Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Africa. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Africa. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τετάρτη, Φεβρουαρίου 11, 2015

Floods claim 158 lives in Mozambique (official)

A total of 158 people have been killed in storms and floods that have hit central and northern Mozambique this year, the country's state news agency AIM reported Wednesday...
Some 177,000 people were affected, 654 schools, seven health units and around 100 places of worship were destroyed, AIM cited Mouzinho Saide, the official government spokesperson and Deputy Health Minister, as saying.

"The level of the waters is now falling in the Zambezi basin," said Saide.

Saide also pointed out that there is also a decline in the level in the Licungo basin in Zambezia province, while in the Rovuma basin on the border with Tanzania, the level is rising slightly.

The river basins south of the Zambezi are currently all below flood alert level, and are giving no grounds for concern.

Saide said the cholera outbreak in parts of Nampula, Niassa and Tete provinces have claimed 19 lives, adding that 1,671 cases have been confirmed.

Saide added that the cholera situation is being monitored on a daily basis. Groups have been set up, with staff from various government sectors, to improve sanitation, purify drinking water, and disinfect the houses of cholera victims.

  Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
11/2/15
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Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 17, 2015

Thousands of Malawian flood victims unable to receive aid (Doctors without Borders)

Up to 20,000 people in the southern tip of Malawi most affected by the current floods remain cut off from the rest of the country without food, Doctors without Borders (MSF) said on Friday.

These people are also cut off from health care and ways to prevent possible outbreaks, the humanitarian medical organization said in a statement issued in Johannesburg.

Humanitarian relief is slowly arriving in the districts of Chikwawa where the waters have started to recede. However some of the most affected areas downstream are only accessible by helicopter, making humanitarian intervention difficult, said MSF.

MSF, which has been responding to the floods since January 9, is refocusing its intervention around the town of Nsanje, where it has a long standing regular project, and is assessing ways to access the more remote East Bank.

"The floods are behaving like a slow tsunami with the river swelling progressively downstream towards the south and Mozambique, " said Amaury Grégoire, MSF's head of mission in Malawi, currently in Nsanje evaluating the impact of the floods.


"Most of Nsanje and East Bank are submerged under two to three meters of water, which has transformed these vast plains into a giant lake engulfing houses and bridges. Even though these areas are prone to floods, old people I talked to could not remember events of this magnitude."

As the rains have eased in the past few days, the water levels are expected to progressively recede. However, long term solutions need to be found for people whose possessions and crops, which are the primary mean of subsistence for 85 percent of the population, have been completely destroyed in the flood.

"Several camps have been set up for people who lost their homes, but the majority of them have found refuge in the homes of friends or relatives that are still standing. These houses are made of mud and very crowded, and with most wells and boreholes contaminated by the floods, people are living in precarious, unsanitary conditions," said Grégoire.

MSF has been setting up tents, distributing non-food items, mosquito nets and water treatment kits, as well as building latrines to prevent the emergence of water-borne diseases. The organization has had a presence in Malawi since 1986 where it currently runs three projects helping people living with HIV, one of them located in Nsanje.

In the recent years, MSF conducted humanitarian interventions after floods affected the country in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

  Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
17/1/15
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Κυριακή, Νοεμβρίου 16, 2014

US helps African country's fight against wildlife trafficking

The United States on Friday committed 600 million rand (about $54 million) to the fight against wildlife trafficking in Africa.

Of the funding, over 30 million rand (about $2.7 million) will be dedicated to helping wildlife organisations in South Africa, US Under-Secretary Catherine Novelli said in Pretoria.

In addition to the funding, US will also donate to South African park rangers 750,000 dollars worth of survival, surveillance and investigative equipment to support their efforts to combat poaching and illegal wildlife, said Novelli who was on a visit to South Africa.

These trailers will carry preventive equipment to crime scene, ensuring that rangers and environmental management inspectors have the tools they need to properly collect evidence, according to Novelli.

Novelli handed over two surveillance and investigative crime scene equipment carrying trailers to rangers in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces.

The donation came as wildlife trafficking, particularly rhino poaching, was on the rise in Africa.

South Africa, home to more than 80 percent of the world's rhino population, bears the brunt of rhino poaching.

Since the start of the poaching in 2008, South Africa has lost over 2,600 rhinos -- a figure that, despite so much effort, increases daily, according to the Stop Rhino Poaching organization.

 Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
16/11/14
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Παρασκευή, Οκτωβρίου 10, 2014

Interpol announces special team to combat illegal ivory trafficking

International police organisation Interpol announced on Tuesday it would establish a team to target ivory trafficking and more generally, environmental crime, in Africa. The new team, based in Nairobi, will help further the organisation's Project Wisdom, which combats elephant and rhinoceros poaching and the illegal trade of ivory.

"The global fight against illegal trafficking has just been given a significant boost," said Australian High Commissioner Geoff Tooth as the initiative was unveiled at the Australian High Commission in Kenya.


David Higgins, head of Interpol's Environmental Security Unit said that the team will help eastern African countries in their fight against "significant transnational animal trafficking cases."

There is a large market for ivory in Asia, where it is often used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments ranging from fevers to nosebleeds.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the African elephant population has dropped from 3 to 5 million to approximately 400,000 over the last century.

In Kenya, the elephant population dropped by 85 per cent between 1973 and 1989.

Kenya is part of the "gang of 19" countries identified by CITES, the international regulatory body for trade in wildlife, as not doing enough to curb trafficking. Other countries include Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, China, and Egypt.

On October 4, hundreds of Kenyans marched to demand that the government take action against rhino and elephant poaching. Similar protests, dubbed the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, took place all over the world.
indian.ruvr.ru

10/10/14
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Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 04, 2014

WHO experts to gather in Geneva to discuss use of experimental anti-Ebola drugs

GENEVA, September 04 /ITAR-TASS/. About 200 health experts will gather on Thursday in Geneva for a two-day conference to discuss all aspect of the use of experimental drugs that have not yet been tested on humans in anti-Ebola efforts. 

This meeting will be sequential to a mid-August conference of the World Health Organization (WHO), which gave green light to the use of anti-Ebola drugs tested only on monkeys.
This radical step was made in a bid to stop the unprecedented grave Ebola outbreak that have already claimed more than 1,500 lives in Western Africa. More than 3,000 people have been infected.

Since the first Ebola outbreak in 1976 in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, no drugs capable of curing this disease have been officially registered.
However, the WHO’s permission to use experimental drugs failed to solve the problem. The matter is that there are no efficient vaccines against Ebola and experimental drugs are either scarce or underdeveloped. But, according to the WHO forecasts, the number of infected people in Western Africa may reach 20,000 in the next six months.
This situation poses lots of questions, such as: what the criteria of a drug efficiency are, what kind of restrictions on its use should be imposed, how to better organize data collection for analysis. Apart from that, the experts are to outline the priorities for the use experimental drugs and decide where such drugs should go in the first instance, bearing in mind the acute shortage of such drugs. Financial aspects are important too. It is yet to be decided who is to finance the production of such drugs in the long run.

Taking part in the conference will be representatives from pharmaceutical companies who will present their latest developments. In all, specialists will speak about 20 drugs that might be used to cope with Ebola outbreak. These preparations are divided into three groups: drugs derived from the blood of humans or animals who have had Ebola; anti-virus preparations, like the ones used to treat HIV/AIDS; and, finally, vaccines. 


By now, Ebola virus has spread across five countries in Western Africa, namely Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. Deaths from Ebola have been reported from all these countries, except Senegal. The most serious situation is in now in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. According to the WHO estimates, this outbreak will last from six to nine months and will require about 490 million U.S. dollars.

Apart from these countries, Ebola cases have been registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the death toll has reached 31. WHO experts however say this is an isolated outbreak not linked with the one raging in Western Africa.

The World Health Organization describes Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) as “a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%.” Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The incubation period is 2 to 21 days. There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The only treatment offered is “supportive intensive care.” During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.
http://en.itar-tass.com
4/9/14
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Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 16, 2014

Ebola: cases, deaths ‘vastly underestimated,’ says UN health agency

UN,  15 August 2014 – Health workers at Ebola outbreak sites are seeing evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths “vastly underestimate” the magnitude of the crisis as they work around the clock to stop the disease from spreading, according to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO, in its latest update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa dated August 14, said no new cases have been detected in Nigeria, attributing the outcome to extensive contact tracing and monitoring, implemented with support from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


“Elsewhere, the outbreak is expected to continue for some time,” WHO said.

The most recent statistics compiled by WHO show that the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa continues to escalate, with 1975 cases and 1069 deaths reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

But WHO also said: “Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”

On the humanitarian side, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is delivering food to the more than one million people locked down in the quarantine zones, where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone intersect, and several countries have agreed to support the provision of priority food staples for this population.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a blog post from Sierra Leone on the “joys of survivors” of the deadly disease, says that “Ebola survivors can play a valuable role in dispelling myths and in gaining community support in the fight against Ebola.”

“Some people in Sierra Leone still have not accepted that Ebola is real. While many survivors fear stigma, some are now coming forward and telling their brave stories,” wrote UNICEF consultant Jo Dunlup.

WHO said it is mapping the outbreak in great detail, to pinpoint areas of ongoing transmission and locate treatment facilities and supplies.

“CDC is equipping the hardest-hit countries with computer hardware and software that will soon allow real-time reporting of cases and analysis of trends,” according to the UN agency’s update.

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in Geneva regularly meets with ambassadors from United Nations missions based in the Swiss city to identify the most urgent needs within countries and match them with rapid international support.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Dr. David Nabarro as Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, in support of the work done by the WHO team. WHO has expressed its disappointment that some airlines have stopped flying to West Africa. It is “hard to save lives if we and other health workers cannot get in,” WHO has said.

  • WHO has repeatedly said the Ebola virus is highly contagious – but not airborne. Transmission requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as can occur during health-care procedures, home care, or traditional burial practices, which involve the close contact of family members and friends with bodies.

The incubation period ranges from 2 to 21 days, but patients become contagious only after the onset of symptoms. As symptoms worsen, the ability to transmit the virus increases. As a result, patients are usually most likely to infect others at a severe stage of the disease, when they are visibly, and physically, too ill to travel.

un.org
15/8/14
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Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 08, 2014

WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak a Global Health Emergency

The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.

At a news conference in Geneva Friday, WHO director Margaret Chan said the announcement is "a clear call for international solidarity.''

She said the countries affected by the deadly virus "simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity," as she appealed for greater international aid.

The impact of the WHO declaration is unclear.
On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its emergency operation center at the highest level in response to the outbreak.

CDC chief Thomas Frieden told a congressional hearing on Ebola that the centers will soon have 50 disease experts in West Africa. He said he is confident no major outbreak in the U.S. will happen.

The current Ebola outbreak is on pace to infect more people than all other outbreaks of the virus combined.

The World Health Organization says Ebola has now killed more than 930 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The total number of cases stands at more than 1,700.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Patients may experience fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and uncontrollable bleeding from all openings in the body, including the eyes, mouth and ears. Initial symptoms of the disease are often similar to malaria.
http://www.voanews.com/content/who-declares-ebola-outbreak-global-health-emergency/2406877.html
8/8/14
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Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 01, 2014

Uganda refutes reports of Ebola outbreak

The Ugandan government on Thursday said there was no outbreak of the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the country after the suspected cases were confirmed to be negative.

Ruhakana Rugunda, minister of health, told reporters that laboratory results from the suspected cases turned out negative.

"There is no confirmed case of Ebola in Uganda. Media reports of reported cases in Kitgum and Kampala districts are false," he said, adding that any reported case will be investigated promptly and the public will be informed.


Three countries in West Africa, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon have for the last four months been devastated by an outbreak of Ebola.
Latest figure from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that there were more than 1,000 registered cases, including 729 deaths.

Rugunda said the country was on high alert after a reported unconfirmed Ebola case in neighboring Kenya.

He said government has reinstated the country's National Task Force on Epidemics and Disease Surveillance to watch out on any Ebola alerts throughout the country.

He said the ministry has set up a screening desk at the country's Entebbe International Airport to check travelers who have a travel history to West Africa in the last 21 days before coming to Uganda. The disease incubates in 21 days.

"All districts have been directed to be vigilant and look out for suspected cases and alerts for immediate action," Rugunda said.

He said the country has stocked enough drugs in case of any outbreak. The ministry has also assembled a team of experts to be on standby to be deployed in areas where suspected cases are reported.

The ministry also advised the public to limit their travels to any of the affected countries in West Africa until the situation is contained.

"The ministry calls upon the public to stay calm as all possible measures are being undertaken to keep the country safe from the epidemic," Rugunda said.

Ebola last broke out in Uganda in 2012, leaving over 20 people dead.

The disease is a highly infectious and presents with symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, measles- like rash, red eyes, and sometimes with bleeding from body openings.

Xinhua - china.org.cn
1/8/14
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Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 11, 2014

Security of gas supply: the role of gas developments in the Mediterranean region

European Commission, Joint Statement, Malta, 11 July 2014.
Joint statement by Günther H. Oettinger, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for energy, and Konrad Mizzi, Minister for Energy and Health of the Government of Malta:

Today, Energy Ministers from the EU, North Africa and the East Mediterranean, high officials, industry representatives and key stakeholders in the energy sector met in Malta to exchange views on how gas-related developments in the Mediterranean region can enhance security of supply in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

This discussion takes place at a critical time when the wider geopolitical events could have implications on energy security. In reaction to this, and in line with the European Council conclusions of March 2014, the European Union is putting further impetus on its supply diversification objectives. North African and Eastern Mediterranean countries are also looking to develop their economies and meet increasing domestic energy demand. 

The Participants agreed that secure, sustainable and affordable energy is a priority for all, and is a key factor for underpinning stability and prosperity in the region. They underlined the importance of regional cooperation to strengthen security of supply but also to favour regional trade at the interest of both gas producers and consumers in the EU, North Africa and the Middle East. 

The Participants underlined their general willingness to further strengthen regional energy cooperation and to support the progressive development of joint actions such as infrastructure plans, in order to support solutions that provide best alternatives with the objective of reinforcing the energy market in the Mediterranean region. This will provide real trade opportunities for producing North African and East-Mediterranean countries and consuming countries in the wider Mediterranean region and the EU.

In doing so the importance of a stable and predictable political, legal and regulatory framework was stressed, as was the importance of promoting an attractive investment environment for local and third party investors.

In order to progress on these issues, the Ministers agreed in principle to establish a 'Euro-Mediterranean Platform on Gas’ that would bring together policy makers, industrial representatives, regulators and energy stakeholders. This Platform will assist in the development of Euro-Mediterranean relations on gas issues. Its aim will be in particular to ensure greater convergence between the policies of the various countries, address upstream production challenges, promote third party upstream investments, improve the conditions for imports of oil and gas from producing countries, develop the necessary infrastructure of common interest, promote technology cooperation, examine gas pricing mechanisms, facilitate market access, cooperate on the domain of safety and security and work together on the promotion of regional energy security.
The Euro-Med gas platform would contribute to the ongoing efforts aimed at enhancing Europe's energy security and at meeting specific 2030 interconnection objectives. 

The scope of work and the operating rules of the 'Euro-Mediterranean Platform on Gas’, could be developed with the support of the "Observatoire Méditerranéen de l'Énergie" (OME).
The further elaboration on the modus operandi of the platform will be discussed in the coming months with a view to establishing a fully-fledged proposal to be endorsed at the High Level Conference on "Euro-Mediterranean Energy Partnership" which will take place in Rome on 19 November 2014.
Participants discussed the possibility of this platform playing a key role in the creation of a Mediterranean Gas Hub in line with the European Energy Security Strategy (EESS).

For further information
"Security of gas supply – The role of gas developments in the Mediterranean region" conference, Malta (10-11 July 2014)..............http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-14-222_en.htm?locale=en
11/7/14
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Παρασκευή, Ιουνίου 13, 2014

New UN-backed report finds ‘alarmingly high’ levels of elephant poaching across Africa

 UN, 13 June 2014 – The level of elephant poaching across Africa remains alarmingly high, according to a new United Nations-backed report release today, which also found an increase in the number of large seizures of ivory.

“Africa’s elephants continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory and with over 20,000 elephants illegally killed last year, the situation remains dire,” said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


The report by the Convention’s Secretariat says that although the sharp upward trend in illegal elephant killing observed since the mid-2000s is levelling off, poaching levels continue to far exceed the natural elephant population growth rates, resulting in a further decline in elephant populations across Africa.

Three key factors cited for the higher poaching levels are poverty, weak governance and the demand for illegal ivory in consuming nations, according to a news release issued by CITES.

The report identifies monitored sites where poaching is increasing (33 per cent of monitored sites), including Dzanga Sangha (Central African Republic), as well as those sites where a decline in poaching has been observed (46 per cent), such as Zakouma National Park (Chad). Some populations of elephants continue to face an immediate threat of local extinction.

The report also shows a clear increase in the number of large seizures of ivory (shipments over 500 kilogrammes) made in 2013, before the ivory left the African continent.

For the first time, the number of such seizures made in Africa exceeded those made in Asia, according to CITES. Just three African countries – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – accounted for 80 per cent of those seizures.

Large-scale ivory seizures are indicative, said CITES, of transnational organized crime being involved in the illicit ivory trade.

The report, which contains the latest figures from the CITES Monitoring Illegal Killing in Elephants (MIKE) programme and the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), will be discussed at the 65th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee next month in Geneva.

[un.org]
13/6/14
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Πέμπτη, Φεβρουαρίου 20, 2014

Water scarcity among critical food security issues in Near East and North Africa. – United Nations, FAO


20 February 2014 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today warned that water scarcity is one of the most urgent food security issues facing countries of the Near East and North Africa, with fresh water availability in the region expected to drop by 50 per cent by 2050.
FAO’s warning comes as ministers of agriculture and national officials prepare to tackle the issue at a meeting of the organization’s highest regional governing body beginning next Monday.

Among the issues on the agenda for the 32nd FAO Regional Conference for the Near East and North Africa is a new Regional Water Scarcity Initiative, launched by FAO to support member countries in identifying strategies, policies and practices that promote sustainable solutions to water scarcity and related food security problems. 

“The region has made significant strides in two decades in developing its water usage and storage capacities, but there is still much work to be done to improve water efficiency in agriculture, protect water quality, and address challenges related to climate change,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa. 

FAO noted in a news release that per capita fresh water availability in the region has plummeted by two-thirds over the past 40 years, heightening concerns over the degradation of water quality and the impact of climate change. 

Demographic trends are adding urgency to the issue, the agency stated. Chronic undernourishment in the region is estimated at 11.2 per cent, based on the 2010-2013 reporting period, while the population continues to grow at 2 per cent, almost twice the global rate. 

Farming and other agricultural activities consume more than 85 per cent of available rain-fed, irrigated and groundwater resources, and the demand for agricultural products is expected to grow amid burgeoning urban populations and increased exports.
“Agriculture must be central to our responses to the challenge of water scarcity in the Near East and North Africa Region,” stated Mr. Ould Ahmed. “Agriculture is by far the largest user of water in the region, but it is also fundamental to our survival and long-term resilience, accounting for some $95 billion in added value to regional economies.”
Next week’s conference, whose theme is “For a resilient and food secure region,” will be the first of a series of meetings to be held in 2014 in each of FAO’s five operational regions. The agenda will include issues like food losses and waste along the production-to-consumption chain, enhancing gender equality, and approaches to improving agriculture and rural development. 

Participants are expected to offer guidance on priority areas for action, such as improving governance and institutions; giving more voice to farmers and other non-state stakeholders; and boosting efficiency in water use, both within and across national borders.
According to FAO, more than 60 per cent of the water resources used by countries in the region comes from outside of national and regional boundaries. 

The pilot phase of the Regional Water Scarcity Initiative was launched in June 2013 in six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia and Yemen. It began reviewing the current status of water availability and use and the potential for further agricultural production. 

It also began identifying and ranking options for future food supply in terms of both their economic and water-requirement costs, and, looking at the performance of agriculture water management and relevant policies, governance and institutional issues.
 un.org
20/2/14

Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 31, 2013

Report: Climate change may pose threat to economic growth

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Nearly a third of the world's economic output will come from countries facing "high" to "extreme" risks from the impacts of climate change within 12 years, according to a new report.
The Climate Change Vulnerability Index, an annual report produced by UK-based risk analysis firm Maplecroft, found that climate change "may pose a serious obstacle to sustainable economic growth in the world's most commercially important cities."
The index ranked the vulnerability of the world's countries, and the 50 cities deemed most economically important, to the impacts of climate change, by evaluating their risk of exposure to extreme climate events, the sensitivity of their populations to that exposure and the adaptive capacity of governments to respond to the challenge.


It said the combined GDP of the 67 countries classed as facing "high" or "extreme" risks was projected to nearly triple from $15 trillion to $44 trillion by 2025 -- meaning nearly a third of the global economy would be coming under increasing threat from extreme climate-related events. It projected the population of those countries -- currently estimated at more than 4.5 billion -- could exceed 5 billion by 2025.
The index's findings bore particularly bad news for Bangladesh, which topped both lists, with its capital, Dhaka, ranked the most vulnerable city due to its exposure to threats such as flooding, storm surge, cyclones and landslides, its susceptible population and weak institutional capacity to address the problem.
Along with the Bangladeshi capital, the four other cities categorized as facing "extreme risk" from climate change impacts were also located in Asia -- Mumbai, Manila, Kolkata and Bangkok -- and projected to be centers of high economic growth.

"The combined GDP in these cities is forecast to almost triple from US$275 billion to US$804 billion by 2025, representing the greatest combined growth in any of the risk categories," said the report, released Wednesday. The figures, it said, underlined the way in which "cities with some of the biggest economic growth potential are among those with the greatest vulnerability to climate change."
Greenpeace's chief scientist Doug Parr said the report highlighted "just how urgent the need is for the international community to tackle climate change." "Without a binding global agreement the economic and social impact of global warming will be devastating," he said.
"It would be morally negligent for countries with large emissions to ignore the mounting evidence of the impact global warming that shows that some of the poorest nations on the planet will be hit hardest, while those nations who are seeing the first signs of economic growth after years of stagnation will see those gains washed away by consequences of global warming."

On a national level, many global growth markets were extremely vulnerable to climate change, the report said, with important markets such as Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines all joining Bangladesh in the "extreme risk" category.
Bangladesh was followed on the list of most vulnerable countries by Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Haiti, South Sudan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, the Philippines and Ethiopia.
The vulnerability of many African countries -- which accounted for 14 of the 20 most at-risk nations -- was partly due to their natural susceptibility to extreme climate-related events such as floods, droughts, fires, storms or landslides. But it was also a consequence of the vulnerability of the population, and the inadequacies of existing infrastructure to adapt to or tackle the problem, due to weak economies, governance, education and healthcare.
Countries in south and southeast Asia, which accounted for one-third of all "extreme" risk nations, were likely to face an increased risk of severe flooding due to projected changes in seasonal rainfall. These would also increase the likelihood of summer droughts, and in turn, declining crop yields. The most susceptible populations in these areas were in areas with high levels of poverty, and where large populations had clustered on marginal land such as flood plains or coastal regions in cyclone-prone areas.

While the majority of small, developing, island nations faced extreme levels of exposure to climate-related events, their populations and infrastructures were deemed less "sensitive," and were therefore generally not considered to be at "extreme" risk overall. One exception was Haiti, where poor healthcare access, weak infrastructure, high levels of poverty and an over-reliance on agriculture placed the country into the "extreme" category.
Maplecroft's head of environment, James Allan, said that identifying where the risks of climate change were going to be highest was "now an imperative for both business and governments."
"Framing the risks in economic terms makes the issue harder to ignore, especially for business, and it may prompt better preparedness planning," he said. "Nothing prompts corporate or political action faster than having to deal with the aftermath of an extreme climate event."
London and Paris were the only two cities ranked as "low risk," while Iceland, followed by Norway and Ireland, were the least vulnerable countries.
In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest assessment report, a benchmark study on global warming involving the efforts of nearly 1,000 researchers around the world. It expressed widespread, rising confidence among scientists the climate is warming, that humans are responsible for at least half of the increase in temperatures since the 1950s.
 cnn.com
30/10/13

Τετάρτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 18, 2013

Four African nations agree to improve use of key water resource under UN-backed plan. -Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan to ensure the equitable use of the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.


Photo: growingblue.com
18 September 2013 – Four African nations today agreed to a United Nations-backed plan that seeks to optimize the use of a key underground aquifer system and improve the management of water resources.
The Strategic Action Programme, signed at the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), commits Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan to ensure the equitable use of the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, a huge water resource that lies beneath the four nations.
It also commits the countries to strengthen and build on a previously existing regional coordination mechanism, in part by establishing a new Joint Authority for the Nubian Aquifer System, according to a news release issued by the IAEA.
“I congratulate all involved on this significant achievement,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. “Water is a key resource, and effective management and use of such water resources is essential for the future.”

The Programme lays the groundwork for improving cooperation among the four arid nations and for strengthening their capacity to monitor and manage the aquifer effectively, noted the Agency.

It added that, with growing populations and decreasing water availability from other sources in the region, the aquifer is under mounting pressure. “Removing water without a clear understanding of transboundary and other implications threatens water quality and has the potential to harm biodiversity and accelerate land degradation,” the IAEA pointed out.
The Programme resulted from a joint technical cooperation project of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the IAEA.

“UNDP would like to congratulate the Governments of Egypt, Libya, Chad and Sudan for achieving this important milestone towards the cooperative management of their shared sub-surface waters which will help to ensure maintenance of livelihoods and ecosystems dependent upon the aquifer,” said its Administrator, Helen Clark.
The Nubian aquifer is the world’s largest known ‘fossil’ water aquifer system, meaning that the water is ancient and non-renewable, according to the IAEA.

The joint technical cooperation project began in 2006 and has already completed a sophisticated model of the aquifer to assist the four countries in optimizing use of the aquifer to meet human needs, avoid transboundary conflict, and protect ecosystems dependent upon the resource.

The IAEA contributes to the project in part by employing isotopic hydrology techniques to monitor the quantity and quality of groundwater and how it moves underground.
 http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45877&Cr=water&Cr1=management#.Ujnsa3-IzJc
18/9/13
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Photo: NASA

Τετάρτη, Φεβρουαρίου 13, 2013

NASA alert: Middle East loses fresh reserves size of Dead Sea in 7 years

The Middle East is headed towards a water shortage crisis, as NASA satellites show that reserves the size of the Dead Sea have been depleted in just seven years, largely due to well-drilling.
Newly-obtained results show that 144 cubic kilometres of freshwater – a volume nearly equivalent to that of the Dead Sea or Lake Tahoe – had been removed from the ground in the area that encompasses Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria between 2003 and 2009.
"That's enough water to meet the needs of tens of millions to more than a hundred million people in the region each year, depending on regional water use standards and availability," said Jay Famiglietti, the UC Irvine professor who led the team who made the findings, which are due to be published on Friday in Water Resources Reasearch magazine.

While 40 percent of the decline is in the soil and surface water, the decrease in groundwater, caused by human actions, is responsible for 90 cubic kilometers of the shortfall.
"Satellite data shows an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Famiglietti.
The study was made possible by the US space agency’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. The two identical vessels measure miniscule changes in the planet’s gravity through the variations in distance between them as they circle the Earth; postions influenced by the varying mass of the water reserves.
The research team said the depletion was caused by poor water management, combined with unfavorable climate conditions.
Iraqi women carry non-potable water back home through a sand storm in theoutskirts of Basra.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
Iraqi women carry non-potable water back home through a sand storm in theoutskirts of Basra.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
 
A devastating 2007 drought in the area not only caused depletions of surface water, which have still not been compensated, but also forced Iraqi authorities to order the drilling of more than 1,000 water wells. The actual number of wells drilled is likely to be much higher, as official statistics in the region are often patchy.
"That decline in stream flow put a lot of pressure on northern Iraq," said Kate Voss, another study author, "Both the UN and anecdotal reports from area residents note that once stream flow declined, this northern region of Iraq had to switch to groundwater.”
At the time, the country was at the height of a deadly sectarian conflict.
“In an already fragile social, economic and political environment, this did not help the situation," said Voss.
Iraqi children scramble for water at a collection point, overseen by British troops from the Black Watch and the Desert Rats, in Basra in southern Iraq.(Reuters / STR)
Iraqi children scramble for water at a collection point, overseen by British troops from the Black Watch and the Desert Rats, in Basra in southern Iraq.(Reuters / STR)
 
Last year’s authoritative Global Water Security report, produced by US intelligence agencies, marked the Middle East, naturally the driest region in the world alongside North Africa, as the area most vulnerable to water shortages, saying the situation was exacerbated by a lack of legal agreements and political instability.
"They just do not have that much water to begin with, and they're in a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change," Famiglietti said. "Those dry areas are getting dryer. Demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.”
Turkey, whose territory houses the headwaters of the region’s two major rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, enjoys a strained relationship with Syria and Iraq, the countries further downstream, and has systematically diverted water for its irrigation, which is frequently inefficient (throughout the Middle East).
Meanwhile, the World Bank predicts that water demand in the region will rise by 60 percent by 2045.
Groundwater has made up the shortage so far but it is being extracted at much faster rates than it is replaced.
"Groundwater is like your savings account," said Matt Rodell, another study author, "It's okay to draw it down when you need it, but if it's not replenished, eventually it will be gone."
.rt.com
13/2/13 
A view shows the bank of the Tigris river during a sandstorm in Baghdad.(Reuters / Mohammed Ameen)
A view shows the bank of the Tigris river during a sandstorm in Baghdad.(Reuters / Mohammed Ameen)
Residents collect water from a stream in a town in Diwaniya province, 150 km (93 miles) south of Baghdad.(REUTERS/Imad al-Khozai)
Residents collect water from a stream in a town in Diwaniya province, 150 km (93 miles) south of Baghdad.(REUTERS/Imad al-Khozai)

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