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Hydroelectric Power in Kyrgyzstan
The increasing demand for centralized electrical power has put growing pressure on the government to modernize Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric capacity. 1“’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 With Kyrgyzstan’s main hydroelectric infrastructure outdated and in need of a sufficient upgrade the inconsistency attached to this older hydroelectric module creates insecurity in basic necessities.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

living conditions in Qatar

Qatar is a small nation bordered predominantly by Saudi Arabia. The nation has the highest GDP production in the Arab speaking world. Because of this, living standards are higher than many other Middle Eastern nations. Yet, Qatar is not without its issues surrounding living conditions despite its perceived excessive wealth.

10 Things to Know About Living Conditions in Qatar

  1. Qatar has a forced labor problem. Migrant workers make up 90 percent of Qatar’s population. Under a 2009 sponsorship law, workers have to hand over their passports to their employers. Workers often hesitate to complain or report abuses because this makes them vulnerable to the whims of their employers. Workers pay thousands to recruiters and often arrive to find that they are being paid less than promised, but they can’t leave because they are under contract and their employers have their passports.
  2. Qatar has a unique single-payer public health care system and a new national health strategy that seeks to improve outcomes for those living in Qatar. Qatar has one of the most effective healthcare systems in the Middle East. It ranks 13 in the world’s best healthcare systems and is number one in the Middle East.
  3. Men outnumber women four to one. There are only 700,000 women in Qatar, a country of 2.5 million people. This is due to the massive influx of migrant workers in the country, which are mostly men trying to provide for their families.
  4. Women in Qatar are twice as likely to pursue higher education than men. Men often decide to go straight into work after high school. Although women graduate at twice the rate of men, they only occupy 31 percent of the workforce.
  5. Women’s rights are limited in Qatar. The nation is a religious and conservative Muslim country, subscribing to Sharia law. It is still a taboo for women to fraternize with men. Women in Qatar cannot marry without the consent of a male family member. While men have uninhibited access to divorce, a woman can only divorce a man on narrow grounds. A woman cannot divorce her husband in Qatar if she is beaten or raped by her husband because domestic abuse and marital rape are not illegal under Qatari law.
  6. Qatar has the first Refugee Asylum Law in the Gulf. Qatar recently passed a law allowing refugees to seek asylum in the country. In an attempt to improve its public image for the upcoming world cup, Qatar has abolished exit visas for migrant workers. This may be a good first step in resolving the countries problem with forced labor. The law offers freedom of religion and freedom of movement for refugees as well as giving them access to an education while in Qatar.
  7. It is believed that upwards of at least 12,000 workers have died in the construction of World Cup stadium. This is due to workers being forced to build outside during summer in a country where temperatures usually can reach up to 50C (122F) degrees. There is a law banning work outside from June to August from 11:30- 3:00, but this has done little to decrease the work-related deaths. The most support for workers has come not from the Qatari Government, but from the Human Rights Watch, which has been trying to get the country to provide better conditions for workers.
  8. Pregnancy can be a crime. Sex outside of wedlock is illegal in Qatar, and extramarital affairs are punishable by stoning to death. Doctors are even required by law to refer to any pregnant women who cannot prove they are married to the authorities.
  9. Half of Qatar’s fresh water comes from a desalination process, and chemicals are added to the water to keep it from corroding the pipes. Unfortunately, the water often lacks basic minerals and contains harmful bacteria and is often not potable. This water is mostly good for use in agriculture. Qatar has the highest domestic water consumption in the world. The average household in Qatar uses 430 liters of water a day. Crops are watered with water from aquifers, which are being used up faster than they can be replenished.
  10. Qatar has a significant expat population. People from many different nationalities flock to Qatar for a number of reasons, including job opportunities and fewer tax restrictions. Those arriving from nearby nations experience less of a culture shock than those arriving from Western Europe although English is still the second highest spoken language in the region. Qatar is actively promoting the influx of expats through reduced visa restrictions.

Life in Qatar is vastly different and often times more difficult than that of the Western World. Human rights abuses still occur every day. Women, by international standards, are struggling to find a prominent socio-economic role. Even still, Qatar has a few unique features, including its single-payer healthcare system, that separate it positively from other nations. There is clearly more work to be done in regards to living conditions in Qatar.

Sarah Bradley
Photo: Flickr

Wastewater in India
India is not only one of the most populated countries in the world, but it is also one of the poorest. In addition to poverty, India is grappling with a lack of access to clean water and increasing pollution. This not only takes a toll on households but also affects industrial and agricultural demands. Urban runoff is an issue when domestic waste and untreated water go into storm drains, polluting lakes and rivers. Approximately only 30 percent of the wastewater in India is cleaned and filtered.

The U.S. Agency for International Development teamed up with a nongovernmental organization, Agra Municipal Corporation, to formulate a treatment plan to clean the wastewater in India.

What is Being Done?

North of the Taj Mahal runs the Yamuna River, one of the most polluted waterways in India. Agra, the city through which the river runs, is a slum community. As of 2009, this community has had no access to sanitation facilities, disposal systems or waste collection. At least 85 percent of the residents in Agra have resorted to open defecation that ultimately pollutes the Yamuna River, where residents collect drinking water. This lack of sanitation has left the community vulnerable to diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

USAID-supported NGO Center for Urban and Regional Excellence decided to reverse the state of Agra and come up with a treatment plan. In 2011, they built a wastewater treatment plant to clean the water, leading to healthier community members. Instead of chemicals, the treatment plant uses natural methods to sanitize the water. Moreover, they designed the plant to be low-maintenance, thus keeping it cost-efficient. After filtering and sanitizing the water, it flows back into the community for residents to collect.

As of 2017, the Agra Municipal Corporation, who initially teamed up with USAID, took over operating the plant. And they made it their mission to continue working to improve the lives of the residents.

The Progress

The Center for Urban and Regional Excellence’s transformation of Agra influenced the government to also act. As a result, the government planned to cleanse the entire country by the end of 2019. On Oct. 2, 2014, the Prime Minister of India declared the Swachh Bharat Mission. At the time, only 38.7 percent of the country was clean—less than half. As of 2019, India’s government reported 98.9 percent of the country is now clean. Since the mission began, they built 9,023,034,753 household toilets and established

  • 5,054,745 open defecation-free villages,
  • 4,468 open defecation-free villages in Namami Gange,
  • 613 open defecation-free districts, and
  • 29 open defecation-free states.

Less than 2 percent away from meeting their goal, India has made big improvements to better the lives of its citizens by providing clean water for domestic and industrial purposes.

Lari’onna Green
Photo: Flickr

In 2012, the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project was approved in Cote d’Ivoire. The project’s goal is to create easier access to infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire in the rural and urban areas. The project is set to run until 2020 and will create new all-weather roads through many rural areas as well as other advancements to help further Cote d’Ivoire’s economy. The bulk of the project, around 30 percent, will focus on urban transport.

In the last five years since the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project began, many Ivoirians have already begun to reap the benefits of the project, especially those in the rural and impoverished areas. The following are five positive consequences that have directly resulted from the project.

  1. Access to Electricity: By 2017, over 9,000 people in urban areas were granted access to electricity by household connections.
  2. Potable Water: The project has helped bring healthy drinking water to more citizens of Cote d’Ivoire. In 2017, 3,735,000 people had access to improved drinking water, versus only three million in 2012.
  3. Access to Primary Education: The new infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire has also increased access to primary education in the rural areas to over 18,000 people in 2017.
  4. Better Health Care Centers: Thanks to the advancements made by the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project, 1,400,000 people now have access to adequate health care centers in the rural and impoverished urban areas.
  5. Increased Employment: The new infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire has increased employment opportunities across the country and lowered the unemployment rate to 9.32 percent in 2016.

Unfortunately, despite these advancements in infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire, the country has still had many setbacks. In 2015, statistics showed that nearly 46 percent of Cote d’Ivoire’s population lived below the poverty line. Many of these people live in rural areas where the advancements from the project have not yet reached.

Ultimately, the infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire is slowly helping advance the country’s economy. Most of the major benefits will take years to come into full effect. The maturity limit on the Emergency Infrastructure Renewal Project is set for about 40 years, giving Ivoirians plenty of time to help contribute to the project and start harvesting their benefits.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in ChileLatin America is notorious for having poor water quality. Worried travelers and residents try to avoid drinking tap water or cooking with it. But most people do not know the facts about the water quality in Chile. Here are a few from the north of the country all the way to its southern tip.

In northern Chile is the Atacama Desert, which is known as one of the driest places on Earth. This area, which contains many small towns and villages, receives about one millimeter or less of rainfall per year. Certain towns used to obtain water from a nearby well which was fed by a river flowing down from the Andes Mountains. However, out of the 20 wells, only one exists today. It is common for people here to buy bottled water; however, bottled water is nearly 10 times the cost of tap water.

Central Chile is where most of the bigger cities are located, and Santiago, the capital, is one of them. Very little water comes from the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are retreating and the mountains are gradually losing their snow-capped peaks. Water availability is predicted to fall by nearly 40 percent by 2070, and experts are claiming that water will become the most important physical commodity worldwide, toppling oil and precious metals. The situation in Santiago is so bad that residents have staged multiple protests over the privatization of the water industry, which occurred in 1981.

Maybe the most iconic area of the country is Patagonia, in the southern portion of the country. Residents, researchers and travelers flock to this sparsely populated region of Chile. Some American and Chilean scientists claim that the Chilean Patagonia has the purest water on the planet. Dr. Guido F. Verbeck, director of the UNT Laboratory of Imaging Mass Spectrometry, said of Patagonia’s water, “Our results confirm that these waters are clean, the cleanest waters existing on the planet. In fact, the instruments we use to study the samples can detect chemical compounds in the water up to two parts per million, and here, we did not detect anything.” There is very little pollution in this part of the world. Unpolluted freshwater accounts for .003 percent of the total water available globally, and most of it is found here.

There are many issues with the water quality in Chile. From pollution and overpopulation to excessive mining and the draining of natural resources, it could be the reason that selling water in some cities is one of the highest tariffs in Latin America. There is some good news regarding the water quality in Chile, however. More wells have been dug, residents have set up reverse osmosis water purification systems and the country is implementing a national irrigation strategy that includes a plan to construct 15 reservoirs. If Chile continues to be proactive about maintaining its water resources, it can ensure good water quality and access for all of its citizens.

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Water in PakistanIn Pakistan, water contamination is a serious issue – one so substantial that in August of 2017, up to 60 million people were found to be at risk of having arsenic in their water supplies. Further, the level of arsenic allowed in Pakistan’s water sources is five times higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) guidelines for arsenic concentration in drinking water, with Pakistan allowing 50 micrograms per liter and the WHO allowing only 10.

This specific issue of arsenic contamination points to a broader theme of water contamination on the whole. Water supply lines are often located directly adjacent to uncovered sewage lines, causing water contamination to be so prevalent that 40 percent of all ailments in Pakistan are the result of water-borne illnesses. Further, access to clean water in Pakistan is not recognized as a national right, but is seen as a responsibility which local governments are meant to take on. This means that such access fluctuates depending on the area, although infrastructural support for a clean water system is, on the whole, dismal.

The scarcity of clean water in Pakistan has allowed extremist groups to use water as a focal point of their recruitment process. Lakshar-e-Taiba, an extremist group that perpetrated the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 172 people were killed, has accused India of committing “water terrorism,” citing such as motivation for terrorist actions in India. By exploiting the issue of water – an issue which every Pakistani citizen is forced to deal with in order to survive – extremist organizations are able to reach larger swathes of the “common man” and augment grassroots support. Thus, the issue of water in Pakistan goes beyond simple health problems and infiltrates international security issues as well.

The wide berth of the problem has initiated an increase in the bottled water industry, but the reality is that such is still financially inaccessible to the majority of low-income individuals, forcing low-income communities to rely on easily-contaminated groundwater. In order to address this, an organization called Pharmagen has entered the scene. Pharmagen ensures its water is affordable for low-income customers, requiring only two rupees per liter. It operates through a chain of open water shops that extracts groundwater and purifies it to meet WHO standards before distributing it the impoverished communities it serves. Currently, the organization provides more than 100,000 liters of potable water per day in Lahore alone, and seeks to expand to include 32 additional open water shops, while also adding one bottled water facility.

Yet, it is important to note that 21.6 million people in Pakistan still have no access to clean water, and this is a hotbed for extremist activities. The work of organizations such as Pharmagen is both admirable and necessary, but it is also necessary that the international community step up on the whole – the issue of water in Pakistan ultimately goes beyond Pakistan-specific problems, due to its relationship with international extremist organizations. In a world teeming with terrorist activities, it would appear that mitigating grassroots extremist movements by improving access to clean water should have a greater presence on the world stage.

Kailee Nardi

Photo: Google

Climate Change A military coup has worsened Mali’s national security, amplifying the impact climate change has had on the country and its people. Conflict erupted in northern Mali in 2012. The violence of the proceeding five years has since destroyed the nation’s land, diminishing the abilities local farmers have to grow vegetation.

Since 2012, Mali has witnessed a wave of poor harvests, pushing a food crisis upon the country. Hostile physical and environmental circumstances have forced about 475,000 people from their homes to neighboring countries, and those who remain in Mali face food shortages and security threats. With 25 percent of families moderately to severely food insecure, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) estimates that 270,000 people face starvation.

Two thirds of Mali is a desert or semi-desert that experiences long yearly periods of drought. Furthermore, the Sahara Desert is expanding southward at a rate of 48 km per year. Climate change has significantly decreased the amount of rainfall, dropping by 30 percent since 1998. Consequently, Mali is also suffering from water scarcity. Only three-fifths of Malians have access to safe drinking water and only about one-third have proper sanitation.

The water shortage has weakened Mali’s agricultural activities, taking an immense toll on its citizens. Agriculture employs 90 percent of the country’s rural population and 70 per cent of Mali’s entire labor force. Cotton, gold and livestock make up 80 to 90 percent of total export earnings.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working on generating food security, particularly between harvests. The organization built a total of 3,966 environmental assets such as ponds, dams, and canals to help alleviate Mali’s lack of water. Technical and economic assistance have been provided for local farmers, broadening Mali’s market and strengthening the agricultural sector.  WFP has also begun providing nutrition support for pregnant women, nursing mothers, underweight children and children under five suffering from chronic and moderate-to-acute malnutrition. Further assistance from organizations like WFP is necessary to lift Mali‘s people from the harsh grips of military conflict and climate change.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Google

Water and Sanitation in Lesotho
Lesotho is a small landlocked country surrounded by South Africa, located within the Orange River Basin. Water resources in Lesotho are abundant, but scarcity in supply is due to climate change and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

Water resources in Lesotho include high levels of rainfall that collect and drain off into the major river systems of the Senqu (Orange), Mohokare (Caledon) and Makhaleng. Because these resources exceed the Basotho population’s current levels of use, the country exports water to South Africa and other neighboring countries.

Water is Lesotho’s main income generator, earning millions of dollars for the country each year though the LHWP. Despite Lesotho’s economic dependence on the richness of its water resources, the country faces some water-related challenges.

Nearly 25 percent of the population lacks access to safe drinking water. In 2016, 17 percent of households in Lesotho reported using unprotected water sources. Climate change and variable rain patterns lead to periods of chronic drought in Lesotho, resulting in water shortages and Basotho people needing to walk hours to collect water.

Even worse is the provision of sanitation in Lesotho, with 75 percent of people lacking access to adequate sanitation services. Without sanitation facilities, or access to working toilets or latrines, people’s only option is open defecation. Open defecation and the absence of washing facilities get associated with poor hygiene and an increased risk for diarrheal diseases.

Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable group.  Each year, 500 children under the age of five die from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe and inadequate water and sanitation in Lesotho.

The inability to access to safe drinking water and sanitation in Lesotho has impinged upon human development and poverty reduction. The Metolong Dam Project plans to increase water accessibility in Lesotho by 2020. Until then, the Basotho population has to deal with the chronic drought conditions and the far-reaching negative consequences resource shortages have for national health and development.

Gabrielle Doran

Photo: Flickr

Water and Sanitation in the Solomon IslandsNearly 70 percent of the population of the Solomon Islands lacks access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities. This archipelago comprises almost a thousand islands in the South Pacific Ocean and only has a population of 583,600.

There are disparities in access to water and sanitation in the Solomon Islands between urban and rural areas. Rural areas house 80 percent of the population (480,000), and there is a relative lack of water and sanitation services. In fact, nearly 70 percent of the population does not have access to appropriate sanitation services.

However, a study from 2007 concluded that 97 percent of urban areas compared to 65 percent of rural areas had access to clean water supply. A similar, but much greater disparity is present in access to sanitation facilities. In 2007, 98 percent of urban areas and 18 percent of rural areas had access to sanitation facilities.

The quality of the Solomon Islands’ urban water did not achieve The World Health Organization’s drinking water standards in 2007. Drinking water with unsafe levels of contamination has adverse effects on health and can cause diarrhea and other water-borne diseases. In 2002, diarrheal diseases accounted for seven percent of mortalities in the Solomon Islands.

In 2015, 93 percent of urban areas and 77 percent of rural areas gained access to improved water sources. This data indicates that the disparity in access to water between urban and rural areas has narrowed. Access to improved, private sanitation facilities in urban areas (72 percent) was disproportionately greater than access in rural areas (8 percent) in 2015.

Without sanitation facilities or access to working toilets or latrines, people’s only option is open defecation. Open defecation and the absence of washing facilities are associated with poor hygiene and an increased risk for skin and eye infections as well as mosquito-borne diseases, like malaria and dengue fever. A lack of private sanitation facilities is also linked to higher incidences of physical and sexual violence. When people—especially women—go outside to bathe and defecate, their vulnerability to violence increases.

A government initiative to improve hygiene, water and sanitation in the Solomon Islands is included in the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2020. If the Red Cross Society Strategic Plan’s target of helping 200,000 people with water, hygiene and sanitation is reached, the results could improve health outcomes and the lives of people in the Solomon Islands.

Gabrielle Doran

Photo: Flickr

Drinking Water in Kosovo

Heightened pollution in rivers, as well as a lack of wastewater treatment and disposal, is having drastic adverse effects on the water quality in Kosovo.

Located in southeast Europe, between Serbia and Macedonia, Kosovo is a small country with a population of fewer than two million. The armed conflict that took place during 1998 and 1999 has had lasting effects on the country’s economy and general welfare, leaving its citizens with the lowest per capita GDP in Europe.

Although there has been much progress, the war’s devastation remains visible in the country. Only 44 percent of the country’s population has access to drinking water, and in rural areas, that number drops to 8.4 percent. Water quality in Kosovo is almost solely reliant on the country’s many rivers, but as pollution increases in the nation, the water quality plummets.

In bacteria and chemical testing of the water, the Water and Waste Regulatory Office reports a 90 percent rate of purity, while the international standard is above 99 percent.

Although frequently used interchangeably, sewage and wastewater are not the same things.  Thus, it is important when looking at the issues Kosovo has to understand their differences. Sewage is simply a category of the broader term, wastewater.  This category includes all excess water from domestic and non-residential establishments. The non-residential waste requires lengthy procedures to purify properly, and in Kosovo, there is no established system.

Kosovans who regularly drink the tap water become sick as there is no wastewater treatment system. The largest threat to water quality in Kosovo, however, lies in the nation lack of a sewage system.  Beyond urban lines, only 28 percent of homes are connected to any type of sewage system. The rest is disposed into downstream rivers which then contaminates the ground water as well.  Kosovo’s government has recognized these threats and is working to improve protection standards for the country’s rivers.

In September 2016, the World Bank’s Executive Board of Directors agreed to allocate $24.5 million to restore Kosovo’s main water source, the Ibër Canal. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2022 and will restore water access to 500,000 people who live in proximity to the canal.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Google