africa, community, drinking water, international, outreach, PSA-a-thon Series, sanitation, south africa, video, water availability

The World Cup, Water, and Sanitation – PSA-a-thon Series

Many around the world have just finished watching the USA vs. Algeria game in South Africa. USA won the match (1-0) and will be able to continue to play in the 2010 World Cup. I’m happy with the final score (sorry, Algeria) but not so happy about something else. During the time of each World Cup match, around 140 children in Africa will die from diarrheal illnesses related to dirty water and a lack of toilets.

One organization, Wash-United, hopes people will become more aware of these issues during the 2010 World Cup. They have enlisted football greats like Didier Drogba, Nwankwo Kanu, and Stephen Appiah and created Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to help the spread the world. Enjoy these PSAs as part of the PSA-a-thon Series, and keep watching and rooting for your favorite teams.

Football Greats for Safe Water and Sanitation

Desmond Tutu for Safe Water and Sanitation

Can’t get enough? The other five PSAs in the series cover rainwater harvesting in India, the LA Tap Project, a water-conservation campaign in Denver, the Tap Project 2009, and Charity Water.

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africa, art, music, video

A Perpetuum Jazzile Rainstorm

Hear the sounds of a summer rainstorm – drizzle, then showers come down harder, a torrent complete with thunder and lightning – and as quick as it arrived, the storm dies down. All of these sounds and others a cappella by the vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile from Slovenia as they perform Toto’s Africa. This water-based viral video is lovely. Thanks to EnviroTalk for passing this one along.

africa, community, drinking water, outreach, photos, visions of water, visions of life, water availability

Kakamega Youth Talk About Water Problems in Kenya

Youth are our future and our future depends on water. In the last Visions of Water, Visions of Life interview, students at the Kakamega School for the Deaf talked about water and life in Kenya. They were asked:

What do you believe is the solution to improve the water situation in your village?

They are hearing-impaired, so they drafted their answers on a chalkboard. Below is a glimpse into the daily life of these students. Some rainwater harvesting tanks were recently donated to their school, but after this source is depleted – during they dry season – they rely solely on river water. We thank them much for providing this information to the world.

Sheila Agufa

Sheila

Agesa Silus

Silas

Daniel Milavi

Daniel

Joseph Milongo

Joseph

Are you a student that would like to get involved in water issues? Do you want to contact these students in Kenya? Please visit the ECAG Website. Or – to meet other youth interested in water issues – check out the YouthNoise DROP Campaign Website.

africa, agriculture, community, drinking water, groundwater, ngo, visions of water, visions of life, water availability, water management

Visions of Water, Visions of Life: ECAG in Kenya

This is the second interview for the series Visions of Water, Visions of Life. Today’s interview is with Gibson Munanga. He is the director of an organization called Environmental Community Assistance Group (ECAG) working on water and land issues in rural Kenya. And, let me tell you, Gibson is one busy director. He works as a teacher at a school for the deaf. Somehow he still manages to find time to dream-up ideas, organize work parties, and implement a variety of projects to ensure water and land sustainability in his village.

Gibson and Kids
Above Photo: Gibson and students at Kakamega School for the Deaf.

Your organization originally started growing tree seedlings and working on land restoration projects. Can you please tell us why you decided to direct your focus towards water issues?

Our organization began and is still growing tree seedlings and working on land restoration projects. In the course of undertaking these, we encountered enormous challenges to finding water for irrigating the tree seedlings in preparation for planting during the rainy season. Water problems are a chronic issue here in the dry and rainy seasons. We have not shifted our focus, but we had to approach them [water and land restoration issues] at the same time because they go hand-in-hand. We left water problems to be addressed by ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE GROUP. The tree nursery and land restoration projects are handled by our co-organization called WESTERN TREE NURSERY, SEED COLLECTION, STORAGE AND VENDING GROUP.

What is the water situation in your village? What is the water situation in Kenya?

The water situation in our village is bad. People have to walk long distances in search of water. This mainly affects women and children (especially their standard of education and quality of life). The overall water situation in Kenya is worse. In Turkana, Pokot, Ukambani and other northeastern parts of Kenya near the border with Somalia, the search for water may take a whole day. It takes over a year for these places to receive rains, which may last only a week or luckily a month. This type of rainfall pattern can not support crop growth or open-water systems. It is rocky and expensive to drill for water in these areas. The water is very deep.

What do you believe is the solution to improve the water situation in your village?

The solution to improve the water situation in our village is to strategically situate boreholes in central places where water can be used easily by families. In addition, many trees were destroyed in most water catchments over twenty years ago. Water-catchment friendly trees should be planted in those areas because many small streams and rivers have dried up. The range of climate and rainfall in our village allows for rainwater harvesting. Provision of water-harvesting tanks would help to solve water problems here. Provision of water lorry tankers [see picture below] would help provide water to people during extreme water shortage events for a small fee.

Lorry Tanker
Above Photo: This is the type of water tanker that ECAG would like for their community.

Do you talk about water issues with your students at the school for the deaf? What do the children believe is the solution to improve the water situation in your village?

[The students are deaf so they wrote their answers on a chalkboard. Mr. Munanga took pictures of their answers with a camera. Please see the forthcoming post called Kakamega Youth Talk About Water Problems in Kenya.]

Has ECAG completed any significant water projects?

Six years ago ECAG constructed a very successful water project [well] at Alfred Amulyoto’s home (in Kambiri in the Kakamega District) to serve neighboring communities. Community members agreed to maintain the well pump through small donations. We constructed another successful water project [well] at Emily’s home (in Sichirayi) with the help from neighboring homes. Another water project [well] was constructed at Mr. Peter Matwanga’s home (in Khayega Village) which services a big homestead and 15 nearby homes.

What are a few other non-water projects that ECAG has completed?

We are producing tree-seedlings for planting in water-catchment areas. We are propagating medicinal trees for blood purification, stomach problems, malaria treatment, and other ailments. We are propagating fruit trees to alleviate hunger and provide vitamins, and we are propagating trees for firewood. In a nut-shell, trees are very much related to water, environmental issues and rainfall-storage quantity.

What is your advice for future generations on water?

My advice for future generations on water issues would be to conserve water and use it wisely, protect all water sources, and plant trees. Every drop of water counts!

For more information about ECAG or if you would like to make a donation, please visit their website here.

africa, drinking water, film, groundwater, outreach, PSA-a-thon Series, water availability, water conflict

Charity Water – PSA-a-thon Series

Here is another Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the series. This PSA was created by the organization Charity Water to raise money for water-supply projects in Africa. Now my professor Aaron Wolf at Oregon State University might be a little dismayed by the references to war and water in this PSA (actually, his research has found that only one war has ever occurred because of water). Nevertheless, it shows how multimedia can be used to support water projects around the globe.

The other four PSAs in the series cover rainwater harvesting in India, the LA Tap Project, a water-conservation campaign in Denver, and the Tap Project 2009.

africa, international, investments, sanitation, water awards

Sanitation Solutions: Three African Entrepreneurs

Most people should know the facts: almost 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to basic sanitation and over 6,000 children die each day from dirty water and poor sanitation. Adequate sanitation, hygiene, and drinking water are essential to keep people healthy. So it’s great to hear via Water Advocates about three innovators taking steps to improve sanitation conditions in Africa.

Toilet Mall
David Kuria, founder of the company Ecotact, builds free-standing bathroom facilities in Kenya. These facilities are compared to malls because they have a place for shoe shines, food vendors, phones, eight toilets, a water kiosk, a baby changing station, and showers.

Iko Toilet in Nairobi. Image Courtesy: Water Advocates
Above Photo: Iko Toilet in Nairobi. Water Advocates.

Cows to Kilowatts
Dr. Joseph Adelegan, of Nigeria, developed a large bio-recator to convert waste from a 1,000-cow slaughterhouse into bio-gas (energy). This bio-gas is sold at reduced prices to the poor and used for cooking or electricity. Plus his business has prevented the slaughterhouse from dumping cow waste into the nearby river that is also used also for cleaning and bathing.

Large-Scale Biogas Facility in Africa. Image Courtesy: Water Advocates.
Above Photo: Large-Scale Bio0gas Facility in Africa. Water Advocates.

The Clean Shop
Trevor Mulaudzi started this business in South Africa after “he found children skipping class and defecating in the open because their school’s toilet was piled with feces.” He and his 300 employees clean up and repair previously unusable toilets. The clean toilets give users a sense of pride about their facilities and encourages them to keep the facilities clean.

A dirty toilet in a South African School. Image Courtesy: Water Advocates.
Above Photo: Dirty Toilet in South African School. Water Advocates.

africa, international, technology

AfriGadget Water Gadget

Have you ever heard of an Elephant Pump? Today, I found out that an Elephant Pump is a low-cost well pump based on a type used in China over 2,000 years ago. It can be made with local materials and is powered through a contraption that looks much like a bicycle.

How did I figure this out? A friend sent me a link to the awesome website AfriGadget. This site is dedicated to showcasing the ingenuity of Africans. Reusing products like old keyboards, plastic bottles, and other assorted items to devise bottle openers, shoe-shine stands, bamboo bikes, and even a biodiesel conversion kit. They bring the word sustainability to a whole new level.

Also, they have a whole section on sanitation and water – how to build “keyhole” gardens, directions for a VIP (Ventilated Pit Latrine), Homemade Water Filters, Kick Start Pumps, and more. AfriGadget really should team up with Akvopedia, another open-source water and sanitation destination.

How to Make a Homemade Water Filter (from AfriGadget)

Over at kikuyumoja’s realm, JKE makes a water filter using little more than a couple of plastic containers, a ceramic element and loads of ingenuity.
wf1
wf2
Above Photo: AfriGadget

africa, drinking water, drought, general, outreach, sustainability

Water Gifts for a Cause

On Halloween, I had a lot of trick-or-treaters visit my home, but one small group of teenage girls was especially memorable. Sure, their Anime costumes were fabulous, but mostly what stood out was their cause. These teens weren’t trick-or-treating for candy, but for donations to support the United Nations Children’s Fund.

This group of young humanitarians reminded me that even the smallest action can make a difference. Especially in a world where so many people lack food, clean water, and shelter. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is an annual campaign to raise funds for projects around the world. UNICEF works on water and sanitation projects in over 90 countries.

It’s not to late for you to give either this holiday season. If you are interested in water issues, be sure and check out Universal GIVING. If you search with the keyword ‘water‘, you will find almost 300 different water projects looking for donations. Organizations represented on this site include Action Against Hunger, Green Empowerment, The Hope Alliance, International Medical Corps, and H20 Africa Foundation, to name a few.

How would you like to give a few of these gifts this holiday season?

Water A Field
Provide a clean water system for a village
Purchase water filtration units for five families
Provide clean water and sanitation for an elementary school

africa, drinking water, economy, international, sustainability, technology, water availability, water conflict

Prepaid Water Meters, Price of Water

As the recent disruption in the worldwide economy suggests, we have a global economic system. This economic system relies heavily on the concept of supply and demand. We allocate a price to anything tradeable in the economy. These tradeable goods run the gamut from clothes, chemicals, televisions, homes, drugs, cars, tools, land, food, and even water. Water is sold in our economy in a variety of ways in the commercial, private, and public sectors. While placing a value on water may encourage conservation of water supplies in some situations, not everyone in the world has the means to pay money for water. Case in point, prepaid water meters.

Prepaid meters are hooked to a water-supply system and require the user pay before retrieving water. US-based NGOs Public Citizen and Food and Water Watch warn of the dangers of prepaid water meters in predominantly poor areas of the world. Prepaid water meters are currently used in Brazil, Curacao, Egypt, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, the Philippines, Uganda, and the United States. The photos below are from Tetsane, Maseru (Lesotho) in South Africa during April 2008.

A recent article in ADBUSTERS detailed the plight of one South African community challenging the legality of prepaid water meters. In 2006, several residents of Phiri, Soweto filed a suit against the City of Johannesburg in South Africa declaring that prepaid water meters were unconstitutional. A landmark ruling earlier this year affirmed the unconstitutionality of prepaid water meters in Phiri. The ruling also declared that the City should provide Phiri residents with 50 liters (roughly 13 gallons) of free water for every person each day instead of the previous allocation of 25 liters for every person each day. This ruling was a success for the citizens of Phiri in South Africa, but there are still many other towns around the world facing similar challenges with prepaid water meters. For more information, please visit the Public Citizen and Food and Water Watch websites.

africa, agriculture, asia, audio, climate change, economy, general, lakes, rainwater, research, south america, sustainability, water availability

Dude, where’s my lake?

An estimated three hundred and four million of them across the globe, and yet researchers are noticing many inland lakes are beginning to dry. In Siberia, Central Asia, East Africa, and North America – the results are the same – lakes simply cannot compete with man-made alterations to the environment. These are not just small lakes, some of the lakes with dropping water levels are gigantic in size.

There are 122 large lakes in the world each over 1000 square kilometers (386 square miles). Lake Victoria, in Africa, is the largest tropical lake in the world at 68,800 square kilometers (26,560 square miles). Mounting water-level decline in this lake is slowly eroding the livelihood of local fisherman and ranchers, agricultural producers, and industrial water users near the lake. A lack of suitable drinking water or dependable power supply is also becoming more common in the region.

Morning Edition on NPR recently aired a segment on Lake Victoria by corespondent Jessica Partnow: ‘Battle for Resources Grows as Lake Victoria Shrinks‘. She has also reported on dropping water levels in Lake Haramaya in Africa for World Vision Report.

Disappearing Lake‘ by Jessica Partnow

Sometimes occasional fluctuations of water levels in lakes are natural, but the current rate that many lakes are beginning to go dry throughout the world is not. Humans alter the natural environment near lakes and water levels decline. We build dams, over-pump rivers, over-use groundwater, put roads and parking lots in natural recharge areas, build industries in locations without enough water, over-irrigate our crops, and, often, we use too much water in our homes. Not to mention the effect of a changing climate on water supply sources.

But, some things that could help ‘decline’ at least some of this water-level decline include: conservation, conservation, conservationgrow crops in regions they are acclimated (low-water crops)alternative water supply sources such as rainwater harvesting systemspursue green “water conservative” development techniquesreduce the pavementrethink industrial productionlow impact livingconservation, conservation, conservation.

A few other lakes around the world with dropping water levels

Aral Sea – Central Asia
Great Lakes – United States
Lake Baikal – Russia
Lake Chad – Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger
Lake Chapala – Mexico

africa, drinking water, drought, film, international, outreach, rivers, sustainability, water availability

Quick Story on Water in Africa

In Africa, there is a young girl named Christina. She lives with her family in a small village in rural Ghana in West Africa. Ghana is close the equator with a tropical climate, but each year over eight months may pass without a drop of rain. During these dry spells, the one small pond in her village will slowly evaporate in the hot sun. Villagers are forced to seek water elsewhere. It is Christina’s job to fetch her family’s daily ration of water. Each day, she will walk up to four hours to gather enough water. Christina is a hardworking girl, but because she walks so far for water means she has no time to attend school. Christina is a real girl, and this is a true story as told in the short film below by Water Aid. Water Aid is an international organization with a vision of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. Intrigued? Read more about water in Africa below.

Africa Water Facts

Desert, rainforest, and savanna – over 900 million people live in Africa. It is the second largest continent in the world. Of all who live in Africa, 340 million people (38%) lack access to clean water and 500 million people (56 %) lack access to sanitation facilities.

If you lived in Africa, you would have to walk an average of six kilometers (3.72 miles) to carry sometimes dirty or murky water home to your family for use. The burden of this chore often falls on the women and children of a household.

The Nile, Niger, Volta, and Zambezi River Basins cross multiple political borders making water policy difficult and even volatile according to research conducted by the UN as featured on the BBC.


Above Photo: Water availability in Africa.UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library