Saturday, August 18, 2007

Egyptian Villages Fight Water War

Egyptian Villages Fight Water War

Egyptian villages fight water war
by Staff Writers

Cairo (AFP) Aug 16, 2007

The land of the Nile is seeing a rising tide of protests at a shortage of drinking water amid accusations the government would rather irrigate golf courses than slake the thirst of villages.

A wave of demonstrations and ensuing clashes with police in recent weeks has left dozens injured in a country where the Nile River provides 95 percent of fresh water and irrigation uses up 80 percent of that.

The Arab world's most populous nation, with 76 million people, has a water deficit of 20 billion cubic metres (706 billion cubic feet) a year, according to government statistics.

Many inhabitants of the desert nation's villages are forced to resort to buying jerry cans of water from occasional tanker trucks or improvising wells to bring up often unclean water.

"Last week the tap water was yellow and smelled bad," said Nefertiti, 23, who lives in the Nile delta village of Borg el-Borollos, to the north of Cairo, declining to give her last name.

Water-borne illness, diarrhoea and dehydration are common in Egypt and "the thirsty," as the road-blocking protesters have been dubbed by the Egyptian press, say the government is doing nothing to end their plight.

Some accuse the government of prioritising water for the wealthy and for tourist destinations while villagers often have to pay water bills even when their taps are dry.

New, middle-class residential developments outside Cairo and the requisite golf courses and swimming pools further strain resources.

Faced with the mounting popular anger, Habitat Minister Ahmed al-Maghrabi announced the release of one billion Egyptian pounds (130 million euros/117 million dollars) in emergency measures to relieve those most affected.

New water pipes will be laid, around one hundred purification plants built and 500 wells dug in a country where many villages have not had running water for months or even years.

"Medium-term measures seem to be adequate, but they're not going to solve the immediate problems," said Hamdi al-Sayyad, president of the doctors' syndicate.

Egypt's water war, he said, is going to take years to resolve and, by then, new problems will have arisen.

End of excerpt.
This is absolutely insane. 80% wasted in irrigation when there are currently methods available to save water in this process? It is the same story we hear about in countless places around the world. Overpopulation and waste is leading the world to a moral reckoning. And as per this article, political indifference in order to make profits and exclude the poor is also a common tale. This then does not just entail laying new infrastructure, it entails the government of Egypt working with its citizens to provide family planning to stem the tide of new births that is putting pressure on existing resources if there is not a way to use them more conservatively, wisely, and equitably.

Our Earth as she stands now is finding it more and more difficult to sustain us with the finite reources she has in balance to the infinite number of ways we continue to find to despoil her. And what we are seeing now in all areas of the world is a lack of planning and moral will by people to do what is right by her over what is convenient for themselves, and that is a formula for disaster.

I also see this as a class war of sorts. It always is the poor who must suffer from the policies of the rich and where it concerns water it is a human rights abuse in my view. It is then good to see that the Habitat Minister has designated funds to dig wells, lay pipes, and do what is necessary to bring water to the people in need of it. However, this will not be the end as population increases, waste continues, and climate change makes itself evermore prevalent in this area of the world. And in an arid land such as Egypt, such waste is most definitely deadly.

More information on the history of Egypt's water woes:

Taming The Nile's Serpents

The Nile is looked upon as sacred and fearsome to the people in Ethiopia and that is something that has in turn hurt their existence as they only use 2% of the water available to them. This is a fascinating account of a trip down the Blue Nile posted by National Geographic, and to me brings out a point regarding water scarcity in areas where the water is sacred. Would people choose to use the water for their sustinence when faced with a true crisis, or would they choose to die to protect the sacred waters? And if this river is so sacred, why is it being so polluted? Like the Ganges River In India which is also considered sacred by its people, it is however one of the most polluted waterways in the world. This is where ancient traditions clash with modern reality.

The Blue Nile

My other entry on states working to share the Nile from last year:

African States Work To Share Nile

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

World Water Week In Stockholm/12-18th August

World Water Week

From the site:

What’s World Water Week?

World Water Week (held in Stockholm between 12 and 18 August) brings together experts in water and sanitation from across the globe with 40 seminars and nine workshops under the overall theme of ‘Progress and Prospects on water - striving for sustainability in a changing world’. The event will explore the complex relationships between the economy, government, infrastructure and livelihoods. It will also review progress on water and sanitation and look to build partnerships for sustainable development.
Once this event is over I will post comments on the decisions made in Stockholm. Suffice it to say that at this particular conference climate change is going to be paramount among the topics discussed, as it is causing many areas of our world to become more water scarce in tandem with the problems already plaguing them.

This is also why the effects on water resources in light of the more prevalent use of biofuels must also be a great consideration. In areas where the poor are already experiencing water scarcity and famine, cutting down trees and using the land specifically for growing first generation sources for biofuel alone is not feasible. In areas of the world such as Africa and South America, biofuels should not be the first source of fuel unless they can be made from swichgrasses, algae, and other forms of biofuel currently under experimentation. Solar energy is also very viable as well as wind and must be considered in the overall solution planning in regards to maintaining water sustainability.

I am hoping some good initiatives come from this week and that more people are motivated in finding out about this global crisis that affects us all and what they can do to help.

If you look to the side of the blog you will see an icon for Water Partners International. I am a sustaining donor of this organization because they provide potable water to those who would not have it otherwise and they give hope to millions. This World Water Week, please consider a donation to them or another organization you may know of that is working to provide this life saving resource to those in dire need of it. The Earth has water enough to share with all the world if we but learn to use it wisely. Let us now work to see that made a reality.

Water is life.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Montessori Students Work With Amman Imman To Bring Life

Amman Imman

What hope reading this site brings me. To see children in our country caring about those who are less fortunate in other countries and working to give them water brings tears to my eyes. That is why I had to post about it on this blog to introduce anyone who reads this blog to this absolutely wonderful organization.

Please visit the link and read about their tremendous work to bring clean water to the Azawak and their work in Niger and in other parts of the world. This truly is a story to uplift you and give you hope for the future.

My thanks to Debbie for posting here and for informing me of this site. I am most definitely going to be writing more about its work in the future and thank all those involved in bringing water and life to Niger. Now the people must be taught conservation methods (such as slow drip irrigation) that will allow them to keep their water longer, as Niger is one country experiencing deforrestation on a great scale.

Water Is Life/Amman Imman!

African Glaciers Disappearing

Rwenzori-Mt. Stanley

The Rwenzori Mountains which are described as, 'Mountains of the Moon' form a portion of the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the ice cap melt that is rapidly occurring due to global warming is simply part of the rapidly receding ice that is occurring on every continent on our planet now, and at a pace three times faster than the worst scenarios by scientists.

It is said that the Greek geographer Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD, described them as 'Mountains of the Moon' whose snows feed the lakes, sources of the Nile," which supposedly refers to the Rwenzori mountains that feed Lake Albert as it joins the Nile.

And now these 'Mountains of the Moon' are in danger of disappearing in two to three decades or sooner depending on the pace of melting ice. For me there is no more urgent an indication of global warming/climate change than ice cap melt, and it is alarming to me regarding the lack of water resources that will result from these glaciers melting.

But I now feel as though we are still stuck at an impasse as the world continues to melt around us and it is frustrating to say the least. While people in this country still argue over whether humans are even the cause of climate change, water resources for millions of people globally are being threatened, and I am coming to the conclusion that we have passed the tipping point regarding glacial melt in the interim.

It will now have to become incumbant upon us on a global basis to meet to institute measures that seek to conserve water through more effective CO2 mitigation techniques, irrigation methods, conservation, waste management, infrastructure upgrades, and looking to stem the tide of corporate control of resources that keep it from being equitably distributed to indigenous peoples, as well as stemming the penchant for dam building that destroys traditional homelands and wastes water causing floods that ruin agricultural land.

And it is not only the lack of water resources that is a concern in this. Many of these places hold spiritual significance to those who live in these areas and those who do not, and losing them is losing a piece of ourselves. We are sacrificing so much all for the sake of what we call progress. However, progress is not only measured monetarily, and now is the time we must find a balance in assessing value as well to the spiritual, moral, and ethical progress that goes hand in hand with monetary progress.

It saddens me to read articles like this because the world we once knew is becoming something that we could have prevented, and in many ways still can. But how close are we really coming to taking those steps? This isn't just about one political campaign. This is about all of us forming our own campaigns to save ourselves and taking it public. I think the people who are living this up close and personal globally are coming to that conclusion as well.
Uganda: Reduced Ice Cap On Mountain Rwenzori Irks Scientists
New Vision (Kampala)

8 August 2007
Posted to the web 9 August 2007

Gerald Tenywa

THE ice cap on Mountain Rwenzori has reduced from six square kilometres to less than one square kilometre in the last 100 years, according to researchers.

"Glaciers that covered six square kilometres in 1906 have reduced to 0.86 square kilometres," said professor Giorgio Vassena.

Scientists attribute the problem to global warming, adding that research was ongoing to analyse the cause of the drastic recession of the glaciers.

Speaking at a conference at the Italian embassy, Vassena added that the Italian government was working with partners like Makerere University, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and AVSI, an Italian non-governmental organisation, to improve the environment around the mountains.

The decision to conserve the mountain comes after the celebrations to mark 100 years of the first ascent to the Margherita peak on the mountain by the Italian Duke of the Abruzzi.

The festivities were held last year in the Rwenzoris and in Kampala.

The Italians have also installed high altitude meteorological stations. The first was installed at the Bujuku peak, over 4,000 metres on the mountain and the second close to Elena Hut, at the Stanley peak, over 4,600 metres on the mountain.

Vassena pointed out that two more stations would soon be installed to monitor the changes caused by climate change.

"This data is of great importance to understand the impact of global warming on Uganda and the Central Africa range," said Vassena.

Citing the current rains as part of the changes in weather, he called for more research to be conducted to encourage new crops that can benefit from the rains.

Professor Cecilia Pennacini from the University of Turin was concerned that measures to mitigate climate change, such as the protection of Mountain Rwenzori, had denied the locals access to some of the resources.

She, however, said the locals were compensated by the revenue sharing agreement with the wildlife authority and the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services.

The professors said the annual visitors, estimated at 500, should be increased to earn more revenue for better management of the mountain.

Also see:

Snowy Mountaintops in Africa to Disappear

By Bjorn Carey, LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 15 May 2006 03:35 pm ET

The picturesque snowy tops of equatorial mountains in Africa might disappear within two decades as air temperatures rise, scientists announced today.

The Rwenzori Mountains-also known as the "Mountains of the Moon"-straddle the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Uganda. They are renowned for their spectacular, and rare, plant and animal life. The mountains are home to one of the four remaining tropical ice fields outside of the Andes and are a popular tourist attraction.

The glaciers feed lakes that eventually flow into the Nile.

The glaciers were first surveyed a century ago when glacial cover over the entire range was estimated to be 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers). But recent field surveys and satellite mapping, conducted by the University College London, Uganda's Makerere University, and the Ugandan Water Resources Management Department, show that some glaciers are receding tens of yards each year.

Cut in half

The glacier area was cut in half from 1987 to 2003, and with just half a square mile (about one square kilometer) of glacier ice remaining. The researchers expect these glaciers to disappear within the next 20 years.

End of excerpt.

Another World Water Day Gone

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