Sunday, April 11, 2010

Experts lobby African governments to adopt laws that promote rainwater harvesting

David Malingha Doya in the East African (Kenya): Africa is running out of water but its governments are not moving fast enough to replenish sources or enact water-friendly laws. This has prompted experts to lobby for policies that encourage people to harvest rainwater, a neglected yet cheap and simpler water supply technique.

At the 15th African International Water Congress held in Kampala recently, over 1,000 delegates learnt that which in numerous declarations, governments have undertaken to improve access to clean water and proper sanitation services by increasing national budgetary allocations to 5 per cent for water, and 0.5 per cent to sanitation — in practice some are instead cutting budgets.

“Senegal and Uganda have commendably improved water coverage, but it is unfortunate to hear the water budget in Uganda dropped from 4 per cent to below 2 per cent,” observed World Bank energy, transport and water director Dr Jamal Sahir.

It is estimated that a child dies every 15 seconds from a water-related disease in the world, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. However, investment in clean water and proper sanitation is low despite good anticipated returns.

In a bid to improve the water and sanitation situation, experts want governments to put in place policies that require families to harvest rainwater. “We need to focus on rainwater harvesting, make our hills and mountains green again, and leave our natural forests alone instead of cutting trees and replacing them with exotic varieties which spoil the soil and destroy leaf ground cover,” Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai noted….

NASA image of Ewaso Nyiro River in Kenya. The dry river bed is exposed in this true-colour image. The arid landscape is tan and orange with darker shades of brown where rock is exposed. The tiny dark green and black dots scattered across the region are trees. The densest clusters of trees are, unsurprisingly, near the rivers, particularly the Ewaso Nyiro. The river itself is a pale tan ribbon of sand.

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