Africa’s Water News: Green Beer, At-Risk Aquatic Life, Clean Hands

News from Africa for the 5th World Water Forum:

Tanzania Brewer Drafted into Water Efficiency Effort

Safari-Lager-picture.jpgTo brew just one 250 ml glass of beer it takes 75 liters of water, according to the Water Footprint Network. Water is primarily used for growing barley, but the brewing process itself also uses the resource.

Despite re-occurring drought in Tanzania, Safari and Kilimanjaro Premium Lagers may be sold at the local watering hole for some time to come.

Based in the capital, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Breweries Limited was worried about the region’s water supply. The company brought together citizens, environmentalists, and government agencies who are now working on large-scale infrastructure and efficiency projects to secure the city’s supply into the long-term future.

Tanzania Breweries, and its parent company SABMiller, were recognized in a report on corporate action the World Wildlife Fund-United Kingdom released yesterday at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul.

World-Water-logo.jpgSABMiller, along with MillerCoors and dozens of other big businesses–not all breweries–helped to develop the United Nations CEO Water Mandate, a voluntary initiative to become more water efficient.

The Dar es Salaam region is subject to drought and crop failure, and is expected to become even more vulnerable as climate change intensifies.

The government isn’t doing it’s job to secure a water source, said report author Stuart Orr.


African Countries Come Together to Manage Groundwater

The Iullemenden Aquifer sprawls 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers)–about the size of California–below Mali, Niger, and Nigeria in Northwestern Africa.

Tazole-Well,-Niger,-picture.jpgThe aquifer is a primary source of drinking water for the region, but depends on rainfall for recharge and has been exploited to a point that could spur serious conflict.

It is estimated that withdrawals have increased from 50 million cubic meters in 1970 to 180 million cubic meters in 2004, mostly due to a population increase of 9 million in the region over that same period of time.

NGS photo of Tazole Well, Niger, by James L. Stanfield

The area has been labeled one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change as drought–which has persisted since 1970—is expected to get worse.

Recognizing the situation was potentially explosive, government agencies in all three countries got together to form the Sahara and Sahel Observatory to assess the situation and work on an agreement to manage the aquifer.

The U.N. has highlighted the project as a model for other possible conflict areas.


Aquatic Species at Risk in Southern Africa

Southern-Africa-water-report-cover-1.jpgThe World Conservation Union (IUCN)–one of the definitive sources on endangered and threatened species–announced today at the World Water Forum that many southern African freshwater fish, crabs, dragonflies and aquatic plants risk extinction.

The biggest threat to survival: development.

Out of 1,279 freshwater species in southern Africa, 94 are threatened–78 of these are found in South Africa.

“Here at the World Water Forum the trend is to think about water supply in terms of irrigation, hydropower and drinking water,” said William Darwall, Manager of IUCN’s Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, in a statement. “People tend to forget about the species that live in the water but we can no longer afford to do this.”

IUCN goes on to explain that many of these species are an important source of food.

Read more about this: Action Urged to Avert Extinction of Southern Africa’s Aquatic Species


Schools in Kenya Secure Clean Water, a Better Learning Environment

Much of Nyanza Province in Kenya is drought-prone. Women and children end up walking four miles (six kilometers), or three hours, a day to haul water. Nearly 90 percent of the province’s schools do not have a clean source, according to the nonprofit Global Water Challenge, based in Washington, D.C.

In the last three years teachers from 285 schools in Nyanza have learned how to treat water with a chlorine solution. In addition, they have installed hand-washing stations.

The Sustaining and Scaling School Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (SWASH) program is a five-year funding effort by U.S. businesses, government agencies, and advocacy organizations and foundations to bring proper hygiene, and ideally better health and therefore better education to classrooms. (It is hard to concentrate when you’re sick.)


Tasha Eichenseher’s attendance at the 5th World Water Forum is sponsored by Media21 — a Switzerland-based journalism foundation that brings reporters and producers from around the globe to work together on coverage of major issues such as human rights, climate change, and health.

[This post has been reformatted for Water Currents.]

Changing Planet


Meet the Author
Tasha Eichenseher is the Environment Producer and Editor for National Geographic Digital Media. She has covered water issues for a wide range of media outlets, including E/The Environment Magazine, Environmental Science & Technology online news, Greenwire, Green Guide, and National Geographic News.