shanty townships of South Africa fights for a bucket of water are a common sight.
Estimated seven million people are denied access to clean water mainly because they cannot
pay the tariff, which has risen sharply within the last few years. Giving rise to public
protest. The strategy adopted by the government to counter such criticisms has shocked the
|S O U T H A F R
I C A
Supported by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the
Masai (pastoral clan) women in Kenya have began harvesting rainwater to keep drought at
bay. Initiated in 2002, the women are focused in this two-year project, funded by the
Swedish government. As per a study, the time spent by Masai women in finding and
collecting water has more than doubled in the last three decades. Each day they have to
walk up to ten km to find sufficient supplies. The project, while ensuring an easy access
to water, extends opportunity to develop kitchen gardens by optimally using the moist soil
around mini reservoirs.Thus, empowering women to take care of their families.
The crisis surfaced when a local group, the Public Services
International (PSI), came up with startling revelations. It said that Padco, a US
consultancy, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAid), has set up and
funds the country's Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit (MIIU). Ironically, "the
MIIU has always been touted by the government as a state owned unit which aims to help
municipalities find innovative solutions to critical problems with the financing and
management of essential services", says the PSI report.
Recently, Padco also prepared a report. Targeting critics,
it highlights the merits of private involvement. The report was released in a close door
meeting to discuss on strategies for breaking the strong protest launched by the unions.
While government is silent, USAid refuted these allegations by saying, "We provide
technical analysis, not policy advice".
Is the private sector ready to deliver to the poor? The
answer is no. An independent study commissioned by Asian Development Bank on the Manila
water system reveals. It says, "While water supply has improved for the city's
wealthy, tariffs have skyrocketed by 150 per cent. The privatisation has not brought about
any real improvement in infrastructure as well."
If privatisation is mooted to ensure efficient water
delivery system then it has to involve the people, particularly the poor.
|J A P A N
facing a major drought in 1994, Takamatsu City in Kagawa, Japan, is treasuring every drop
of water. The domestic and industrial demand for water has stabilised due to joint efforts
of state and society The collection and usage of rainwater and recycled gray water is
optimal - enhancing the supply. Today, the city is water sufficient. And, the people are
actively aiding others towards wiser water use.
|T U R K S
& C A I C O S I S L A N D S
A unique system
The Turks and Caicos
Islands (TCI) in Atlantic has evolved a unique water supply system. It relies mainly on
rainwater and is supplemented by saltwater. With an average annual rainfall of 45 cm or
less, fresh water is short in supply. Inviting strict government regulations like, in all
the buildings construction of a water cistern large enough to store 400 l/cm of roof area
is mandatory. These codes are strictly implemented as well. Besides, private buildings a
number of public catchments are maintained. Recently, to ensure proper water supply, the
government of TCI, has installed three river osmosis plants. Thus, using the saltwater not
only for flushing but for producing desalinated drinking water as well. Sound water
(For details: Dr Monteagudo at firstname.lastname@example.org)
|N E P A L
|Spouts returnTo augument the freshwater
supply, the people in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal, have began work to restore their
traditional water supply system - Stone Spouts. However, even with the financial support
of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation, it is proving to be an uphill task. As any
revival effort requires people to not only take up rainwater harvesting but to also
relocate buildings constructed near the spout.
Spouts are beautifully carved stone elements, in the shape of a crocodile head
(considered as a holy water species). They are installed in the front wall of sunken and
stepped platforms for drinking water supply. Each platform may contain more than one
spout. The platform is usually made up of stone slabs connected with shallow underground
drainage channels. The surrounding wall is of brick masonry. Rainfed springs or aquifers
ensure its water supply. Spout water is considered to be pure and, is used in religious
functions and preparation of traditional medicines.
Overcoming several hurdles, the work is being completed under the project. Both the
state and community are jointly supervising its management.