelings and vividly depicts the reality of African life. For example, she describes how Tambu has to carry a bowl of water at a big party her family is hosting in Babamukuru’s honour. This is an important task, because people wash their hands according to a particular hierarchy: men before women, and the old before the young.

The scene clearly portrays the hierarchies between men and women, and between children and adults. At the same time, it reveals Tambu’s aversion to tradition and the role she has been assigned. Tambu’s fate is shaped by two forms of oppression: the patriarchal structures of her family, and the colonial dominance of whites.

The jury of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade described why the book also contains an important message for German readers: “In her acclaimed trilogy of novels, Tsitsi Dangarembga draws on the story of a young woman’s life from adolescence to middle age to depict the struggle for the right to live in dignity and the fight for female self-determination in Zimbabwe. In doing so, she reveals social and moral conflicts that go far beyond regional references, thereby creating the stage for the discussion of globally relevant questions of justice.”

Books: Tambudzai trilogy
Volume 1: Dangarembga, T., 2021: Nervous Conditions. London, Faber & Faber.
Volume 2: Dangarembga, T., 2021: The Book of Not. London, Faber & Faber.
Volume 3: Dangarembga, T., 2020: This Mournable Body. London, Faber & Faber.

Sabine Balk was an editor at D+C/E+Z for many years and now works as a freelance contributor.

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23-09-18_Raphael Mweninguwe - Malawi - women in fishing

18. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-18_Raphael Mweninguwe - Malawi - women in fishing dagmar.wolf Mon, 18.09.2023 - 02:00 Project on sustainable fishery deliberately targets women to “bridge the gender gap” Gender equality In Malawi, women are still not allowed to fish In the fishing communities along Lake Malawi and other fishing areas, women have long been engaged in the buying, processing and selling of fish. However, due to gender disparity, they have always been forbidden to do fish harvesting. 18.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa Nowadays SDG5 SDG8 Arbeit Ernährung, Hunger Gender, Frauen Landwirtschaft, ländliche Entwicklung Soziokulturelle Faktoren

Some women are now standing up to this archaic tradition. They are buying fishing nets and gear. But they are still not accepted. “Women are not allowed to go into the waters, despite them owning the nets. Men will tell you that it is against our culture for women to do so,” 50-year-old Ellen Zaya, who owns two fishing nets, says. 

“At first, I was just buying fish from fishermen when they come to the landing site. Sometimes women are even forbidden from buying the fish especially if you do not know fishermen,” she says: “It was because of these hustles that women decided to buy fishing nets and venture into fish harvesting.” 

Zaya adds, she wished she could break the gender divide by going into the waters and doing the fish harvesting herself, “but my husband says I cannot do it. It is against culture and unheard of.” Many women are now fighting for change also because they have become victims of sexual exploitation. In many fishing landing sites, men would want to trade sexual favours before selling fish to female traders. 

A five-year project on sustainable fishery tries to make a difference. It is currently being implemented by the Department of Fisheries with funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB). The project hopes to train close to 20,000 fisher people with 50 % expected to be females. The project leaders say women are deliberately being targeted to “bridge the gender gap”.

However, many men still oppose the emancipation of women in fishery. Medson Phiri, a local authority in Tukombo, says it will be wrong to let women go into the waters and do the harvesting on their own despite them owning the nets. “Women are supposed to listen to their husbands. If the husbands say, ‘do not go into the waters to fish’, then they should listen,” says Phiri. 

He defended the belief of not allowing women to go into the deep waters of Lake Malawi to fish saying that women “are weak and cannot pull the nets the way men do.”

Raphael Mweninguwe is a freelance journalist based in Malawi. 

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23-09-17_Ronald Ssegujja Ssekandi - Uganda - Water and sewage systems - Kampala

17. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-17_Ronald Ssegujja Ssekandi - Uganda - Water and sewage systems - Kampala dagmar.wolf Sun, 17.09.2023 - 02:00 In Kampala, Uganda’s capital, residents lack access to clean water. The dilapidated sewer system and flooding also pose hazards. Previous efforts to improve the situation have been inadequate Water in urban areas Kampala’s water problems In Kampala, Uganda’s capital, many places lack access to clean water. The dilapidated sewer system is repeatedly hit by floods, posing serious hazards. Efforts to ease access to water and improve infrastructure have so far been inadequate. 17.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa Hintergrund Uganda SDG6 SDG11 Infrastruktur Urbanisierung, Stadt- und Regionalplanung Wasser

Water scarcity and a deficient sewer system are two of the major challenges Uganda’s capital is facing. Like many African metropolises, Kampala’s infrastructure is still based on the building standards of the former colonial government. Particularly in slums like Katanga, there is very little access to clean water.

The situation has deteriorated because infrastructure development has not been able to keep pace with the rapid population growth of recent decades: whereas about 130,000 people lived in Kampala in 1960, the last official census of 2014 showed that 1.5 million were residing in the city centre alone.

The Ugandan government recognises that Kampala has special needs as one of the most important urban centres in the country. Back in 2010, it passed a law called the Kampala Capital City Authority Act that created a semi-autonomous administrative unit with special departments to address the city’s most pressing concerns. The departments for land use planning and technical services are overhauling the city’s infrastructure, including the water and sewer systems.

Access to safe, clean water

The frequent water shortages in Kampala are particularly problematic. The National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) primarily extracts water from Lake Victoria and wells and treats it in water treatment plants. However, demand is often so high that the NWSC cannot supply all the households that are connected to the mains. Many people therefore rely on alternatives like water vendors, shallow wells or other sources of water, which are potentially contaminated.

In order to improve service, the NWSC is also working on increasing water production, installing an efficient wastewater-management system and preventing water and sewage leaks. The projects are being financed by a variety of organisations, such as the African Development Bank.

The Ugandan government is receiving additional support from European partners like the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-AITF), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the KfW Development Bank. As a result, in March 2021, the Katosi water-treatment plant was opened, which can produce 160,000 cubic meters of water per day.

Poorly maintained pit latrines

Nevertheless, the existing infrastructure cannot meet the needs of the growing population. A significant portion of wastewater flows untreated into Lake Victoria because it exceeds the capacities of the treatment plants. Inadequate hygiene practices and a lack of access to sanitary facilities are making matters worse: many residents rely on poorly maintained pit latrines. The faeces contaminate both surface-water sources and groundwater.

Ronald Ssegujja Ssekandi 09.03.2023 What keeps girls out of school

For that reason, the Ugandan government not only aims to expand and modernise its wastewater infrastructure, but also encourages communities to use sanitary facilities and not dispose of waste in the environment.

Because of the country’s poor drainage systems, heavy rainfall has led to increasingly frequent flooding in recent years. Large volumes of rainwater flood the streets and threaten people and their property.

At the same time, some people use heavy rains to empty their septic tanks. The faeces mix with the flowing water and create a strong stench. Combined with poor waste disposal and inadequate sewer systems, this practice is contributing to the spread of diseases like cholera.

Strategy for a smart city

In light of these challenges, Kampala has joined and now leads the Africa Smart Towns Network (ASToN), which has grown to include 12 African cities. The initiative was launched by France’s development agency in order to support African cities in the creation of sustainable urban systems. Following the model of Europe’s URBACT programme, the network should improve cities’ cooperation with regard to specific challenges.

At first, Kampala’s city administration concentrated primarily on solving mobility problems. Now, the lessons learned from that project are being applied to other areas, like addressing drainage and water problems. The authorities envision a “Smart City”: a sustainable urban area with clear organisational structures and infrastructure based on the latest technology.

In Kampala, modernisation is especially difficult because of the large number of residents. Many are active in the informal economy, and poor people in particular tend to resist efforts to modernise. They often see such measures as an existential threat because the change directly endangers their livelihood. 

For example, the city administration is targeting street vendors because they are notorious for their poor waste disposal. Many leave their packaging and plastic waste on the streets, and it ultimately ends up in the municipal sewer system.

Over the past ten years, Kampala has worked with a variety of development partners in order to solve complex problems and position the city more sustainably step by step. Some success has been made: the city is addressing water and wastewater challenges better than it did a decade ago. 

However, not nearly enough has been done. Some problems persist. Solving them will require cooperation between Kampala’s residents, the city administration, development partners and the country’s central government.

Ronald Ssegujja Ssekandi is a Ugandan author and edits D+C/E+Z’s Nowadays column.

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23-09-15_Leon Kirschgens - Westafrika - Faith in action

15. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-15_Leon Kirschgens - Westafrika - Faith in action dagmar.wolf Fri, 15.09.2023 - 02:00 In West Africa, some faith-based networks promote demographic change Patriarchal attitudes How family planning sometimes depends on church or mosque Since religious norms contribute to West Africa’s high birth rates, faith leaders can help to slow down population growth. In some mosques and churches, that is actually happening. 15.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa In brief SDG5 SDG1 Bevölkerung, Familienplanung Gender, Frauen Religion Soziokulturelle Faktoren Bildung, Ausbildung Gesundheit, Medizin Armutsbekämpfung

On behalf of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), which is affiliated to Germany’s Christian Democrats, the Berlin Institute for Population and Development has assessed what influence religious communities have on population growth in West Africa. The two institutions jointly published the study on the matter in 2022. It pays particular attention to Christianity and Islam, the religions with the largest followers in the region. The authors state that early motherhood and large numbers of children coincide with traditional religious thinking.

Change is possible, however. Indeed, African birth rates are declining, though not as fast as they did earlier in other world regions. Faith leaders, according to KAS and Berlin Institute, can help to accelerate it.

Mahwish Gul 23.06.2023 Slow decline of African birth rates

According to the publication, family planning, gender equity and the formal education of girls are important tools for reducing birth rates in West Africa long-term. Women’s status in society has a bearing on how many children they have – and at what age they have them. In patriarchal settings, motherhood tends to be the only role women are expected to fulfil. Many girls are only sent to primary school if they get formal education at all. That is no foundation for personal independence. Moreover, contraceptives are often rejected as a matter of principle.

Secular organisations struggle to challenge deeply entrenched faith doctrines, so traditional thinking prevails. KAS and Berlin Institute point out that believers often fear that secular initiatives want to undermine their faith.

Holy Scriptures 

It therefore matters very much what religious leaders preach. The authors insist that theological reasoning is essential for achieving more gender justice, better family planning and lower birth rates. Faith leaders are in a position to question long-standing attitudes. They can interpret the Bible or the Koran in terms of gender justice. They can point out that the Holy Scriptures do not forbid family planning. People listen to them when they reject conventional gender stereotypes and demand that girls be educated. Faith leaders can even talk about sex with young people and encourage them to use contraceptives. What they say has an impact on parents as well as policymakers moreover.

According to the publication, the Sultan of Sokoto is a good example. As the leader of about 90 million Nigerian Muslims, he has spoken out in favour of girls’ education. Moreover, he has told imams to do so too. He also wants them to do their best to convince sceptical parents and tradition-minded politicians. He launched the pan-African Keeping Girls in School Conference in 2019, convening Islamic and Christian leaders as well as representatives of indigenous belief systems, politics and international agencies.

KAS and Berlin Institute similarly praise the Ouagadougou Partnership. It has been promoting the use of contraceptives in cooperation with leaders of all religions since 2011. A progressive alliance of faith leaders has thus emerged in francophone West Africa.

Exchange of faith leaders across regions and countries is essential, the study states. Experience must be shared, doubting peers can be convinced and progressive leaders appreciate encouragement. For these reasons, networks like Faith to Action are said to be quite valuable. It links West African faith leaders to secular organisations and facilitates the drafting of shared strategies. All too often, faith communities and their leaders still lack the resources they would need to implement change, for example, by building schools, the authors argue.

More generally, they want governmental development programmes to involve faith leaders more actively and consistently. Doing so would not only improve people’s livelihoods. It would also help to reduce West African birth rates faster.

Berlin Institute for Population and Development and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2022: Faith in action. How religious organisations facilitate demographic change in West Africa.

Leon Kirschgens is a freelance journalist based in Aachen.

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23-09-14_Katharina Otieno - VENRO - Decolonising development

14. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-14_Katharina Otieno - VENRO - Decolonising development joerg.doebereiner Thu, 14.09.2023 - 02:00 After decades of debate, the impacts of the colonial era are still evident in development cooperation Decolonisation Colonial legacies still mark development affairs Colonial legacies still mark today’s development affairs – despite decades of debate about it. True decolonisation depends on local expertise being respected. Existing local capacities must be employed. 14.09.2023Global Hintergrund SDG17 Entwicklungspolitik, Entwicklungsstrategien Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, Kritik an Partizipation, Inklusion Zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen

Typically, developmental projects result from transactional contracts with one side paying money and the other side receiving something. Such a scenario cannot appropriately be described as an equal partnership. Indeed, equality rhetoric is misleading, according to Chilande Kuloba-Warria, the founder-director of the Nairobi-based Warande Advisory Centre, a consultancy that serves civil-society organisations. Kuloba-Warria insists that there is still “us and them” in developmental affairs. She explains that, from her point of view, „they“ mostly means people from aid-providing countries, while „us“ stands for people who receive aid.

Kuloba-Warria opposes “white washing”. That is the term she uses for attempts to camouflage unequal power relations with inclusive vocabulary. She reports that white representatives of non-governmental organisations tend to be fond of such language, though there would actually not be any international development cooperation if power relations were indeed equal. According to her, claims to be colour blind amount to a denial of reality. She appreciates that those who do so normally have good intentions. Nonetheless, they fail to see the challenges people of colour face. Ultimately, Kuloba-Warria says, acknowledging reality is an issue of respect.

The colonial past still has impacts on development cooperation today. In an acknowledgement of an appropriate process of decolonisation not having taken place yet, VENRO, the umbrella organisation of non-governmental German development organisations, hosted an online event in late August and launched the English version of a report on the matter. The German version was published last year and is based on interviews with NGO staff. The interviews were conducted by Katja Dombrowski, a former member of D+C’s editorial team. Kuloba-Warria has written a related publication and shared her insights during the VENRO event.

These challenges are nothing new. More than 30 years ago, the “post-development” school emerged among scholars. At the time, the anthropologist Arturo Escobar and the sociologist Wolfgang Sachs were among those who declared that the concept of development had failed. Moreover, they read it as an extension of colonialism. Aram Ziai of Kassel University is a current author who adheres to this intellectual tradition. He shared some of his views on in the summer of 2020. In a previous publication, however, he had acknowledged that development concepts sometimes include liberating elements that critical observers tend to neglect.

Tina Zintl 20.07.2023 Feminist development policy for inclusive societies

Tapping the progressive potential

The prefix „post“ sometimes causes confusion in this context, admits Sina Aping of a Berlin-based independent organisation (Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag – BER). She explains things using the word „postcolonialism“. The message is not that colonialism is entirely a thing of the past, even though the countries concerned have formally gained sovereign statehood. Aping insists there is still a need to overcome many colonial legacies that shape people’s attitudes today. This kind of decolonisation requires people to regularly confront their personal prejudices. Training courses can help, and so can the diversification of leadership positions. Aping bemoans that decolonisation does not figure in the UN agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a similar vein, post-development does not mean that the era of development policies is over. The challenge is to tap the progressive potential.

Kuloba-Warria argues that local-level decolonisation is particularly important. Project plans must reflect the knowledge and desires of the people whose situation a project is supposed to improve. Local knowledge and existing capacities must not only be respected, she demands, they must be employed. One implication is that donor agencies must become more flexible in regard to rules, procedures and key indicators. In other words, Kuloba-Warria wants them to become less risk averse. The VENRO report similarly recommends the reduction of bureaucratic burdens as a step towards decolonisation.

Kuloba-Warria insists that unequal power relations are fundamental in any setting of donors and recipients, and that such settings are especially conducive to the persistence of colonial legacies on both sides. Quoting an interviewee from her publication, she points out that “he who has and controls resources will always wield the power.”

Dombrowski, K., 2022: Shifting Power. How development and humanitarian NGOs can address the consequences of colonialism in their work. Berlin, VENRO (6 MB, German version available).

Kuloba-Warria, C., 2023: Implications of the Istanbul principles and the DAC CSO recommendation on enabling civil society for ICSOS.

Katharina Wilhelm Otieno is a member of the editorial team of D+C/E+Z.


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23-09-13_Mustafa Shrestha - Culture Special - Chernobyl

13. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-13_Mustafa Shrestha - Culture Special - Chernobyl dagmar.wolf Wed, 13.09.2023 - 02:00 The miniseries “Chernobyl” revolves around the worst nuclear accident in the world HBO miniseries “Chernobyl”: The cost of lies The miniseries “Chernobyl” revolves around the worst nuclear accident in the world. Over five episodes, the American television network HBO shows how the core meltdown came about. This is the seventh item in this year's culture special with reviews of artists' works with developmental relevance. 13.09.2023Central Asia, Caucasia, Southeast Europe and Russia In brief SDG3 SDG7 SDG9 SDG12 Culture Special Klima, Energie Infrastruktur Amts- und Regierungsführung Umweltproblematik

On 26 April 1986, the number four reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant went out of control. Thirty-seven years after the accident, the area around the city of the same name in the north of present-day Ukraine is still uninhabitable. It will remain so for the foreseeable future because, according to Greenpeace, the exclusion zone surrounding the former nuclear power plant will remain radioactively contaminated for thousands of years.

In the historical drama “Chernobyl”, the chemist Valery Legasov, played by Jared Harris, and the nuclear physicist Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) look for a cause in the immediate aftermath of the accident. The scientists find that Soviet functionaries are hard nuts to crack. They downplay the accident and show no interest in investigating it. Boris Scherbina, played by Stellan Skarsgård, is their only ally. As a politician, he knows his way around the state apparatus and helps the duo manoeuvre through the Soviet system.

The series eschews spectacular special effects for the reactor explosion. Instead, audiences experience the disaster from the perspective of the people on site. That means that initially all that is heard of the catastrophe is a loud bang. The audience doesn’t see or hear any more than the characters – the scope of what actually happened is only revealed in the last episode, when the incident is reviewed in a trial.

The fact that viewers know how the story ends has no impact on the series’ suspense. The first episode recalls a dystopian thriller: families gather in front of their houses in Chernobyl and gaze at the colourful lights that a fire at the nuclear power plant is shining into the night sky. Children play in radioactive ash, which they think is snow. They have no idea that they are being exposed to deadly radiation. Such moments are hard to watch, knowing what we know today.

Chernobyl doesn’t point any fingers

The series doesn’t make any one responsible for the disaster, though there is a potential culprit. In the first episode, the irascible Anatoly Dyatlov, played by Paul Ritter, bullies his colleagues in the tense control room of the nuclear power plant. As chief engineer, he is in denial about the accident, even though he sees graphite on the floor – a clear signal that an explosion has taken place. The real Dyatlov served time in prison for disregarding established safety protocols. The series, however, characterises him as a scapegoat. It claims that the state’s attempts to hide a design flaw in the reactor were the real cause of the accident.

Chernobyl had a lasting influence on the debate about nuclear energy. While the anti-nuclear movement predates it, the accident awakened critical awareness of the dangers of such technology among the general public of many industrialised states.

Yet according to an interview with screenplay author Craig Mazin in Slate Magazine, “Chernobyl” is not meant to be explicitly anti-Communist or an anti-nuclear appeal. Instead, Mazin wanted “Chernobyl” to warn against the dangers of disinformation. Protagonist Valery Legasov therefore begins and ends the story with the question: “What is the cost of lies?”

Mazin is famous for the “Hangover” comedies. Not many would have trusted him with a story like “Chernobyl”. 

But HBO was rewarded for its trust in the author. “Chernobyl” earned top ratings on the internet film database IMDB shortly after the series began. It also won numerous television prizes for the network.

In light of the ongoing debate about nuclear energy in many countries and the increasing number of disinformation campaigns online, the themes in “Chernobyl” remain highly relevant even decades after the reactor accident.

Chernobyl, 2019, USA and UK. Director: Johan Renck.

Mustafa Shrestha is studying online journalism at the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Germany. He composed this text as part of his internship at D+C/E+Z.

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23-09-12_Daniel Nordmann / Dieter Rothenberger / Jörg Dux - UWCI - Box

12. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-12_Daniel Nordmann / Dieter Rothenberger / Jörg Dux - UWCI - Box dagmar.wolf Tue, 12.09.2023 - 02:00 The Urban Water Catalyst Initiative is an important step towards addressing the challenges of water provision. Water supply A catalyst for water transformation The Urban Water Catalyst Initiative is an important step towards addressing the challenges of water provision. It emphasises willingness to reform, financial autonomy and the integration of technical and financial support for urban utilities. 12.09.2023Global In brief SDG6 SDG9 SDG11 Entwicklungszusammenarbeit Deutschlands Infrastruktur Wasser

One of the voluntary commitments that Germany’s federal government, with support from KfW Development Bank and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), made together with the Dutch government at this year’s UN Water Conference was the Urban Water Catalyst Initiative (UWCI). The partnership, initiated by Germany, is open to additional donors. In fact, according to Global Water Intelligence, the leading publisher of the international water industry, the initiative may be the most important contribution to the UN’s Water Action Agenda.

The UWCI marks the first time a global instrument has been created that purposefully strengthens urban water utilities that possess the two most important conditions for reform: autonomy and a motivated, stable management that enjoys local political support.

Five elements increase the effectiveness of support for utilities, accompanying and complementing the bilateral programmes that will still be necessary for developing the general conditions:

  • Local willingness to reform: utilities supported by UWCI must demonstrate that their leadership and governing bodies back the company’s reforms. They must also plan the strategic implementation of the reforms autonomously. Instead of adhering to constraints imposed by donors, the utility management itself should determine the path to the goal.
  • Competition and flexible assistance for results: funding will be provided in places where utilities can actively apply for it and be persuasive. This ensures that funding and technical support go to companies that actually want change. Flexibility provided by expert pools and small-scale financing should be tailored to meet utilities’ needs.
  • Support for utilities instead of project-related resource allocation: the UWCI supports utilities independent of investment projects in places where it can provide the most leverage for increases in efficiency. The focus is not only on new infrastructure projects, but also on optimising the operation of existing facilities and connecting customers to existing networks, particularly in the early funding phases. Utilities must achieve cost coverage in order to gain independence from subsidies for operation. Doing so eases the burden on public budgets, which can then use the funds for other purposes. It also protects utilities from political interference and paves the way to creditworthiness.
  • Financial autonomy and local financing: experiences from Colombia, Tanzania and Kenya show that if water utilities manage to improve their cost coverage, they can also refinance with local development and commercial banks and on their own countries’ capital markets. This is a sustainable approach because it eliminates currency risks and reduces countries’ debts. Thereby, utilities can tap into long-term financing sources outside of official development assistance (ODA). When utilities stop receiving subsidies for operation, they can take their development into their own hands. Nevertheless, commercial financing is only one component. Investments in water infrastructure will rely on the public sector for the foreseeable future. Water is and will remain a social and political good.
  • Improved integration of technical and financial support: technical advice (like from utility partnerships or aid workers) and investment plans supported by development banks often do not sufficiently intersect. Different interests, processes and project cycles hamper effective coordination. In this context, the UWCI relies on tailored advice that is based on the independent expertise of experienced technicians and managers in the water industry. What’s more, short- and long-term financing – ranging from grants, to loans, to guarantees to local banks – is provided from a single source and in a systematic way.

In close cooperation with German and Dutch partners, the UWCI will soon begin supporting the first utilities. 

Daniel Nordmann is policy advisor for GIZ and KfW for the Urban Water Catalyst Initiative. 

Dieter Rothenberger is head of the GIZ sector programme “International Water Policy – Innovations for Resilience”. 

Jörg Dux is head of the KfW team “Water and Waste Management in North Africa”.

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23-09-11_Derrick Silimina - Zambia - poultry farming

11. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-11_Derrick Silimina - Zambia - poultry farming dagmar.wolf Mon, 11.09.2023 - 02:00 Zambia’s first international poultry exposition provided a platform for all stakeholders to connect and learn about new technologies Exposition Exposition showcases the potential of poultry farming in Zambia Whereas chicken is a very popular meat in Africa, most of it is imported. Many African nations lack the technology to rear chickens on a large scale and process the meat to acceptable market standards. 11.09.2023Sub-Saharan Africa Nowadays SDG2 SDG8 Arbeit Ernährung, Hunger Handelspolitik Landwirtschaft, ländliche Entwicklung Forschung, Wissenschaft Privatwirtschaft Volkswirtschaftliche Entwicklung

It is the same in Zambia. Meats from birds such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and pigeons among others are consumed. However, in many grocery stores and supermarkets, meat freezers are full of imported meat. Among the top sources of Zambia’s meat is South Africa, the continent’s leading producer of poultry products. Local farmers are afraid that they may be pushed out of business. 

Recognising the special needs of the agricultural sector, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is looking for ways to promote local farming and value addition. It is estimated that over half a million citizens engage in poultry farming. For this reason, Zambia’s first-ever international poultry exposition (ZIPEX) was recently held in the capital Lusaka. The goal was to provide a platform for players to network, build long-term relationships and learn about new technologies.

“These private sector initiatives show Zambians’ amazing ability to create and innovate, and as a government, we are here to support such initiatives that seek to display Zambia’s opportunities in this industry,” Makozo Chikote, fisheries and livestock minister, said at the event. 

The ZIPEX attracted all types of poultry farmers, breeders, processors, traders and distributors. The three-day event also attracted participants from the greater poultry value chain, who included equipment and feed suppliers, allied technical experts, private and public institutions and visitors from the region.

Daimone Siulapwa, one of the ZIPEX organisers, said: “We are very confident that we will contribute to the growth of the poultry industry in Zambia by creating the much-needed link among the various players.” Dominic Chanda, president of the Poultry Association of Zambia, hopes that his industry can address some of the challenges, such as import duty on poultry equipment which hinders mass production.

Derrick Silimina is a freelance journalist based in Lusaka.

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23-09-10_Daniel Nordmann / Dieter Rothenberger / Jörg Dux - UWCI

10. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-10_Daniel Nordmann / Dieter Rothenberger / Jörg Dux - UWCI dagmar.wolf Sun, 10.09.2023 - 02:00 Billions of people have no access to drinking water and sanitary facilities. Water supply Equipping water utilities to meet SDG6 Billions of people still lack adequate access to drinking water and sanitary facilities. A holistic approach is needed for sustainable water management and equitable, universal access. Urban water utilities in particular will only be able to achieve SDG6 if a turnaround in performance is achieved. 10.09.2023Global Hintergrund SDG6 SDG9 SDG11 Entwicklungszusammenarbeit Deutschlands Infrastruktur Wasser

Access to adequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is enshrined in the UN’s  6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6), and it is a human right too. However, water is not universally available. In many low-income countries, people face fundamental questions every day: where can I find safe water for drinking, cooking and hygiene? How much is available? How long is the walk to get it? And how polluted will it be? 

Water resources are becoming more and more scarce. The climate crisis and urbanisation are exacerbating the situation. According to WHO and UNICEF, over 2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water. 3.6 billion also have no safe access to sanitary facilities. Women and girls are most affected. They suffer significant social and economic disadvantages because they have to walk long distances every day carrying heavy buckets in order to survive, or because they regularly stay away from work or school, especially during menstruation, due to lack of sanitation facilities.

The UN Water Conference – a game changer?

The first UN Water Conference in 50 years took place in March this year. It was celebrated as a “turning point” for the global water crisis. The media rightly lauded the diplomatic successes and 689 voluntary commitments made by the international community. However, according to WHO and UNICEF, access to piped drinking water in cities has declined by ten percent over the past 20 years in central and southern Asia, for example.

The numbers are regressive in sub-Saharan Africa as well. Nowadays just over half (about 57 %) of the urban population has access to drinking water from the tap. Twenty years ago, however, that number was close to two-thirds. Around the world, achieving SDG6 remains a remote prospect. A trend reversal is nowhere in sight.

The financing gap is growing along with the global supply crisis. Official development assistance (ODA) relating to water declined by 12 % between 2015 and 2021 according to the UN. The latest UN report warns that financing will have to increase sixfold in order to ensure universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2030.

Urban water utilities play a key role in this context. They are not only responsible for closing urban coverage gaps but are also on the front lines of the battle for global health and against pandemics, as the ­Covid-19 pandemic showed.

Helmut Lang Katrin Gronemeier 29.05.2020 Averting “Day Zero”

At the same time, water utilities are indispensable to making urban settlements liveable, productive and adaptive. That is true especially in light of uninterrupted urbanisation and the consequences of climate change, such as increasing water scarcity, heat waves and flooding. For that reason, the UN, World Bank, OECD and other multilateral organisations are calling for the mobilisation of additional financing for the global water sector. Capital should flow not only from public budgets, but also from commercial and private sources.

More money alone will not solve the water crisis

Yet more money is not enough on its own, as German development cooperation actors have learned with regard to advising and financing public water utilities. Experience also shows that it is not easy to mobilise funds from local banks or from impact-oriented investors.

If water utilities are not professionally managed, additional funding can even have negative consequences: it can encourage corruption, lead to the deterioration of equipment and networks after initial improvements and cause customers to become increasingly frustrated. According to a World Bank study, nine out of ten utilities are not creditworthy. Access to banks and capital markets therefore remains closed.

Most utilities must first better maintain existing infrastructure and manage it more professionally. This means, for example, connecting additional customers to the existing networks, installing water meters, fully utilising the capacities of the existing wastewater-treatment plants and reducing electricity consumption and the sometimes serious water losses by 50 % or more. More money will only have an impact if the utilities are able to do these things.

These steps are also necessary to raise utilities’ own revenue to a sustainable level. Only then will policy makers and regulatory authorities be willing to approve water tariffs that are both sustainable and socially acceptable. That’s because tariffs that do not cover costs make it impossible for utilities to serve everyone on a permanent basis and become creditworthy.

More than “projects”

The example of the water utility in Nyeri, a city of approximately 140,000 people in central Kenya, is instructive in this regard. The company’s motivated management won the support of political decision-­makers and was thereby able to significantly improve both service and its own economic situation.

The Nyeri Water and Sanitation Company (NYEWASCO) managed to more than double the number of connections in the city since the end of the 1990s, reduce water losses to below 20 % and, at the same time, generate the cost of operating and maintaining facilities and networks, thereby creating more leeway for new investments. In doing so NYEWASCO also steadily expanded service for the poor. To date Kenya’s water regulation authority has designated the company the best water utility in the nation 14 times in a row. That achievement proves that such success can be maintained over the long term.

Evaluations by the KfW Development Bank, World Bank and other important investors show that project financing for new infrastructure pays too little attention to corporate governance and local political support, both of which are important ingredients of success. As a result, many projects cannot contribute to improving utilities’ leadership and creditworthiness.

What’s more, financing is often not adequately tied to improving service provision and in-house efforts. It also doesn’t help utilities bring about the necessary cultural transformations, reforms and efficiency increases within their companies and introduce new technologies. Technical consulting and training of operating staff also fall by the wayside if funds are lacking for critical procurements like water meters or repairs.

Development cooperation must step in here to ensure that technical and financial support make reforms possible, and that local managers receive targeted assistance at the right moment as they mobilise support and funds for utility reforms (see box). What is needed is not always new infrastructure projects, but a holistic strengthening of water utilities as economic enterprises oriented towards the common good, in order to provide a socially just, high-quality, affordable and sustainable public service and to contribute to a just transition.

Daniel Nordmann is policy advisor for GIZ and KfW for the Urban Water Catalyst Initiative.

Dieter Rothenberger is head of the GIZ sector programme “International Water Policy – Innovations for Resilience”.

Jörg Dux is head of the KfW team “Water and Waste Management in North Africa”.

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23-09-09_D+C/E+Z - e-Paper-Werbung - August

9. September 2023 - 2:00
23-09-09_D+C/E+Z - e-Paper-Werbung - August dagmar.wolf Sat, 09.09.2023 - 02:00 What purposes our Digital Monthly serves, and how it differs from the print issue D+C/E+Z Why we believe in our Digital Monthly We are sometimes asked why our Digital Monthly is valuable long term, and how it differs from our print issue. Here are the reasons. 09.09.2023Global In brief SDG13 SDG14 SDG15 Nachhaltigkeit

Our Digital Monthly compiles four weeks’ worth of content on our website. Anyone who downloads it, can read it off-line. We believe that the Digital Monthly is valuable, especially in places where internet connectivity cannot be taken for granted. To ensure the download is feasible, we have reduced the size of the e-Paper, and plan to keep it below five MB consistently. Moreover, we focus on topics of lasting relevance. Most of our stories are not outdated fast, but help to assess lasting trends.  

Those who read the Digital Monthly as soon as it is published will find that it includes several items that have not yet appeared on the website. Our team is too small to cover breaking news, and we make sure we post something on our website at least six times per week. All of our contributions are original content  written for D+C/E+Z.

In countries under authoritarian rule, moreover, it is safer to download an e-Paper fast than to stay on our website for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, not all governments welcome our insistence on good governance and human rights. Spy agencies increasingly monitor the web, but keeping track of e-Papers is very difficult.

Our Digital Monthly differs from our print issues, which we publish every two months. The print issues only include a selection of the articles we post on the website. In the past, we published 11 print issues per year, but postal services are expensive and snail mail is slow. We therefore decided to reduce the number of print issues and produce more content online.

For those of our readers who were used to the monthly rhythm, however, we kept producing the Digital Monthly. Back copies are accessible in our archive. If you like, you can download all e-papers we produced since 2016 free of charge. The archive is a long-term resource.

At the beginning of every month, we post the Digital Monthly on our homepage. If you want to be made aware of every new issue, please subscribe to our newsletter.

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