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KAMPALA, Uganda (PAMACC News) - After a recent study discovered traces of dangerous viruses including cancer causing pathogens in shallow groundwater in Kampala slums, residents of Makerere 2 Zone C can finally breathe a sigh of relief as further studies indicate that deeper groundwater in their area could be safe for drinking.In collaboration with a community based organisation known as MAK H2O Project, scientists from IHE Delft Institute for Water Education together with their counterparts from Makerere University have been working with communities to find out the best way of managing their groundwater in a sustainable manner.“As a short term measure, we have been encouraging community members to boil the water from slum springs before drinking,” said Brian Lutaaya, the Chair – MAK H2O Project.Most of the water springs in Makerere 2 Zone C are just a few meters from pit latrines, a clear indication that the water, which appears to be sparkling clear, is likely contaminated with fecal matter. The water is fetched from an open earth surface. This makes it susceptible to all manners of waste contamination brought around by wind, rainfall runoff water and even malicious individuals.“We are fully aware of the dangers involved, but we have no alternative source of water for drinking and for domestic use,” Edith Kansiime, one of the area residents said during a field visit by UPGro delegation to the 2020 Africa Water Association (AfWA) International Congress.Taps in most parts of the slum went dry some years ago. The only available alternative is to buy mineral water from the shops, which is too costly for most of the slum dwellers.As a result, the surface water has exposed them to several disease causing pathogens, some which are life threatening.A recent study by IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in collaboration with scientists from universities in Uganda and Tanzania discovered traces of 25 different harmful viruses in surface water in the slums of Kampala and Arusha.The study, whose findings were presented at the Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna, Austria, found that most groundwater in the two slums contained traces of herpes viruses, poxviruses, and papilloma-virus. The latter could be one of the causes of different types of cancers in the region.Cancer is one of the lead killer diseases in the East African region, claiming about 100,000 lives every year.According to Lutaaya, the condition of spring water in Bwaise in Kampala, where the study was conducted is not different from the situation in lower Makerere slums.“To our knowledge, these viruses have never been found in groundwater before on such a large scale, perhaps because there has never been an in-depth analysis,” said Dr Jan Willem Foppen, one of the researchers.To support the communities, the scientists have been conducting experiments to understand the nature and safety of groundwater in these slums.In lower Makerere slum for example, the research scientists through the UKaid funded UPGro programme, in a project known as T-GroUP, the scientists have sunk two boreholes, one with a shallow depth…
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - The Cameroon government has announced plans to open up forest plantations across the ten regions of the country as a means to step up its natural forest protection and push the fight against climate change. The project that begins in 220 government says, will redress the challenges of dwindling forests and help mitigate the effects of climate change by creating tree plantations from where forest resources for official use will hence be tapped. The government and local council owned plantations will in the nearest future prevent the exploitation of existing natural forest, the government has announced. Cameroon’s Minister of forestry and wildlife Jules DoretNdongo made the announcement January 27, 2020 in Yaounde at the annual conference of ministerial department.The Minister said between 2012 and 2018, government spent over FCFA 4billion in the reforestation of degraded land. But the policy from 2020 will change with the creation of new tree plantations throughout the 360 local council areas in the country. “This tree plantation policy is in line with the new decentralization code just adopted in the National Assembly to empower local councils better fight against poverty and the fight against climate change,” Minister JuleDoretNdongo said. Working with local councils, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, the government seeks to conserve indigenous forest by opening up new forest plantations that will be hence be used for timber exploitation and other income generating schemes. The decentralization reform in Cameroon will significantly boost development in the 360 local councils of the country and help in the sustainable development drive, he added. The new Decentralization code now see local councils getting three times the hitherto 10% of state budget for their local development one of which is the creation of tree plantations.The tree plantation creation reform is aimed at giving a new impetus to local development and the fight against illegal forest exploitation. “Apart from selling carbon stocks from such forest local councils will in the feature exploit such plantations to create jobs, reinforce resilience and of course better preserve their indigenous natural forest,” says Samuel Nguiffo, Director of the Centre for Environment, CED, in Yaounde. Environment experts says when local communities take over control of their environment, forest plantation and exploitation, they will not only improve their livelihood but curb the effects of climate change in their communities. “By creating local council tree plantations and forest, these communities are not only helping to fight poverty but also to combat global warming. They are also helping to reduce runoff water from the hills that causes floods and other climate change effects,” Nguiffo said. A decision by the government to suppress 10% of the annual forestry royalties (AFR) to local communities in 2010 robbed them of their major source of revenue, stalling development efforts, like providing benches to schools. Village authorities say the suppression of forest royalties handicapped their communities in no small way with many witnessing upsetting experience like studying in classrooms without benches amidst abundant forest resources in their…
But farmers will have to convince the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) that the pest free zones being established in Counties are succeeding in weeding out the mango fruit fly, according to Esther Kimani, the managing director of at KEPHIS.To win the confidence of importers for instance, plastic traps set up in pest free zones must be able to prove that no single fruit fly has been caught there for days.“When we get to that level where the trap does not capture anything, that is when now we can write to our trading partners and tell them that we have established a pest free area for mango production,” says Kimani.Kenya lost the lucrative EU market for mango exports between 2010 and 2014, forcing farmers to hawk their fruits locally for as low as two Kenya shillings due to overproduction.Still, the pressures of climate change like prolonged drought and floods has affected mango production in the country, with experts linking extreme weather to the rapid multiplication of the fruit fly.“The mango is the second most produced fruit in the country after the banana. But fruit fly infestation led to the ban on exports to the EU market,” says Makueni County governor, Kivutha Kibwana, adding that the pest causes between 40 to 80 percent of mango losses in Kenya.Data by TechnoServe indicates that about 49,098 hectares of land are under mango plantation in Kenya, producing 779,147 metric tonnes of the fruit valued at Ksh. 11.9 billion.Only six counties in Kenya, Keiyo, Marakwet, Tharaka Nithi, Tana river, Makueni, Kilifi and Kwale, have established pest free areas for mango farming.A pest free area can reduce post-harvest losses due to fruit fly infestation by about 50 percent.“We want to make the culture of good agricultural practice a way of life for our farmers,” says Kimani.
PRESS RELEASE The National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS) has been launched by Solidaridad in Accra, Ghana. NISCOPS is a five year strategic programme aimed to among others Enable governments in key oil palm producing countries to support and work with farmers towards more sustainable, climate smart palm oil production as well as contribute to Paris Agreement, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).The programme is being implemented in Africa (Ghana and Nigeria) and Asia (Indonesia and Malaysia) with the initial funding support from the Government of the Netherlands. The programme has an inception year (2019) with the implementation phase I from 2020 to 2023 and implementation phase II from 2024 and beyond.The Regional Director, Solidaridad West Africa, Mr. Isaac Gyamfiduring the launch of the programme in Accra, Ghana and the inauguration of the programme National Advisory Committee (NAC), says, “We make bold here to saySolidaridad is in term with the current global and local realities especially on climate change and agriculture and we are now using our over 50 years’ experience of both foot and brain on the ground through our works to contribute to shaping practices and policies at local, districts, national and global levels”Solidaridad has been in Ghana’s Oil palm landscape since 2012 promoting yield intensification at both the farm and mill levels through introduction of Best Management Practices (BMP) and improved processing technology respectively. The organization have also supported the revitalization of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG). Solidaridad have also played a role in the establishment of the Tree Crops Development Authority. These have been implemented under our Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Program (SWAPP).Analysis from SWAPP shows that an average farm yield of at least 12tons/ha/year for existing farms coupled with oil extraction rate of 18% will make Ghana self-sufficient in Crude Palm Oil (CPO) production. This can only be realised when among other interventions such as BMP, great attention is paid to the impacts of climate change on the sector as well as the contribution of the oil palm sector to climate change.In his presentation during the event, Dr. Samson Samuel Ogallah, Solidaridad Senior Climate Specialist for Africa and the NISCOPS Technical Coordinator stated that the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the programme is built on the three pillars of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) of Productivity, Adaptation and Mitigation. Dr. Ogallah added that the programme in addition to its contribution to the NDCs and SDGs of the four countries,aimed to further buildcapacity of smallholders(organizations) and local institutions to improve performance as well as support development of landscape level mechanismsto operate in ‘vulnerable’ landscapes prone to deforestation.In her speech at the event, Katja Lasseur, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ghana, expressed the commitment of the Government of the Netherlands to the programme and call on other partners and stakeholders to come on board in order to achieve the laudable objectives of the programme. The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr.…
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