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Posts Tagged ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’

Africa’s once in a generation opportunity

Posted by African Press International on December 17, 2013


Op-ed by WaterAid: Africa’s once in a generation opportunity

UN figures show some 70% of sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to adequate sanitation

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Op-ed by Lindlyn Moma, Regional Advocacy Manager for WaterAid in Southern Africa (http://www.wateraid.org)

Africa’s leaders have in their hands a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the international development agenda, not just for their continent but for the whole globe.

Lindlyn Moma is Regional Advocacy Manager for WaterAid in Southern Africa

Lindlyn Moma is Regional Advocacy Manager for WaterAid in Southern Africa

The continent’s leaders are in the midst of negotiating the Africa Common Position (ACP) on what the UN framework for development will look like after 2015. The outcome will be hugely influential.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has pointed out that we are the first generation that has the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty. We must ensure that no one is left behind.

As we debate how to achieve this, we must not forget about the work yet to be completed on the UN Millennium Development Goals. These eight ambitious goals, set in 2000 to address hunger, extreme poverty and other issues crippling the developing world, run out in 2015.

Sanitation is the most off track of all of these goals. UN figures show some 70% of sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to adequate sanitation, while over a quarter — nearly 230 million people — practise open defecation.

This has devastating consequences for the continent. Over a thousand African children under the age of five die every day because of this lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation.

Last month, Secretary-General Ban called upon the world to “urgently step up” its efforts and put sanitation at the heart of post-2015 development.

Failing to do so will carry measurable financial costs.

UN estimates suggest about 5% of the continent’s wealth is being lost from this lack of access to water and sanitation. If everyone had access to these services, it would add $33 billion US a year to the continent’s economies, according to a conservative 2012 estimate by economists at the World Health Organisation.

Ghana alone, for instance, according to a World Bank assessment, loses $290 million US each year to a lack of sanitation services. Kenya loses $324 million, Nigeria a staggering $3 billion.

Making access to sanitation and safe water a top priority in the African Common Position presents an opportunity for Africa’s children, and for economic growth. This is also in line with the Africa Water Vision 2025.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, along with the UN-established High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, has already called for a new UN development goal of universal access to water and sanitation. In following that lead, African leaders can be seen to be listening to the voices of its citizens, including women and girls, who are calling for the prioritisation of water and sanitation post-2015.

As we now mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, the ultimate symbol of justice for the African people, we also remember his calls for an African Renaissance.

Safe water and better sanitation can help address so many of the challenges Africa faces today, from reducing the HIV transmission rate to improving child health and school attendance. As Mandela himself said: “Water is central in the social, economic and political affairs of the African continent.”

By prioritising safe water and sanitation, Africa’s leaders can also ensure the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals is dealt with strategically. Africa’s leaders can set the continent onto a trajectory so that by 2030, everyone has access to this basic right to sanitation.

If we miss this opportunity, we risk leaving hundreds of millions of people on the continent behind, stranding them far from that promise of an African Renaissance.

 

SOURCE

WaterAid

 

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Securing over €7million in new export sales to Sub-Saharan Africa a major boost for Irish companies

Posted by African Press International on November 17, 2013

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Minister Costello welcomes the success of Irish companies on Enterprise Ireland trade mission to South Africa and Nigeria

Irish companies participating in this week’s Enterprise Ireland trade mission to South Africa and Nigeria, led by Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., have secured new contracts totalling over €7m and agreed significant business alliances across the financial services, telecommunications and education sectors. These announcements underline the growing opportunities for Irish companies in the developing sub-Saharan Africa region.

The five-day trade mission, which involved 37 Irish companies, was organised by Enterprise Ireland in close cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Embassies of Ireland in Pretoria and Abuja, and focused on Financial Services in Johannesburg, Telecommunications in Cape Town and Financial Services and Education in Lagos.

Minister Costello described the trade mission as very important in terms of deepening Ireland’s trade and economic ties in the region, as well as supporting the aims of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Africa Strategy. Speaking from Lagos Minister Costello said:

“This was a highly successful mission both in terms of business secured and introductions and connections made. It is truly encouraging to see Irish companies continuing to win new business in South Africa, and deeply satisfying to watch Enterprise Ireland working with innovative Irish companies to help them break into developing markets like Nigeria.

“Enterprise Ireland’s new office in Johannesburg will act as a hub for supporting Irish companies in growing their trade relationships and export sales, not just in South Africa but also in other key economic growth areas in the wider Sub-Saharan Africa market of over 900 million people. This is the first time Enterprise Ireland has organised a trade mission to Nigeria which is the most populous country in Africa. Based on the initial success of Irish companies in this enormous market I have no doubt that a second trade mission to the region will quickly follow.

“My Department, the Embassy network and the State Agencies are working closely together to ensure that Irish exports to these increasingly important markets continue to grow – sustaining and creating jobs in Ireland”.

The Minister’s intensive five-day schedule included seven major networking events with South African, Nigerian and Irish businesses and other key contacts, as well as 12 individual company meetings with Irish companies and their sub-Saharan Africa partners and customers. Minister Costello also took part in high-level meetings with major international companies and participated in numerous media interviews. All activities were aimed at promoting the capabilities and strengths of Irish companies in key sectors and highlighting the opportunities for bilateral trade between Ireland and Southern Africa.

In South Africa Minister Costello opened Enterprise Ireland and ESB International’s new offices which are co-located in Johannesburg, and visited the Ireland Pavilion at the Africa Com expo where six Irish companies were participating for the second consecutive year.

While in Nigeria the Minister opened Wexford company Chevron Training and Recruitment’s new training centre, and Kerry Group’s new Nigerian office, and launched Enterprise Ireland’s “Access Nigeria” Guide.

Among the contracts and alliances agreed during the trade mission were:

Digisoft.tv (Cork) signed a development and agency agreement with Discover Digital (South Africa). The Discover Digital and Digisoft.tv program promotes OTT (Over The Top) Video supporting the distribution of TVOD educational and entertainment content in hard to reach and less connected environments. Digisoft.tv will manage this development effort from their headquarters in Cork.

Sentinel Fuel Products (Mayo) signed an initial contract worth €500k with South African company Lebone Engineering (Pty) Ltd. Lebone will distribute Sentinel’s Oilguard 9000 product range and provide front-line support across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Sentinel Fuel Products is a start-up business targeting global markets for the manufacture and supply of fuel anti-theft devices and fuel management systems.

SourceDogg (Galway) signed a partnership agreement with Resolve Solution Partners (South Africa) to deliver their cutting-edge e-procurement solution to the South African market. Resolve Solution Partners, a subsidiary of the Imperial Logistics Group, has identified a strong need for effective e-procurement among public and private organisations in South Africa where uncompetitive procurement practices and non-compliance are longstanding problems.

Nasctech (Dublin), the leading provider of Field Operation Support Systems for Communication Service Providers (CSPs) announced that its STREAMLINE™ solution has been deployed by Vodacom in the Democratic Republic of Congo. STREAMLINE™ is a unique solution that enables CSPs to reduce their network field OPEX spend while increasing visibility and control over their field operations, including fuel management.

Chevron Training and Recruitment (Wexford), specialists in the provision of construction skills training to international learners, officially opened their new Training Centre in Lagos. In February 2013 Chevron Training & Recruitment partnered with Nigerian company ETIWA Vocational Training to provide construction workers in Nigeria with international best-practise training. The partnership will see Chevron Training and Recruitment train 1000 constructions workers in Nigeria in a deal worth €3m over three years.

Hybrid Energy Solutions Ltd. (HES) announced details of a deal with Airtel Nigeria – the world’s 3rd largest mobile phone provider – to improve its network availability and massively reduce operating costs. HES and Airtel, along with HES’ local partner on the ground – ‘Eureka Power’ will invest up to $50m to upgrade and optimize the power supply to Airtel’s Nigerian network over the next 24 months.

Dublin International Foundation College (DIFC) and Professional Global Training Institute (PGTI) (or Greenville Schools) signed an agreement to run education programmes in Nigeria and Ireland for Nigerian students who want to progress to Irish and other EU universities to study Medicine, Business and Engineering. The first programme will concentrate on Medicine and will start in Lagos in January 2014 with an initial intake of 50–100 students. These students will transfer to DIFC Dublin in September 2014 to complete their Foundation Course and then progress on to medical-related courses in Ireland, the UK and Central European universities.

Waterford Institute of Technology announced a MOU with Yaba-Tech University in Lagos.

Brendan Flood, Divisional Manager with Enterprise Ireland, who is accompanying Minister Costello on the trade mission, commented:

“The trade mission has been a significant success for the participating Irish companies. They are carving out a strong reputation for Irish products and services, confirming that there are significant opportunities for increased trade and partnerships between Irish and Sub-Saharan Africa companies. The market growth is in sectors where Enterprise Ireland’s client companies are particularly strong performers – financial services, telecommunications and education. Enterprise Ireland will continue to provide every support to Irish companies to secure more business in this developing region”.

 

SOURCE

Ireland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

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New range of satellite services for African enterprises

Posted by African Press International on November 12, 2013

The new services are offered thanks to the new Service Delivery Platform developed under SatFinAfrica, and ARTES 3-4 Satcom Application project co-funded by the European Space Agency-ESA

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Belgium-based satellite service provider, SatADSL (http://www.satadsl.net) is set to launch its new range of services for professional users at the AFRICACOM Conference, slated for tomorrow at Cape Town Convention Centre.

The new services will allow to provide high quality communications and Internet connectivity with guaranteed performances to corporate offices, bank agencies, mining sites and all similar medium-size exploitations in Sub-Saharan Africa where terrestrial communication services are either not available, unreliable or too expensive.

The new services are offered thanks to the new Service Delivery Platform developed under SatFinAfrica, and ARTES 3-4 Satcom Application project co-funded by the European Space Agency-ESA*. The new Service Delivery Platform provides SatADSL with complete control over the definition and enforcement of its service profiles and   paves the way for building tailor-made services. The new platform provides to SatADSL the flexibility that is required to serve the complex requirements of the African telecom operators and ISPs who are offering the service locally and are willing to propose various options that meet their customer specific requirements and budget.

Speaking ahead of the conference, SatADSL Chief Technology Officer Fulvio Sansone said “the new Service Delivery Platform is a cornerstone in the company development”.

“Companies in Sub-Saharan Africa are often confronted to limited coverage and reliability of terrestrial telecommunications means. Especially outside of urban and coastal areas where the population is less dense, telecommunication links may not be as reliable as needed by professional users. That is where SatADSL comes in with specialised, but at the same time affordable, services for the professional market. This market segment requires customised services, often with guaranteed data rates. SatADSL is now in a position to offer a complete range of services and become a one-stop-shop for its customers for services from low-cost transaction-based or back-up to unlimited services” he said.

The new services have been successfully demonstrated and are now being launched commercially all over Sub-Saharan Africa in cooperation with SatADSL local partners. They allow medium-size offices and corporate branches to get connectivity, Internet access and voice over IP with guaranteed performances wherever they are located. Using the same low-cost, self-installable, Sat3Play hardware, users will be able to choose among a wide range of Unlimited, Contended Services, as well as the previously available Fair Usage Policy based Services.

SatADSL delivers and manage customer’s mission-critical communications with end to end solutions, integrated technologies and flexible service options. SatADSL is a premium partner of SES and Newtec respectively leading satellite operator and equipment manufacturer. SatADSL is already offering reliable and low-cost satellite networking solutions and operates close to 1000 terminals across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Caroline De Vos, Chief Operations Officer, and Thierry Eltges, Chief Executive Officer, will welcome the visitors, potential partner-distributors and customers at the company stand P14 located in the exhibition area of the conference.

* The view expressed herein is independent of ESA’s official opinion.

——————————–

About SatADSL:

SatADSL (http://www.satadsl.net) is a satellite service provider offering low cost transactional, Internet access and VoIP service to branch offices of companies located in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The company is seated in Brussels, Belgium, and offers Internet access by satellite in Africa since 2010. Hundreds of African companies use SatADSL service in over 15 different countries in Africa. A money transfer company is connecting together more than 100 of their branches offices thanks to SatADSL.

SatADSL new satellite communication service in Africa is unique because it combines very high-quality service with a low cost of equipment and subscriptions. Corporate users operating in remote areas require both service quality guaranteed by SLAs and affordability. SatADSL service offer is recognized in Africa as being a unique competitive offer for serving companies small branch offices performing business-critical transactions.

SatADSL teams up with highly qualified African partners who offer a high-quality service to professional end-users, spanning from Mali to South Africa. SatADSL distribution network is expanding every day.

 

SOURCE

SatADSL S.A.

 

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Kenya: THE REAL REASONS BEHIND NZOIA COMPANY’S IMMINENT COLLAPSE

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2013

  • By GODFREY WAMALWA, API,KENYA
The trouble ridden and financially strapped Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County is threatened with possible collapse following what analysts now say is incompetent institutional management, archaic managerial practices and corruption among other vices currently facing the sugar miller.

Investigations reveal that in addition to the colossal losses which the Company has suffered in recent years the Managing Director and other top managers have through corruption and other dubious means swindled the Company of Kshs. 1.2 billion between the years of 2011 / 2012 by harvesting the Company’s sugarcane from its nucleus farm and pocket the proceeds.

But the above 1.2 billion may only be a tip of the iceberg given the fact that since the discovery of the theft of Company sugarcane no audit of any kind has been undertaken and it is now emerging that the cane from the over 3,700 hectares at Nzoia Nucleus farm may have been benefiting top management and well-connected employees hence the Company’s ever growing debt.

Experts in the sugarcane sector are worried that if the Nzoia situation is not reversed this Company which is the largest single large-scale farming enterprise in Bungoma County will come down with the economy of the whole County given the large tracts of land lying under sugarcane in addition to the abused nucleus estate the largest of such an estate in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A report compiled by a task force which includes immediate former directors of the Company that has been forwarded to the Agriculture Secretary and whose copy has been seen by your favourite and popular API speaks volumes about inept management styles by the current CEO of the Company Saul Wasilwa whom the report says and a quote “has demonstrated archaic, corrupt and incompetent institutional management leadership practices that should be considered as totally and unacceptable in this modern erra”.

The document quotes heavily from the factual findings of the Company’s own forensic audit report undertaken by PKF consultants on its behalf in September 2012 whereby the consultants revealed that from the year 2007 -2011 the Company’s own records show that a total of 5089 stacks or 254,445 metric tones of harvest cane valued at Kshs. 76,541,000/= were stolen by Nzoia Sugar Company’s employees from the nucleus estate of the Company. Much of the blame for this theft stops at the MD’s desk as he allowed architects of the fraud to collude with junior officers in the creation of a fertile environment to defraud the Company.

Further more, in the report it is revealed “Impeccable sources indicate that the CEO Saul Wasilwa undertook and was involved in concerted corruption peddling efforts to influence some Board members who interfered with the delay of the conclusion of the report by PKF until the life span of the whole Board came to an end. It is for this reason that some of the directors as responsible citizens of the land have appealed to the Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture to insist that Nzoia CEO comes clean of this corruption that saw the dismantling of their own report under suspicious circumstances”.

In the comprehensive 385 page forensic PKF audit report it is revealed a deal of Kshs. 12 million was negotiated under doubtful circumstances and in order for the consultants to pre-maturely end the report although it has now emerged that the CEO with some of his own associates raised Kshs. 10 million to influence key members of the relevant committee of the Board who are said to have manipulated the stringent disciplinary and legal recommendation in the forensic report to ensure that nothing was discussed in the open.

The same memoranda reveals documentary evidence which indicates that the CEO has been colluding with some of his top managers to sell commercial sugarcane to other millers without knowledge and express permission from the Board. In this regard three illegal contracts indicate that the Company may have lost billions of shillings through mismanagement, fraudulent accounting of the Company’s resources at the behest of Wasilwa. It is revealed in the document that 57,000 tones of commercial tones valued at Kshs. 216,600,000 were sold to Mumias, West Kenya and Butail Sugar Companies during the annual maintenance of the factory September/October 2011. Ironically Nzoia Sugar Company is currently faced with acute shortage or cane.

Two other contracts dated February 2012 to July 2012 saw 65,000 metric tones of sugarcane sold by Nzoia Sugar Company to Butail Sugar Company at Kshs. 247,000,000/= through illegal contracts that were never approved. In ant shell under the tenure of Saul Wasilwa as the MD of Nzoia Sugar, Company has experienced colossal loses from the nucleus estate as indicated above and the theft of Sugarcane from Out Grower Farmers particularly the case of 7750 stacks or 42625 metric tones of harvested cane from 5650 individual Out Grower Farmers contracted to the Company . The sugarcane valued at Kshs. 161,975,000/=.

Moreover according to the memoranda there was accumulative loss of approximately 1.2 billion arising from non recovery and fraudulent accountability of investment inputs supplied to sugarcane farmers by the Nzoia Sugar Company. In this regard loss of revenue of unspecified amount that have accrued from the interest which is charged to the Out Grower Farmers but it is deliberately not accounted for in the Company books.

There is also evidence of rampant and unabated corrupt practices in Nzoia Sugar Company which is contained in the Company’s Chief Internal Auditor’s Report whereby it was established that during Mr. Saul Wasilwa’s first tenure as Managing Director Nzoia Sugar Company incurred cumulative losses of more than Kshs. 1.2 billion shillings due to lack of effective internal controls. All in all in this key area of management Wasilwa and a few of his cronies have continuously enriched themselves at the detriment of the sugarcane farmer while the Kenyan tax payer also stands to bear the burden of this mismanagement because the Company’s debt has increased when as a matter of fact it should have declined.

The corruption, kick backs, and fraud has seen Wasilwa and some of his top managers becoming overnight millionaire with property running into hundreds of millions; for instance Wasilwa constructed an ultra modern residential building in Syokimau area Embakasi at the cost of 80 million, the house is expensively furnished with equipments that are remote-controlled. He recently completed another modern family residential house in Musikoma area of Bungoma town at the cost of 48 million. He has constructed a modern residential house in Nakuru at the cost of 45 million and purchased expensive salon cars including Mercedes cars for himself and his wife. There is no question that as Wasilwa continues to lead a lavish life style, beyond his means, poor sugarcane farmers continue to wallow in poverty due to delayed sugarcane delivery payments. Observers opine that, Wasilwa’s earnings can hardly be equated to the multi million shilling empire he has built from the looted millions from Nzoia Sugar Company.

The litany of cases of mismanagement are more or less a catalogue of misdeeds in a management environment which could only pass for a theatre of the absurd because, the Nzoia CEO acts as if he is above the law with little or no regard to established rules and procedures governing Public Companies and other Institutions. His callous approach to the Public Management of Company affairs has encouraged and given way to some of his Top Managers who seem to have taken a cue from him by taking illegal and or questionable decisions so long as such decisions are in their favour.

In the key area of employment, Senior Management staff have employed their own spouses and fast tracked their promotions through the ranks : a standing example is the Company’s Human Resources Manager, Patrick Murambi who employed his wife as a clerk in the harvesting section of the Agriculture Department and within a period less than one year he promoted her to the grade of Supervisor through favouritism at the expense more competent and deserving employees.

The Industrial Relations Manager Mr. Bramwel Simiyu Mbirira influenced his wife’s employment as a Supervisor in the Finance Department. The Company’s Senior Personnel Officer Brian Keya has his wife employed as a Stores Manager while the CEO Mr. Saul Wasilwa and other Managers have also employed their girl friends, and relatives through nepotism and favouritism. All these misdeeds by Wasilwa and his top management team have been committed in the full view of the Branch Secretary of the Sugar cane plantation and allied workers union Macdonald Tabalia Wamocho and the National Chairman of the same who have allegedly been bribed and compromised by Wasilwa and his team.

The memoranda also reviews misappropriation of funds at the personal direction of Saul Wasilwa the MD in what the report describes as false financial reporting of the closing and opening Bank Cash balances. For example, says the report, on June 30th 2011, the actual Bank closing balance was Kshs 844,898,943.00 and not Kshs 672,098,057.00 as reported in the books of accounts. As a matter of fact, the figure was deliberately manipulated by Wasilwa after the Departure of Engineer Julius Nyarotso as Board Chairman and following the immediate appointment of Lawrence Sifuna as Nzoia Sugar Company Chairman. It is instructive to note that typical of the Wasilwa management style, the difference of Kshs 172,800,886.00 was literally swindled as it was not accounted for.

The ever unending intrigues at Nzoia reveals the report in the memoranda, saw the matter of the unaccounted for balance being brought up for investigation to the Chairman of Risk and Boards Audit Committee who chose to do or say nothing and indeed nothing has been heard of the said funds which Wasilwa and his close associates seem to have shared out with Chairman Sifuna.

One of the most widely publicized irregularities at Nzoia Sugar Company is blatant abuse of the Company’s Tendering procedures by the Company’s Top Management Team and particularly the MD who it is said holds a firm grip on members of the Tender Committee who are usually under strict instructions from Mr. Wasilwa to manipulate Tenders and ensure that they are awarded to Companies and Individuals of his choice. The above situation witnessed the award of a Tender for the Supply of a Water Bottling plant to Brief Case Supplier in China even after Wasilwa and Chairman Lawrence Sifuna were bribed by the Brief Case Company’s local agent.

Farmers, Suppliers and other law-abiding citizens of Bungoma County were treated to a circus of some sorts by Lawrence Sifuna following the public revelation of a reported bribery saga in which the local agent of the Brief Case Water Bottling Plant made sensational claims implicating Sifuna in a corrupt deal and despite the fact that Sifuna vehemently denied ever being bribed, his accuser went the whole way to avail documentary evidence to the members of the Media. It was indeed drama when one journalist pointed this out to Sifuna, the Chairman reacted angrily to the allegations warning the reporter not to bother himself with matters that did not concern him. The authors of the memoranda are warning that Nzoia Sugar Company is sliding down slope and is threatening the very survival of the Company let alone destroying the economy of Bungoma County.

END

 

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Newly built latrines in Myanmar – but will they be working in 12 months?

Posted by African Press International on September 20, 2013

Newly built latrines in Myanmar – but will they be working in 12 months?

STOCKHOLM,  – The success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) water target and massive growth in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes have masked a little-discussed secret: WASH interventions frequently fail.

Rather than focusing on what is almost literally pouring money down the drain, donor reports and NGO websites prefer instead to boast of the numbers of water pumps drilled or toilets installed.

“You don’t take photos at a funeral,” said Dutch water expert George De Gooijer, who is based at the Netherlands’ embassy in Benin. “The lack of a link between results on the ground and the proposals is the one that needs to be solved.”

In 2012, an audit by the European Union (EU) sought to make that link between its officially completed WASH projects in sub-Saharan Africa and the reality on the ground – but found that more than half of the drinking water schemes surveyed had failed to deliver.

“Negligible positive outcomes” 

A key failure was in the management of the projects rather than the installation of the equipment.

Overall EU spending on water and sanitation projects in sub-Saharan Africa, from 2001 to 2010, amounted to more than one billion euros – and much of it is likely to have failed to produce the intended outcomes.

Hundreds of short-term WASH projects were implemented in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti – rapid construction schemes that have had little long-term impact, says Sasha Kramer, an ecologist and co-founder of the sanitation NGO Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods.

“This approach to sanitation interventions results in massive spending in the sector, impressive implementation statistics for NGOs and negligible positive outcomes for community beneficiaries,” Kramer said.

The UN in Haiti is actually blamed by many analysts for causing the world’s worst recent outbreak of cholera, which killed more than 8,000 people and infected at least 600,000.

This year, the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact found that a government water project in Sudan’s Darfur region had created “aid dependency” with little focus on creating a durable solution.

The long list of failures is all the more painful because water and sanitation are universally recognized as critically important.

Low-quality water and sanitation systems create acute vulnerabilities during natural disasters. When earthquakes and floods strike, it is frequently the subsequent population movements, water-source contamination and unsanitary conditions that create the most dangers to human life.

Sixty percent of the world’s population has dysfunctional or non-existent sanitation, says Arno Rosemarin, a researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute. There is “no other global statistic leading to high risk that comes close to this one,” he said.

Speaking at this month’s World Water Week in Sweden, he said WASH – particularly sanitation – was “a failing chapter in human development.”

Humanitarian accounting

Donors like concrete, measurable targets. In a WASH sector looking to reduce open defecation and control human waste, this has often meant building toilets – what some analysts call a “vending machine” approach.

Rosemarin says, “There’s a big difference between having a toilet and having a toilet that works.”

In India, which has some of the highest rates of open defecation in the world, the government has embarked on a vast programme of toilet building. The results are so far extremely mixed, says Prakash Jumar from the WASH Institute in India.

Jumar says communities have often been completely left out of the implementation process; sometimes to the extent that they do not use the new toilets because they fail to realize the toilets were built for them.

Poor construction quality has meant that 30-40 percent of toilets have been abandoned, repairs are nearly impossible because of nonexistent supply chains for spare parts, and even when still standing, many are used for storage rooms rather than for defecation.

“We have a lot of lessons learned, but we are not implementing [them] in national and major sanitation programmes. We need to integrate these failures,” Jumar said.

He says the key is community engagement.

“When the community is [involved, they] often don’t then need support from the government. That was one of the major lessons learned from 10 years in the region.”

Global water sector figures say half of water projects end up failing because of a lack of community involvement.

Emergency aid 

Many WASH projects are implemented during humanitarian emergencies, when broken water and sanitation systems can create massive health risks.

“There’s a big difference between having a toilet and having a toilet that works”

But in the rush to intervene in places like refugee camps, basic steps are often not taken – like building adequate drains in areas with high rainfall and not installing flush toilets where water is scarce, according to Katarina Runeberg, an environmental advisor with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

There are often multiple actors seeking to respond in a crisis, with no one looking holistically at the whole WASH cycle.

And in many cases, humanitarian actors are trying to implement adequate water and sanitation systems where none existed even before the crisis.

Even before its earthquake, Haiti had the lowest sanitation coverage in the northern hemisphere and the world’s highest incidence rates of diarrhoea, for example.

Long-term perspective 

But even in the world of development, donor deadlines are frequently tight, adequate measurables can be difficult to find, and construction continues to be favoured over operation and maintenance.

“WASH systems inherently require long-term operations and maintenance. And to ensure the ongoing maintenance of a WASH system, community engagement and long-term planning are critical,” said Kramer.

But projects implemented from outside rarely have the sort of long-term funding needed for maintenance and regular assessment. One rare example is the Netherlands, which is attempting to make sure implementing partners aim for 10-year sustainability, says De Gooijer, but this can be difficult to implement.

“We are very frequently limited through time-framing that we need to complete by a certain date, and spend money by a certain date,” said Patrick Fox, an advisor to the disaster unit at the Swedish Red Cross.

They have begun using “Look Back” studies to check up on WASH projects two to five years later. In the case of their work in North Korea, they initially found 80 percent of projects were no longer functional. Problems included a lack of local familiarity with the materials used (like PVC piping), and the use of sewage as fertilizer before it was safe to do so – issues they were able to correct.

“If you think you’ve discovered something good, leave it alone in the field for two years and then see if it is working,” said Peter Morgan, an award-winning WASH inventor and scientist who has been implementing projects in Zimbabwe for decades.

A Syrian refugee in Iraq tries to unblock a ‘grey’ water channel at his camp

But donors have yet to establish concrete funding mechanisms for these kinds of long-term assessments.

This leads to the broader question of just how practical it is for outside humanitarian and development actors to be even trying to implement large-scale WASH systems.

Morgan says the success of a mass-deployment of specially designed ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines could be attributed largely to the fact that it was approved and implemented by the Zimbabwean government itself. He says governments and users need to be strongly associated with any projects if they are to avoid failure.

“Local people are incredibly innovative, and if you are a humble character you need to open your eyes and look at that,” he said. “People live there. They don’t drive off in a fancy 4×4 vehicle and vanish in the dust. They actually live there.”

Few, if any, countries can claim to have a large-scale WASH system thanks to international NGOs, which Kramer says frequently lack “cultural fluency” and have an “inability or unwillingness to engage with local communities.”

Donor pressure 

Canada’s Engineers Without Borders produces an annual “Failure Report”. The organization found that around half of all failures were not related to conditions in recipient countries, but rather derived from internal planning, communication, decision-making and personal leadership.

Yet it remains extremely difficult for UN agencies, international NGOs and local actors to say that their WASH projects were failures. Donors want to see successful track records, and no one wants to fund a fiasco.

“It’s not fashionable enough to talk about failure,” said Rosemarin

For communities receiving water and sanitation projects, the lack of honest engagement can create barriers.

“The walls of fear, distrust and misperception affect international interventions in all sectors, but are particularly disruptive to WASH interventions, where quick fixes are not possible and successful projects are completely dependent on community engagement,” said Kramer.

Otherwise, as one aid worker from Uzbekistan reported, villages may be successively visited by different NGOs installing the same sanitation project one year after the next.

“Getting negative feedback could be more valuable than the opposite,” said Morgan. “If you have failures, then the very least you can do is to find out what went wrong.”

jj/rz  source http://www.irinnews.org

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Kenya: A mining company applauded for participating in local development

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2013

  • By JEFF OTIENO, Kenya

Residents of God Nyango in Oyugis town Homa Bay County have applauded a local iron ore mining company for ploughing back to the community by building schools, churches, and offering employment to the locals.

The consortium company operating under the flagship Skylight Ltd  which is the first one of its kind in Sub Saharan Africa extracts from iron ore products like twisted bars,deformed bars,angles iron,window section,nails and wire rods among others.

The exploration work in Oyugis started four years ago and the main processing plant is at Awasi in Nyando Kisumu County where over 1200 locals have been employed.

Speaking to the press during a tour by some foreign engineers in both facilities, the Managing Director Janteen Patel praised the local communities for their maximum cooperation and support adding that their attitude will spur development as envisaged in the memorandum of understanding. Mr Patel further emphasised that all the agreed development plans with the locals will be adhered to its entirety.

 

ENDS

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ONLINE MAPPING SYSTEM HELPS FIGHT MALARIA BY TRACKING MOSQUITO RESISTANCE TO INSECTICIDES USED TO PREVENT MALARIA.

Posted by African Press International on April 28, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga,

The first online mapping tool to track insecticide resistance in mosquitoes that cause malaria has been launched .

The interactive website, called IR Mapper (www.irmapper.com), identifies locations in more than 50 malaria-endemic countries where mosquitoes have developed resistance to the insecticides used in bed nets and indoor residual sprays.

IR Mapper incorporates the just-released World Health Organization (WHO) revised criteria for reporting insecticide resistance which is designed to detect it earlier.

With the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, the IR Mapper helps direct which vector control tools should be deployed in areas of high resistance.

Malaria is a deadly disease transmitted to people through infected mosquitoes. It kills a child every 60 seconds yet it is preventable and curable.

Progress has been made against the disease due largely to wide scale use of insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying (IRS). But the rapid spread of resistance in malaria-carrying mosquitoes to insecticides used in bed nets and sprays threatens current malaria control efforts.

Resistance among Anopheles malaria vectors has been reported in 64 countries, with parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and India of greatest concern.

“Deployment of the most appropriate insecticide based vector control interventions including nets and IRS needs to be informed by up-to-date data on insecticide resistance in the malaria vector species,” said Dr. Nabie Bayoh, an entomologist at KEMRI/CDC in Kisumu, Kenya. “Until now, data has been scattered throughout different databases and has come from a variety of sources. This has made prompt decision-making difficult. IR Mapper has helped to address this” he added.
IR Mapper consolidates published data on insecticide susceptibility and resistance mechanisms from 1959 to 2012. It includes reports from the President’s Malaria Initiative, National Malaria Control Programmes and other reputable institutes.
Resistance is usually measured by putting mosquitoes in a tube lined with insecticide-treated paper. Mosquitoes land on the paper and absorb the insecticide – some may die and some may survive.

A population is considered susceptible if almost all die. Until recently, resistance was confirmed by survival of more than 20 percent in this test.

The new guidelines from WHO reduced this threshold value to 10 percent, meaning that resistance will be reported earlier. This change is an indication of the concern insecticide resistance is causing globally.

IR Mapper data aligned with the new WHO thresholds is presented in a user-friendly format on interactive maps. The mapping function allows filtering and projection of data based on a set of user-directed criteria.

For instance, users can examine the resistance status of single or multiple Anopheles species to one or more insecticides within their region of interest.

This can be the basis for a “go” or “no go” decision on a particular insecticide for deployment on nets or in sprays. Data can also be viewed for specified time periods, to identify any existing trends in resistance over time.

Data consolidation for IR Mapper was conducted by Vestergaard Frandsen and KEMRI/CDC. The map interface was developed by ESRI Eastern Africa and is powered by JavaScript.

END.

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Mapping the health connection

Posted by African Press International on November 5, 2012

An bleach in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, where people have been infected with choleraaid worker distributes soap and

JOHANNESBURG,  – Countries could save countless lives and greatly reduce health costs if forewarned about climate-sensitive infectious disease outbreaks months in advance: and that is becoming a possibility, according to the Atlas of Health and Climate, a report mapping the links between climate and diseases like cholera, malaria, dengue fever and diarrhoea.
These diseases take the heaviest toll, according to the Atlas, a collaborative effort between the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and real-time maps showing possible spread could help prevention and treatment efforts. Diarrhoea kills over two million people every year, for example, and malaria kills nearly a million; both are influenced by climate variability.

Data gathering
But the Atlas authors say they still have a long way to go to make such warnings global and reliable.
“We have good real-time weather data, but that is not the case with health data,” said Geoff Love, WMO’s director of weather and disaster risk reduction. Disease outbreak data in most developing countries is typically collected by hand and often updated weekly. “There are also issues of respecting the privacy of individuals,” Love said.

Yet with improvements in computer access, internet connectivity and digital media, health data collectors in deep rural interiors could contribute to regional and global datasets.
The agencies are currently focusing on the health impact of short-term changes in the climate, but the Atlas opens the door to long-term forecasts linked to climate change.
Modest global warming, starting in the 1970s, was causing over 150,000 excess deaths every year by 2000, according to a WHO study looking at the impact of climate-sensitive illnesses like diarrhoeal disease.
Countries, mostly in the developing world, could spend from US$6 million to $18 billion a year by 2030 managing the additional health costs resulting from climate change, a study based on the WHO assessment noted.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific body, said rising temperatures and the increasing frequency of extreme events could exacerbate malaria, cholera, Rift Valley fever and dengue fever in developing countries.

  • Raising awareness
    Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, who leads the climate change and health team at WHO and is an author of the Atlas said, “One of the functions that we illustrate through the Atlas is that we can correlate climate and health information in places where we have both, and use the climate data to make health predictions, either for places where we have climate but not health information, or for the future.”

Much of the information in the Atlas is not new, says Campbell-Lendrum, but “what we are doing is to connect it together, and make it as accessible and clear as possible to decision-makers, from heads of health and meteorological agencies to field staff in disease-control programmes.
“This also includes the general public, who we hope will become increasingly ‘climate-aware’ in regards to their health. This is going to become more important as issues such as heat waves become more frequent through climate change, and vulnerability to health impacts increases through ageing, chronic disease rates, etc.”
For example, according to the Atlas, heat extremes currently expected to occur only once every 20 years may, by the middle of this century, occur on average every 2 to 5 years. At the same time, the number of older people living in cities – one of the groups most vulnerable to heat stress – will nearly quadruple globally, from 380 million in 2010 to 1.4 billion in 2050. The Atlas also shows seasonal linkages between diseases like meningitis and an increase in dust concentration and reduction in humidity levels in sub-Saharan Africa.
These and other findings make the case for more computer-generated climate models for tropical and waterborne disease outbreaks, says Campbell-Lendrum. There are very few, if any regional or country-level climate-change projections of possible diseases in developing countries.
“We already have many research studies in this area, but very few are converted into early warning systems or risk maps that are actually used for health decision-making,” he added.
WMO’s Love said, “The Atlas is more of an advocacy document at this stage.”

jk/rz

source http://www.irinnews.org

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