The world marks World Water Day

RANCHI – The International World Water Day is held and marked in style annually on 22 March as a way and means of focusing more attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
This important day was initially proposed in Agenda 21, 1992, by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that recommended an international day to celebrate freshwater.

In response, the United Nations General Assembly designated the World Water Day on 22 March, 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Since then, each calendar year, the World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2013, in reflection was on International Year of Water Cooperation. World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water and is coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) on behalf of UN-Water.

The UN International Year of Water Cooperation and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) designated 2013 and recognised that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share this precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace.

It also sought it wise that promoting water cooperation reveals an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions together.

The Official World Water Day celebrations was held and hosted on 22 March 2013 by the Government of The Netherlands in The Hague. The programme of the day included inspirational speeches, presentations, panel and thematic discussions, and a series of public shows on the theme of water cooperation. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in his video message to the world emphasized that water is a cardinal resource for sustainable development.

Notably and more specifically, was the Key-note speech by His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange, Chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB). Read more here.

Why 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation?
In December 2010, Tajikistan together with a group of other countries, initiated and submitted a proposal to the United Nations General Assembly to declare 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation in its A/RES/65/154 Resolution.

The UN-Water instructed and appointed the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to take lead in the preparations for both the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation and the World Water Day. This was to be in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC).

This was in view of the organisation’s multi-dimensional mandate in the realm of natural and social sciences, culture, education and communication, and its significant and long-standing contribution to the management of the world’s freshwater resources.

India Water Week
The Ministry of Water Resources, India has established an annual policy and technology to showcase event “India Water Week”. This will be on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources, National Water Development Agency and Central Water Commission. The Water week in India will be organised between 8th to 12th April 2013 with the theme “Efficient Water Management: Challenges and Opportunities.” The event will have a conference cum policy dialogue forum coupled with a Business to Business exhibition. The event is targeted at International and National audience comprising of policy planners and technologists involved with water resources management in all key sectors of economy like Agriculture and Irrigation.

Increased global Water demand

Increasing Global Water Demand
Increasing Global Water Demand courtesy of UN-Water 2013

According to the UN-Water, over 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet whereby 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

Shockingly 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

Various estimates indicate that, based on business as usual, 3.5 of the planet Earth, would be needed to sustain a global population achieving the current lifestyle of the average European or North American.

Global population growth
The Global population growth projections is estimated to be at 2–3 billion people over the next 40 years, combined with changing diets, result in a predicted increase in food demand of 70% by 2050.

In 2010, the World Health Organisation and (WHO) and UNICEF, released a report that over half of the world population lives in urban areas, and the number of urban dwellers grows each day. Urban areas, although better served than rural areas, are struggling to keep up with population growth.

With expected increases in population, by 2030, food demand is predicted to increase by 50% (70% by 2050) (Bruinsma, 2009), while energy demand from hydro-power and other renewable energy resources will rise by 60% (WWAP, 2009). These issues are interconnected – increasing agricultural output, for example, will substantially increase both water and energy consumption, leading to increased competition for water between water-using sectors.

Water availability is expected to decrease in many regions. Yet future global agricultural water consumption alone is estimated to increase by 19% by 2050, and will be even greater in the absence of any technological progress or policy intervention.

Water for irrigation and food production which constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources will decrease. Agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater withdrawals (up to 90% in some fast-growing economies).

Economic growth and individual wealth are shifting diets from predominantly starch-based to meat and dairy, which require more water. Producing 1 kg of rice, for example, requires 3,500 litters of water, 1 kg of beef requires 15,000 litters, and a cup of coffee requires 140 litter to be produced according to Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008. This dietary shift is the greatest to impact on water consumption over the past 30 years, and is likely to continue well into the middle of the twenty-first century (FAO, 2006).

About 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid and more than 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment – meaning that they have less than 1,000 m3 per capita (NEPAD, 2006).

Transboundary International Water Basin
In the past, there has been a lot reported on transboundary water related issues and more significantly are the Nile Water Resources among others that I have written about in the past.

It is widely known that water is not confined to political borders. An estimated 148 states have international basins within their territory and 21 countries lie entirely within them.

Transboundary River Basins per continent
Transboundary River Basins per continent courtesy of UN-Water 2013

There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world (64 transboundary river basins in Africa, 60 in Asia, 68 in Europe, 46 in North America and 38 in South America).

Therefore, 185 out of the 276 transboundary river basins, about two-thirds, are shared by two countries. With these, 256 out of 276 are shared by 2, 3 or 4 countries (92,7%), and 20 out of 276 are shared by 5 or more countries (7,2%), the maximum being 18 countries sharing a same transboundary river basin (Danube).

About 46% of the globe’s (terrestrial) surface is covered by transboundary river basins.

With 148 countries include territory within one or more transboundary river basins. 39 countries have more than 90% of their territory within one or more transboundary river basins, and 21 lie entirely within one or more of these watersheds.

It is known that the Russian Federation shares 30 transboundary river basins with the riparian countries, while Chile and United States share 19 river basins, Argentina and China share 18 river basins, Canada 15, Guinea 14, Guatemala 13, and France 10.

Africa has about one-third of the world’s major international water basins – basins larger than 100,000 km2. Virtually all sub-Saharan African countries, and Egypt in the upper Sahara, share at least one international water basin. Depending on how they are counted, there are between 63 (UNEP, 2010b) and 80 (UNECA, 2000) transboundary river and lake basins on the African continent.

Land grabbing is another increasingly common phenomenon. This is quite common and prevalent in Africa. Saudi Arabia, one of the Middle East’s largest cereal growers, announced it would cut cereal production by 12% a year to reduce the unsustainable use of groundwater. As a way to protect its water and food security, the Saudi government issued incentives to Saudi corporations to lease large tracts of land in Africa for agricultural production. By investing in Africa to produce its staple crops, Saudi Arabia is saving the equivalent of hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year and reducing the rate of depletion of its fossil aquifers. That mean Africans will be left to workers on foreigner land but they should not mess up with grabbing land of African.

Nearly all Arab countries suffer from water scarcity. An estimated 66% of the Arab region’s available surface freshwater originates outside the region.

With all the above, where are we headed to as the one piece of world.

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, 4th President of Kenya

Kenya and the whole wide world waited and waited and waited for almost a week. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ran a marathon of making history to a finish line in Kenya to declare the 4th president of the Republic of Kenya. He or she was to succeed President Mwai Emilio Stanley Kibaki whose two terms as the president was coming to a permanent close.

From the crowd of eight presidential contestants, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, 51 years, and his running mate, William Kipchirchir Samoei Arap Ruto emerged the victor and proclaimed the slot to lead Kenya on Saturday, 9th March 2013.

Left to right: Charity Ngilu, Margaret Wanjiru Gakuo wife of Uhuru, Uhuru Kenyatta, Willaim Ruto and Rachel Chebet wife of Ruto
Left to right: Charity Ngilu, Margaret Wanjiru Gakuo wife of Uhuru, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and Rachel Chebet wife of Ruto thanking supporters after the acceptance speech.

It was after a long fought battle which the Jubilee Alliance eventually won in the first round with 6,173,433 of the votes (50.07 per cent), whereas the main challenger on CORD ticket, Raila Amolo Odinga, 68, garnered a mere 5,340,546 of votes ( 43.31 per cent) out of 12,338,667 total votes cast.

Raila has vowed to lodge a case with the Supreme Court that there was colossal tampering with the counting of votes. Additionally, there was delay to deliver the results from all parts of the country and the breakdown of the tally machine at Boma.  Martha Karua one of the presidential aspirants has gone ahead to applaud Raila that it is better that way than stirring violence. Raila rallied his supporters to keep calm as his team of lawyers seek the grace of court.

Raila said he would accept the ruling of the Supreme Court and that he himself and the Kenyans had faith in the country’s reformed judiciary. He summed it up that democracy in Kenya “was on trial.”

Earlier on, the Kenyan high court declined to stop vote tallying process lodged in by Civil Society Groups, ruling that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

However, the Supreme Court has 14 days within which it is required to rule on any petition challenging the presidential results.

Kenya just like Tanzania in the whole East Africa, is the only country where the president honours the constitution and presidential term limits to relinquish power to another leader. The world waits to see if Rwanda under the leadership of President Paul Kagame will honour the constitution and hand over power to the next president in 2017.

Uganda has failed miserably hurting its already wounded nose whereby President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni himself, bribed members of parliament from his own party in 2005, the NRM (National Resistance Movement) to alter and scrap the two presidential term limits to apparently no term limits from the 1995 constitution. The MPs have been alleged to have pocketed a mere 5,000,000 UGX or USD 1,884.932 at the current exchange rate. What a shame.

Kenyans went to the polls to elect the President, Senators, County Governors, Members of Parliament, Civic Wards and Women County Representatives. The most cardinal and awaited results to be announced, was that of the president.

Yours truly was always following on twitter, facebook, Nation Media website and IEBC website for the final tally and declaration. The latter had announced that it would only take 48 hours to declare who had won the presidential vote. Hardly did the world know that the 48 hours will turn into days.

The presidency
Uhuru now follows in the footsteps of his father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Jomo Kenyatta was the first president of Kenya from 1964 to 1978. He was succeeded by Daniel Arap Moi who was the then Vice President. Moi served from 1978 to 2002 and was always referred to as Baba wa taifa.

Historically, Mwai Kibaki becomes the first president ever in Kenya ready and waiting to pass and hand over instrument of power to another president after the presidential term limits have come to a close. Bravo bwana Kibaki.

ICC, tribal, land and ODM factor
You may agree or refute but the International Criminal Court (ICC), tribal inclinations, land issues and ODM factor led the Jubilee Alliance to thump CORD (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy) alliance mercilessly.

With Uhuru and his running mate, William Ruto who have to defend themselves at the ICC in Hague, Netherlands, this was a great boost for the Jubilee Alliance to garner maximum and sympathy vote/support. The two huge and dominant tribes in Kenya, Kikuyu and Kalenjins where Uhuru and Ruto emerge respectively, it was time to bath their children with votes. It would be very hard to see these tribes not to support their home grown children and leave them without a smile in the ballot box.

Daniel Branch from Warwick University once said that “The ICC process helped both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto and that it gave them a powerful message, a real motivation for victory and kept the debate on them the whole time. Odinga was unable to seize the initiative back.”

The ICC has gone ahead to postpone the trials Uhuru Kenyatta to July 9, 2013 and has since dropped charges against former head of civil service, Francis Muthaura. The trial judges have on the contrary, yet to decide on the trial dates for the other accused Kenyans, William Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang.

The hearing of William Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang is set to start on May 28 as opposed to April 10.

Marriage gone bad
William Ruto and Raila Odinga were close political bed fellows and it is believed that it was Ruto who rallied a lot of support in hunt for votes in the Rift Valley for Raila in 2007 presidential campaign. Ruto went on to be elevated to Minister of Agriculture in the coalition government before being dropped due to scandals associated with his ministry in 2009 under his watch. The relationship did not last long after the honeymoon until Ruto was shown the door that brought him into the ODM. Other leaders like Najib Balala were not spared and have since joined the Jubilee Alliance that will form the next government.

Mobilisation skills vis-a-vis Financial muscle 
It was the mobilisation skill that Ruto employed in 2007 to have Raila win massively in 2007 in Rift Valley and it was Raila financial strength that summed up the votes.

It was the same dance floor that the Jubilee coalition used to run a much better campaign this time around. Ruto used the same tactics among others to rally support for Jubilee coalition. He has now turned out to be an effective mobiliser in his own backyard and elsewhere. This was equally accelerated by Uhuru’s riches that softened everything more effectively.