By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News
Most countries will have to make do with the water they’ve got, but there are stark disparities
Over the past 40 years the world’s population has doubled. Our use of water has quadrupled. Yet the amount of water on Earth has stayed the same.
Less than 1% of the water on planet blue is for humans to drink.
About 2% is locked up in ice. The rest is for the fish.
Seawater is only good to drink for humans who live near the sea and can afford the cash and the energy to take out the salt.
For most of the population this is not an option.
Desalinated water costs maybe 15 times more than regular water. It burns polluting fossil fuel energy, as solar-powered desalination is in its infancy.
No, most places will have to live with the water they’ve got.
Many countries are awash; they’ll be fine. Others are desperately mining fossil H2O that seeped into rocks during the last ice age.
And as underground supplies run dry, water shortage sets in.
Large parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, including the south east of Britain are categorised by the UN as facing water stress or scarcity.
During a couple of weeks in May, the acclaimed photographer Ian Berry travelled in Nampula to document the problems and potential solutions to the lack of water and sanitation infrastructure in small towns in Mozambique, especially along the Nacala corridor in Nampula province. Mr. Berry, who is writing a book on water and waterways, is preparing the material for a multimedia film on the topic of small town WASH and UNICEF’s work in the field. The multimedia film will be distributed through global media outlets to highlight the issues related to water and sanitation in small town settings.
Photographer Ian Berry covering the drilling of a bore hole in Monapo, one of the small towns included in the NAMWASH project.
The Small Towns Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme in Nampula (NAMWASH)
“NAMWASH is serious!” was the conclusion of one district administrator, when commenting on the role NAMWASH would play in terms of improving general living conditions and contributing to economic growth in his district. The NAMWASH programme addresses the critical area of water supply and sanitation in small towns in Mozambique. The programme is financed by AusAID, UNICEF and the Government of Mozambique, and its main aim is to improve water and sanitation in five small towns in Nampula. Between May 21 and 24, the programme partners participated in a field visit to the five towns covered by the programme, observing facilities on the ground and visiting stakeholders in the districts.
A derelict water pumping station in Rapale, Nampula, one of the small towns covered by the NAMWASH programme.
MIND THE GAP… It is commonly known that investments in water supply and sanitation are mostly mobilized either for rural villages (handpumps/latrines) or cities (large piped networks). The GAP is in SMALL TOWNS. Mozambique has more than 120 small towns with dilapidated infrastructure built by the Portuguese colonialists in the 1950s and 1960s. The infrastructure was designed to serve a population of less than 1000 and many of these towns now have a population of more than 20,000.
As the New Year unfolds, the water and sanitation sector looks forward to greater fiscal allocations as a result of the upcoming Sanitation and Water for All meeting in Washington DC. Countries are preparing the relevant evidence to demonstrate if, and how, they have increased government and non-government funds to this important sector despite the globally stretched economic situation resulting from the financial crisis.
The One Million Initiative of the Government of Mozambique aims at supplying access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation for one million people. The program has constructed hundreds of new boreholes and implemented trainings on sanitation in communities from three provinces. To evaluate the program, a panel survey design was set up with a baseline in 2008, a midterm in 2010 and an end-line in 2013. The survey covers interviews with 1600 households, focus group discussions about the community and water points in 80 clusters in 9 districts. To our knowledge this is the first rigorous evaluation of such a large scale program in the water and sanitation sector.