Continuing and sporadic water shortages are making hygiene precautions next to impossible in north-east Syria while millions face coronavirus risk amid continued fighting, destroyed infrastructure and lack of critical basic services. Only one of the 16 hospitals in the region is fully functioning, and more than half of all public health centres are out of service.
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Human Right 2 Water, a new international NGO launched in Switzerland 26 May, will provide a critical knowledge hub for the integration of human rights to water and sanitation into governance systems.
The government of Ukraine will not restore water supply to Crimea until Russian-backed armed forces “de-occupy” the region, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.
Several people are reported to have been injured as Iranian state security forces and local police fired tear gas and rubber bullets 23 May at demonstrators in the city of Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, who were blocking a highway in protest at the lack of drinking water.
A new report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) examines linkages between renewable energy and nature and food production and calls for integration of multi-sectoral priorities in the decision making process for renewable energy.
The head of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) has called on the international community to condemn Israel’s "arbitrary policy of manipulating water supply allotted to West Bank districts", Wafa, the news agency of the Palestinian National Authority, reported 21 May.
The European Commission is set to present new, ambitious measures to address biodiversity challenges and promote a circular economy approach according to a draft document published 7 May by NGO Arc2020 in advance of the Strategy’s anticipated launch later this month.
The full draft (LINKED), with title “COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS - A new Circular Economy Action Plan - EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 - For a cleaner and more competitive Europe Bringing nature back into our lives” describes a number of water-related actions and approaches to biodiversity challenges:
Some Water-related Excerpts:
This OOSKAnews article was updated 29 May.
A series of nine interesting "Blue Peace Voices", short video presentations by global participants in the Blue Peace movement, were released in May.
The Water, Peace and Security partnership (WPS) has been announced as recipient of the 2020 Luxembourg Peace Prize for Outstanding Environmental Peace. The Luxembourg Peace Prize for Outstanding Environmental Peace recognises contributions to sustainable development, environmental governance, natural resource management and environmental conflict management from an ecological perspective.
Authorities of Libya’s Man-Made River Project (MMR) have announced the 15 May return of electricity supply to all of its wells and fields in the Hassouna System, and Sahil Al-Jafara, resulting in resumption of water supply to Tripoli and surrounding areas.
Electricity supply has been re-established after a week-long stoppage caused by armed attacks described as the worst in several weeks of fighting in and around the city.
Multiple United Nations agencies urged parties to the conflict to protect vital water supply facilities in the country last week. “We are acutely alarmed that water facilities have been deliberately targeted or indiscriminately attacked. This affects thousands of women and children and impedes efforts to implement basic virus prevention measures, such as hand-washing”, said representatives from OCHA, UNICEF, IOM, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNFPA in a 13 May joint statement.
The President of Zimbabwe has intervened in the water shortage crisis engulfing the country’s second city of Bulawayo. Emmerson Mnangagwa said last week that the water problems must be addressed “as a matter of urgency” following an announcement by Bulawayo City Council (BCC) that residents will now receive running water only once a week.
BCC said 15 May that it had decommissioned its third supply dam, Lower Ncema, making it the third to be decommissioned after Upper Ncema and Umzingwane dams. The development leaves Insiza, Inyankuni and Mtshabezi dams supplying the city with 94 megalitres (ML) of water per day against the daily average demand of 155 ML. The reduced water supply has necessitated a 144-hour weekly water shedding programme.
While current interventions related to global migration caused by land degradation, water pollution, or changing climate, remain focused on response mechanisms, an understanding of drivers or so-called “push factors” of migration is limited, according to new research.
The European Parliament approved a Water Reuse Regulation 13 May, defining minimum requirements at European level for the first time for reclaimed water (ie urban wastewater that has been treated in a reclamation plant) to be used for agricultural purposes in a safe way, protecting people and the environment.
Article updated 29 May.
An attempted cyber attack on water command and control systems in Israel in April has been blamed on Iran. The Iran link was first reported by Fox News in the US, quoting unnamed United States government Department of Energy sources. US officials have declined to comment further.
Israel’s head of national cyber security Yigal Unna confirmed 28 May that the country had thwarted a major cyber attack in April against its water systems, calling it a “synchronized and organized attack” aimed at disrupting key national infrastructure.
Rapid transformation of former desert areas in southwest Afghanistan has affected the population residing there, threatening long-term viability of this population’s livelihood.
“When the Water Runs Out: The Rise (and Inevitable Fall) of the Deserts of Southwest Afghanistan and its Impact on Migration, Poppy and Stability”, a paper published 30 April by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) focuses on the factors that led to migration into this region, permanent settlement and transformation of the desert. The research examines the desert communities that are highly dependent on opium production and the cash it generates that is used to invest in additional high cost farming techniques, deploying high-resolution remote imagery and in-depth field work over a ten-year period.
The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has reported (8 May statement by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley) that excessive seasonal flooding, a crippled economy, impending desert locust swarms, and the spread of COVID-19 has threatened the safety and welfare of over 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in Somalia.
The Agency has requested a strong and coordinated response from UN Member States, the international community, national and local Somali authorities and humanitarian organisations and has appealed for $745 Million USD to meet global demands.
New research indicates that in the next 50 years, depending on global warming and population growth, as many as three billion people will be living in climate conditions that are considered unsuitably hot for humans. Global warming will affect ecosystems as well as human health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, and economic growth in many ways, and impacts are projected to increase steeply with the degree of warming.
Access to water is critical for civilians in conflict zones. Yet all too often, water infrastructure is damaged or deliberately targeted. In an effort to strengthen the norms intended to protect water supplies in conflicts, the Geneva Water Hub (GWH) recently published the Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure. It contains a set of legal principles informed by international humanitarian, human rights and environmental law. In this article, Dr Mara Tignino and Tadesse Kebebew from GWH, a Centre of the University of Geneva, and joint project with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), argue that COVID-19 shows why these principles are more important than ever.
This “Water Diplomacy Voices” article is reproduced with permission of the authors, and the Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS) which first published it as a blog on 6 May:
The President and CEO of think-tank International Crisis Group, has warned the United Nations Security Council that without global action, “climate change could prove to be a slow-moving version of the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
Speaking at an informal (so-called “Arria”) session on climate and security risks 22 April, Robert Malley highlighted that climate change is already shaping conflict around the world and it will continue to do so. Malley called climate change an existential challenge that puts vulnerable populations at increasing risk. He also indicated that to deal with climate change and its impacts will require a more significant “robust action” than has been applied to date.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), continued heavy flooding from the end of April, has caused UNICEF to warn of a potential outbreak of cholera.
The Mulongwe River has burst its banks: flooding has damaged the local water treatment facility and destroyed the principal health facility in the area. More than 15,000 homes have been damaged, over 100,000 people have been displaced and about 200,000 have experienced water supply disruption due to the flooding.
The Water Diplomat is produced by OOSKAnews, Inc in a collaboration with The Geneva Water Hub. Content is produced by, and copyright held by OOSKAnews, Inc and do not represent any official position of The Geneva Water Hub.