In most rural communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a daily routine for women and girls involves collecting clean drinking water for their families. Whether it means a strenuous walk down a steep hill in the highlands or walking for hours during the dry season to the nearest water source, this daily task is familiar to a lot of us.
A few months ago, I travelled to Bialla, a small district town in West New Britain Province, in the north-eastern end of PNG after the launch of the new Water & Sanitation Development Project.
Driving into the township, it’s obvious why access to clean tapped water is so important: the main road was filled with women, and children of school age, carrying huge water containers heading to the nearest river.
I met 13-year-old Rendela, who told me about Tiraua river that it was about an hour out of town. Like most young girls in Bialla, Rendela is responsible for collecting water for her family.
World Water Day
Two questions worth debating are whether we might soon see a renaissance in public private partnerships (PPPs) in urban water supply and services, and whether PPPs are a good way for water companies in developing countries to reduce their staggering level of water losses.
These pressing issues demand our attention because an inordinately high level of water losses – up to 50 percent of water entering the distribution system – burdens water companies and customers in developing countries. More precisely, the culprit is “non-revenue water” (NRW): both physical losses (leakage and bursts) and commercial losses (poor customer databases, meter inaccuracies, and illegal connections).
The consensus is that there is no lack of technical solutions to the NRW problem. In the concluding sessions of a recent conference on water losses in Bangalore, India (February 1–3), organized by the International Water Association (IWA), experts spoke of the need for a “change in mind-set” if the problem of NRW is to be given sufficient attention by politicians and utility managers. True enough, but how exactly do you do that?
The theme of this year’s #worldwaterday focuses on water and energy. And for good reasons.
For the last six years, a power plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico has bought water from a nearby wastewater treatment plant to use in its cooling towers (instead of using freshwater). This operation, Project Tenorio, a public-private partnership, continues today and has already resulted in the reduction of groundwater extraction of at least 48 million cubic meters (equivalent to 19,000 Olympic size pools) and increased aquifer sustainability.
This is a good example of the water and energy nexus in practice: the wastewater treatment plant covers almost all of its operating costs from this additional revenue stream and the power plant gets a more reliable water source that is also 33% cheaper than groundwater in that area.
Treated wastewater has been used to reduce the water requirements of power plants in several other countries as well, as water supply becomes more variable or disappears. In the US, for example, around 50 power plants are using treated wastewater for cooling in order to adapt to water shortages. However, innovative integrated approaches like these are still more of an exception than the norm.
The world commemorated World Water Day on March 22 with events around the globe focusing on ways to make international cooperation happen in the water. Events held in celebration of the Day covered all aspects of water - from water supply and sanitation, to water and its nexuses with food and energy, water resources management and water and climate change. But in most, if not all of these events, one theme was clearly cross-cutting: the importance of strengthening partnerships to leverage knowledge and facilitate innovative solutions.
Guy Laliberté is the Founder of Cirque du Soleil and the President of One Drop, a non-profit striving to ensure that water is accessible to all. One Drop is one of the many innovative organizations the World Bank is proud to partner with in pursuit of this goal.
Today, water is the star. Once a year, we celebrate it, we sing its praises, we think about it. Once a year, we pause to consider the ominous and worrying statistics. Then the curtain falls and we move on. On to another show, another issue to be brought to light.
Dr. Robert Kibugi is a Legal/Institutional Expert for Ministry of Water and Irrigation in Kenya and a lecturer at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP), University of Nairobi.
Legal and institutional changes in the Kenyan water sector are not new; the current water law was enacted in 2002. The law introduced extensive changes and reforms, including a separation between water resource management and water services that allows specialized agencies to perform the tasks.
This resulted in creation of the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) to manage and regulate water resources, and the Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) to regulate water services. The latter regulates the functions of Water Services Boards (WSBs), responsible for developing infrastructure, and those of water service providers (WSPs), which are primarily utilities that purchase water from WSBs and sell to consumers. Beyond water services and resources, the areas of water storage and irrigation, which address harvesting and productive use of water, were not part of the 2002 reforms.
Yesterday, on the eve of World Water Day, NASA and the United States Geological Survey released the first images from the thermal imaging band of its latest launch of the LANDSAT satellite. The satellite will begin regularly producing data on May of this year. Why does that matter? It is the latest improvement in a technology that, in my opinion, has the power to revolutionize water management around the world.
Given that World Water Day, March 22, is not even underway in a large part of the world, at the time of this writing, the amount of World Water Day coverage is no small thing. Here is how World Water Day (eve) has unfolded across the World Bank’s social media and websites.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“After Google unceremoniously announced it would be killing Reader later this year, much of the outraged response focused on its use in the U.S.
But there's a whole other aspect to the service: for thousands of users around the world, it's one of the few ways they can get around their country's censors.” READ MORE