Managing rain key to eradicating poverty

Without improved management of rainwater, the future development goals currently being discussed are unrealistic, say leading scientists at World Water Week.

World Water WeekScientists and experts joining the 2014 World Water Week in Stockholm are deeply concerned that sustainable management of rainwater in dry and vulnerable regions is missing in the goals and targets proposed by the UN Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on poverty, hunger and freshwater.

Some of the world’s leading water, environment and resilience scientists and experts have published a call to the United Nations (UN), saying that rain, and the way it is managed, is what will determine whether hunger and poverty can be eradicated in the world.

Unpredictable rainfall a problem

More than two billion people live in some of the driest and poorest areas of the world, also home to the fastest growing populations. These regions depend on highly variable, unreliable and unpredictable rainfall.

When it rains, it pours, making agriculture extremely challenging. However, over time these areas do receive enough rain, and with better methods of using the rainwater, food production could be drastically improved.

Add a target on rainwater management

Attempting to eradicate global poverty and hunger without addressing the productivity of rain “is a serious and unacceptable omission.” The SDGs, as currently proposed, “cannot be achieved without a strong focus on sustainable and resilient management of rainfall for resilient food production,” the scientists say.

The signatories call upon the UN to add a target on rainwater management to any Hunger Goal in the Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be agreed on in 2015. 

Signatories
The signatories of the declaration are:

  • Malin Falkenmark, Stockholm International Water Institute, Stockholm Resilience Centre
  • Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre
  • Torgny Holmgren, Stockholm International Water Institute
  • Mohamed Ait Kadi, Global Water Partnership
  • Tony Allan, King’s College, Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2008
  • Naty Barak, Netafim, Stockholm Industry Water Award winner 2013
  • Jeremy Bird, International Water Management Institute
  • Fred Boltz, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute
  • David Grey, University of Oxford
  • Jerson Kelman, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Roberto Lenton, University of Nebraska
  • Julia Marton-Lefévre, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Source: Infrastructure news

Toxic chemicals in Durban beach water

With only weeks to go before thousands of holiday-makers travel to KwaZulu-Natal, experts have warned that the water off many Durban beaches contains toxic chemicals.

Beaches, including Anstey’s and Brighton, are among those affected

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance activist Priya Pillay described Durban’s beaches as unsafe and unfit for holiday-makers.

“The tests carried out by the eThekwini municipality’s water and sanitation department revealed high levels of E.coli and Enterococcus bacteria, which cause cholera and gastro-intestinal illnesses,” she said.

The city tested beaches around Durban in the past year, ending in July, and the results revealed that the quality of the beach water did not meet South African water standards.

Pillay cited heavy pollution from industries in the city, as well as pollution from informal settlements as the cause.

“Beaches, including Anstey’s and Brighton, are among those affected,” she said.

In February, the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus was found at a Durban beach after a local doctor contracted it while surfing.

This bacterium, which might cause blistering and inflammation, had eaten through the tissue on Dr Peter Breedt’s foot, leaving an open wound.

He was among several people who became sick after swimming or surfing off city beaches. Continue reading

Tshwane taps into hydropower

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 02 Dec 2011

The City of Tshwane has made history by being the first municipality in South Africa to use hydropower. This huge project was launched on 29 November 2011. This has realised the objectives of the study that was done by the University of Pretoria through funding from the Water Research Commission, which explored the use of water to generate power that could assist in supplementing the existing supply within a municipality. With this new source of energy, the country could start looking into providing such a service to other areas while reducing the problematic carbon emissions from coal that poses a threat to the environment.

Hydropower is still an untapped resource of energy within the African continent

The ‘Pressure Hydropower System’ has been installed and integrated at the new site, Pierre van Ryneveld reservoir located in the south-eastern part of the City of Tshwane. When operational, the system will generate about 16 Kilowatts of electricity per hour.

The acting Executive Mayor, Councillor Terence Mashego congratulated the team of experts and applauded the excellent work done by the University of Pretoria and its students and the Water Research Commission for funding such an initiative.

“The fact that somebody was employed to take part in the project by working on it or supplying stock for it, the project assisted in putting food on the table for those families’. I also appreciate that the project involved students who should be promoted based on their contribution towards this big initiative’’ says councillor Mashego. Continue reading

Coaxing power from water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 March 2011

Researchers at the The Tata Group have been working with Daniel Nocera, an MIT scientist and founder of SunCatalytix, have found a new way to coax power out of water. If you’re wondering how that was accomplished here are the basics.

Expectations are to be able to power a small home with only a bottle and a half of water.

The research team placed an artificial sheet of artificial cobalt- and phosphate-coated silicon into a jar of water. This produced an effect similar to photosynthesis. The splitting of hydrogen from water was used to generate power from the sun. Interestingly enough, this technique was able to produce more power than the current generation of solar panels.

This technology, which can be used with gray water, could be used to power a mini power plant, that would be about the size of a refrigerator, according to the researchers. Of course, those plans could change, since this research is really only it its early stages. By next year the team expects to be able to power a small home with only roughly a bottle and a half of water.

While specifics of the deal have not been made public at this time, The Tata Group’s mission is to being basic needs and other essential resources to low-income peoples, and the best guess is that this technology will involve that market.

Source: Physorg

Rift Valley fever outbreak imminent

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 05 January 2011

The heavy rains over the past few weeks have been a welcomed development in water-strapped parts of the country, however, the Free State Agriculture Department has warned of an imminent outbreak of Rift Valley fever.

The Aedes mosquito transmits Rift Valley while feeding on farm animals

“The above average rainfall seen in this past week spells an inevitable consequence of yet another Rift Valley Fever outbreak,” said the department on Tuesday.

The heavy showers cause shallow water surfaces and water pans to become flooded. Combined with warm weather conditions, this promotes the breeding of mosquitoes, which transmit the disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, a specific species of mosquito, the Aedes, transmits this viral disease while feeding on farm animals like sheep, goats and cattle.

The disease leads to the death of newborn lambs and calves and abortions in ewes and cows.

Humans become infected by handling tissues or organs of diseased animals.

The department has emphasised the seriousness of infection in people, saying that at times, it can be life threatening. Symptoms include severe muscle and joint pains, high fever, severe headaches and blurred vision.

The outbreak of Rift Valley fever during 2010 resulted in 232 human cases, 26 of which died from the disease.

Vaccination is the only effective method to protect livestock, and farmers are advised to vaccinate their animals once a year. They should also dip them weekly to control mosquitoes and to use insect repellent sprays or pour-ons.

The public is urged not to handle any sick animals or cut up any dead animals or aborted foetuses. Protective clothing and goggles should be used when touching sick or dead animals.

Source: Bua News