Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Accra has seen improvement in access to toilets – AMA


Pan latrines are still in use in some households
Dr. Simpson Anim Boateng, Director, Metro Public Health Department, Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), says access to improved toilets in the Accra Metropolis has seen tremendous improvement over the last three years.

According to him, the progress made in access to toilets in Accra, is as a result of a very aggressive exercise embarked upon by the city authority to ensure every household has an approved toilet or latrine.

Dr. S. A. Boateng, who was speaking on the topic “Access to Toilets” during the airing of the 9th edition of the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) WASH Radio programme on Radio XYZ Sunday April 28, described the situation in Accra as guided because three years ago only few people had access to improved toilets when the Metro Public Health Department of the AMA conducted a survey to know the exact number of households in Accra without toilets.

Least Developed Countries call for immediate action on Climate Change


The 49-member group of least developed countries (LDCs) taking part in international negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) which began in Bonn, Germany Monday, April 29, 2012, has called for swift action in dealing with issues raised.

During preparation of the Bonn talks, the group emphasised: “Start real negotiations now! We must not embark on yet another procedural heavy process. Delay will certainly lead to a 4°C warmer world.”

We must draw lessons from the past negotiations under this Convention, and implement urgent actions to address climate change. We should ensure that the outcomes of Durban are implemented as a matter of urgency. Without substantial progress to close the 8–13 gigatonne mitigation gap before 2020, the LDCs would not be prepared to accept a weak outcome,” the group stressed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

4th Eastern Africa Oil, Gas & Energy Conference slated for June as region reshapes oil landscape


The 4th Eastern Africa Oil, Gas & Energy Conference 2013, is scheduled to take place in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, from June 18 to June 20.

This annual conference takes place at a time when the world and indeed Africa’s oil landscape has been reshaped by the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities in the Eastern Africa region.

Oil discovery in Africa began from its Northern region, then to the West and Central region and has in recent times been joined the Eastern block.

Recent large and world-class gas discoveries in Mozambique and Tanzania, with potential for more to come, and commercial oil flows in Kenya, show the potential of the enormous exploration frontiers of Eastern Africa, both onshore and offshore, which impact is rebalancing the Africa oil-gas industry landscape into a wider continental oil and gas/LNG game, with potentially global consequences.
The conference, which is hosted annually by Global Pacific & Partners, gives new insight in the opportunities, acreage, key players and corporate and government strategies in the Eastern Africa region, will include a pre-Conference 4th Eastern Africa Strategy Briefing by Dr Duncan Clarke, Africa’s foremost strategist in the upstream and will highlight presentations of CEOs, government officials, Ministers and key executives from within leading corporate and state oil companies.

Also to be held on the first day of the main conference on June 18, 2013, will be the 51st PetroAfricanus Dinner, while Dr Duncan Clarke, author of several historiography and economics books about Africa’s oil future, will provide key insights on the corporate upstream oil and gas game, governments and state oil firms and licensing agency strategies during the Strategy Briefing.
Commenting on the oil find in the region, Dr Duncan Clarke, Chairman of Global Pacific & Partners, said “The new discoveries will add substantial net wealth to the Eastern Africa’s littoral states where they are located, and induce higher economic growth rates and regional development.”

With its resurgence, Eastern Africa has been transformed into a fast-emerging oil and gas frontier region, with the on- and offshore potential including exclusive economic zones, deepwater opportunities and ultra-deep plays.

Further, the 15 nation states in the region are diverse in scale, resource potential, contract terms, and venture-types and in regard to exploration cycles and hydrocarbon discoveries.

Since oil was struck, increasing numbers of companies have entered open acreage and bid rounds, and more blocks have been leased than ever before, with more drilling commitments concluded, according to the organisers.

A press release issued by Global Pacific and Partners says that foreign state-owned companies like the China national Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) have invested in Eastern Africa ,while Super-Majors (Total, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell and BP) have shown renewed interest, and independents from around the world now abound.

During the 4th Eastern Africa Conference key speakers will reveal the exploration potential, future opportunities and growth in countries like Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, DRC, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Madagascar, Burundi, Rwanda, and regional oil giant Uganda.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Climate change conference opens in Bangladesh


Climate change experts today began a four-day conference in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, also known as the “adaptation capital of the world” because it is seen as the country that has done most to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The 7th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change is being managed by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).  

Although Bangladesh may be among the countries most vulnerable to climate change it is also the country that has put in so much effort to adapt to the impacts ahead, according to the organisers of the international conference that takes place there this week.

According to a press release issued by the IIED, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, was expected to open the conference, while former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, is billed to give the keynote speech in the closing session.

Speaking to Bangladesh’s status as a country most affected by climate change, Dr. Saleemul Huq, senior fellow at IIED, said: “The story of Bangladesh being vulnerable to climate change is yesterday's story. Today's story is about Bangladesh being one of the most adaptive countries. I would call it the adaptation capital of the world. Other so-called developing countries too have lessons that even the world’s richest countries can learn about how to adapt to climate change.”

Commenting on how countries are adapting to climate change, Dr. Atiq Rahman, executive director of BCAS opined: “Adaptation at the community level is particularly significant. This is because it puts communities in control. They decide. They act. Around the world, poor communities are getting organised and taking control of their responses to climate change. The story today is of poorer countries and communities that are leaders, not victims. The rich have much to learn from them.”

Bangladesh has emerged as a global leader in adaptation to climate change, in part through strong collaborations between government and civil society. Unlike in other countries, in Bangladesh all relevant stakeholders, from the government to NGOs, are not only well aware of climate change but are actively involved in tackling the problem.

Meanwhile organisers say conference delegates and online participants who will follow the conference over the internet  will learn about ways that people around the world are adapting to climate change in both rural and urban settings, and how governments can embed adaptation in all policy arenas.

Flaws identified in Indian, Chinese, Kenyan policy narratives on climate change


Partners in an international study, have identified flaws in policy narratives on climate change in the Indian, Chinese, Kenyan and global contexts, which they say limit resilience in the world’s dry regions.

According to a report released Friday, April 19, to confirm that assertion, partial narratives that underpin policy-making, prevent people in arid regions from fulfilling their potential to provide food and sustain resilient livelihoods in a changing climate.

To buttress their point, the partners also released a series of policy briefs as drylands experts from around the world met in Bonn, Germany for the second scientific conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the eleventh session of the Committee for the Review of the 

Implementation of the Convention from April 9 to April 19 2013.
The new research, coordinated by the International Institute for Environment and Development with funding from the Ford Foundation, will be presented at the 7th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Monday April 22 to April 25 2013l.

Commenting on some of the flaws identified, Ced Hesse of the International Institute for Environment and Development said: “Policymakers often dismiss the world’s drylands as fragile ecosystems where highly variable, unpredictable and scattered rainfall is seen as fundamental constraint to food production that compels local people to over-farm or over-graze their land, thereby exacerbating scarcity and degradation, further reducing productivity and inducing desertification, conflict and migration.”

“But this ignores both the dynamics of dryland ecosystems and how dryland communities have long learnt how to live with and harness this variability to support sustainable and productive economies, societies and ecosystems,” he added.

For his part, Saverio Krätli, author of one of the new briefing papers said: "Narratives that underpin global policymaking on agricultural development are necessary simplifications.” 

"However, such simplifications currently hide a fundamental alternative in the way of using unpredictably variable environments for food production: one in which people operate with variability rather than against it, adapt and turn variability into a valuable resource rather than resist and suffer it as a costly disturbance. We are learning this from pastoral systems developed to operate in highly variable environments. In times of globalised weather volatility this is no lesson to be missed," he added.

In addition to the paper by Krätli, researchers in India, China and Kenya have published country-specific papers on “Rainfed agriculture: for an inclusive, sustainable and food secure India”, “Pastoralism: the custodian of China’s grasslands” and “Moving beyond the rhetoric: the challenge of reform in Kenya’s drylands.”

Commenting on India’s policy flaws, Srijit Mishra of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research said: "In India, the public policy response to address food and nutrition security has been to do more of the same. That is, to transfer to rainfed areas the input-intensive technological approaches of the Green Revolution. But these areas are home to diverse, highly integrated production systems that are better adaptable to climatic variability.”

To him, “A ‘one-size fits all’ policy response will not be viable,” adding, “Instead, we urgently need an alternative macro policy that focuses on location-specific, decentralised, integrated, and knowledge-centric approach that pro-actively exploits diversity and variability to sustain and enhance production."

Speaking about the situation in China, Wenjun Li, a professor at Peking University said: "People have developed systems of pastoralism with highly mobile livestock as a strategy to cope with variable environmental resources and climatic conditions. However, policymakers have misunderstood this. As more stakeholders begin to recognise that climate change is an important issue, we have an opportunity to reframe mainstream policy narratives that influence pastoral development policies in arid regions."

The fifth paper examines the way that media coverage of pastoralism contributes to false policy narratives. It is supported by a more detailed study – also published Friday - on the content of media articles in China, India and Kenya.

Friday, April 12, 2013

West Africa water and sanitation journalists network elects new executives


The new executives
The West Africa water, sanitation and hygiene journalists network, WASH-JN, has elected into office, a five-member executive committee, to oversee activities of the network for the next two years.

They are Alain Tossounon (Benin) – Coordinator, Edmund Smith-Asante (Ghana) – General Secretary, Aminata Sangaré (Guinea) – Treasurer, Ousman Dambadji (Niger) – Focal Person for Partnerships and Fundraising and Paule Kadja Traoré (Senegal) – Focal Person for Information and Communication.

At the end of a three-day Annual General Meeting of the network held in Dakar, Senegal from April 8, to April 10, 2013, the 26 delegates from 13 countries elected the new officers in a very keenly contested exercise.

However, officers for the General Secretary, Treasurer and Focal Person for Information and Communication positions were elected unopposed.

Two delegates – Beattee Forkpabio from Liberia and Ousman Dambadji, Niger, on the other hand, slugged it out for the Partnerships and Fundraising slot, with Ousman emerging winner after ballots were cast and counted.

Ousman garnered 19 votes, Beattee 6, while one ballot was declared spoilt.
The real drama began when it was time to vote for the Regional Coordinator position, with five delegates declaring their intention to contest. These were Koffi Agbenyo Ankou – Guinea, Alain Tossounon - Benin, Koami Francois Amegnignon – Togo, Mideh Kanzeheli Rosine – Cote d’Ivoire and Eddy Patrick Donkeng Dongmo – Cameroon.

Before voting got underway however, three of the candidates withdrew from the contest, leaving Eddy Patrick Donkeng Dongmo – Cameroon and Alain Tossounon – Benin to contest for the slot.

After a closely fought contest, Alain emerged victorious with 13 votes, while Eddy had 10 votes. Two ballots were declared spoilt, while there was one abstention.

The former six-man executive comprised Racine Kane – Senegal, as Coordinator, Babatope Ebenezer Babalobi – Nigeria, General Secretary, Makeba Tchibozo Komlan – Benin, Treasurer, Emelia Ennin Abbey – Ghana, Focal Person for Water, Koami Francois Amegnignon – Togo, Focal Person for Sanitation and Daouda Traore – Niger, Focal Person for Partnerships and Fundraising.

WASH-JN was for formed in 2010 after an inception meeting in Bamako, Mali. The first Annual General Meeting of the network was held in Accra, Ghana, in 2011, at which Ghana was made the headquarters.

The second AGM was held in Monrovia, Liberia in 2012, while Dakar, Senegal hosted the third. The network currently has 13 national water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) networks as members from Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Benin, Liberia, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone with Cameroon as an adopted network.

Countries in the sub region which are yet to join the network are Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia and Mauritania.

Currently, the main partners of the network who also facilitated its formation are WaterAid WestAfrica (WAWA) which currently has its office in Dakar, Senegal and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) headquartered in Switzerland.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Senegal spends US$11bn on resettlement of Dakar’s displaced

A pump machine at a water retention pond in the Djeddah community
The government of Senegal has committed US$11 billion to resettle 80,000 residents in its capital Dakar, who have been displaced by the country’s annual floods.
Last year alone, 11 deaths were recorded as a result of the collapsing of some houses during the floods, while a host of people were plagued with water borne and skin diseases, as well as malaria.
Apart from resettling communities, the amount has been mainly used for pump machines, big tubes and the creation of dams to store the flood waters and drain into the sea through the use of fire tenders of the country’s Fire Service, under the rainwater management and adaptation to climate change project.
These came to light, when about 28 journalists from 13 countries in the West Africa sub-region belonging to the regional network of water and sanitation journalists – WASH-JN, on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, undertook a trip to the Djeddah Tharoye Kao municipality in Dakar which has a population of 157,000.
Addressing the journalists in his office, the Municipal Chief Executive, Aliou Diouck, said Senegal has been inundated by floods since 1989 after a 20-year-long period of drought and already, 350,000 Dakar residents have been impacted by the floods.
He further intimated that as a result of the floods, communities have been displaced, while the water table of the municipality, which is made up of 66 districts, out of which only six are planned, is polluted.
This pollution of the water table was corroborated by Penda Sarr, an official at the municipality’s office, who led the journalists to a slum in the Pekine area, Djeddah, which has been overtaken by the floods.
She indicated that as a result of the pollution of the water table, which increases by one metre every year, a borehole that provided water for the slum had to be closed, since the water was not fit for human consumption.
But according to 17-year-old Comba Sarr who has lived in the community for 10 years, the lack of water is not their only worry.
“We buy garbage to the tune of CFA 20,000 when the floods come so we can stop the flood waters from reaching our residence. We have a very difficult situation when it floods from June to August,” she said.
Senya Bou Ngom
Also sharing her experiences of the floods which began in earnest from 2005 with the visiting journalists, 28-year-old Senya Bou Ngom disclosed that malaria is always prevalent during the floods, adding “We have to eat, pray and do everything on the bed when the floods come.”
She affirmed that although they were relocated under temporal shelters of canopies in 2005, they stayed during the floods in 2012.
Senya Bou Ngom, a mother of one, disclosed further that during the floods, water from four standpipes in the community turned reddish, but quickly added that the local government authority gave them some chlorine tablets to purify the water for use, as well as mosquito nets, medicines and receptacles to store water.
Addressing the concerns raised during the tour by the journalists later in his office, the Mayor, Aliou Diouck, said much of the problems had arisen because people have settled illegally in places which have now become slums.
Stating that in the 1960s and 1970s many rural dwellers moved to the capital cities, thus giving rise to slums, he said, “120,000 people migrate to Dakar every year and settle in the Pekine area. In the beginning government tried its best but people built at night. People said they were land owners and gave them so called land titles to build.”
Disclosing that for four to five years the population in the area has increased, he stated: “We are obliged to provide them assistance because they are all citizens. Even though they settled illegally, we are obliged to defend their rights.”
The Mayor, Aliou Diouck
He however stressed that the government cannot provide every support that the affected citizenry will require, because it does not have all the means to do so.
Proffering an answer to the question of why people will not leave the slum though it is a flood prone area, Aliou Diouck said: “It is difficult for people to leave the flooded areas because they are attached to the areas and will not like to leave friends or part of their livelihood.”
Earlier on in a briefing, Ibrahim Sane, a technical officer at the Municipal office told the West African journalists that in order to do effective flood control, the area had been zoned into three areas – A, B and C for a six-month field study.
Explaining that a proper data base is needed to enable effective flood control, he said the study will involve 6,000 houses in 445 settlements and 75,000 people.
Also adding her voice and giving an overview of the Djeddah slum area, Ms. Penda Sarr disclosed that as part of the study, 218 people took part in a workshop, while out of the 29,000 children in the community, only 12,000 are attending school because parents do not have the means to send their wards to school.
Meanwhile during the visit to the Djeddah slum, it was noticed that almost the entire area had recently been inundated by the floods, with garbage strewn all around. This was very evident from a lot of deserted and destroyed houses that still had the flood waters in them.
A house inundated by the floods
Many of the vacated houses had only their top parts or roofing showing, as in an attempt to prevent flooding the residents had filled their perimeter with garbage and sand.
It was also evident as the Mayor disclosed; that some dwellers were determined to continue living in the place despite the floods – some construction was still ongoing despite the wide destruction of property that could be seen all around, and in one instance the builders had raised the foundation so high in an attempt to escape the flood waters when they come again.

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

GJA 2011 Award Winners

GJA 2011 Award Winners
GWJN's 2011 GJA Award-Winning Team

New WASH-JN Executives

New WASH-JN Executives
They are from left - Edmund, Ghana, Aminata: Guinea, Alain: Benin, Paule: Senegal and Ousman: Niger

Celebrating Award

Celebrating Award
The benefits of Award Winning!

Hard Work Pays!

Hard Work Pays!
In a pose with my plaque