The Need for Conservation Efforts on Both the Supply and Demand Side
Identifying and implementing appropriate solutions for water service delivery skills are needed in plant management, financing, equipment procurement, billing, as well as in water conservation and communication between all actors. Today, there are a number of programs taking place globally with help from grants, organizations and foundations to provide people with these skills sets to ensure sustainable growth in relation to water.
Workshops led by organizations such as ICMA teach water quality treatment, testing and control, the physical and chemical characteristics of water, how water comes to be contaminated and the consequences of water health issues. Through presentations, demonstrations and equipment handling sessions ideas are exchanged and knowledge and skills are transferred throughout various levels of society.
[aside]SEE ALSO: Growing Blue® Tool: Designed to help us find solutions to our water issues now.[/aside]
In Afghanistan, where only 12 percent of Afghans living in rural areas have access to clean drinking water and population is increasing by 2.2%, self-sustaining water systems are needed to efficiently serve local populations. Like many parts of the world, Afghanistan currently suffers from neglected infrastructures, unreliable and inconvenient water supplies and undetected illegal connections. ICMA along with USAID is trying to address these challenges by ensuring experts are at the local water supply companies, technical assistance, training local staff, and by monitoring targets and incentives.
Initiatives that are working to establish improved water service delivery lead to reduced water loss, improved operating efficiency, costs reflective of service and efficiently serve a greater population. In Afghanistan 4,800 new connections have helped reach 50,000 more people, while unit cost of water production has dropped by up to 55% in some cities and with cost recovery ratios of 89%.
ICMA - Afghanistan Water and Sanitation Project
Global Initiatives Generate Huge Returns and Environmental and Social Benefits
Watersheds supply drinking water, provide recreation and respite, support food, fiber, manufacturing and tourist industries, and sustain life. However, with 80 percent of the world now facing significant threats to water security, investing in natural resources is emerging as the most cost-efficient and effective solution.
A new report from Ecosystem Marketplace presents a snapshot of the scale, size, shape and direction of investments in watershed services worldwide. These services include payments for ecosystem services, payments for watershed services, water quality trading markets, and both reciprocal and in-kind agreements. According to the report, the number of initiatives globally has nearly doubled in just four years with $8.17 billion being spent in 2011 on safeguarding drinking water and regional supplies by protecting watersheds. China leads in watershed investments, accounting for 91 percent of these watershed investments.
[aside]SEE ALSO: Water in 2050: The Future of Water Requires a Sustainable Path [/aside]
Data collected for the report identifies that direct payments to property owners who, in turn, change their land use behavior is the most popular method. These efforts have been credited with successes such as keeping safe drinking water flowing from city taps in New York City throughout the Hurricane Sandy aftermath. New York accomplished this by, more than a decade ago, deciding to compensate farmers upstate who reduced pollution in the lakes and streams. This method not only saved them millions on treatment operations but creating a sustainable cycle of mutually supportive economic and ecological investments. Other examples identified in the report demonstrate how:
In South Africa, a US $109-million investment in rooting out water-hogging invasive plants—a single eucalyptus tree can guzzle 40,000 gallons of water a year—currently employs 30,000 previously unemployed people and has returned an estimated US $50 billion worth of water-related benefits, such as vastly improved stream flow.
In Sweden, a local water authority found it cheaper to pay for a program to establish blue mussel beds in Gullmar Fjord to filter nitrate pollution than build a new treatment facility on shore.
Much research has been done on the importance of applying value to the environment and its benefits and accounting for natural capital as critical assets. The growth in management systems for water seen in the last four years despite the global economic downturn shows the importance of moving away from ‘gray’ solutions towards ‘green’ ones. Only through new funding mechanisms, cost-benefit and scenario analysis will the global population be able to continue its dependence on a limited natural asset as is water.
Charting New Water: State of Watershed Payments 2012Ecosystem MarketplaceForest Trends
Looming sequestration cuts, fiscal cliffs, and agency "food" fights over scarce federal dollars add up to a bleak, future--at least if the same old tactics and solutions are sought in the same old places among the same old players. Read More
An Alliance of Organizations Works to Eliminate Cholera in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Beyond
Cholera is a waterborne, infectious disease whose life cycle characteristics and patterns of human infection have long been known.
Since more than a decade, the disease is re-emerging due to fast urbanization in developing countries and global warming (Reference: Cholera and Climate change : a demonstrated relationship, Constantin de Magny G., Colwell R., 2009).
Traditional efforts to fight against cholera have been based upon short term emergency responses offered through curative medical procedures in Cholera Treatment Centers. In other words, the traditional focus has been on treatment of the disease.
To develop a longer term response, Congolese and French epidemiologists and engineers have approached cholera from a different perspective: they have gradually shifted their methodology from treatment to prevention in the Democratic Republic of Congo – the D.R.C. stands among the countries most affected by cholera on a worldwide scale (Source: World Health Organization). The approach combines epidemiology, water, sanitation, and hygiene, with an emphasis on careful observation. Through epidemiological surveillance, they have been able to emphasize several “cholera hot spots” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in order to target preventive actions such providing safe access to potable water and adequate sanitation and focused health education. This emphasis allows them to begin the removal of water-borne disease vectors; without doing this the cycle of epidemics will continue. Through this method they hope to eliminate the increasing number of cholera outbreaks in a sustainable manner.
There is universal agreement within the relevant scientific and health care community that the most important factors in the sustainable elimination of cholera are direct access to potable water, effective community sanitation procedures, and implementation of personal hygiene practices by “high risk” communities.
To advocate for this sustainable and replicable approach to eliminate cholera, the Global Alliance Against Cholera (GAAC) was established in 2010, comprised of senior representatives of public, private and international organizations (e.g.: Rita Colwell, Maryland University; Eric Mintz, Centers for Disease Control, etc.), and chaired by Ibrahim Mayaki, C.E.O. of NEPAD. All share a background in health, water and sanitation programs across the globe. The organization is actively supported by the Veolia Environnement Foundation, and welcomes other agencies who are interested in providing support focused on improving water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent cholera and other water borne diseases. GAAC’s hope is to mobilize interest and orientate funds towards operational actions run in the field.
As an example, is the recent affiliation of Jean-Michel Herrewyn, Director of Veolia Water and member of the Board of Directors of Veolia Foundation, to the Regional Coalition for Water and Sanitation to eliminate Cholera in the island of Hispaniola. The Coalition is led by the Pan-American Health Organization and the Haitian and Dominican governments. Other partners such as UNICEF, the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Centers for Disease Control, etc. have also joined the initiative to advice and support the governments of Haiti and Dominican Republic in their strategy to eliminate cholera by 2022. The Veolia Environnement Foundation has been named as an official member of the Technical Advisory Group.
An Urgent Need to Shift from the Treatment of Cholera to the Prevention
Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated, and it is re-emerging around the world due to fast urbanization in developing countries and global warming. In 2011 more than half a million cholera cases were reported to WHO yet this only represents a small portion of the estimated 3-5 million cholera cases a year. Of these reported cases there were estimated 100,000-120,000 deaths per year.
The traditional focus has been on treatment of the disease, however, epidemiologists and engineers are trying to develop a longer term response by shifting the methodology from treatment to prevention. The approach combines epidemiology, water, sanitation, and hygiene, with an emphasis on careful observation.
Surveillance is paramount to identifying vulnerable populations living in hotspots and a multidisciplinary approach based on prevention preparedness and response is key to mitigating cholera outbreaks, controlling cholera in endemic areas and reducing death in a sustainable manner. Preventative actions include access to potable water, adequate sanitation and focused health education on personal hygiene practices.
[aside]SEE ALSO: Social Implications of Water: The Benefits to Overcoming Water Challenges[/aside]
The disease is a key indicator of social development and almost every developing country faces cholera outbreaks or the threat of a cholera epidemic. While no study has been undertaken to estimate the economic burden of cholera for use in advocacy in its prevention and control, research conducted by WHO African region representatives estimated the direct and indirect cost of cholera in the region: The 110,837 cases of cholera notified in 2007 resulted in an economic loss of between $43 and $73 million USD, depending on life expectancy. These costs included those born by the government as well as citizens and took into account among other variables, cost of operating health facilities and services, medicine, and time lost.
The Global Alliance Against Cholera is an international advisory group that works to identify “high risk” areas and the means to control the predictable cholera epidemics which are endemic to these locations. Its Strategic Plan has already been incorporated in Congolese national policies as the DRC stands among the countries most affected by cholera on a worldwide scale. Commitment to coordinated involvement by the principal national and international stakeholders in the DRC since the initiation of its Strategic Plan has resulted in a significant amount of financial leverage to continue this critical effort. Cholera is a preventable disease provided that safe water and proper sanitation are made available.
Global Alliance Against CholeraWorld Health Organization - Health Topics: CholeraEconomic Burden of Cholera in the WHO African Region [PDF]
It is an economic certainty that infrastructure investment is indisputably linked to economic growth and long-term job creation. Federal, state and local governments have a responsibility to maintain appropriate levels of productive investment in infrastructure to foster growth, global competitiveness and to provide for the protection and well-being of the public. Read More