In a policy paper published in Science on Thursday, researchers praised China’s January 2011 plan to address water shortages and conservation in the nation, but “the researchers said this commitment won’t be enough unless disparate agencies learn to communicate and coordinate with each other,” Reuters reports. “They described a web of government entities with seemingly contradictory missions, and actions that appear to go against one policy as they promote another,” the news service writes, adding, for example, “The government encourages urbanization, the report said, but protection of water supplies gets less attention compared to energy issues, even though water is absolutely essential to human life.” Reuters continues, “To solve these problems, the authors recommended focusing on increasing water efficiency along with work to understand the complex relationships among agencies and people with competing claims on water” (Zabarenko, 8/9).
Water and Sanitation
“Cuba’s government declared Tuesday that health workers had eradicated a cholera outbreak that infected 417 people and killed three, according to a statement from the country’s Health Ministry,” CNN reports (Oppmann, 8/28). The government said this year’s heavy rains and high temperatures raised the risk of waterborne diarrheal diseases, the Associated Press/Boston.com notes (8/28). The cholera outbreak began in Granma province’s Manzanillo, about 560 miles east of Havana, and the government said other cases “associated” with the outbreak occurred in other areas of the province, the neighboring provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, and in the capital of Havana, according to EFE/Fox News Latino. “Despite the fact that it said the outbreak was ‘concluded,’ the Cuban government is also saying it will maintain its vigilance to avoid ‘the recurrence of new cases,'” the news service writes (8/28).
“The United States announced Thursday it would hike its humanitarian aid to Syria, adding another $12 million to provide food, water, medicine and other necessities for battered and displaced people” affected by violence in the Syrian conflict, the Los Angeles Times blog “World Now” reports. “The increase approved by the Obama administration brings American humanitarian assistance in Syria to more than $76 million, including $27.5 million to the World Food Programme [WFP], roughly $18 million for the United Nations refugee agency and the rest split among other U.N. funds and non-profit groups,” the blog writes (Alpert, 8/2).
A report released Thursday by the U.N. resident coordinator’s office in Pyongyang, North Korea, said the country needs food aid following severe flooding that has killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands of people homeless, the Associated Press reports (Kim/Pennington, 8/2). According to BBC News, “A U.N. spokesman in New York confirmed that the North Korean government has asked the U.N. to release emergency supplies such as food and fuel” (8/2).
Communal Violence In India Forces Up To 400,000 Into Overcrowded Camps Without Sufficient Food, Water, Medicine
“Hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in squalid, overcrowded camps in India’s northeast desperately need food, water and medicines after fleeing some of the worst communal violence in a decade, officials and aid workers said on Monday,” AlertNet reports. Up to 400,000 people have fled to government-run camps in Assam state, the news service notes, adding Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We are in a state of high alert. … People in the camps are suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, malaria and high fever. We are concerned about the condition of the babies and pregnant women.” According to AlertNet, “Sarma said around 8,000 children under two-years-old are sick, while hundreds of others have tested positive for malaria. There are also around 4,000 pregnant women in the camps who need medical support, he added.” The news service notes that at least 12 people have died, including four children (Bhalla, 8/6).
International Community Must Address Challenges To Food, Water Security In A Systematic, Coherent Manner
“New ideas and approaches to the water and food nexus will be addressed at World Water Week,” which will take place in Stockholm, Sweden from 26-31 August, Anders Jagerskog, an associate professor and director of knowledge services at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), writes in this post in the AlertNet Blog. He highlights a report (.pdf) being launched by the institute called “Feeding a Thirsty World: Challenges and Opportunities for a Water and Food Secure Future,” noting it is aimed at “provid[ing] an overview of the areas that relate to food security and water” ahead of the event.
African Development Bank Report Compares, Analyzes African Countries' Performance In Water, Sanitation Sector
“[A]ccording to a new African Development Bank report that compares and analyzes the performance of sub-Saharan African countries in the water and sanitation sector,” “the two major factors why progress on meeting water and sanitation-related development goals across sub-Saharan Africa is largely uneven” are “[d]ifferences in financial and operational capacities among governments,” the Devex “Development Newswire” reports. Specifically, the “factors the report says affect the sub-Saharan African countries’ progress toward the United Nations-set targets on sanitation and access to water” include “[u]nderstaffing and lack of technical qualification in relevant government agencies,” “[l]ack of adequate operation and maintenance programs in donor-financed projects,” and “[i]nadequate national capacities to implement national strategies,” the news service writes.
“Women in developing countries could play a major role in remedying the situation, if given the chance,” Jeanette Brown, a scientist with the University of Connecticut in Storrs, said on Monday at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), an American Chemical Society press release reports. “A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not,” Brown said in a speech on the global crisis in availability of clean water and basic sanitation, the press release states. “However, she said that women often do not have the opportunity to work on such projects because they lack education, or local cultural rules prevent education for women and even prohibit their using local toilet facilities,” the press release adds (8/20).
“Farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly taking up small-scale irrigation schemes as drought threatens the security of food supplies, a report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said,” Reuters reports. “Small-scale irrigation technology, such as motorized pumps and hosing to access groundwater, could cost a sub-Saharan African smallholder $250 or more but could improve crop yields by between 75 and 275 percent, the report said,” Reuters adds. “If there is more investment in small-scale irrigation, it means food supply in those countries is more secure. It won’t replace the need for staple cereal crops, but it gives farmers more insurance against a food crisis,” said Colin Chartres, IWMI director general, according to the news service. “We are going to have to come up with ways of making water go much further if we are going to grow 70 percent more food by 2050 on about 10 percent less water than we use today,” he added, Reuters notes (Chestney, 8/24).
“Sierra Leone’s health ministry said Thursday that deaths from a cholera outbreak had reached 220, affecting over 12,000 people in the west African nation, which is struggling to curb the disease,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Some 12,140 people are affected nationwide in 10 of 12 districts,’ the health ministry’s director of disease prevention and control, Amara Jambai, told journalists, saying the figure included cases recorded up to Wednesday,” the news service writes (8/23). “Early rains together with increasing overcrowding in cities such as the Sierra Leonian capital Freetown have pushed the number of reported cases … well past the previous record of 10,000 in 1994,” Reuters notes.