Recently Chinese journalist Sun Yu travelled to Kenya and Egypt to visit a number of water cooperation projects; this is a translated extract from her report in Environmental Protection magazine.
In order to improve Africa’s ability to guarantee the safety of its water resources, China and the UN are cooperating to develop the ‘Africa Water Movement Project.” The project, organized by both China and the UN, aims to provide ecological and environment- building technology to countries in drought-stricken areas in Africa and it is Chinese institutes in the relevant areas implementing the project.
Data gathered by UNESCO shows that around 884 million people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water, with the majority living in Africa. On the African mainland, 40% of the population suffers from water shortages. Fourteen countries in Africa are currently suffering from a severe shortage of water, and severe water shortages will appear in a further 12 countries over the next 25 years. The sanitation coverage rate in African cities is currently 53%, and only 29% in rural areas; around 50% of disease is related to inability to get access to clean drinking water and lack of sanitation facilities.
In Kenya, those who die as a result of being unable to obtain clean drinking water and fall victim to diseases transmitted through water, number as many as 30, 000 annually, while the number of Kenyan children under 5 years of age who die due to drinking unclean water is second only to those killed by pneumonia.
In order to strengthen technological ability in African countries, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Technical Cooperation on Water Resources in Africa, in November 2008, beginning the Technical Cooperation on Water Resources in Africa in 16 African countries. In April 2009, both parties signed the African Environmental Cooperation Project Implementation Agreement, beginning 4 key projects in the first phase of African environmental technological co-operation, divided into: waste-water treatment and exploitation demonstrations and training in African communities; drought early warning systems and adaptive technology in African drought areas; technical cooperation on the protection of water resources and ecosystems in the Lake Tanganyika Basin, and consultation and training in the technical application of rainwater accumulation technology. The first phase launched demonstrations of engineering planning and personnel training in African countries, and was completed at the end of 2010.
The UNEP’s Regional Director for Africa, Mounkaila Goumandakoye told journalists that the efficacy of the first phase was clear, and that it had been praised highly by the relevant African governments, promoted Sino-African friendship, and boosted China’s international image as a responsible country.
In order to further deepen the benefits of cooperation, MOST and the UNEP have together begun the second phase of co-operative projects, which focuses on technical co-operation in the field of water resources. The overall aim of this project is to protect the water resources and aquatic ecosystems of Africa. MOST has continued to invest 50 million RMB, and has launched technical cooperation in guaranteeing the safety of African water resources and sustainable development. This cooperative project has been carried out under the auspices of China, the UN, and Africa, and has involved water resource planning, water eco-conservation, the water treatment and utilization, advance drought warning, water-saving agriculture, and desert control. The six concrete projects include resource planning in typical African countries and catchments, technical cooperation on the protection of water resources and ecosystems in the Nile and Lake Tanganyika catchments; drought early-warning systems and adaptive technology in drought areas; cooperative development and demonstration of dry-land water-saving agricultural techniques in Africa and cooperation in desertification control technology and deserticulture development in desert-stricken African countries.
According to Goumandakoye, the projects in the second phase were centered on the theme of “a river, a lake, and a desert”, and were launching environmental assistance to African countries in the Nile River, Lake Tanganyika, and Sahara Desert regions.
According to the head of the MOST’s China-Africa Water Movement Project, Professor Li Feng-ting of Tongji University, Tongji University, the Northwestern A&F University, and other Chinese scientific institutes involved, have launched experiments, investigations, training, and other work on the basis of memoranda of cooperation signed with the relevant bodies of African countries, which have made certain progress. Kenya, Egypt and other African countries welcomed this project.