Friday, September 24, 2010

EU Provides Water For 232,636 in Western, Central Regions


BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
A EU-Funded Water System at Nkroful in The Western Region

Following the successful completion of 39 out of 40 Small Town Water and Sanitation projects funded by the European Union (EU) for 40 communities in the Western and Central regions of Ghana, potable water has been provided for 232,636 rural folks in the two regions.
This is made up of 80,948 people in 19 communities in the Central Region and 151,688 people in 20 communities in the Western Region.
The communities that have benefitted from the EU-funded water and sanitation  projects are Asuasi and Nyamedom, Breman Nwomaso, Breman Bedum and Breman Brakwa Kokoso in the Abura Aseibu Kwamankese and Asikuma Odoben Brakwa Districts of the Central Region.
Others are Assin Kushea, Assin Dansame, Assin Nyankomase, Assin Akropong, Assin Manso, Assin Nsuta, Assin Anyinabrim and Assin Adiembra in the Assin South District of the Central Region.
The rest of the beneficiary communities in the Central Region are Dominase-Aheadze and Kyeakor in the Mfantsiman District, Wawase and Twifo Hemang in the Twifo Hemang Lower Denkyira District and also Maudaso and Aminase as well as Ntom-Bethleem in the Upper Denkyira West District and Kyekyewere in the  Upper Denkyira East District.
In the Western Region, the beneficiary towns are Abura-Japenkrom and Dixcove in the Ahanta West District, Wassa Akropong in the Wassa Amenfi East District and Jema, Enchi as well as Dadieso in the Aowin-Suaman District.
Others are Yawmatwa and Dabiso-Essam in the Bia District,Awaso in the Bibiani Ahwiaso Bekwai District, as well as Nuba, Tikobo 1-Allowule, Bonyere-Erzinlibo in the Jomoro District, and Bonso Nkwanta, Afere and Bodi in the Juabeso District.
The rest are Adum Banso in the Mpohor Wassa East District, Kikam, Teleku Bokazo / Nkroful and Awiebo-Beseke-Edwakpole in the Ellembelle District and Sefwi Buako in the Sefwi Wiaso District.
It is estimated that in 2016 the EU STWaSaP would cater for a total of 91,800 people in the Central Region and 137,000 on completion of the Assin Fosu Project, whereas for the communities in the Western Region, the number would shoot up to 175,000 in the same year.
Meanwhile, the project that is estimated to serve the highest number of 14,127 people in the Central Region is Breman Brakwa Kokoso in the Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, with the lowest being Maudaso and Aminase in the Upper Denkyira West District estimated to serve 2,388 people.
In the Western Region, the beneficiary community with the highest number of  13, 443 people is Dadieso in the Aowin-Suaman District, while the lowest is Bonso Nkwanta in the Juabeso Distict which is estimated to cater for 2,756 people.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ghana’s Western Region Has Lowest Rural Water Coverage


BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
River Ankobra in The Western Region
Although the Western Region of Ghana is considered to be one of the wettest areas of the country, current figures put it at the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of rural potable water coverage with just 44.20%.
The lowest rural water coverage is largely in part as a result of a perception held over the years that because the region enjoys moderate to high rainfall, especially during the rainy season, which invariably affords it a high water table, access to water is not difficult.
It is also due to the difficult terrain in the region, which makes access to many of the rural communities a nightmare, and which has consistently resulted in low investment in rural water and sanitation.
Stating these at a briefing, when a team of journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN), visited the region to acquaint itself with the extent of water and sanitation coverage there, especially under the European Union (EU) funded Small Town Water and Sanitation Project (EU-STWaSaP), Mr. Abrefa Mensah, Regional Extension Services Specialist, Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), said “In 2005 when the programme started, there was a wrong perception that because there is a lot of rainfall, coverage was very good.”
He intimated further that another factor contributing to the low rural water coverage was “accessibility to communities, which discourages donors, as well as the climatic condition in the region.”
The CWSA Extension Services Specialist said rural potable water supply coverage was as low as 26% in 1996, adding that it was as a result of the implementation of a National Community and Sanitation Programme (NCWSP) in the region, that potable water supply coverage increased to an estimated 44.20%  as at the end of December 2009.
Currently, the Upper West Region has the highest rural water coverage, representing 76.34% of the total national coverage of 58.97%, followed by the Ashanti Region with 72.14%, then Volta – 62.63%, Northern – 60.11% and the Greater Accra Region – 59.20%.
The others are: Upper East – 59.19%, Eastern – 58.16, Brong Ahafo – 53.61%, Central – 45.10% and Western with the least coverage of 44.20%.
Meanwhile, the 2008 national coverage for potable water in rural communities and small towns per region were in descending order, Upper West – 76.76%, Ashanti – 72.95%, Greater Accra – 59.03%, Eastern – 58.88%, Northern – 57.97 and Volta – 54.27%.
The rest were, Brong Ahafo – 53.51%, Upper East – 52.24%, Central – 44.35% and Western – 41.27% of the 2008 national coverage of 57.14%.  
The CWSA estimates that on successful completion of ongoing projects by the end of the year 2010, which include EU-funded Small Town Water and Sanitation projects, potable water supply coverage would hopefully increase to 56.70% in the Western Region.
Further, the Western Regional office of the CWSA, has since 1995 been facilitating the provision of potable water and safe sanitation in small towns and rural communities and has been able to reach an estimated 70% of the region’s population, according to a status report presented by the agency.
According to the Agency’s Regional Extension  Services Specialist, Mr. Mensah, provision of potable water in the Western Region began with a pilot project by the World Bank through an International Development Agency (IDA) fund from 1995 to 2000, under which the CWSA provided hand dug wells, boreholes and six pipe systems.
He disclosed that under that project, 275 hand dug wells and 105 boreholes as well as six pipe systems were provided. “Then within the same period we had EU projects and EU also started in 1997 and was also completed in 2002. But there was an extension of the same project to 2005; so the EU project also provided eight pipe systems in the region, between 1997 and 2005,” he divulged.
According to the Extension Services Specialist, after the pilot project named CWSP 1, the region was starved in respect to investments in the water and sanitation sector, until from 2001 to 2002 when JICA (Japan International Development Corporation) came in briefly and provided 146 boreholes.
In 2001 too there was the rehabilitation of  five Ghana Water Company Limited pipe systems, construction of four hand dug wells under a WHO/IDA pilot project from 2003 to 2005, a HIPC water and sanitation project from 2003 to 2005 which provided 158 boreholes, while some NGO support projects from 1995 have provided 45 boreholes and 96 hand dug wells, thus bringing the total number of boreholes provided from 1995 to 1,037, 375 hand dug wells and 19 pipe systems.
Meanwhile, major water supply and sanitation ongoing projects in the region include a EU Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Project for 20 communities in 10 districts, an IDA Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Project for 10 communities in seven districts and Government of Ghana sponsored Rural Water Supply project began in 2009, which involves the construction of 175 boreholes with hand pumps in 16 districts.
There are also ongoing, a Government of Ghana Special Borehole Project began in 2008 and intended to provide 95 boreholes, a community-based rural development project began in 2006 to construct eight boreholes, as well as an NGO support project to provide three boreholes, which was started in 2009.
In all, when the projects are completed, it is expected that 281 boreholes and 30 Small Town Pipe Water Systems would have been provided.
According to the Western Regional CWSA, the major challenges they face is inadequate investment funding for water and sanitation projects in the region, as well as increased and indiscriminate mining activities, which threaten the existing water sources and ground water safety.
They however hope to surmount their challenges by increasing coverage of sustainable potable water supply to 70% by 2015, through the increase of investment funding in the region.
The Western Region Water and Sanitation Agency also hopes to establish effective monitoring of systems management and operation and ensure that all communities with population above 75 people have access to potable water by 2015.
Mr. Abrefa Mensah (2nd from left) Addressing The Journalists

Monday, September 20, 2010

193 Countries Take Major Decisions on Biodiversity and Humanity October


BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Next month, governments from 193 countries around the world will gather in Nagoya, Japan to make three key decisions that will determine whether current and future generations will continue to benefit from nature’s riches.
The 193 countries which will be at the world gathering in Japan known as COP10, are all parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international law that was created at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992
According to a press statement announcing the all important meeting - issued last week Wednesday in Montreal, Canada by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), on the table is a comprehensive ten-year strategy that – if enacted – would revolutionise the way all manage and interact with the world about us, and bring immense social and economic benefits to people worldwide.
Expatiating further on the Nagoya gathering, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said “The three big outcomes of the COP10 meeting in Nagoya would be global agreement on a new strategy, the mobilisation of the finance needed to make it happen, and a new legally-binding protocol on access and benefit sharing.”
“The decisions we take now will affect biodiversity for the coming millennium. We can’t have one outcome without the others. The COP10 meeting is all or nothing,” he added.
The upcoming meet comes on the heels of a warning by scientists that such action is urgent to prevent tipping points, such as the collapse of fisheries, a widespread dieback of the Amazon rainforest and cascades of extinction triggered by invasive species.
Also up for agreement in Nagoya, the statement says, are large flows of finance that will be needed to enact the strategy — for instance, to support developing countries that are asked to protect large areas of wilderness for the good of all of humanity.
The UN Convention on Biodiversity maintains that although the costs will be high, the returns on the investment will be far greater, “as biodiversity provides an important variety of goods and services that benefit humankind, from ensuring food security and clean water supplies to stabilising our climate.”
The third component of the talks, according to the statement, is a new set of international rules that would provide transparent access to the biological resources of the world, while ensuring that countries and communities get a fair share of any benefits that arise from their use — such as when companies develop commercial medicines from plants or other life-forms.
This new ‘protocol’ on access and benefit-sharing could create major incentives for countries to protect their forests and other natural capital, while enabling businesses to use biological resources to develop useful new products in a sustainable way,” the UNCBD asserts.
Since creation of the CBD, there has been growing awareness of how important nature is to human health, livelihoods and national economies, while ironically, the state of the natural world has continued to decline steeply, as revealed in the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 report which was released in May 2010.
The UNCBD says even though in 2002 governments agreed to reduce significantly the loss of biodiversity by 2010, they failed in large part because they did not address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss – such as a lack of awareness of the true value of biodiversity and a failure to include the true costs of biodiversity loss in policies and plans.
The Nagoya meet is seen as a new, more ambitious and better-designed strategy for governments to have another chance to create a global agreement to preserve and wisely use the earth’s living resources in ways that bring benefits to all.
“But the meeting in Japan could be a missed opportunity if governments cannot reach agreement on key issues,” the statement stresses.
COP 10 will be preceded by a special High Level Meeting on Biodiversity of the United Nations General Assembly on 22 September 2010.
Through a series of interactive panel discussions, governments will discuss the strategic plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the role of biodiversity in sustainable development and in the fight against climate change, and the relationship of biodiversity to the Millennium Development Goals.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Half of Central Region Rural Folk Lack Potable Water


BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
An Overhead Tank  of A Small Town Water Project Funded By The EU at Twifo Hemang

In spite of Ghana’s tremendous leap towards achieving its MDG target of 76% for water, it has been established that about half of the rural population of the Central Region still lack access to potable water.
Although available statistics provided by the Ghana Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform (WSMP) indicate that Ghana has so far achieved a water coverage of over 70% with the likelihood of exceeding the 76% MDG target for water by 2015, current figures indicate that the Central Region still has a long way to go in meeting the water needs of its population, especially those in the rural areas.
This is notwithstanding the fact that over the last few years the access to potable water and the perennial water shortage has been greatly improved in the entire region, especially in the Cape Coast Municipality, with the provision of some more water infrastructure.
Current figures show that the coverage of water for rural Central Region, which was just 31% as recent as the year 2000, has with the assistance of development partners such as the European Union (EU), DANIDA (Danish Development Agency) and International Development Agency (IDA), scaled up to 44.92% (approximately 50%).
The contribution of the development partners comprises three major funded projects made up of 20 EU funded small town projects,10 IDA funded small town projects and one new project and six rehabilitated projects by DANIDA, adding up to 37 completed small town water projects.
The current statistics means that while for a period of 10 years rural water coverage in the Central Region has increased by about 13%, 50% of the rural population are still without potable water.
The rural water situation in the Central Region was brought to the fore, when a team of journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) undertook a two-day tour of small town water and sanitation projects being funded by the European Union and other development partners in some beneficiary communities.
Addressing the team after a two-day tour of the region, the Central Regional Director of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Mr. Stephen Opoku Tuffuor, disclosed that under the DANIDA project a total of 450 boreholes were also constructed, as well as 256 institutional and 14 water closet communal latrines.
“So if you look at the facilities, we are saying that the EU project alone is covering getting to 200,000 people,” he intimated, adding that at Denkyira Obuasi, the DANIDA project is catering for the water needs of about 6,000 people now, while about 10,000 are benefitting from facilities rehabilitated by DANIDA.
Continuing with the positive developments in the provision of rural water and sanitation facilities, Mr. Opoku Tuffuor said 450 new boreholes have also been constructed in the region, which are at present catering for about 1,350 people.
“Then we also did some kind of functionality programme, where we rehabilitated 135 boreholes, still under DANIDA,” he added  
Stating that the various projects which have been successfully completed does not in any way mean that they have achieved 100% coverage, he disclosed they have been able to cover about 44% to 51%, adding that if the EU sponsored projects are included, rural water coverage may reach 55%
“So if you are 50%, then you are saying that you have covered about half of the rural population; so if you are going to support me, then you are saying that Central Region Community Water and Sanitation has done a lot and these are some of the things they have done, but this is the gap, that about half of the rural population still lack potable water,” he said.
Revealing the dire straits that some communities find themselves in as a result of the lack of access to potable water, he intimated “There is just a community here – a market centre, Andom and Dominase – anytime I get there, I get sad because these people fetch from a running stream.”
Answering whether the region could experience the same level of increase it has experienced in the past ten years in the next ten years, Mr. Tuffuor said “Whether we will see it or not, depends on investment.”
He was however optimistic that if the momentum of the current rate of investment is sustained the region will be able to attain the MDG target for water.
“Well if we put in the EU values and we get to about 50%/51% , then we have about 20% to get to the MDG goal and IDA is coming in again, ... and if we get EU again to take in maybe 20 more towns, I can say with confidence that we will be able to get to the 76% in the next few years that we have targeted, but it all depends on whether the funds will flow.” he stated candidly.
He explained that his confidence was hinged on the fact that the increased tempo of funding responsible for the appreciable coverage within ten years will be sustained with more development partners getting on board, so that the next ten years will see even better increase in coverage.
The tour, which has also taken the journalists to the Western Region, is intended to enhance greater visibility to Ghana’s water and sanitation agenda, while bringing out various issues on the ground.
It also aims at assessing the functionality and sustainability of water and sanitation facilities and provides opportunity for engaging water and sanitation committees and development boards regarding post construction and management of the facilities.
The tour is being undertaken under the Improvement of the Water Sector performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) project, Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing funded by the European Union with support from DFID and Government of Ghana.
According to Yaw Atta Agyei Arhin, project manager, it aims at building capacity within the water and sanitation sector to implement the national water policy and improve the water sector performance for achieving national and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Journalists Tour CWSA Water Projects in Central Region


BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
A select group of journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN), Monday began a two-day tour of rural water and sanitation projects under the jurisdiction of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) in the Central Region.
The tour, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Water Resources Works and Housing and sponsored by the European Union (EU), forms part of a four day tour of small town water and sanitation projects in both the Western and Central regions of Ghana being funded by the European Union (EU).
Members of the network began the tour with a visit to the offices of the Central Region CWSA, where they were briefed by the Regional Director, Mr. Stephen Opoku Tuffuor and his staff about the extent of work that has been done by the agency and the challenges they face.
Addressing the journalists representing various media houses, Mr. Opoku Tuffuor disclosed that although the EU has provided funding of €23 million for 40 small town water projects (20 each for Central and Western regions) with €590,000 from beneficiary communities, they have only been able to construct 18 at great cost, in view of the salinity of groundwater in the region, which is the major obstacle his outfit has to grapple with in its work.
“The whole of the coastal zone is in the salinity belt and so the possibility of getting fresh water is very very minimal,” the CWSA Regional Director said, citing senior high schools, Mfantsiman and Apam Secondary as well as a village – Nkamfoa among a host of others, as places that they could not sink boreholes due to the very high salinity of the groundwater.
He however intimated that despite the salinity obstacle, the Central Region’s water coverage now averages 50%, made up of 44.92% provided with support from the Government of Ghana and other development partners, while 5.08% represents the 20 water systems provided with the support of the EU.

He divulged that another problem the region is encountering is a huge gap in water and sanitation delivery services, partly in view of some wrong projections made that the region had attained about 88% to 90% in water coverage, after a project by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) from France, which spanned 1992 to 1996.

Mr. Tuffuor explained that in view of that projection there was no development partner to assist in providing potable water for four years, adding that it was not until 2000 that DANIDA (Danish Development Agency), came on board and tasked CWSA to count all bore holes in the region and indicate which ones were functional.
He explained further that another reason for the gap is because of an arrangement made over time that CWSA does not go to communities which have Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) pipes running through them because of the assumption that those communities are catered for by GWCL.
“Wherever pipes are passing CWSA doesn’t go there because we are complementing each other and not competing,” he stated.
The Regional Director however affirmed that after realising that it is not all communities which have GWCL pipes running through them that are supplied water by GWCL, which is why there is a gap, they are currently liaising with GWCL to connect water to such communities.
There is a current gap of 31.08%, with a current coverage of 44.92% and an MDG target of 76% by the year 2015. According to the CWSA, work in progress is expected to cover 11% of the region’s population, while the region expects to be able to cover 55.92% by the end of 2010.
Speaking to the salinity problem in the region, Mr. Opoku Tuffuor hinted that as part of measures to address it, his outfit is currently exploring if water can be taken from the Winneba water treatment plant for some of the communities close by which still do not have access to potable drinking water, since desalination is so expensive.
For his part, Henry Franklin Asangbah, CWSA’s Regional Engineer, disclosed that at least four 50 per squat hole institutional latrines have been provided in all 20 EU beneficiary communities, although they could not cover every school in those communities.
Pauline Abrefi Oppong, the Regional Extension Services Specialist, also spoke of the difficulty CWSA had in explaining to beneficiary communities why they had to pay for water drawn from the systems provided with EU funding, adding that after much dialogue, members of the communities are now paying 5Gp for two 18 litre (size 34) buckets.
After the briefing, the media persons visited one of the EU project areas – Assin Manso, where they toured a small town water system of medium capacity (30m3) completed on Aril 7, 2010 that has been provided for the township and surrounding communities and serving an estimated 2,394 people and also interacted with some members of the community.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Needed For Sustainable Development – Report


 BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Dr. Grobicki Handing Over Report To AMCOW President Hon. Buyelwa P. Sonjica

A new report on water security in Africa published by the Global Water Partnership (GWP), created to foster the implementation of  integrated water resources management (IWRM) says multi-stakeholder partnerships hold the key to sustainable development.
Titled “Water Security for Development: Insights from African Partnerships in Action”, the report outlines the lessons of a five-year programme to develop Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plans in 13 African countries.
The new report which was launched at a High-Level Ministerial Session during World Water Week on 8 September 2010 on Africa Focus Day, also highlights six policy recommendations.
These are that integrated approaches to water management and other development interventions should be undertaken as part of the broader national development planning process and that cross-sectoral coordination and responsibility for integration should be anchored in a government institution with capacity to influence and mobilise other sectors. The report adds that higher-level government bodies such as ministries of finance and economic planning, the cabinet and the prime minister’s or vice president’s office are good locations for facilitating integration.
The second policy recommendation is that integrated approaches to water management should of necessity be aligned with high-priority national development processes with broad cross-sectoral and stakeholder support, even if these are outside the water sector.
It adds that thirdly, such approaches must be flexible, realistic and structured as continuous processes rather than individual projects.
The report further recommends governments to take into account country differences and accommodate variations of scope and budget, based on the country’s development context.
It also calls for water-related climate change adaptation into water resources management plans and not to treat climate change as a separate issue, in order to avoid duplication and fragmentation.
The report maintains that the capacity of local institutions must be built to address climate change adaptation as part of the water security agenda in development planning and decision-making processes, in line with national development priorities.
Lastly, the report calls for the development of economic arguments for financing water resources management, adding that opportunities for accessing adaptation funds for financing water resources management must be explored.
Receiving the report from the GWP Executive Secretary, Dr. Grobicki, the AMCOW President, Hon. Buyelwa P. Sonjica, acknowledged the contribution of Global Water Partnership to the process of improving water management in Africa.
 The Executive Secretary for her part, stated that “Water, which is central to development, food security and crucial for meeting the MDGs must be managed better. Stakeholder partnerships are foundational to advancing water security, confronting global challenges such as climate change, and accelerating progress towards internationally agreed goals such as the MDGs.”
She said “While results differed in each country, in all of them progress was made in highlighting the importance at policy level of the contribution of water resources management to the development agenda.”
Dr. Grobicki maintained that “The GWP programme gave rise to a multitude of lessons not just relevant to the water sector, but to all social change processes driving sustainable development for the benefit of people and their communities.”
The lessons learned centre around the importance of understanding the development context, having a strategic road map, ensuring sustainability and developing capacity. In addition, the report provides policy recommendations for decision-makers that, if applied, could not only strengthen water management but also improve national development processes.
Commenting on the report, Alex Simalabwi, the report’s lead author, said “It’s not just what you do,” but “it’s also how you do it.”
He lamented that too many development initiatives are handed down from above by donors or governments with no buy-in from local communities, recommending that “It shouldn’t be top-down or bottom-up, it should be an equal partnership with multiple stakeholders who all have an interest in negotiating a win-win outcome.”
“The tighter the integration of water management planning with other development activities, the better the outcome,” noted Simalabwi. “Water is connected to everything—food, energy, health, industry—it is the world’s lifeline. So how it is managed in relation to competing uses is what policy-makers have to fix their minds on,” he stressed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Over 100 insurers call for greater action to adapt developing countries to climate change


BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Four initiatives representing more than 100 leading international insurance companies Monday called on governments worldwide to harness risk management techniques and insurance expertise to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
The four groups which launched the statement on the eve of an international, low-carbon investment conference convened by the UK government, are ClimateWise, The Geneva Association, the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), all of whose membership span across Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America and Oceania.
Presenting a statement aimed at world leaders and negotiators of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a press conference held in Lloyd’s of London, the call on governments was also significantly made less than 90 days before the next UN Climate Convention meeting scheduled to take place in Mexico.
The statement launched Monday underscored the view that risk management mechanisms are currently falling considerably short of their potential in delivering resilience benefits to the developing world.
Highlighting how governments can unlock significant potential to increase the protection and reduce the vulnerability of developing world populations and economies from natural disasters through better risk management and by enabling insurance-type approaches, the statement by the insurance initiatives also made other demands.
They called on governments to implement risk reduction measures already agreed at the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction and provide a suitable enabling environment, including economic and regulatory frameworks, for risk management and insurance to function at all levels of society.
•They further tasked governments worldwide to invest in reliable risk exposure data and make it freely available to the public, as well as act on lessons learned about the benefits of regional public-private partnerships and micro insurance schemes which reduce losses for climatic risks.
The statement also called on governments to formally recognise the potential role for insurance in the United Nations climate change negotiations, and to open channels for dialogue at a national level so that progress can be made immediately.
The four initiatives argued that there is now an opportunity, given the current international negotiations under the UNFCCC, to firmly anchor insurance expertise and components into any global adaptation mechanism under the international climate-change regime.
They also stated that the recent floods in Pakistan, China and Niger are a timely reminder that the world must adapt to become more resilient to the long-lasting and significant changes in climatic conditions being experienced across the world.
According to them, these changes are likely to have the most damaging impacts on the developing world, where even small economic losses can have long-term effects on development, and where human health is generally less robust.
The four groups continued that whereas in the past three decades, direct global economic losses for all types of natural catastrophes have averaged US$90 billion per year, with 78% of those natural catastrophes being weather related, 85% of deaths associated with all natural catastrophes over that timescale have occurred in developing countries (Munich Re, 2010).
“There is enormous potential to be derived from a partnership-based approach to tackling the climatic risks faced by people and governments around the world. Indeed, several communities affected by climate change are already benefiting from projects that improve risk management and feature insurance elements,” they added.
Citing some examples they said that over 4500 Mongolian herders covered by a public-private index-insurance scheme are currently receiving indemnity payments totalling around US$1.4 million for cattle mortality losses caused by a particularly harsh winter, while in September 2008, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) – a public-private partnership – paid US$6.3 million to the Turks and Caicos Islands after Grand Turk was hit by Hurricane Ike.
The four initiatives also said as a number of realistic proposals have already been submitted, the priority now is for governments to reach agreement so that they can be implemented.
After the launch and press conference which was opened by Andrew Maskrey of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, with a keynote address, a high-level panel discussion led by senior insurance, government and NGO figures explored immediate next steps.
Andrew Torrance, Chairman of ClimateWise and CEO of Allianz Insurance, commented that “With climatic disasters inflicting more and more damage, the increasing reliance of governments on foreign aid alone is unsustainable.”
He stated further that “ As the global climate continues to warm, we have to find new ways to protect people and economies from the impacts of extreme weather, particularly those who are most vulnerable” and that. “Insurers have much to offer, but this potential can only be leveraged through a partnership approach with governments.”
“With over 100 of the world’s leading insurers standing ready to engage, the opportunity for partnership building is immense,” Andrew-Torrance opined.
On his part, Patrick M. Liedtke, Secretary General and Managing Director of The Geneva Association, said: “The core principle of risk management and loss prevention is that in most cases ‘prevention is better than cure’. If governments, especially in the developing world, can implement robust risk management and loss reduction measures, then a significant amount of both human suffering and economic loss could be prevented.”
Also, Professor Peter Hoeppe, Head of GeoRisks at Munich Re and Chairman of MCII said, “Developing countries are most vulnerable to climate extremes, even though they contribute little to greenhouse gases. These are precisely the areas which have the fewest tools to manage and transfer the risks they face and they often lack the financial resources to adapt to climate change.”
Commenting on the same issue, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The insurance industry is making it clear: it has the expertise and the creative solutions to assist vulnerable countries and communities manage the risks of climate change. But it is a partnership that works both ways.”
He added that “Governments need to act on this opportunity and harness this reservoir of risk assessment skills. Secondly, the insurance industry needs a fighting chance of success. In other words governments need to back big cuts in emissions in line with the scientific reality”.

‘Orange’ Maize a Good Source of Vitamin A - Scientists Conclude


Orange Maize
BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE

A group of scientists have established for the first time that ‘orange’ maize, a new variety of maize, is a good source of vitamin A, which means that it is a variety bred to improve nutrition and could provide vitamin A through the diet to millions of poor people at risk of vitamin A deficiency.
Dr. Wendy White of Iowa State University, who headed the study, said “Traditionally, white maize porridge is a popular food among children and adults” and that “It’s even, usually, the first solid food given to infants.”
She disclosed that during the research the team of scientists prepared the orange maize porridge in using traditional African methods in order to best approximate a real world situation.
A statement announcing the find by the scientists said vitamin A deficiency blinds up to 500,000 children annually and increases the risk of disease and death, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that many people in that region are too poor to afford expensive vitamin A-rich foods such as orange fruits, dark leafy vegetables, or meat.
It continued that because those children in sub-Saharan Africa with vitamin A deficiency eat large amounts of white maize - up to a pound daily, orange maize could provide a substantial portion of their vitamin A needs.
Commenting on the research finding, Dr. Erik Boy, Nutrition Head of HarvestPlus, a programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which supported the development of the maize, said “We are encouraged that this higher conversion ratio has been scientifically established.”
“In 2012, we plan to release orange maize in Zambia, in areas where almost half of children under five remain at risk of vitamin A deficiency,” he disclosed.
“This new finding means that we should be able to provide far more dietary vitamin A through orange maize than previously thought possible. We’re looking at up to 30% of the daily requirement for children from two to six years old and 40% of the daily requirement for women of child bearing age,” he said.
The maize was bred using conventional means (non-GMO) to have higher levels of beta-carotene, which gives it its orange colour. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. The study found that beta-carotene from orange maize was converted at a rate that was almost twice as high as previously assumed for maize which is the world’s third most important cereal crop, and even higher than from vegetables.
HarvestPlus is developing micronutrient-rich staple food crops that can reduce hidden hunger in poorer countries and is co-convened by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture and the International Food Policy Research Institute

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

GJA 2011 Award Winners

GJA 2011 Award Winners
GWJN's 2011 GJA Award-Winning Team

New WASH-JN Executives

New WASH-JN Executives
They are from left - Edmund, Ghana, Aminata: Guinea, Alain: Benin, Paule: Senegal and Ousman: Niger

Celebrating Award

Celebrating Award
The benefits of Award Winning!

Hard Work Pays!

Hard Work Pays!
In a pose with my plaque