Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ghana Education Service calls for action on WASH in schools

Mr Samuel Manteaw launching the call to action

The Ghana Education Service (GES), under its School Health Education Programme (SHEP), has launched a call to action in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in basic and second cycle schools across Ghana, dubbed WinS.
Launching the call at a workshop in Accra December 13, 2011, on behalf of the management of GES, Mr. Samuel Manteaw, Director, Human Resource, GES, said “The factors related to water, sanitation and hygiene in schools affect children’s right to education in many ways.”
“In an atmosphere of poor health, children are unable to fulfill their education potential. WASH in schools programmes therefore foster healthy and safe school environment that protects children from health hazards, abuse and exclusion,” he added.
Samuel Manteaw stated that all children need sanitary and hygienic learning environments, with the lack of such conditions in schools having a stronger negative impact on girls especially, as she spends long hours in search of water at the expense of her education, in areas where water is scarce.
According to him, such situation contributes to absenteeism and a high drop-out rate among school-age children.
“After the home, the school is the next important place of learning for children, where they spend over half of their time. Therefore their sanitation demands and practices are likely to impact positively or negatively on them.
“If sanitary facilities are available, children will maximize learning opportunities through improved health. However, when these are absent, or are badly maintained and used, schools become risky places where diseases are transmitted,” Samuel Manteaw said.
For her part, Mrs. Ernestina Afosah-Anim, Greater Accra Regional Director of Education, in her welcome address to stakeholder participants, stressed; “Fulfilling every child’s right to water, sanitation and hygiene education, remains a major challenge for policy makers, school administrators and communities in many countries.”
She disclosed that from a group of developing countries surveyed, it was noticed that less than half of primary schools have access to safe water, while just over a third have adequate sanitation.
The regional director of education divulged further, that another report from over 60 developing countries surveyed, revealed that only 33 provided data on access to water in primary schools and 25 on sanitation, adding that the lack of comprehensive data for WASH in schools is one barrier to securing the rights of children.
According to the director of education, available evidence indicates that although water and sanitation facilities in schools are increasingly being recognized as fundamental for promoting good hygiene behaviour and children’s well-being, many schools still have very poor facilities, whilst for some, none exist at all.  
Hence, she said, the call to action is aimed at expanding WASH in Schools (WinS) programmes, to improve health, foster learning and enable children to participate as agents of change.
It further calls on decision-makers to increase investments and for concerned stakeholders to plan and act in cooperation, so that all children go to child-friendly schools with water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
The call to action for WASH in schools is a new global campaign for water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. It is the result of a collaboration between CARE, Dubai Cares, Emory University Centre for Global Safe Water, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, Save the Children Fund, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Water Advocates, WaterAid, Water for People and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a presentation on the call to action, Ms. Ellen Gyekye, SHEP, explained that WASH in Schools helps fulfill children’s rights to health, education and participation and enjoys widespread recognition for its significant role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those related to universal access to primary education, reducing child mortality, improving water and sanitation and increasing gender equality and equity.
She outlined six action points of the call, which are all geared towards greater participation by all stakeholders, including investment in water and sanitation facilities and better policies to ensure priority is given to hygiene education and WASH in schools.
Some of the participants at the launch
Other presentations made at the workshop and launch were the Policy Framework for WASH in Schools by Mrs. Grace Owusu Kakra, Director, SHEP; Minimum Standards for WASH in Schools by Mrs. Loretta Roberts, UNICEF and baseline studies on the state of WASH in Schools in the Central and Northern regions of Ghana, by Mr. Stephen Ntow, WASHealth Solutions and the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) respectively.
Also presented were a countrywide 100 Schools Survey on Sanitation and Hygiene (which in fact covered more than 300 schools) done by Mr. Kweku Quansah, Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate and the key findings of a year-long sanitation campaign launched by the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) in 2010, dubbed “Drop it in a Hole”.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ghana’s Oil Monitoring Committee pledges dedication

The Jubilee Oil Rig

A 13-member Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) put in place by government September to monitor Ghana’s petroleum revenue and investments, has pledged to work with dedication to give Ghanaians confidence in the country’s oil find.
“We intend to dedicate our time on the Committee to faithfully monitor and render a true account of the oil revenues to Parliament, the Executive and Ghanaians in general. This we hope will give the public some confidence in what to expect from the oil find at any given time,” said Major Ablorh-Quarcoo, the PIAC’s chairman. 
In a press statement issued by the PIAC, Major Ablorh-Quarcoo said: “It is our prayer that through PIAC Ghana should avoid either the so called oil curse or the Dutch disease, which we know has plagued many of the oil rich countries of this world.”
The PIAC was created as an oversight committee by the Petroleum Act and charged, among others, with the responsibility to monitor, evaluate compliance with the law, provide independent assessment and above all, provide space and platform for the general public to debate the management and use by government of the petroleum revenue and the investments made from the revenue.
According to the statement forwarded to, the committee has since its inauguration, been working on the quiet behind the scenes, putting together a secretariat and updating itself on available relevant information and statistics relating to Ghana’s oil industry, as well as consulting on best practices regarding the management and use of petroleum revenues as pertains elsewhere in oil rich countries.
It will however be formally outdoored Thursday, December 15, 2011 in Accra at a press conference, where it is expected to give an overview of the performance of Ghana’s oil sector in the course of 2011 and also announce the programme of its oversight activities for 2012.
The 13-member committee inaugurated by Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance, is made up of representatives nominated from 13 institutions named by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011, (Act 815), with its Chairman, Major Ablorh-Quarcoo, representing the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Other institutions represented on the Committee are the Trades Union Congress, the National House of Chiefs, the Association of Queen Mothers, the Association of Ghana Industries and Chamber of Commerce, the Ghana Journalists Association, the Ghana Bar Association and the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
The rest are the Christian groups, made up of the Catholic Secretariat, the Christian Council and the Pentecostal Council who are represented on rotational basis, the Federation of Muslim Councils and Ahmadiyya Mission also represented on rotational basis and the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Largest land deals in developing countries not for food - Report

The most comprehensive study of large land acquisitions in developing countries to date published online today December 14, 2011 by the International Land Coalition (ILC), has revealed that they have been acquired for purposes other than for food production.
It covers a full decade of land deals from 2000-2010, which amount to more than 200 million hectares of land or eight times the size of the United Kingdom.
Stating that it has found more evidence of harm than benefits from such deals, the report: “Land Rights and the Rush for Land: Findings of the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project” shows that out of the 71 million hectares in deals that the authors could cross-reference, 22% was for mining, tourism, industry and forestry and three-quarters of the remaining 78% for agricultural production was for biofuels.
 “Part of the problem is also that many policymakers think small-scale farming has no future and that large scale, intensive agriculture is the best way to achieve food security and support national development,” a press release announcing the report explained.
Further, the researchers found that while large land deals can create opportunities, they are more likely to cause problems for the poorest members of society, who often lose access to land and resources that are essential to their livelihoods.
Commenting on this, lead author, Ward Anseeuw of the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), said “Under current conditions, large-scale land deals threaten the rights and livelihoods of poor rural communities and especially women.”
Taking a swipe at governments of developing nations, the researchers state; “In addition, promised jobs have not yet materialised, and in their rush to attract investments, governments miss out on long-term tax and lease revenues that better negotiated deals could provide.”
For his part, Dr. Madiodio Niasse, Secretariat Director of the International Land Coalition, whose members include UN agencies, International Financial Institutions, research institutes, and civil society and farmers’ organisations, said; “The competition for land is becoming increasingly global and increasingly unequal. Weak governance, corruption and a lack of transparency in decision-making, which are key features of the typical environment in which large-scale land acquisitions take place, mean that the poor gain few benefits from these deals but pay high costs.”
Touching on weak land rights, co-author, Dr. Lorenzo Cotula of the International Institute for Environment and Development stated: “As governments own the land it is easy for them to lease large areas to investors, but the benefits for local communities or national treasuries are often minimal.” He added that “This highlights the need for poor communities to have stronger rights over the land they have lived on for generations.”
Dr. Michael Taylor, ILC Secretariat’s Programme Manager, Global Policy and Africa, who coordinated the study process and co-authored the synthesis report on the other hand, justified the use of the term ‘land grabbing. “There is little in our findings to suggest that the term ‘land grabbing’ is not widely deserved,” he said.
The study also found that economic governance is failing the rural poor, as international trade regimes provide robust legal protection to international investors, while fewer and less effective international arrangements have been established to protect the rights of the rural poor or to ensure that greater trade and investment translate into inclusive sustainable development and poverty reduction.
The research revealed some trends that have not been widely reported in the recent surge of media coverage of land deals, such as national elites playing a much larger role in land acquisitions than has been noted to date by media reports that have focused on foreign investors.
Following its findings, the report recommends that governments and investors recognise and respect the customary land and resource rights of rural people, put smallholder production at the centre of strategies for agricultural development and make international human rights law work for the poor.
It also tasks governments to make decision-making over land transparent, inclusive and accountable and ensure environmental sustainability in decisions over land and water-based acquisitions and investments.
The report strongly urges models of investment that do not involve large-scale land acquisitions, but rather work together with local land users, respecting their land rights and the ability of small-scale farmers themselves to play a key role in investing to meet the food and resource demands of the future.
More than 40 organisations collaborated on the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project, which synthesised 28 case studies, thematic studies and regional overviews.
The report also includes the latest data from the ongoing Land Matrix project to monitor large-scale land transactions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

South Africa phases out inefficient lighting to combat Climate Change


South Africa, host of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban (COP17), Wednesday, December 7, 2011, formally announced a comprehensive phase-out policy for inefficient lighting, to combat climate change.
The phase-out is linked to a global initiative from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to tackle climate change through the transition to energy efficient lighting.
With the announcement, South Africa thus becomes the first African nation to undertake a comprehensive national phase-out transition from inefficient lighting. Although many African countries have introduced energy-saving lighting, none has yet completely phased out inefficient lightening, which is known to impact negatively on energy consumption.
However, the phase-out of inefficient lighting is said to be one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways to save energy and combat climate change.
Although incandescent lamps have already been phased-out, or are scheduled to be phased-out in most OECD countries, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam and other developing countries, over 130 countries still market inefficient incandescent lamps.
Electricity for lighting accounts for close to 20 per cent of total global electricity production and six per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the International Energy Agency but the UNEP initiative known as The en.lighten initiative, aims to halve these emissions.
Commenting on the initiative, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said “If a global temperature rise is to be kept under 2 degrees C, we need to act on multiple fronts, including voluntary and legally binding actions. Fast tracking more energy-efficient lighting is without doubt one of the low hanging fruit offering not only emissions saving but cost savings to a company or a household’s budget. This UNEP/GEF Global Partnership is switching off old bulbs and switching on a path to a more low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy. The aim of achieving a global phase-out by 2016 is not only possible but infinitely do-able.”
For her part, Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility said, “The GEF is a champion of market efforts to expand efficient lighting to developing countries throughout the world,” adding, “en.lighten is the latest initiative funded by the GEF in partnership with UNEP to accelerate market transformation of efficient lighting technologies on a global scale. Through this initiative, we are building a brighter future today and for the next generations to come.”
Meanwhile at COP16 last year, en.lighten unveiled Country Lighting Assessments detailing country savings from the shift away from inefficient incandescent lamps to efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). According to a statement announcing South Africa’s decision, the total global savings from phasing-out incandescent lamps amounts to the same emissions as over half of the annual international aviation sector, or the electricity consumed yearly by the United Kingdom and Denmark combined.
The UNEP/GEF en.lighten initiative was launched in September 2009 as a globally coordinated effort to accelerate the transition to efficient lighting and mitigate climate change. It is a partnership between UNEP, GEF, and private sector partners Osram AG, Philips Lighting and the National Lighting Test Centre of China (NLTC).
On the other hand, UNEP has set an ambitious target date to phase-out inefficient incandescent lamps globally by 2016, which is the first step in the transition to more efficient lighting and a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy.
It is believed South Africa will be able to electrify over four million homes with the electricity saved from phasing-out incandescent lamps and also become the first African country to phase-out incandescent lamps following an integrated approach, including the development of collection and recycling systems. Beginning in January 2012, the country fully supports the 2016 global deadline for the phase-out of inefficient lamps and will complete the phase-out by 2016.
Touching on the step taken by her country, H.E. Ms. Duipo Peters, South Africa’s Minister of Energy said, “South Africa is working with UNEP and its Global Partnership to share these lessons learned with other African countries willing to phase-out and reap the benefits that a transition would bring.”
“We encourage all countries that have not yet phased-out inefficient lighting to join the UNEP Global Partnership and work with us to move towards an efficient lighting world to mitigate climate change,” she added.
“Ms. Duipo Peters stated further that South Africa faces important power shortages, which will be greatly mitigated by the phase-out of incandescent lamps. The electricity saved by the phase-out will be directed to more pressing social needs. South Africa is committed to mitigating climate change. This measure is a key action to reduce CO2 emissions.”
For now, Over 25 developing countries from four continents have joined the Global Efficient Lighting Partnership Programme, which has been established to support countries to design and implement national inefficient lighting phase-out strategies adapted to specific country conditions and requirements.
Uruguay was the first country to join the UNEP/GEF Global Partnership in August 2011, for which activities will begin in early 2012. The country has also begun measures to waive taxes for efficient lighting technologies and to develop pilot projects to promote the collection of spent lamps.
A principle and readily available technology, the CFL, produces an equivalent amount of light using 75 per cent less energy and also last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs, unlike older incandescent light bulbs which produce 95 per cent heat and just five per cent light.
However, there has been criticism of the health hazards of the mercury used in CFLs, which is an issue that raises questions about the technology’s environmental credentials.
Studies have shown though, that the average mercury content in a CFL bulb is about three milligrams (mg) – roughly the amount it would take to cover the tip of a ball-point pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain 500 mg of mercury – the equivalent of more than 100 CFLs.
Mercury is also emitted from coal-fired power stations but studies indicate that mercury emissions from power stations linked with conventional incandescent bulbs are far higher than those linked with the disposal of efficient bulbs.
In Uruguay, a proposal has been developed to implement national regulations for restricting the importation of lamps based on mercury content. But it is believed that as no recycling plan could succeed in recovering 100 per cent of spent lamps from domestic waste, restricting and discouraging lamps with high mercury content will significantly reduce the presence of mercury in a country.
Meanwhile, other mercury-free technologies are also being promoted including Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), but they also contain electronic components needing collection and recycling. The advantage however, is that they do not contain mercury and have other advantages such as long life, warm light colour similar to incandescent lamps and low heat generation.
The establishment of collection and recycling schemes is a key issue and the UNEP/GEF en.lighten Global Partnership will support countries to establish sustainable end-of-life norms and approaches for spent lamps.
UNEP says it has brought together top international experts, to provide guidance and technical support to countries that partner with the en.lighten initiative to develop national efficient lighting strategies and plans.
It has also developed recommendations for countries to follow an “integrated approach” to phase-out incandescent lamps, which includes the use of globally harmonised minimum energy performance standards; establishing quality control mechanisms; and, establishing sound lamp disposal and recycling schemes.
UNEP has also pledged to support countries in launching their own national lighting transition strategies on the basis of global best practices.
It has been noted that residential incandescent lamps are the most common lamp type and the easiest to address to mitigate climate change, but it is believed that more savings can be achieved through a transition to efficient lighting in other sectors, such as commercial and industrial lighting. UNEP says this will be its next priority, by unveiling plans for the transition for all lighting sectors at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

ZoomLion introduces quiz competition on sanitation

BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTEWaste management company, ZoomLion Ghana Limited, has introduced a series of quiz competitions it calls ZoomQuiz for its Zoomkids Clubs in basic schools across the country, in a bid to reach out to school children with basic sanitation and hygiene messages.
According to the company, the quiz forms part of the activities for its Sanitation Awareness Month, which runs from November 14 to December 17.
Briefing the media during a Regional competition held at GNAT Hall in the Sekondi Takoradi metropolis last weekend, Mr. Robert Kwaku Adjei, National Environmental Sanitation Coordinator for ZoomLion Ghana Limited, stated that “the Zoomkids Programme is based on the premise that children are far more receptive to new ideas than adults, and that children as future role models can be powerful advocates and agents of positive change and will grow to become parents.”
Mr. Adjei stated that focusing attention on schoolchildren has several advantages, such as knowledge transfer through passing on to their peers, households, community members and to their own children and grandchildren in the future, what they learn.
“We are therefore catching them young. Personal hygiene practices are usually acquired during childhood – it is much easier to change the habits of children than those of adults. The promotion of hygiene in basic schools can help children to adopt the needed habits during the formative years of their childhood,” he said.
According to the Coordinator, the ZoomQuiz competitions were introduced to test the knowledge level of the Zoomkids Club members in basic environmental sanitation and hygiene, as the clubs were periodically given hygiene messages, to prepare them to become powerful advocates in sanitation and hygiene promotion, and agents of change in their schools and communities.
Mr. Adjei charged the participating clubs to take the ZoomQuiz competition serious, as it was preparing them for a national one that would be held in Kumasi as part of activities to climax the National Environmental Sanitation Conference (NESCON) in December 2011.
He further disclosed that the ZoomQuiz programme, was being carried out in five regions – Eastern, Western, Ashanti, Volta and Northern regions, saying at the regional level, the school that would win the competition would be given a branded golden trophy.
Other prizes include 240 litre bins for all participating schools, a set of educational materials and certificates of participation for all contestants.
The wining school at the national level in December would also be given a branded golden trophy which should be submitted for defence each year, a new flat screen computer and printer and a 240 litre bin for storage of their refuse.
Other prizes include a computer and 240 litre bin for the first runner-up, a branded silver trophy and 240 litre bin for second runner-up, and two pieces of 240 litre bins for the last school. Also, all the contestants at the national level would be given a set of books and certificates of participation.
Asare Oppong Educational Complex emerged the winner in the Western Region, beating the Second Runner-up, Peter Pipers International School, with only 0.5 point.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

West Africa, Sahel need new climate agreement or else… – Study

Ghana's Akosombo Dam may be affected

A new international climate agreement is what it will take to ensure food security and regional stability in the Sahel and West Africa, a new joint study has pointed out.
The study, which was conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and released Monday, December 5, 2011, has therefore called for major investments in climate change adaptation to reduce the risk of conflict and forced migration in the two regions.
Done in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations University (UNU) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), with technical input from the University of Salzburg’s Centre for Geoinformatics (Z_GIS), it analysed regional trends in temperature, rainfall, droughts and flooding over the past 40 years and their implications for the availability of natural resources, livelihoods, migration and conflict in 17 West African countries from the Atlantic coast to Chad.
The analysis detects significant changes in regional climatic conditions, including an overall rise in mean seasonal temperature from 1970 to 2006 of approximately 1°C, with a greater increase of between 1.5°C to 2°C observed in far eastern Chad and northern Mali and Mauritania.
According to the study, the frequency of floods and the area covered by flooding have increased in parts of the region over the past 24 years, with large areas of southern Burkina Faso, western Niger and northern Nigeria for example, experiencing up to 10 floods during this period.
Titled “Livelihood Security: Climate Change, Migration and Conflict in the Sahel” the report uses an innovative mapping process to identify 19 “climate hotspots” where climatic changes have been the most severe and which warrant focused adaptation planning and other follow-up activities.
Many of the hotspots are in the central part of the Sahel, in Niger, Burkina Faso, northern and coastal Ghana, as well as northern Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
Common to these hotspots is that they have been most heavily affected by flooding, although they have also experienced slow-onset changes, in particular in temperature and the occurrence of drought, and these varying conditions have affected the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on natural resources.
The study has also found that the impacts of such changing climatic conditions on the availability of natural resources, combined with factors such as population growth and weak governance, have led to greater competition over scarce resources and to changing migration patterns in the region.
Among the report’s findings the analysis shows that pastoralists are mainly affected by changes in rainfall that occur in the arid and semi-arid areas of the Sahel and influence the availability of shrubs, grasses and water sources for livestock, with their traditional migration patterns increasingly being replaced by a more permanent southward shift.
It also establishes that competition for freshwater, coastal resources and land among fishermen, farmers and pastoralists as well as new migrants is increasing, and in some cases leading to heightened tensions and conflict, most notably in the area surrounding Lake Chad and that large areas of Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger faced between six and ten drought seasons between 1982 and 2009, with smaller pockets experiencing between 11 and 15, with some communities requiring emergency assistance. Togo on the other hand, experienced between one and two droughts over the same period.
According to the analysis, early movements south and towards the coast by pastoralists, as a result of changing climatic conditions, can result in increased competition for resources and the destruction of crops in the receiving areas, and lead to conflicts with farming communities.
It cites a drought and locust plague in Niger in 2005, which led to shortfall in crop yield of 4.6 million tons, which forced herders to migrate south and to dry season grazing grounds in Nigeria earlier than usual, and also resulted in higher prices leaving poorer households unable to purchase food, as one example, adding that the increased frequency and severity of climate-related disasters – such as floods and drought – as well as future sea-level rise, could lead to more permanent migration over time;
Warning that major urban centres such as Accra, Kano, Niamey, Nouakchott and Ouagadougou are located within areas most affected by the observed changes in climate, the report estimates that sea-level rise of up to one metre would directly affect over three million people in the region, including residents of major urban centres situated on the coast.
“The frequency and severity of flooding has increased in the Sahel and West Africa, allowing for less recovery time for farmland and pastures between floods, resulting in increased risk of deaths, massive population displacement and of crop and cattle losses,” the report states.
Citing that areas affected by large-scale conflicts, particularly Chad and northern Niger, have also been affected by changes in climate, it says although the study does not try to show any direct linkage between changes in climate and conflicts, people living in areas that have been affected by conflict can be considered as more vulnerable to the effects of changing climatic conditions, compared to more politically stable areas.
Meanwhile, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, raised the issue of food security as a potential risk of climate change during the debate on climate change and security in the UN Security Council in July this year.
Mr Steiner said that with livelihoods and food security in the region heavily dependent on natural resources, further impacts of climate change on ecosystems could be dramatic.
“This analysis underlines how competition between communities for scarce resources, especially land, water and forests, is already a reality in West Africa and that regional cooperation will be key to diffusing tensions, managing down the risks and curtailing the possibilities of increased conflict and environmentally-induced migration,” Mr. Steiner said.
“The study also speaks to the negotiations under the UN climate convention taking place here in Durban spotlighting the urgent need for scaled-up investments in adaptation, moving forward on the Green Fund and supportive measures such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation as well as realising the climate finance of US$100 billion a year by 2020,” he said.
Stating the rationale for the study, the CILSS Executive Secretary, Professor Alhousseini Bretaudeau, said that it was necessary to analyse the impacts of climate change on migration and conflict in order to improve adaptation strategies in the Sahel and take efficient counter-action.
“This cooperation between the international community and CILSS represents a milestone in taking large-scale action jointly – in particular the production of scientific knowledge that will lead to a better understanding of climate change impacts on migration and conflict in this very fragile Sahelian region – for the benefit of the population,” Prof. Bretaudeau said.
“The relationship between climate change, migration and conflict remains complex, however, with climate change threatening the integrity of ecosystems that are already made vulnerable by a rapidly growing population, it is evident that this situation will exacerbate competition over natural resources and trigger further movements of people and new conflicts,” he said.
For his part, Prof. Jakob Rhyner, Vice Rector of the United Nations University, added “especially as the relation between climate change, migration is very complex, we need to further assess the hotspots area. Speaking at the report launch in Durban, he continued, “We have to provide negotiators, governments as well as practitioners on the ground, what they need to know about the potential impacts of climate change and human mobility, in order to prepare appropriate legal, institutional, and governance approaches.”
Recommendations to improve conflict, migration
The report provides some key recommendations for improving conflict and migration sensitivity in adaptation planning, investments and policies across the region, such as adoption of climate change adaptation policies and programmes that are migration and conflict-sensitive and that aim to reduce livelihood vulnerability, promote alternatives, and improve the availability and access to natural resources, which it says should be done in order to mitigate the drivers of migration and conflict and help secure development gains.
It also recommends the promotion of regional environmental cooperation in addressing climate change, migration and conflict, saying issues of climate change and migration are regional in nature, and as such should not only be managed at the national level, as is most commonly the case today.
The report further asks that national adaptation policies are rooted in the “green economy” and the creation of green jobs and sustainable farming practices promoted, in order to enhance food security and increase the resilience to climate stressors.
“Strengthen preventive action, environmental diplomacy, resource rights and dispute resolution to take early action to defuse both imminent threats and broader instability, “Prioritise systematic data collection and early warning systems. The systematic collection of climate data should be established and improved throughout the region, notably through the establishment of a comprehensive network of weather stations,” it suggests.
The report also pushes for the use of conflict and/or migration risk to prioritise investments and build donor commitment to long-term engagement in the Sahel, adding, addressing climate change impacts on livelihoods in the Sahel requires long-term financial commitment and improved coordination of investments.
It also asks for follow-up field assessments in the hotspots identified using a livelihoods approach to determine how resource availability is changing, how livelihoods are being affected, and if incidences of conflict or migration are increasing, in order to inform adaptation strategies and interventions.
Largely, the study aims to support decision-makers in the region’s Member States, adaptation and peace-building practitioners worldwide, as well as ongoing international climate change negotiations.

Climate-related disasters lead to increase in human trafficking – report


A new report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) December 6, indicates that women, particularly those living in mountain regions in developing countries, are experiencing increased incidents of human trafficking due to disasters connected to climate change.
Titled Women at the Frontline of Climate Change: Gender Risks and Hopes, the report highlights how organised human trafficking, especially that of women, is emerging as a potentially serious risk associated with climate-related disasters; as floods or landslides disrupt social safety nets, leaving more women isolated and vulnerable.
It reveals that in Nepal, estimates based on emerging data from anti-trafficking organisations, such as Maiti Nepal, suggests trafficking may have increased from an estimated 3,000-5,000 people (mostly women, as well as children and youth of both sexes between the ages of 7 and 21) in the 1990s to current levels of 12,000 – 20,000 per year, saying approximately 30 percent of these end up in forced labour, while 70 per cent are exploited in the sex industry.
According to a statement from UNEP announcing the report, the data suggests human trafficking increases by around 20 to30 per cent during disasters, while the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL), has also warned that climate disasters may increase the exposure of women to trafficking as families are disrupted and livelihoods are lost.
The report which was released at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, also says women are disproportionately at high risks to their livelihoods and health from climate change because they are often ignored.
“Women in communities vulnerable to climate change are often more likely than men to lose their lives during natural disasters, due to poor access to coping strategies such as basic lifesaving skills or cultural factors that restrict the mobility of women,” it says.
The UNEP report however recommends adaptation methods such as investing in low carbon, resource efficient green technologies, water harvesting and fuel wood alternatives to improve women’s livelihoods.
Commenting on the findings of the report, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner said “Women often play a stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security. Hence, sustainable adaptation must focus on gender and the role of women if it is to become successful.”
“Women’s voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be made a central part of Governments’ adaptive responses to a rapidly changing climate.” he added.
Role of Women in Boosting Food Security and Strengthening Adaptation
On the other hand, research conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has shown that providing women, who make up around 40 to 50 per cent of the work force in agriculture, with the same access as men to productive resources and technologies could increase yields on farms managed by women by between 20 and 30 per cent.
It is believed this could substantially improve food security by raising agricultural output in developing countries by up to 4 per cent.
However, several dynamics make adaptation more difficult for some women due to a lack of access to formal education, poverty, discrimination in food distribution, food insecurity, limited access to resources, exclusion from policy-and decision-making institutions and processes and other forms of social marginalisation.
The UNEP report focuses in particular on women in Asia’s mountain regions. With more than half of South Asia’s cereal production taking place downstream from the Hindu Kush Himalaya, the impacts of climate change, such as droughts or flooding, on food security and livelihoods are keenly felt – especially by women – in this region and beyond.
Adaptation focus on women
Successful climate change mitigation is thus dependent on designing adaptation programmes with a strong focus on gender equity, due to the key roles women play in agriculture, forest economies, biodiversity and other sectors, particularly in developing countries, according to the report.
It also recommends greater investments in green, labour-saving technologies such as irrigation systems or water harvesting, which can improve the quality of life and increase the productivity of female farm workers, while also benefiting the environment, through replacing fuel wood often collected by women with cleaner fuel alternatives, for example.
Available statistics show that from 1999–2008, floods affected almost one billion people in Asia, 28 million in the Americas, 22 million in Africa and four million in Europe.
In parts of Asia and Africa, where the majority of the agricultural workforce are female, the impacts of such disasters have had a major impact on women’s income, food security and health as they are responsible for about 6 per cent of household food production in Asia and 75 per cent in Africa.

Monday, December 5, 2011

COP 17: Africa urged to commit resources to adaptation


Agriculture, water and energy, are three areas Africa has been urged to commit resources for adaptation to climate change, at the ongoing 17th Conference of Parties in Durban, South Africa, according to the Information and Communication Service of the Economic Commission for Africa.
Although happening at side of the conference, the call has heightened interest in adaptation and repositioned it as an area in which Africa could actually lead the rest of the world, it says.
Leaders on the continent as well as scientists have thus specifically been tasked to reformulate adaptation as a cross-cutting issue that can be an integral part of overall development policies, in the context of climate change and “take the initiative in designing and funding theses activities rather than wait for assistance from abroad.
Leading in the call at the ECA-led side-event, was Mr. Josue Dione, Director of Food Security and Sustainable Development Division at the ECA, who said that by integrating adaptation in agriculture, energy, water and other development sectors, African countries would avoid creating new structures that could consume resources that are already scarce on the continent.
Adding his voice, Dr. Saleemul Huq, International Institute of Environment and Development, who was a panellist, said, “adaptation is a new business and no one has done it before. Africa should take the lead in this area and in the future, it will sell this expertise to the rest of the world.”
He gave the example of Bangladesh that has decided to fund its adaptation activities from its national budget to the tune of $300 million every year, urging African countries to emulate that step.
“Adaptation to the effects of climate change is very important to Africa and other developing countries…. and “if you say adaptation is important to you, you should put your money where your mouth is, like Bangladesh has done,” he said, referring to African countries.
Dr. Huq urged Africa to work towards becoming the most adaptive continent, calling on leaders and negotiators not to “sell vulnerability, misery but abilities to cope, to adapt”.
Another panellist, Dr. Fatima Denton, team-leader from the Canadian-funded Climate Change and Adaptation in Africa (CCAA), advised that adaptation should not be seen as a separate initiative but as an important process of social transformation.
“Many people see adaptation as an outcome, but the quality of the process is also important in determining what the outcome will be,” she said, before identifying energy, water and agriculture as three important areas for adaptation in Africa.
Dr. Denton added that generating and disseminating knowledge about climate change is an important element of adaptation.
“Vulnerable people struggling on a daily basis with questions about how to adapt to extreme weather patterns, or about how to feed themselves, need to be part of the conversation,” she said, emphasising the important role played by institutions in bringing about social change, and arguing that “they should be supported and fully embedded in the adaptation process.”
However, Dr. Tom Downing of Global Climate Adaptation Partnership said that it was difficult to measure the costs of adaptation, or non adaptation, as it is difficult to measure the damage that climate change does to people and communities.
For his part, Dr. Heather Mc Gray of the World Resources Institute listed some important steps that may help in discussing how to move from planning adaptation measures to actual implementation.
These include the sharing of knowledge and information across institutional boundaries; developing mechanisms for joint decision making between different sectoral institution; sharing resources between institutions; conducting an analysis of conflicts and synergies across sectoral boundaries and developing incentives for the private sector to participate in adaptation initiatives.
In his contribution, Mr. Richard Myungi, a negotiator for the government of Tanzania at COP 17, said that climate change has a multiplier effect on the problems already facing Africa, such as poverty and food insecurity, adding that it is important that the countries responsible for climate change pay for adaptation.
Stating that OECD countries are also facing financial difficulties, he advised, “It is therefore important to explore innovative methods of raising financial resources for adaptation from other sources.”
The roundtable discussion was the first in a series jointly to be organised by the African Union Commission (AUC), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) and was moderated by Dr. Abebe Haile Gebriel, Director of the Department for Agriculture and Rural Economy at the African Union commission and chair of the Africa Pavilion Steering Committee of COP 17.
Dr. Seleshi Bekele of ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre who coordinated the organisation of the side-event praised the quality of the discussion and said the massive attendance attests to the centrality of adaptation in Africa’s strategy to cope with the effects of climate change.
It would be recalled that African Heads of State have thrown their full weight behind adaptation as Africa’s main priority in climate change negotiations. The choice of the theme was in fact, to support that position, Seleshi explained.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

African Youth Call for More Justice in Climate Change Negotiations


Young African delegates gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa, have called on leaders of the World to deliver an outcome that would ensure climate, ecological, economical and gender justice at the 17th Climate Change Conference in Durban.
The youth from all sub regions in Africa who met Monday at a three-day landmark summit to discuss and consolidate their position on issues bothering on climate change, acknowledged that climate change impacts threaten Africa’s food security, health, lands, seeds, rights, natural resources and livelihoods.
Stating that it also presents imminent discrimination and violence against women and other vulnerable groups through forced migrations, loss of natural resources, and therefore the basis for their survival, the youth also called on their leaders to set the conditions that will be mutually beneficial for the creation of green and decent jobs, and allow them to take advantage of the broad spectrum of green jobs.
The youth specifically discussed how they could influence policies that ensure that consumers are more carbon conscious and embrace more sustainable lifestyles; opportunities for green job creation; how to make worthwhile energy efficient choices; and the power of social networking, to mobilising communities and awaken world leaders towards more effective sustainable development options.
In a statement at the end of their deliberation, the African Youth recognised that their unemployment predicament can be tackled by a green economy, which can generate more and better jobs that would contribute to an acceleration of sustainable development. 
The statement, which builds on the Bandung Declaration adopted at the UNEP Tunza International Children and Youth Conference that was held from 27 September to 1 October 2011 in Indonesia, further recognised that education is the cornerstone of human existence, and that as capacity building at all levels is of key importance, the capacity of young people should be built accordingly, so that they can play their part in auditing and implementing policies that are related to sustainable development.
The Statement of the African Youth, which also builds on  the Inaugural Generation Earth Youth Summit on Climate Change, which took place in Johannesburg in October 2011, lays out their commitment to lobby their governments to make climate change issues and Rio+20 Earth Summit a top priority.
The youth say they are also committed to adopt more sustainable lifestyles to reduce their ecological footprints, educate their communities and raise awareness about sustainable production and consumption and contribute to the global, regional and national discussions on sustainable development.
A press release jointly issued by Tunza, UNEP and Bayer and the Environmental Affairs Department of South Africa, announced that the Africa Youth Statement will be presented to the African Ministers of Environment at their consultative meeting, which will be held from 4-5 December 2011 in Durban, under the auspices of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), with the recommendation to ensure that the concerns of Africa’s youth are brought at the highest level of climate change debates.
According to the release, the principal challenge affecting the youth is unemployment and under-employment, despite the fact that their professional skills and qualifications are on the rise.
It adds that Africa’s youth remains the continent’s most important resource and have the potential to play a major and effective part in overcoming the many challenges that are slowing down Sustainable development in Africa.
However, it states that in order to tap into this potential, the youth must be informed and empowered so that they can participate in decision-making and implementation of those decisions and must also be empowered to protect, preserve and sustain the ecosystems whose services power life on earth.
“Even as they are empowered, young people must learn to spot and seize opportunities, particularly those that are to be found in the green economy”.
Commenting on the African Youth’s statement, Mounkaila Goumandakoye, Regional Director of UNEP in Africa, said: “There is still a long and challenging way to go if we want to live up to the values and principles of sustainable development and make them a reality. Taking one step beyond the deadlocks which we face in many areas, we will need to learn how to listen to each other, to integrate views and interests to come to practical solutions. We are delighted that African youth can clearly identify these challenges and propose strategic and collaborative action that address their individual, local, national and continental plight and help Africa walk purposely through the sustainable development path. ”
Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the consequences of global warming are likely to be more severe in Africa, even though the World Meteorological Organisation recently reaffirmed that African countries are already suffering major levels of warming and effects in terms of drought and other extreme weather events.

Greater participation for Africa at Climate Change conference


Contrary to what has pertained in all previous 16 climate change conferences held so far, Africa is playing a lead role in the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) climate change conference currently ongoing in Durban, South Africa.
Although it is not certain if Africa has been given greater visibility this time round because it is hosting the annual event, the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), a statement issued November 28, 2011, says, will lead as many as six of the eight thematic roundtable discussions within the Africa Pavilion at COP17.
An Africa Day has also been scheduled for 8 December 2011, the eve of the close of COP 17, to raise the profile of African climate change and development issues and demonstrate African ownership of its agenda on climate change and development.
According to the statement, the event will be marked by high-level dialogues, thematic discussions and informal meetings.
The ‘Africa Day’ will thus be a substantive event that creates an enabling environment for a proactive and positive discourse and debate that seeks to advance the development agenda of the continent in the context of climate change and follows the stated role of the various actors: “Informed policies and practices in Africa that take full account of climate change risks and opportunities at all levels”.
Commenting on Africa’s lead role in as many as six thematic round tables, Mr. Youba Sokona, Coordinator of ECA’s newly established African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), said the series of roundtables and side-events that will address a range of climate change and development issues pertinent to Africa, will significantly enhance the place of ECA as a key player on climate change issues in Africa.
Mr. Sokona, who represents ECA on the joint AUC/ECA/AfDB COP17 Steering Committee and also chairs the technical subcommittee, praised the decision to organise eight roundtable discussions and an Africa Day event, observing that the activities will mark a significant shift from the way Africa has often participated at different COPs.
Speaking to the Information and Communication Service of ECA on the eve of the inaugural session of COP17, he said “It is very significant that the ECA took the lead in the design of both the concept of the African Pavilion, the Africa Day event and especially the scheduling of roundtable discussions which run from 1-8 December, 2011,” adding,   “The Commission will surely come away with its image confirmed as a leading think-tank on climate change in Africa.”
“But most all, ACPC’s participation in the planning of the Pavilion and these roundtables will help test how outputs from the just-ended Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA) could be implemented at country-level in Africa, in that more policymakers will join the debate in Durban”, Mr. Sokona explained.
He said “The roundtables will also provide prime opportunities for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to deepen their understanding of how to integrate climate change issues into development strategies, exchange successful approaches and practical examples, and provide an opportunity for future cooperation around each of the thematic areas.”
According to the statement from the Information and Communication Services of ECA in Durban, the roundtables will bring together senior representatives from national governments, the private sector, civil society organisations, research institutions, as well as from international development agencies, with each panelist bringing experience and know-how to the discussion by addressing specific questions that apply to their particular area of expertise. 
Themes to be discussed include Climate change adaptation in Africa; REDD+, forests and development across Africa; Climate change information and water resources for Africa; Agriculture and food security across Africa; Low carbon development and energy access for Africa; and Climate change vulnerability and disaster risk management.
Each roundtable will last for two hours and will begin with opening remarks by the chair. To set the general context for discussions, each panel member will be asked to discuss and share his/her perspectives (in less than 10 minutes) on a given question that corresponds with his/her expertise and experience, according to the organisers. 

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