Hydroelectric Power in Kyrgyzstan
The increasing demand for centralized electrical power has put growing pressure on the government to modernize Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric capacity. Kyrgyzstan’s government has sanctioned the expansion of its energy infrastructure to mitigate extreme poverty and improve access to fundamental necessities in rural communities. As a focal point of its export economy, hydroelectric power modules supply 76 percent of its electricity. With lowering water inflow and deteriorating infrastructure, Kyrgyzstan faces a unique problem in mitigating and expanding its hydroelectric import/export industry while balancing the rampant poverty and income inequality among rural and urban communities. The surrounding Kyrgyzstan economy relies mostly on agricultural cultivations and the cotton export industry. With the increased development of modules of hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan, the controlled water supply offers the potential for massive growth in the agricultural industry. As a renewable energy source, hydroelectric energy provides the potential to control the rate at which the water flows and of the amount used, which is crucial to energy production.

Socioeconomic Implications

Traditional agricultural methods that rural communities commonly practice create the potential for extensive economic growth through the implementation of an updated hydroelectric system. Through a controlled system, the irrigation of various crops is more efficient with a renewable energy source that has less pollution. With substantial economic implications, hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan encourages more commercial enterprises to migrate to agrarian areas where people cannot access basic public services like running water and education as easily.

With 32 percent under the poverty line, the need for a centralized hydroelectrical grid can have vast socioeconomic implications, with an improved water supply system and improved access to basic health necessities. With Kyrgyzstan’s main hydroelectric infrastructure outdated and in need of a sufficient upgrade the inconsistency attached to this older hydroelectric module creates insecurity in basic necessities. With access to basic social programs tentative on ideal weather conditions in urban communities, the expansion of clean renewable energy sources can potentially create an influx of economic prosperity and improve energy efficiency throughout the country.

A focused effort toward improving consistent energy output will allow the quality of life to improve and give the impoverished a promising start toward economic mobility with increasing hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan. Reducing toxic chemicals put into the air from traditional cooking/heating methods in rural communities can allow room for a more comprehensive hydropower infrastructure. Rural communities on average tend to use more fossil fuels with more than 60 percent using those perishables due to inconsistencies within hydroelectric distribution and no updated grid system that would make those other methods obsolete.

Government Legislation

Since its independence, Kyrgyzstan established a network of standard practice in energy distribution with a comprehensive legislative agenda. People are underutilizing the potential for an increased hydroelectric presence as a larger kinetic energy source with geographically crucial bodies of water producing 5-8 billion kW·h per year and the country only using 3 percent. A more consistent hydroelectric grid is necessary for Kyrgyzstan’s economy to boost its agricultural sector. The government introduced the National Energy Program that assists in renovating abandoned hydropower plants and initiates constructing new ones. Additionally, government sectors have committed to actively work on the cultivation of Kyrgyzstan’s massive untapped energy sector. Along with a growing private sector and updated technology to improve the essential food and health infrastructures hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan will increase the capacity of its economy.

Adam Townsend
Photo: Flickr

Water Shortage in ChennaiWater has become a scarce commodity for residents in Chennai, India. Reservoirs once teeming with water are now dry lake beds. Water levels in the area are the fifth-lowest recorded in the last 74 years, sparking worry about future water shortages. Drought-like conditions paired with the limited access to water are driving city officials and residents to find alternative sources of water.

Why Access to Water Matters

Water is an integral part of everyday life in Chennai. At least 85 percent of the area is directly dependent on rain to recharge its groundwater. Agriculture is a big part of Chennai’s ecosystem and economy. Rain provides water for irrigation and livestock. Healthy living is another result of easy access to clean water. Rain provides water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and other household needs.

Rainfall is collected, stored and treated in four main reservoirs: Chembarambakkam Lake, Redhills Lake, Poondi Lake and Cholavaram Lake. These bodies of water depend on seasonal rainfall to replenish water levels year after year. At capacity, Chembarmbakkam holds 3,645 million cubic feet (MCFT) of water, Redhills holds 3,330 MCFT, Poondi holds 3,231 MCFT and Cholavarm holds 1,081 MCFT.

Recent records show that combined, all four reservoirs are at 1.3 percent of total capacity. In May 2019, Chembarambakkam only held one MCFT of water, Redhills held 28 MCFT, Poondi held 118 MCFT and Cholavarm held four MCFT. The water shortage is impeding the city’s ability to produce food, creating severe food insecurity and exposing its residents to unsanitary living conditions.

Factors Driving Chennai’s Water Shortage

Various factors are contributing to the water shortage in Chennai. The most observable factor is the lack of rain. Typically, India’s monsoon rain season occurs between June and September. Similar to a hurricane or typhoon, monsoons bring torrential rains across India which replenish the region’s water supply. For the past couple of years, Chennai has experienced lower than normal rainfall. Even monsoon rain levels were recorded to be 44 percent lower than the average in June 2019.

Lower rainfall, combined with scorching temperatures, has created drought-like conditions in the area. To make matters worse, Chennai continues to grow water-guzzling crops like sugarcane, rice and wheat. With no improvements in sight, some Chennai residents have chosen to migrate out of the area to avoid the consequences of the impending water shortage.

Response to the Water Shortage in Chennai

City officials and residents are responding to Chennai’s water shortage and drought. Here are three ways Chennai is increasing and conserving its water levels:

  1. Water Delivery – Affluent Chennai residents and businesses are relying on the water supply of neighboring cities. They pay trucks to deliver clean water to their homes and places of business. City officials are also following suit. They arranged for 10 million liters of water to be transported by train from Jolarpet, a city 200 kilometers away. The water will be pumped upstream in area lakes. Through the natural gradient, the water will flow downstream and help increase water levels. This practice recharges depleting groundwater in the region. As a result, Chennai will offset the crippling effects caused by the lack of rain as its green cover increases and agriculture receives a boost.
  2. Rain Harvesting – Non-affluent Chennai residents are digging trenches and embankments in an effort to increase their own access to water. Rain harvesting is a common practice in India, but the high cost of water delivery and below-average rainfall has made the practice more important than ever. While individual trenches and embankments cannot hold large amounts of water, they do give residents a chance to increase water levels in the area. The cost of upkeeping the rain harvesting structures is equivalent to $1.40. As a result, Chennai residents are able to increase their field productivity and maintain healthy livestock at a low cost.
  3. Micro-Irrigation – Agriculture methods are also changing as part of Chennai’s water shortage. Farmers are finding new methods of irrigation in efforts to conserve water. Recently, 1,000 solar pumps were added to cultivated areas. The solar pumps will help farmers distribute water more efficiently. The solar pumps also offset the cost associated with growing water-guzzling crops like sugarcane.

The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board continues to monitor India’s water situation.

– Paola Nuñez
Photo: Flickr

Water Management in SomaliaSomalia is a South African country frequently plagued by droughts and floods. The nation is currently receiving the bulk of a $45 million assistance from the United Nations’ aid meant to help Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis suffering from a major famine caused by the ongoing drought. To break this cycle of famine, an efficient and affordable water management system in Somalia is desperately needed.

Infrastructure Improvement

The majority of Somalis depend on livestock and agriculture for income. Yet, frequent floods and droughts result in a lack of basic necessities, such as food and water. One way to reduce this lack is to implement an intelligent system capable of storing water during floods to preserve it for coming droughts. Reusing greywater, which is water from sources such as sinks and bathtubs, is one efficient way of preserving and reusing water for crops. Somalia thus needs infrastructure development to control floodwater, especially in the construction of aquifers.

Most Somalis live along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers, but many depend on groundwater. Dug wells, boreholes and springs are the most common sources of water. Somalis heavily rely on groundwater, however, it does not provide enough water in times of drought. The Somalian Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) partnered with the European Union and Somaliland to improve infrastructure, water and land management. Dr. Hjordis Ogendo of the EU Chard d’Affairs said, “Water and land are critical resources for Somali economy and people’s livelihoods but are also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters.”

Floodplains and Groundwater Replenishment

Infrastructure improvements could help mitigate the cost of restoring the land and relocating those who return to destroyed homes. These improvements include through-reservoirs and flood canals that divert water away from farms and homes. Moreover, California farmers have recently begun implementing floodplains and groundwater replenishment strategies. Don Cameron of Terranova Ranch experimented with flooding his 1,000-acre land with water from a river that was high from recent rains.

Cameron was concerned about the amount of water in the reservoir during a long drought after repeatedly digging wells. The replenishment strategy enables water to soak into the ground and collect in an aquifer. As such, Cameron’s grapevines remained unharmed. This began a trend to keep a steady amount of water in the aquifer and above ground.

For Somalis, an affordable method could be as simple as storing water in aquifers to combat future droughts. Therefore, the floodplains and groundwater replenishment strategy presents one prospective Somali water management system that could improve the future outlook of drought mitigation.

Water Desalination Plants

A sophisticated and long-term solution for a water management system in Somalia includes water desalination plants. Although desalination plants are expensive, there are positive and lasting aspects of investing in a single plant. Desalination plants simply transform salt water from the ocean or sea into potable water. Israel currently receives 40 percent of its water from desalination plants. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water usage. Since more than 70 percent of Somalis work in the agriculture industry, water availability is crucial.

Future technological advances may reduce the high cost of constructing and operating desalination plants. Saudi Arabia also relies on desalination plants to desalinate seawater. As a semi-arid country, Somalia possesses an environment similar to that of Saudi Arabia. Although comparatively poor, Somalia could opt for desalination plants in the future once technological advances reduce implementation costs.

Future Outlook

With the help of funding a future water management system in Somalia, the need for external aid could be reduced and lead Somalia out of poverty conditions that result from devastating floods and droughts. Desalination plants are an expensive alternative, yet simple solutions such as the construction of aquifers to store floodwater could help millions of Somalis affected by droughts and floods. The implementation depends on the Somali government and its efforts in improving infrastructure. This includes not only managing water during floods and droughts but also reducing poverty by helping the nomadic herders and farmers making up the majority of Somalis.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

World Water Day 2019While water might seem like a basic necessity, more than 650 million people worldwide lack easy access to clean water. Every year, the United Nations sponsors World Water Day. World Water Day raises awareness about global water crises, demonstrating the need for water in developing nations. Take a look at these interesting facts about how the U.N. celebrated World Water Day 2019.

5 Interesting Facts About World Water Day 2019

  1. “Leaving No One Behind”
    The theme for World Water Day 2019 was “Leaving No One Behind.” Technology is providing new methods to increase access to clean water. Additionally, it mobilizes programs combating water scarcity. Above all, technology connects individuals interested in making a difference, no matter where they are. However, these advances can’t only benefit privileged populations. Improvements must be available to marginalized groups, as well. World Water Day 2019 emphasized access to clean water is a human right, as recognized by the U.N. in 2010. Everyone deserves water, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, religion or age.
  2. USAID’s Strategy
    The U.S. government is working to implement a strategy to improve global water access through the U.S. Agency for International Development. While the fight to bring access to clean water is global, USAID renewed its commitment to providing clean drinking water this World Water Day. As such, USAID supports the core objectives outlined in the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy. These objectives include promoting better stewardship of freshwater resources and expanding the availability of sanitation services. Additionally, USAID is enacting policy and programs aimed at providing 15 million people access to clean water by 2022.
  3. “Water Action Decade”
    This World Water Day marked the first completed year of the U.N.’s “Water Action Decade.” Three years ago, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously decided to make the global water crisis a top priority for 10 years straight. The “Water Action Decade” kicked off in 2018. Therefore, efforts to increase sustainable water management and access to safe water will last through World Water Day 2028. And nations around the world execute large-scale programs, addressing water scarcity stemming from pollution, drought and urbanization.
  4. Women and Water
    Women played a key role in the message of World Water Day 2019. While many suffer due to water scarcity, women disproportionately carry the burden. According to U.N. research, women and girls make up the majority of people responsible for obtaining water in areas where clean water isn’t accessible. Collectively, women devote around 200 million hours to finding and gathering clean water. Subsequently, a major goal for World Water Day 2019 was improving women’s access to water, which can lead to awesome opportunities that promote independence for women. Therefore, the U.N. sponsors women-led projects in rural areas to include women in community decisions about water as just one part of its commitment to improving universal access to clean water worldwide.
  5. U.N. Sustainable Development Goals
    In fact, World Water Day is just one example of U.N. efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6. Overall, the U.N. has agreed on 17 different goals to promote sustainable development worldwide, specifically in growing and impoverished nations. These Sustainable Development Goals must meet their goals by 2030. Particularly, the primary task of Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to make water safe, affordable and accessible universally. And World Water Day marks just one of many U.N. efforts to reach this crucial goal on target. Ultimately, the first step in achieving universal access to clean water is raising awareness.

Nevertheless, on World Water Day 2019, nations joined hands to strengthen efforts toward making clean water accessible worldwide. The celebration honored organizations that provide aid, unite communities and save lives. And they celebrate innovations that revolutionize water management, along with the people dedicated to campaigning for water access without leaving anyone behind.

Emmitt Kussrow
Photo: Unsplash

 Nigeria
Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is a core necessity for human survival that a large portion of the world, especially developing countries, still struggle to meet.

In Nigeria, UNICEF reported that close to 70 million people, out of the total population of 171 million, lacked access to clean water, while 110 million lacked access to sanitation in 2013. The impact of this shortage is dire as 124,000 children under the age of five die because of diarrhea that is mainly caused by unsafe water, bad sanitation and bad hygiene. Moreover, it decreases school enrollment and disproportionately affects girls who bare the responsibility of carrying water. Finding the solution for Nigeria’s water quality is, therefore, a pressing issue that requires all responsible parties to participate.

Obstacles In Meeting Water Quality Standards

Gbenga Ashiru, the producer of Question Time, a Nigerian news program that profiles the activities and accountability portfolio of office holders, discussed the reasons behind Africa’s largest economy reaching a peak in a shortage of potable water. He dissected what he states is the “mystery” behind the Nigerian government’s, led by the Minister of Water Resources, inability to meet water demands. Ashiru highlighted the extreme water shortage and listed the shocking statistics of potable water and sanitation coverage at 7 percent and 29 percent, respectively. 

Four months ago, the Nigerian government launched the Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality to revitalize the access to safe drinking water throughout the nation to achieve goal number six of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the launching ceremony, Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, asserted that finding the solution for Nigeria’s water quality issue is the current focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. 

Nigeria’s Water Act

According to UNICEF, Nigeria has indeed taken the steps to improve this pertinent issue through the development of various policies and strategies. However, a deterioration in water quality and access portrayed by a 25 percent drop of pipe borne water supply since 1990, reveals the difficulty of translating the solution to Nigeria’s water quality issues into action. 

Nigeria’s Water Act states that the Federal government of Nigeria funds 30 percent, local government funds 10 percent, while state government covers 60 percent of the funding of water projects along with the full responsibility of operation. Suleiman Adamu, in his interview with Ashiru, argues that the Water Act is neither feasible nor effective policy in meeting water and sanitation demands and calls for an amendment of this legislation as well as the gradual privatization of this sector. 

Fostering Synergy and Collaboration

Suleiman Adamu holds the state government responsible for not meeting their end of the bargain. He explains that even in cases where the federal government went beyond the 30 percent of the funding and invested in water treatment facilities, the states failed to carry out the operations. He argues that this happens due to state government officials neglecting pressing water demands that require long periods of gestation and focus on short-term projects to show results during re-election. Therefore, the solution for Nigeria’s water quality issues lies in finding the amendment of this policy that has created obstacles for the synergy in the federal, regional and local governments. 

Since water projects are a primary responsibility of state government, bringing progress at a national scale requires synergy in state and federal government. The Minister explains that the federal government will work on achieving this collaboration through advocacy and offering supervision rather than simply giving funding without aligned priorities. 

Bilen Kassie 

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in PalauThe Republic of Palau is part of the Micronesian region in the western Pacific Ocean. Consisting of a series of islands, Palau is about 458 square kilometers in total size with a population of 21,726. Palau is famous for its beautiful natural environment. Its coral reefs are known as one of the “Seven Underwater Wonders of the World.” The water quality in Palau is considered to be safe for its citizens. However, due to the development in Palau in the recent years and the lack of awareness of protecting drinking water sources, poor water quality may become a huge problem in the future.

Palau’s main water sources are the Ngerikiil River and the Ngerimel Dam. The Ngerikiil River is a freshwater stream that is widely used for residential and agricultural purposes. The Ngerimel Dam has a storage capacity of 20 million gallons of water. Both water sources are well-protected and minimal human activity exists in the watershed area. The Ngerkiil River produces one million gallons per day and the Ngerimel Dam produces three million gallons per day.

The water is fed into the Koror-Airal water treatment plant for use by three-fourths of the population of Palau. The water is collected in a chamber called the “wet well,” where minerals are added. Then the water is pumped into a series of clarifiers in order to remove suspended solids.

Palau’s surface water, groundwater and coastal water qualities are facing challenges from pollution. Sedimentation is the main source of pollution and lowers the quality of surface water. The sedimentation is caused by poor erosion controls, loss of riparian buffers, and poor land-use practices. The groundwater sources are polluted by poorly maintained septic tanks, leaching from nearby landfills and saltwater intrusion. Coastal water quality is affected by land-based pollution, as well as by gasoline and oil from outboard motors and ships. According to the Pacific Water Community, the water quality in Palau may also face challenges such as sewage, chemical pollution and oil spills due to future development on the larger islands.

According to studies by the Pacific Water Community, the water storage and treatment process also has hidden trouble. The drinking water is facing the threat of chemical contamination. The water storage and treatment facilities do not have enough funds to purchase relevant equipment or to carry out repairs and maintenance.

Palau’s government noticed some of the pollution and has started to reduce the causes. The government is trying to improve land-use management within the watershed and drainage around roads to reduce the pollution in the surface water. A better filtration system will be added to the water treatment process to remove suspended solids. To prevent the catchment being affected by human and animal contamination, the Palau government is trying to establish stringent catchment management plans. The water storage and treatment facilities will receive more funding in the near future for better equipment.

In conclusion, the water quality in Palau is not a problem so far. However, it will become a huge problem for Palau’s citizens in the future if the pollution continues. The water quality problem needs more attention from Palau’s government.

Mike Liu

Photo: Flickr