Sustainable Development

PAMACC News - Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro), has been a seven-year international research programme (2013-2020), funded by the Department for International Development, Natural Environment Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Nearly 200 of the world’s best researchers from more than 50 organisations across Africa and Europe have been focused on improving the evidence base around groundwater availability and management in Sub Saharan Africa.

The goal has been to ensure that the hidden wealth of Africa’s aquifers benefit all citizens and the poorest in particular UPGro projects are interdisciplinary, linking the social and natural sciences to address this challenge.

Water resources are critical to economic growth and social development. Groundwater provides most of the domestic water supply in parts of rural Africa and supports poverty reduction through access to clean drinking water and irrigation. In 2015, only 23 of the 52 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) met the UN Millennium Development Goals target for drinking-water provision and Target 6.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve universal access to safe, affordable water by 2030. Groundwater has the potential to provide an improved source of drinking water for those in SSA who are currently without access.

Yet water is not only an important resource for the poor living in rural SSA, but is also central to most industries and a vital commodity for tourism. Industry is an important source of income for several African countries and a lack of water supply could constrain opportunities for development, including better services and improvements to poorer people’s livelihoods. Groundwater sources are often resistant to drought, acting as a natural buffer against rainfall variability. However, groundwater is already intensively used in certain parts of Africa and in some cases it is being extracted faster than it can be replenished. As the population grows, water security in SSA will become increasingly important and demands on groundwater resources are likely to surge. To ensure sustainability, greater understanding of groundwater resources and how to manage their use effectively will be required.

A recent study on groundwater in Africa has shown that there is possibly 20 times more water available as groundwater compared with that available in lakes and rivers. Droughts are currently a major cause of humanitarian disaster in SSA, often leading to mass population movements and considerable health, social and economic stress on many developing nations. These humanitarian disasters are likely to grow in scale as populations increase and climate and land-use change accelerate. With these increasing pressures on water resources, the potential pressure on groundwater as the solution to the water security challenge in SSA is high.


YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - A machine that has the capacity to provoke condensation and consequently rainfall, has just been designed in Yaounde, Cameroon.

The invention called the “Kisha” which in the Nso Language means metal, and signifies strength is the innovation of Dr. Venatius Wirkom Kihdze. He has just finished with the experimental phase prototype and he discribes it as a game changer in the fight against climate change that manifests in the form of drought, high temperatures and Hurricanes. Dr. Wirkom says the prototype has the capacity to provoke rainfall within an area of 5000 metres square.

The inventor Dr. Venatius Wirkom Kihdze, a Medical Laboratory Science researcher, says his invention is the fruit of his childhood dream, nursed for over 40 years.

Scientific Manifestation Of “Kisha”

The “Kisha” can cause rainfall at man’s will be increasing atmospheric moisture, which leads to more water vapour in the air which condenses and produces rainfall.

The Kisha the inventor says, is two metres long and a quatre metre wide. It is comprised of four components:
 an electric machine that pumps the air. a channel pipe that takes air from the machine to the compression tank that serves as an air reservoir a compression tank, 13 tubes that take air from the air reservoir to the different humidifier positions, placed at evenly distributed distances in the circumference around the machine.

Dr Wirkom says this idea is a childhood dream he has nurtured for over 40 years. He wanted to help in the cultivation of vegetables during the dry season when the soil is dry. With the increasing effects of climate change, farmers no longer master the seasons. The “Kisha” will cause rainfall at man’s will, thus increase food production in areas suffering from drought or desertification.

The production phase of the experimental phase prototype of the “Kisha”is over. ” We need now to test it” Dr Wirkom says. “We need the collaboration of Environmentalists, Meteorologists, Geographers. Mechanical engineers, Energy Engineers and Microbiologists to fully valorise the invention” he says. He is also in need of funding to develope the technque.

The experimental “Kisha” can cover a space of 5000 metres square. But Dr Wirkom says as time goes on, they can build bigger and stronger versions of Kisha that can cover an entire region or a continent.

This researcher has been most active in innovations concerning health. He has carried out research in developing easy methods for testing bacteria and parasites in stool, and many other findings in tuberculosis, opportunistic infections in HIV /Aids Patients, effectiveness of Fansidar in the treatment of malaria in pregnant women, among others.

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - As the world grapple with containment of COVID-19 pandemic, food protests especially among poor and vulnerable African communities are likely going to be deadlier than the virus itself, if governments and international institutions do not act now, experts have warned.

In a virtual meeting with the press from across Africa, experts from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and ONE – a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030 said that there exists a window of opportunity for governments to save the situation, and plan for future eventualities but only if they act in time.

“We are heading towards a real disaster because when hunger comes in, people will always protests,” said Dr Fidel Ndiame, AGRA’s Vice President for Policy and State Capacity, noting that COVID-19 effects to food security are going to be worse than what was witnessed during Ebola, because the current virus is affecting the entire world.

As a short term measure, the experts want African governments to expand and improve food assistance and social protection programs to protect the most vulnerable including cash-based transfers as the primary safety net, which can largely be distributed through contactless solutions; in-kind food assistance such as take-home rations, food package delivery, and food vouchers where necessary.

It was observed that at the moment, there is no food shortage in the global market. In Europe and the US for example, milk is being dumped and eggs are being smashed as demand from restaurants decreases. But access to the food poses a problem because borders have been closed, and movements curtailed as part of COVID-19 containment measures.

At the same time, during such crisis, some families panic and hoard food. In response, countries impose export restrictions in a misguided effort to protect domestic prices. This is likely going to be a huge problem because many African countries depend on imported food, especially rice from Asian countries.

 “Food security concerns go hand in hand with pandemics,” said Edwin Ikhuoria, ONE’s Africa Executive Director, noting that the SARS and MERS outbreaks led to food price hikes and market panics in affected areas, leaving the poorest groups without access to essential foods, especially staples

In the East African region for example, Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli has publicly urged farmers in his the country not to sell food to neighboring countries, and if they must sell it, they must make sure they charge exorbitantly to take advantage of food shortages in countries that imposed lockdown to contain the virus.

With the invasion of desert locust, floods and containment measures for COVID-19, Kenya and Uganda are the most affected in the region. Kenya in particular heavily relies on supplies of commodities such as onions, fruits, tomatoes and other vegetables from Tanzania through Namanga border. Yet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures, movements across the border have been restricted.

To that end, the experts asked all governments to step up efforts to ensure adequate food reserves by stepping up local production and storage, and called on donors to fully fund the US$1.5 billion requested by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

GAFSP, created by the G20 in response to the 2007-2008 food price crises, is a multilateral mechanism to improve food and nutrition security that has effectively channeled finances to governments, the private sector, and directly to farmers.

To the international institutions, the experts called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Board to act to create $500bn in Special Drawing Rights and all actors should immediately enact a debt moratorium for bilateral, multilateral and private debt for 2020 and 2021.

“Special Drawing Rights should be allocated to poorer countries, providing them with immediate liquidity to respond to the crisis, said Ikhuoria, further calling on donors to fully fund the US$6.7 billion requested for the Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

The GHRP is a coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in 64 of the world’s most vulnerable countries, and includes financing for the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The IMF forecasts global economic growth to contract by 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, a downgrade of 6.3 percentage points from the January 2020 projection. This will make it the worst downturn since the Great Depression.  As a result, 419 million additional people could fall into extreme poverty in 2020, particularly in the sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Recent studies on the impact of COVID-19 in rural China confirm that in order to ensure adequate food, families substituted high nutrition foods such as meat and produce, for lower nutrition items like grains and staples, significantly impacting nutrition. In Senegal, more than 85% of its population has seen a reduction in income, and as a result, over a third of them now eat less food every day.

Generally, the main productive asset of the poor is physical labor. Yet, this has already been affected by social distancing measures making efforts to contain the virus much more challenging, according to IFPRI.

As a result, media reports have shown that vulnerable citizens in Tunisia have disobeyed lockdown measures to protest over hunger.  In Zimbabwe, where extreme hunger debilitates 30% of the population, many are willing to risk contracting COVID-19 if it means they can eat.

“We need governments to develop sustainable food systems that can support individual countries even in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ndiame.


On this International Mother Earth Day, all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic – the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War.
We must work together to save lives, ease suffering and lessen the shattering economic and social consequences.
The impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful.
But there is another deep emergency -- the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis.
Biodiversity is in steep decline.   
Climate disruption is approaching a point of no return.
We must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption.
The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call.
We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.
I am therefore proposing six climate-related actions to shape the recovery and the work ahead.
First: as we spend huge amounts of money to recover from the coronavirus, we must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition.
Second: where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it needs to  be tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth.
Third: fiscal firepower must drive a shift from the grey to green economy, and make societies and people more resilient
Fourth: public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate.  
Fossil fuel subsidies must end, and polluters must start paying for their pollution
Fifth: climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policy making and infrastructure.
Sixth: we need to work together as an international community.  
These six principles constitute an important guide to recovering better together.
Greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries.
On this Earth Day, please join me in demanding a healthy and resilient future for people and planet alike.

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