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WATER WORLD
Water carriers in Madagascar bear brunt of global crisis
By Tsiresena MANJAKAHERY
Antananarivo (AFP) March 22, 2017


One in four children will live with water shortages by 2040: UNICEF
United Nations, United States March 22, 2017 - Approximately one in four children worldwide will live in regions with extremely scarce water resources by 2040, UNICEF said in a report Wednesday. In research released on World Water Day, the United Nations children's agency warned that in just over two decades nearly 600 million children will be living in areas with severely limited safe water sources, as population growth and surging demand for water clash with the effects of climate change. More than 36 countries are currently enduring extreme water stress, the report said, with water demand exceeding available renewable supplies. Rising temperatures and droughts can leave children at risk for dehydration, according to UNICEF, while increased rain and flooding can destroy sanitation infrastructure and help spread water-borne diseases like cholera. More than 800 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhea linked to poor sanitation and scarce clean water sources, the report said. Drought and conflict are factors behind water scarcity in parts of Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, the report says. Nearly 1.4 million children in those areas facing "imminent risk of death" from famine. More than 9 million people in Ethiopia alone will lack access to safe drinking water this year, according to agency projections. Without water "nothing can grow," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "Millions of children lack access to safe water -- endangering their lives, undermining their health, and jeopardizing their futures." The crisis "will only grow unless we take collective action now," he said. UNICEF urged communities to diversify water sources, and for governments to prioritize access to safe water for vulnerable children. In another report released Wednesday, the UN said recycling the world's wastewater -- almost all of which goes untreated -- would ease global water shortages while protecting the environment. Two-thirds of all humans live in areas that experience water scarcity at least one month a year -- half of them in China and India. Last year, the World Economic Forum's annual survey of opinion leaders identified water crises as the top global risk over the next decade. On current trends, the UN Environment Program forecasts that water demand -- for industry, energy and an extra billion people -- will increase 50 percent by 2030.

As usual, they get up before dawn and, one by one, place their cans in a neat row at the base of the water pump, ready for another long day of waiting and carrying.

For the water carriers of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, distributing water is a daily physical struggle that has been worsened by regional drought and climate change.

"Today I arrived here at 5:00 am. It is now 8:30 am and I have only been able to fill two cans," Olivia Hanitriniaina Razafinirina, 24, told AFP, ahead of World Water Day on Wednesday.

"Water is life. People need water every day, if there is none everyone suffers."

For the last 10 years, Razafinirina has been heaving water through the slums of the city.

Across the poverty-stricken and undeveloped island of Madagascar, drinking tap water at home is a luxury only few can afford.

After a long wait, Razafinirina fills her two 20-litre (five-US gallon) cans at the unreliable water pump and descends into the maze of cobbled streets of the Andranomanalina Isotry district of the city.

Carrying the heavy cans, she delivers them to shops, businesses and homes.

Some days she will make 20 trips to the public pump and back -- carrying a total of 800 litres of water, and leaving her no time to linger with her customers before rushing back to join the long line.

On a good day, Razafinirina will earn just about $1.20 (1.30 euro) in local currency.

"It just allows me to buy something to eat, some rice to cook. There is no other work," she said.

Despite such dire pay, water carriers play a crucial role in Madagascar.

"Only 10 percent of households have a water supply in their house," said senior district official Jean Marc Randriamanga.

"Everyone else must get their water from the pump because there are no wells here."

- Water is life -

Even at the pump, a small fee must be paid for water, further weighing on the scant resources of local people.

"The price is still expensive, considering the purchasing power of people here," said Randriamanga.

The money goes to the Madagascan utilities company and the local water association, which are jointly responsible for maintaining the supply network and each pump.

"In total, 134 people use this connection," said Sabine Raharimalala, head of the local Tsimialonjafy water users association.

Despite the pumps and the daily exertions of the water carriers, Madagascar is one of the world's worst countries for rural access to clean water.

A WaterAid report released to mark World Water Day said that Papua New Guinea, Madagascar and Mozambique are at the bottom of the table.

In Papua New Guinea, 67 percent of rural people live without access to clean water, in Madagascar it is 65 percent and Mozambique 63 percent.

All three are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change and that are least ready to adapt, the report said.

"It is largely due to lack of funding provided for the needs of drinking water," WaterAid's Lovy Rasolofomanana told AFP, saying about $9 million is spent each year when $200 million is required to achieve "universal access".

"We lose 14,000 children each year to diarrhoea," he said, revealing the grim toll of the island's extreme poverty.

"Lack of water causes so much illness due to poor sanitation."

Severe drought over recent years has also left Madagascar in a food crisis, with nearly a million people hungry and in urgent need of food aid in the south of the island alone, according to the World Food Programme.

Back at the water pump in Antananarivo, the flow slowed to a tickle as the supply network struggled to cope.

A can left in line at 10:00 am will not be full until 3:00 pm.

WATER WORLD
Wastewater key to solving global water crisis: UN
Paris (AFP) March 22, 2017
Recycling the world's wastewater, almost all of which goes untreated, would ease global water shortages while protecting the environment, the United Nations said in a major report Wednesday. "Neglecting the opportunities arising from improved wastewater management is nothing less than unthinkable," said Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, one of several UN bodies behind the report issu ... read more

Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics


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