Weekly Water Report Middle East & Africa Stories

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Water Pipeline Between Israeli Settlements Will Disrupt Palestinian Farmers

NABLUS, Palestine

The government of Israel has informed Palestinian landowners that a new 7-kilometer water pipeline is to be constructed between two illegal settlements in the northern portion of the West Bank.

Climate and Water at COP24: Will We Catch the Current or Be Trapped in the Eddies?

KATOWICE, Poland

OOSKAnews Voices is a series of guest “opinion columns” written by senior participants in different parts of the international water community.

In this article, John H. Matthews, co-founder and secretariat coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), which is chaired by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and the World Bank, reflects on this month's 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the evolving recognition and presence of "water" as a voice in the UNFCCC.

Matthews’ work integrates technical and policy knowledge for climate adaptation for practical implementation. John has worked globally on these issues since 2007 and has authored many publications on adaptive management for water infrastructure and ecosystems. He has a PhD in ecology from the University of Texas and is based in the United States.
 
I’ve just left COP24 in Katowice, Poland. The UNFCCC COP in Paris three years ago had the Eiffel Tower in its logo - today, we are still living in the shadow of Paris in the negotiations.

I’ve been tracking water in the COP process since COP15 in 2009. The period in between has seen vast changes in the recognition and presence of “water” as a voice in the UNFCCC. Back then, my first impression was that everyone was talking about water impacts but no one seemed to realize that they were constantly referring to water management decisions. Water was present but the water community was invisible.

The next year - 2010 - was the Cancun, Mexico, conference. Water was covered in a single unofficial side event organized by the World Bank; water was figuratively outside of the COP — but literally as well, some 20 km away from the negotiations. But word was leaking out. The message that climate adaptation for people and ecosystems was largely about water began to permeate the COP.

The 2015 Paris Agreement marked a huge transition. Overall, we had a clear framework for talking about both emissions and adaptation at national and global levels. Although water was not named in the Paris Agreement, the water community for the first time began communicating with largely one voice through #ClimateIsWater, while the French, Moroccans, Germans, Dutch, and others sponsored the first UNFCCC Water Action Day to recognize how the UNFCCC is in many ways really the first global water and climate convention — water for clean energy, for carbon sequestration, and for effective and enduring climate adaptation.

Making Polish Sausage at COP24: How Much Can We See?

This year - last Friday - we celebrated the third year of having water formally engaged, with extensive water events looking at climate mitigation and adaptation and how the water community can help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Many of our messages from 2009 and 2010 have become truisms - almost throwaway lines.

But the Paris shadow is long and dark, at least in places. So far, negotiators have not agreed on the urgency of action. The US and many Persian Gulf states have effectively opposed endorsement of the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report. The role of climate change in human migration and displacement remains deeply controversial and sensitive. And many countries are struggling with meeting and clarifying their national goals - the Nationally Determined Contributions to global targets, or NDCs - even as they must revise their first five-year targets to prepare for new, more hopefully more rigorous targets in 2020. The broad aspirations of Paris are becoming more pressing and also need to become more specific and strict. That transition is the challenge now facing negotiators this week.

Water too is facing new challenges. I was the only “sectoral” specialist to speak in an official UNFCCC event on water and finance. Most of the other speakers celebrated new finance vehicles for clean energy and mobilizing large pools of capital for climate mitigation. Only a few also mentioned adaptation.

My turn came to speak. I began by stating that the discussion had largely focused on the quantity of investment, but we had said almost nothing about the quality of that investment. Systemic risks were present in our investment frameworks if we did not recognize that the deep uncertainties in water management for both mitigation and adaptation threatened our ability to achieve most climate goals. Only within the past few years had the water community had only just begun to coalesce and promote methods to address these uncertainties, but few financial institutions recognized these concerns as significant issues. Thus, the finance community needed to use funding vehicles to signal to broader markets and decision makers that our long-term climate security and investment paradigm must float on a pool of resilient water resource for robustness and flexibility.

My points, however, were not heard.

I was silenced - my microphone turned off by the chair before I had finished my talking points. The moderator looked harshly at me: “These are not investment issues and thus not relevant to this discussion.”

Water still has some way to flow, some opposition to erode.

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South Africa Water Minister Ignored Financial Mismanagement Warnings

JOHANNESBURG

The Department of Water and Sanitation's internal audit committee had given its former minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, detailed quarterly reports about serious financial mismanagement in her department – but she ignored them all.

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Kuwait Development Fund Supports $122 Million USD Sinai Desal Project

SHARM EL-SHEIKH

Egypt and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development signed two agreements on Saturday to establish an EGP 1.4 billion water system in Bahr Al-Bakr and to finance four desalination plants in South Sinai governorate for EGP 880.5 million.

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Zambia Benefits From China Mega Dam Completion

LUSAKA

China's Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation (AFECC) handed over a mega water dam with a storage capacity of 61 million cubic meters to the Zambian government on Thursday. Zambian President Edgar Lungu inspected the site and said his country has turned a new page in the advancement of irrigation agriculture thanks to the Mwomboshi Dam in central Dhisamba district.

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Veolia Exec Fauchon Is WWC Prez Again

KATOWICE, Poland

The Board of Governors of the World Water Council (WWC) has unanimously elected Loïc Fauchon as its new president, succeding Brazilian Benedito Braga. Fauchon was previously WWC president from 2005 to 2012, and has now been re-elected in 2018. Fauchon is also president of Eaux de Marseille in France, a subsidiary of Veolia, the international water and waste conglomerate.The returning WWC president will have an opportunity to describe WWC priorities December 7 at COP24 in Poland at a special water event where he is scheduled to offer concluding remarks.

WaterAid Calls For COP Recognition Of WASH As Part Of Climate Change Adaptation

KATOWICE, Poland

Sudan, Niger and Pakistan are the top 3 countries with the most threatened water supply, based on new analysis by Water Aid of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative measures of access to water, climate patterns and water usage rates.

Partnership To Secure Africa Water Security Through Transboundary Infrastructure Projects

VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) are partnering to support project preparation, transaction management, resource mobilization, advocacy, capacity development, research and knowledge sharing in the joint implementation of transboundary water projects in Africa.

Sardinia Arrest Over Terrorist Drinking Water Poison Plot

CAGLIARI, Italy

Italian anti-terrorism police have arrested a Palestinian man in Sardinia with links to the Islamic State group on suspicion that he was planning to poison water supply with ricin and anthrax in a terror plot.

KfW Supports $12.3 Million USD Uganda WASH Project

LIRA

The Ministry of Water and Environment with support from the German government-owned development bank KfW on Thursday launched a new phase III of water and sanitation project worth sh46b for refugee host communities in northern Uganda. Selected refugee hosting communities in the region are expected to get sufficient, safe and sustainable supply of water and appropriate sanitation.

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PPP Improves Urban Water Supply In Self-declared State Of Somaliland

TOG WAJAALE, Somaliland

An EU-funded UNICEF project to address water scarcity issues in four towns, affecting 800,000 people in Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia, was inaugurated December 2.

Increased World Bank Commitment Gives Equal Emphasis To Climate Adaptation, Mitigation

Washington DC, United States

As the world’s governments meet in Katowice, Poland for COP24, The World Bank Group has announced a new set of climate targets for 2021-2025 with a key priority described by the Bank as boosting support for climate adaptation, recognizing that millions of people across the world are already facing the severe consequences of more extreme weather events.

China Water Drilling Company Supports Giant Egyptian Sugar Factory

CAIRO

People were all with smiles while seeing water massively running out of a 500-horsepower pump to cover a pool of sand in the middle of vast desert. It was during one of the pumping tests for a well dug by China's ZPEC drilling company in the Western Desert near Egypt's southern province of Minya.

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Bottled Water Theft Case Hits Dubai Courts

DUBAI

Three men stole more than Dh600,000 worth of water bottles from Oasis Pure Water Company in Jebel Ali, Dubai Court of Misdemeanours heard. The men - an Indian who is at large, a Sri Lankan, 28, and a Pakistani, 32 - worked for the company before coming up with a plan to steal the bottles.

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Brazil: Mining Giant Will Fight Multi-Billion Dollar Lawsuit Over Samarco Mine Dam Disaster

BRASILIA, Brazil

The world's largest mining company, Anglo-Australian giant BHP, has said that it will fight a multi billion dollar damages lawsuit filed on behalf of 240,000 Brazilians affected by the 2015 tailings dam failure at the Samarco iron ore mine BHP operated in the state of Minas Gerais - Brazil's worst environmental disaster.

Erik Solheim Resigns As UNEP Chief After Travel Expenses Audit; Joyce Myusa Steps Up As Acting Head

NAIROBI, Kenya

The Executive Director of UN Environment (UNEP) has resigned after an audit of official travel by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services criticized the agency for “a culture of scant regard for internal controls and existing rules” on the use of public funds. Tanzanian microbiologist and World Bank alumna Joyce Msuya last week assumed the role of acting head of UNEP.

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