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.

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drinking water, general, international, investments, outreach, photos, sanitation, sustainability, technology, water availability, water treatment

Akvopedia: Open Source for Water Technology

The new website Akvopedia shares knowledge of water and sanitation technology, open source style, to ensure these resources are available to more people worldwide.

Open Source: (in computing) Of, or relating to a product which is licensed to permit modifications and redistribution [for free] of its source code.
Wiktionary

Linux, the One Laptop Per Child (XO laptop) project, the Mozilla web browser, Creative Commons, Peer-to-Peer networks, Open Office, and Wikipedia are multi-faceted examples of open-source technology. The open-source realm relies on a philosophy of sorts – so that freedom and sharing of a specific (or any) knowledge will allow for that specific, underlying body of knowledge to be improved upon in infinite ways.

Wikipedia, one famous example of interactive knowledge sharing, has a striking factual accuracy compared to that of Encyclopedia Britannica. Now the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) strives to create a similar clearinghouse for water and sanitation technology through the recent unveiling of Akvopedia.

Akvo = means water in Esperanto (theoretical universal language developed in the late 1800’s)


Thomas Bjelkeman, founder of Akvo. Photo courtesy Akvo on flickr.

Akvopedia features portals to discuss, share, update, and refine knowledge about:

water
sanitation, pumping and transportation, storage, treatment, and use of water
sanitation
toilets, collection, transportation, treatment, and use of products
organizations
NGOs, governmental organizations, research organizations, funding organizations, and commercial companies
approaches
project management, individual and collective, and supporting approaches

The website has reviews and specifications for building water and sanitation infrastructure from:

And the website provides a virtual setting for NGOs or others with water or sanitation project ideas to find funding. In short, Akvopedia provides access to open-source water and sanitation technology. This website will empower communities and promote localized development of water systems throughout the world by providing the knowledge, funding, and resources necessary.

Thank you Akvopedia!

With your support, Akvo can speed up the pace of water and sanitation development in some of the poorest parts of the world. Small Non-Governmental Organisations can act themselves. They can use new tools, share knowledge, specify projects, find funds and make things happen. They can be heroes. Akvo is creating an open resource, forging relationships with everyone around the world who shares this vision. We’d love to have you involved.

www.akvo.org

climate change, drinking water, drought, economy, general, groundwater, industrial, international, investments

Water and the G8: Hokkaido Toyako Summit

As most have heard by now, the 34th annual G8 Summit is underway in Japan from July 7th to July 9th in Toyako, Hokkaido.



Leaders from eight of the world’s industrialized nations, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States (in addition to the president of the European Union and representatives from fifteen other nations) are busy talking and talking some more about the global economy. Again this year, some of these conversations address environmental concerns which embrace the issue of water.


The agenda for the G8 Summit is prioritized something like this:


  1. Global Economy (Sub-prime Crisis, Rising Inflation, Economic Growth)
  2. Environment and Climate Change (Carbon Reduction, International Cooperation, Global Food Security)
  3. Development in Africa (Development, Water, Health, and Education)
  4. Political Issues (Nonproliferation, Nuclear Safety)

Water is linked to the global economy, a changing climate, food security, and is necessary to consider for future development in Africa, but it is unclear exactly how G8 leaders will tackle the matter of water. Many international organizations have been lobbying delegates of the 2008 Summit to focus on the topic of water. The Asia-Pacific Water Forum encouraged G8 leaders to highlight the importance of water security in the region. Water Aid issued a plea for G8 leaders to provide additional funding for sanitation projects abroad. UNICEF met with G8 leaders earlier in the spring to inform participating nations of the one billion people worldwide without access to clean, drinkable water.





Deliberations on water by G8 nations are nothing new. In 2003, global water was discussed at the Summit in Evian, France. Participants from this Summit produced a G8 Water Action Plan outlining an agreement for better global water management “particularly taking into account the importance of proper water management in Africa…” But indistinct steps have been made towards realization of these goals as evidenced by talks on similar subjects at this year’s Summit and a “reaffirmation” of the G8 Water Action Plan.


So far, the following agreements relating to water (sort of) have been reached at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit:


  • Environment and Climate Change – The world should cut carbon emissions by 50 percent before 2050 with each nation having individual targets.
  • Development and Africa – G8 nations pledge 60 billion dollars over five years to help the continent fight disease. G8 nations reaffirm Millennium Development Goals for water, health, and sanitation in Africa. G8 nations hope to reinvigorate efforts to implement the Evian G8 Water Action Plan from 2003 with a progress report at the 2009 Summit.
  • Global Food Security – Nations in the world with sufficient food storage should release food to the market. Worldwide removal of food export restrictions is necessary.

Repetitions of past/existing goals seem to highlight the 2008 Summit list of accomplishments in the environmental realm. Agreements similar to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol ‘reduction of greenhouse gas’ initiative to a repeat of the 2003 Evian G8 Water Action Plan.


Well, you know what they say, maybe the third time is a charm (or the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh)…

drinking water, economy, international, investments, outreach, water treatment

Quarter of Crude, Please

A friend asked me the other day, “did you know that it takes about quarter of a bottle of oil to produce one bottle of water?” I didn’t, and he was right.

His simple statement, and I found myself pondering this fact. To be honest, just thinking about the concept of a quarter of a bottle of oil in a beverage container disgusted me. And it further solidified my aversion to plastic bottles.

The production of plastic PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles is an oil (natural gas and petroleum) intensive process. The Pacific Institute estimates the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil were required to produce 31.2 billion liters of water in 2006. This figure does not include the immense amount of oil used to transport bottled water around the world. (‘Fiji Water‘, oh my).

“The Pacific Institute estimates that the total amount of energy embedded in our use of bottled water can be as high as the equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil.”

economy, international, investments, water privitization, water trade

Global Water Index: Investments for Privatized Water

You may have heard the phrase S&P 500 floating around, background noise as you listen to the news. But if you are a person with even an inkling of interest in the stock market, you will know the S&P 500 is an index exhibiting stocks of the top 500 publicly owned companies primarily from the US.

The S&P 500 shows the market value of the 500 companies in the index and is a good indicator of how the stock market is doing as a whole. The index will rise if the market value of a company goes up (with an increase in individuals interested in purchasing shares), and the index will decrease if the market value of a company goes down.

Well, what does this have to do with water, you ask.

The S&P 500 actually has little to do with water itself, but Standard and Poor’s (the company that created the S&P 500) recently released an index of the top 50 companies in the global water sector called the S&P Global Water Index. The Global Water Index is similar to the S&P 500 except investors use it to track viability of investments in the international water sector. The Global Water Index is comprised of 25 companies in water utilities or infrastructure and 25 companies in water equipment or materials.


Photo courtesy Pixieslayer on flickr.

Events such as the subprime mortgage crisis in the US and rising oil prices have really challenged the future of investments. Water, necessary to life and in demand everywhere on the planet, is thought the next big thing among some economists.

“One man’s challenge is another man’s opportunity. With water shortages an enormous challenge in both the developed and developing world, companies that transmit, purify, or supply equipment should benefit.”

– Forbes, ‘Ways to Play Water

Should individuals with money benefit on global shortages of drinkable water?

Individuals are already investing in the global water sector, and this will influence sustainable and available water supplies into the future. Such investments could drive-up the cost of implementing water infrastructure or treatment facilities for developing countries with dwindling budgets. In addition, among the ten most profitable companies in the Global Water Index are SUEZ Inc. and Veolia Environnement SA. These privatized water suppliers, as well as others in the index, have poor records of providing affordable and dependable water supplies.

For more information on water privatization, see this post on Waterblogged.info or listen to this CBC radio series (a little past due but still great), Water for Profit.