Wednesday, 22 June 2011

CTA e-discussion: Water Management

Question 2 What are the mechanisms and activities implemented or that
should be implemented in order to mitigate these constraints?

At policy-maker level; 1) Investment in water , sanitation and agriculture is an investment in development and sustainability, which should be built on reform, capacity building and innovative water sector financing mechanisms for soft as well as hard issues with appropriate cost recovery.
The African Water Facility has a role to play in financing water initiatives by localizing global and regional plans, facilitating stakeholder partnerships with support for multi - level capacity building. Capacity building has been identified as a major gap, which it is difficult to mobilize donor support.
Political commitments from governments must include the increased mobilization of domestic resources through their PRSPs. Furthermore there is a need to find innovative means of mobilizing domestic resources and encouraging investment of domestic private resources.
Trans-boundary water resources management and development are by their very nature very expensive and beyond the capacity of any single government or donor and requires high-level skills as well as being very time consuming to achieve tangible.
There is therefore the need for partnership for funding trans-boundary water resources programmes. The modest experience of the NBI shows the importance of cooperation and partnership in managing and developing shared river resources. The EU Water Initiative and the GEF programmes are other examples of collaborative efforts towards funding trans-boundary water development and management. It was recommended that capacity building; long-term academic/professional training and encouraging south-south cooperation between basin authorities should underpin all collaborative trans-boundary water initiatives.
2) A minimum platform of institutions & infrastructure is needed to achieve water security, which is a necessary condition for sustainable growth & poverty reduction. Investment in appropriate infrastructure due to the high rainfall variability and vulnerable economies is essential
The Inga hydropower project as an example of mega project, has enormous potential for hydropower production to meet the energy needs of many African countries and when developed could create peace, solidarity, socio-economic development and true regional integration. Water security requires innovative basin wide water management and bottom up approaches to gender based investments in multiple water use systems.
At rural community level:
For the rural community level, I will propose the concept of “Sanitize and Recycle”, a model which I will describe as a cycle; a sustainable, closed-loop system. It treats human excreta as a resource. Urine and faeces are stored and processed on site and then, if necessary, further processed off site until they are free of disease organism. The nutrients contained in the excreta are then recycled by using them in agriculture.

Sadly, in today’s society the flow of plant nutrients is linear: nutrients are taken up from the soil by the crop, transported to the market, eaten, excreted and discharged. In a sustainable society the production of food must be based on returning the plant nutrients to the soil. The use of chemical fertilizers is not sustainable, since their production relies on non-renewable resources”. The benefits are as follows;

First, food security and poverty alleviation .In parts of the world, particularly Africa; rural people suffer from periodic famine due to drought, small plot size, soil erosion, poverty (inability to purchase sufficient food) and political factors. In urban areas, poor people also suffer from under nutrition due to poverty, although urban agriculture is a growing phenomenon. However, growing food for the immediate family within confined spaces is a challenge. The products from eco-toilets with their nutrients can be used in rural and urban areas to increase food security for all households, particularly the poor.
The products from eco-toilets can be used directly at the homestead level, in backyard gardens. Researchers have shown that about 1.5litres of undiluted urine can be used to fertilize 1 square meter of soil. 1.5 liters is the amount produced by one adult in one day. Even without an eco-toilet, people could collect their own urine and use it on backyard gardens to increase yields. However, the fertilizing effect of urine is said to work best in soil with high organic matter content and this can be increased by adding the humus from eco-toilets and garden composts.
In urban areas, the sanitized humus from eco-toilets can be used as a rich nutritious soil for planting in pots, and the urine can be used to fertilize the soil before planting and for continued fertilization of plants during growth.
Vegetable and fruit crops grown using urine fertilization produces 2-10 times the amount of crop by weight as those grown in unfertilized, poor soil. If people use urine to grow vegetables and fruits, the increased production results in greater food security at virtually no cost.
Soil enriched with humus from eco-toilets holds water longer than soils not enriched with compost. Research has also shown that plants grown in soils enriched with large amounts of humus require less watering and survive droughts better than plants grown in ordinary soils without this humus.
Second, cost saving for Nigerian farmers is another benefit. This is true because the formulation of nutrients in urine is similar but not exactly the same as that in commercial fertilizers. But urine and commercial fertilizers give similar results in boosting plant growth.
Urine is high in nitrogen and lower in phosphorus and potassium. Some top-up of phosphorus and potassium is often needed to get the best possible use of nitrogen. As faeces and ash are high in phosphorus and potassium, farmers can replace commercial fertilizers with urine and top-up with sanitized faeces from eco-toilets at little or no extra cost.
Third; preventing nitrogen pollution of drinking water in our communities is another benefit. Pit toilets as well as sewers are frequently a source of ground water pollution, especially in areas where the water table is high such as Port Harcourt, Calabar and Lagos etc.
Urine is rich in nitrogen and up to 50% of the nitrogen leaches out of the pit toilet pass through the soil and reaches the groundwater. Water with NO3 concentrations higher than 50mg/liter is considered to be unfit for human consumption. It is not unusual to find such high concentrations of nitrogen in wells in communities with pit toilets.
Finally, restoring lost top soils could also be another great benefit. This is true because according to FAO, the Earth is losing 25billion tones of topsoil per year because of erosion. Chemical fertilizers, while boosting plant growth, cannot replace topsoil. Topsoil contains humus formed from decayed plant and animal matter, and is rich in carbon compounds and micro-organisms necessary for healthy plant growth, which are not found in chemical fertilizers.
The addition of humus is therefore necessary to maintain and renew the topsoil. With the loss of topsoil comes the loss of human food security. In many parts of the world, people are experiencing reduced productivity on their lands due to loss of top soils.

Question 3 What are the lessons learnt and best practices derived from the
mechanisms or activities implemented?

At policy maker level;
1).Decentralisation in rural water supply and sanitation provides opportunities for development of good policies, accountability, and management at lowest appropriate level, up scaling, stakeholder role separation, good practice and capacity building.

2).Investing in the optimisation and standardization of locally appropriate affordable technologies and renewable energy sources in the provision of water and sanitation is critical to achieving food security, rural development and improving livelihoods.

3).Implementation of sector wide approaches need to be supported by an enabling environment of appropriate contractual arrangements, legislation, multi- stakeholder involvement and using innovative financing mechanisms

4).Critical elements of service delivery to the poor should include reforms of inefficient water utilities, horizontal and vertical partnerships in all aspects of water services delivery, performance management of stakeholders using holistic indicators. The rights of the poor to water must be accompanied by shared responsibility among stakeholders.

At rural community level: The willingness to learn and the creation of enabling environment for sustainability of interventions by all stakeholders. Partnership building and concrete collaborative actions among the stakeholders should be intensified. The adaptation of all coping strategies to local interventions.

Joachim Ibeziako Ezeji
Chief Executive Officer
Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP)
58 MCC/Uratta Road Owerri, Imo State Nigeria
Tel:+234 83305266, 8035767074

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