community, donation, drinking water, natural disaster, ngo, outreach, unicef, united nations

Disaster in Haiti: Loss of Life and Lack of Water

A catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. The 7.0 magnitude quake was centered offshore the populated capital of Port-au-Prince. One of ten deadliest in history, causalities range from 50,000 to 200,000 people. Almost three million of the country’s nine million people are affected, and many are still trapped in the rubble. Aid efforts have been hampered by the scale of impact and current instability of the Haitian government.

Survivors are in desperate need of drinking water. Running water is not available due to damaged pipes. A lack of clean drinking water after this type of disaster can lead to dehydration and widespread waterborne illnesses. The Government of Haiti commandeered two water treatment facilities and is sending water to the capital in trucks. Four US ships are en route with desalination units to produce 25,000 liters of water a day. Another aircraft carrier, stationed off the coast, can produce 35,000 liters of water a day. Two NGOs, Water Missions International and Oxfam, left water-filtration systems in the country. Red Cross is dispensing bottled water, food, and medical supplies. UNICEF is distributing water and sanitation supplies to help protect the health of children.


Above Photo: Survivors collecting water from a broken water main in Haiti. Courtesy United Nations Photo on flickr.

The best way to help victims in Haiti is through monetary donations! To donate for a variety relief efforts, please see these links on Water Wired. To donate for water-related relief efforts, please see the links below:

Water Missions International
Previously established in the country to work on water-supply concerns, they shipped 10 desalination units to the region after the quake. They are collecting money for water-related relief efforts.

Water.org
In September 2009, this organization committed to provide safe drinking water to 50,000 people in Haiti. Now they are helping re-establish local water-focused NGOs. They are collecting donations to restore/expand water services in Haiti.

UNICEF
UNICEF is focused on distributing supplies related to water and sanitation, therapeutic food for infants and small children, medical supplies, and temporary shelter. They just appealed for donations of 120 million USD to help with relief efforts in Haiti.

CARE
This long-standing NGO is distributing emergency water purification tablets to local hospitals. They will distribute water purification tablets, buckets with covers, jerry cans and other water containers, hygiene kits, high-energy biscuits, plastic sheeting and cooking kits to 50,000 to 75,000 people in Haiti.

Oxfam
This well-known organization recognizes that clean drinking water is “the most immediate problem.” They are shipping 10 tons of water, sanitation, health, and shelter equipment to the area and collecting donations for these endeavors.

charity: water
This NGO, based out of New York City, is dedicated to raising money for water-supply projects in developing nations. They are accepting donations for health-related (that is, water, sanitation, etc.) and general efforts for partner NGOs in Haiti.

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community, drinking water, general, india, ngo, sanitation, water availability, water justice

My Soon-to-be Journey to India: An Arghyam Internship

Life has been bustling as I prepare for an internship in India. This year, I was accepted for an internship with Arghyam – an NGO that works on water and sanitation projects across India – in Bangalore. This internship is part of my master’s studies at Oregon State University (my major is Water Resources Policy and Management and my minor is Women Studies). It will last from September 1st until December 31st.

Arghyam Header1

My internship with Arghyam will focus mainly on gender and water issues in South India. Such issues are important to understand to ensure all people have fair access to and participation in the management of water and sanitation resources. Through my adventures, I will continue to post on Water for the Ages (both on my internship and other international water issues). Stay tuned for more information to follow. There will be photos, videos, and more.

If you are interested in an international water internship in India, Arghyam has other internship opportunities available. Be sure and check out their impressive India Water Portal for details on these positions.

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.

agriculture, india

Update: 1,500 Farmers Commit Suicide in India

Recently, I drafted a post on a mass-suicide event (because of drought, dropping water levels, related crop failure, and mounting farm debt) in the state of Chhattisgarh based on news reports in the Belfast Telegraph, the Daily Times, and Alternet. Update: this event was not a mass-suicide as defined in these news reports. Rather – and no better – 1,500 farmers committed suicide in 2007 in the state of Chhattisgarh.

Here is a portion of Mallika Chopra’s update:

“According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, 182,936 Indian farmers have committed suicide between 1997 -2007. It estimates 46 Indian farmers kill themselves every day – that is, roughly one suicide every 30 minutes. An estimated 16,625 farmers across India killed themselves in 2007, the last year that was reported. The numbers are horrifying, and they indicate the sense of despair that the poorest people in the world are facing today.”

And here is a post by Vandana Shiva called From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Why Are India Farmers Committing Suicide and How Can We Stop This Tragedy?

lakes, water management

Integrated Lake Conservation in India: Umiam Lake

Dropping water levels in Umiam (Barapani) Lake in the state of Meghalaya in northeast India are causing tension among competing water users. This lake was constructed as a reservoir for a hydroelectric project in the 1960s. It (and associated tributaries) provides water for power generation, agriculture, drinking water, and recreation.

Not only does this lake face dropping water levels – 39 feet over the last three years, to be exact – water pollution is also becoming a serious problem. Untreated sewage flows into the lake from streams and rivers that pass through the capital city of Shillong. Increased sediment enters the lake resulting from urban sprawl in Shillong. Construction of roads and buildings in the city cause soil erosion. And, because of the urban sprawl, poor farmers must change cultivation patterns which is also leading to rapid soil erosion. Lake problems are compounded by the fact that numerous stakeholders are responsible for different areas of management.

So, what is the solution?

One organization called People’s Learning Centre believes that bringing stakeholders together to plan integrated approaches for lake-water management might be the answer. On March 9 and 10, 2009, they hosted a conference (with the support of Arghyam) in Shillong to allow various stakeholders to discuss conservation strategies. Videos and presentations are now available on the India Water Portal.

audio, radio station, unicef, water events

Tap Project Radio: Music for Water, Music for Life

To celebrate today – World Water DayUNICEF has released Tap Project Radio. I was going to wait to tell you this in my formal post regarding World Water Day, but it’s too terrific to wait.

Tune your computer dial to Tap Project Radio to listen to chill music and make a donation Tap Project Radio Linkthat will help the one billion people in the world without access to clean drinking water. This internet radio station will be broadcasting today through World Water Week from March 22-28, 2009.

The Tap Project is a movement sponsored by UNICEF to gather donations and teach others about water and sanitation problems worldwide. The Tap Project raises money during World Water Week by encouraging restaurants to sell tap water for one dollar instead of bottled water and engaging in print and media campaigns. Each dollar raised will provide a child with drinking water for 40 days.

Tap Project Radio will be broadcasting 24-hours a day featuring celebrity DJ’s and interviews. Check out the schedule for more information. So far, I’ve listened to Sublime, The Clash, Dylan, and Death Cab for Cutie. Now, I’m totally in the mood to write a post for World Water Day.

turkey, water justice, world water council, world water forum

5th World Water Forum and the Alternative Water Forum

Hello, friends. This post has been on my to-do list for about five days now. My apologies in the delay providing this information to you.

If you haven’t heard, the 5th World Water Forum (WWF) is underway. It is hosted every three years on behalf of the World Water Council. This year the forum is being held in Istanbul, Turkey with a theme of “Bridging Divides for Water”. The 5th WWF began on March 16th and will last until March 22nd – which is also World Water Day. The World Water Council feels its accomplishments include “…its contribution to increasing the awareness of global water issues and the political mobilization it has reached through the World Water Forum.”

Opponents of the WWF state that many members of the World Water Council are from multinational companies and, likewise, inclined to support unsustainable water management in the form of water privatization. As I posted previously on my blog, the global water justice movement has organized numerous events this week.

And, this weekend, another event called the Alternative Water Forum will be held. This conference looks especially interesting to me because of the workshops and speakers offered each day. Some of the workshops include Ecologic Water Management, Hegemony, War and Water Politics, Global Climate Change and Water Politics, and Water as a Common Good and Water Management. For more information, they have a very good brochure detailing the entire weekend of events.

mirandas-ticket-number-4

For a different perspective from inside the 5th World Water Forum, you might also like to check out Dr. Michael Campana’s Water Wired blog.

sustainability, water availability, water conflict

OSU Israel and Palestine Trip Blog

For those of you that didn’t hear about this on Michael Campana’s great Water Wired blog:

The Oregon State University Hydrophiles and GeoClub student groups are traveling to Israel and Palestine for almost two weeks. They’ll learn about water and other regional issues. Follow their adventures on their blog. The trip is led by Professor Aaron Wolf, one of the world’s experts on Middle Eastern water issues, water conflict management, and transboundary water issues (see my recent post on his work).

Thanks for the blurb, Michael. And, have fun OSUers. You can be sure I will be following their neat blog to learn more about water issues in the Middle East.

drinking water, drought, groundwater, international, outreach, water availability, water conflict, water events

Water Justice Movement Gearing up for the 5th World Water Forum

The water justice movement is gearing up for the 5th World Water Forum to be held during World Water Week from March 16th – 22nd in Istanbul, Turkey. They will host a Counter Forum during the event to educate people about the water justice movement, the problems with privatization of water supplies, and the importance of water as a human right.

peopleswaterforum

The Counter Forum will host the following events (from the Wash News International blog):

10-13 March: Water Tribunal – Four cases to be heard in a similar format to the Latin American Water Tribunal conducted during the 4th World Water Forum.
14-22 March: Global Week of Actions for Water Justice.
14 March: Demonstration in central Istanbul.
15 March: Demonstration in Kadikoy Square.
16 March: Official opening of the World Water Forum -activists organizing press conferences and protests against WWF.
17-18 March: Platform workshop event at TMMOB Taksim Square office.
17 March: Evening, Public Water Event organized by international activists – featuring UN representation and others – (unconfirmed).
19-20 March: Platform plenary events at MKM Congress Center.
19 March: Demonstration planned.
20-22 March: Campaign’s Alternative Water Forum – Bilgi University.
22 March: Closing of official WWF and World Water Day.
23 March: Solidarity delegation to Diyarbakir region of Turkey.

Please visit the Peoples Water Forum website for a list of updated events. Here is an excerpt from the Call to Action:

This 5th World Water Forum, as with the previous 4 World Water Forums, is being organized by the World Water Council, a body created and controlled by the global private water industry and which continues to promote water privatization, destructive dams, commodification and commercialization, projects and policies proven to harm people and communities; local food systems, livelihoods and indigenous resource base.

For more information on the water justice movement, check out this website created after the 4th World Water Forum in Mumbai or this webpage created by the Transnational Institute with a list of links and documents pertaining to water justice.

drinking water, drought, economy, outreach, photos

Greenwashing and Water Advertisements

Have you ever seen an advertisement for a product claiming to be sustainable?  Has an advertisement like the one below (by Nestle) ever convinced you that a product is good for the environment?

725_eco_bottle_callouts_im
Above Photo: EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

As I heard today on Think Out Loud, an advertising organization called EnviroMedia Social Marketing and the University of Oregon have created a website called EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index to provide a forum for people – you the consumer –  to compile and discuss these types of advertisements.

It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.

– EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

A simple search for the keyword water shows several ads that dupe the consumer into thinking a product is sustainable. For example, look at the ad below for cotton – the catch line is “Cotton: the environmentally friendly fiber.” Yet cotton is a water intensive crop often grown in water scarce locations. So do you think cotton is environmentally sustainable?

955_cotton-sustainability-ad
Above Photo: EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

Register on the website to comment on this ad or upload more ads that you think have been “greenwashed”.

drinking water, international, outreach, sustainability

13-Gallon Challenge – WRAP UP

Well, I made it. Yesterday was the last day of my 13-Gallon Challenge. All told, this was a completely worthwhile project. I had two goals at the beginning of the challenge: 1) to better understand my daily water use habits, and 2) to understand how it feels to live on a human right allocation of 50 liters (13 gallons app.) of water each day. For the most part, I achieved these goals.

Over the week, I became intimately familiar with my daily water-use habits. Whenever I could, I tried to reduce or limit my water use. Even this morning (after the challenge), I couldn’t help but use the stop-watch again for my shower. See, habits really do die hard. Yet, living with indoor plumbing in an 1100 square-foot house, it would be difficult for me to ever approximate the life of someone in a developing country through this 13-Gallon Challenge. The water challenges that many people throughout the world face are much greater – think carrying water for eight-hours each day or human feces littered on the ground. But, at least I started educate myself and others about the water-access challenges that many endure.

Okay, I must admit I am a little happy to be done. Mostly, because I want to wash a load of laundry. Also, because it was difficult to calculate my water use every day for a week. First, I had to remember to write down my water use immediately after each usage. Then, I had to estimate each usage. Luckily, I settled on over-estimating each usage (rounding up) which made my calculations a bit easier in the long run. So, if I drank three cups of drinking water throughout the day, I would just write .25 gallons of drinking water. Remember, there are 16 cups in a gallon.

Here are my water use totals from yesterday.

day-7-pdf-pages

Every day of my weekly water use totals will soon be posted on the 13-Gallon Challenge Page at the top of my blog. And it will also be a place for you to take a one-day version of the 13-Gallon Challenge. Check back soon.

 

 

drinking water, film, water availability

One Water.org

I’m not sure if you noticed, but water journalism is becoming the next big thing. And, you know, this is really great because it will encourage more people to pay attention to world water supplies, conserve water, work on water availability technology, and, generally, just become more aware about global water issues.

The University of Miami – School of Communication is interested in global water, too. They recently collaborated on a project called One Water. This website features a movie about global water supplies called One Water, youth curriculum about global water issues called KNOWATER, and a weppage for water journalism called 1H20.org.

logo

drinking water, groundwater, international, iraq, middle east, water availability, water conflict, water treatment

Iraq: Water and Politics in a War-Torn Country

Less than half of Iraq’s population of 29 million people have access to clean, drinkable water. According to a recent report by Oxfam, the number of civilians in Iraq without water has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent during 2003 to 2007 (the continued US occupation).


Above Photo: Child cries as a woman fills pans of water from a public water hose on open ground in Najaf, Iraq, in 2006. Alla al-Marjani/Associated Press.

Recent History of Water in Iraq

Iraq had over 140 drinking water and treatment facilities in operation in the recent past. Air attacks in the 1991 Persian Gulf War destroyed many of these plants. At the same time, UN imposed sanctions that disallowed trade between Iraq and other countries. This made import of needed chemicals and supplies for upkeep of the water facilities difficult. By 2003, Iraq’s 140 major water treatment facilities were operating at 35 percent of their design capacity. In March 2003, the US government launched a direct-attack on Iraq. The following continued war rendered useless already deteriorating water infrastructure systems across the country. Years of political upheaval, sanctions against Iraq, consistent mortar attacks, and unstable-transitional governing bodies have made maintenance of the water treatment systems almost impossible. Unsafe water is also taking its toll. Iraq saw the worst outbreak of Cholera in recorded history in 2007.


Above Photo: A man in a village in southern Iraq demonstrates how Bechtel left his village without access to clean water. BanglaPraxis.

While some measures are being taken to ensure water availability in Iraq…

UNICEF provides water on tanker trucks and distributes home-hygiene kits to civilians. UNESCO has assessed water resources available in Iraq and evaluated possible management plans. USAID has refurbished 10 water treatment plants and installed 70 small water treatment systems in rural communities. The transitional Iraqi Government has been developing water policy. The Iraq Water Project (Veterans for Peace in conjunction with LIFE) has sent small, sterilized water units for hospitals and schools and has been working to rebuild six water treatment plants in Iraq.

…these actions are not yet enough.

audio, drinking water, international, outreach, rainwater, research, sanitation, sustainability, water treatment

‘Global Water Challenge’ Competition

Ashoka’s Changemakers and Global Water Challenge have partnered to open a worldwide search for ideas and projects that, when scaled-up, have the potential to transform the provision of sanitation and water.

All entries are due by Wednesday, March 26, 2008 6:00 pm EST (21:00 GMT).

Currently, over 149 entries have been received from 45 countries with ideas such as:

  • Affordable household filters that remove arsenic and microbes.
  • Biosand water filters in India.
  • Implementation of water harvesting ponds in Ethiopia.
  • Rooftop water harvesting programs.
  • Solar water-distillation for potable water.

Listen to this excerpt on the ‘Global Water Challenge’ Competition from today’s edition of Marketplace!

drinking water, international, outreach, sanitation, sustainability, united nations

WASH-in-Schools Initiative: Campaign Launch by Water Advocates

Wash-in-Schools” (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) is a campaign to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for schoolchildren throughout the world. This program, first introduced by UNICEF and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council at the 3rd World Water Forum in 2003, has been joined by growing list of non-profit organizations, foundations, corporations, and schools.

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Water Advocates, a non-profit organization in Washington DC, will be launching their Wash-in-Schools Initiative on March 12, 2008. This non-profit has the goal to expand the WASH program to 1,000 schools in developing countries while creating the momentum to help as many additional schools as possible worldwide.

The public is invited to the official Water Advocates WASH-in-Schools Initiative Launch:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The National Geographic Society Grosvenor Auditorium
1600 M Street NW, Washington, DC

The event will feature videos of schoolchildren in the developing world as well as comments from individuals including Dr. Peter Gleick, President and Co-founder Pacific Institute; Gil Garcetti, Photographer of “Water is Key: A Better Future for Africa;” and Alexandra Cousteau, co-founder Earth Echo International.

For more information on how you can be involved, please contact Andra Tamburro at 202-293-4047 or atamburro@wateradvocates.org.

To attend the event, please RSVP to Katie Delisio at WaterAdvocatesRSVP@gmail.com.