Watering the Grassroots: Training African Women to Solve Water Problems

These women have just been trained in improved water and sanitation practices by the Global Women's Water Initiative
From March 2011 World Rivers Review"Water is life. When everyone has access to sources of water that are treated, protected and managed effectively, there will be improvement in the livelihood of the community members - especially women and children who have to move miles away in search of water for daily household activities." Nadiatu Ali and Victoria Yaro (2010 GWWI Grassroots Graduates) These women have just been trained in improved water and sanitation practices by the Global Women's Water Initiative More people die from unsafe water than all forms of violence, including war. Africa fac

Why We Fight – Dam Injustices in Africa

Terri in Uganda
Terri in Uganda This is my farewell from International Rivers, but not from the struggles for justice across Africa. Working from Cameroon over the past four years has given me a small glimpse of the daily struggles faced by those living in Africa, which can leave one exasperated: water shortages, power outages, flimsy imports, frequent crime, and small but chronic injustices, just to name a few. I shout angrily to myself about how the state is falling far short of its responsibilities. But I have also learned that where the state fails its people, the social fabric is woven even more tigh

Become An Aluminum Scrooge for the World's Rivers

Please, ma’am, just put down the aluminum foil and no one gets hurt. Scrooge It’s a little known fact that this simple kitchen product has a Dickensian dark side. So as you serve your guests canned beverages, “tent” your turkey, cover the yams, or wrap leftovers at the end of the party, keep in mind that the aluminum products you’re using have their roots in a dirty industry – one that frankly deserves a lump of coal in its stocking for how it’s mistreating the planet. The aluminum industry is the world’s largest industrial consumer of electricity, and about half of what it

Tackling African Energy Poverty Takes Citizen Power!

Bravo for the spotlight on access to modern energy - the "missing MDG" - at this week’s United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in New York. A new report released today at the MDG Summit, Ending Energy Poverty, calculates that powering the MDGs by 2015 will take $41 billion a year to bring electricity to 395 million people and access to clean cooking facilities to 1 billion people. That’s an average of $30 per person per year for electricity (395m) and another $30 per person per year for gaining access to modern cooking fuels or improved cookstoves (1b). Most of

Hydrodependency in Africa: Risky Business

Thursday, September 9, 2010
From September 2010 World Rivers Review The world gets about 20% of its electricity from hydropower, but in Sub-Saharan Africa that number is 60% (excluding coal-heavy South Africa) – and many countries get more than 80% of their electricity from dams. Drought-caused blackouts are common, and expected to get worse with climate change. Hundreds more dams are being planned, many of them in already dangerously hydro-dependent regions. This map shows the current status of hydrodependency across the continent, and plots some key proposed dams in these places. Finally, we include some informati

Gabon's Dark Side of Dams and Mines

An independent study released this month by Gabonese NGO, Brainforest, documents the devastation caused by uranium and manganese mines in southeast Gabon. The study, Impacts of mining on the local populations and the environment in Haut-Ogooué, also describes the government’s plan to build the Grand Poubara hydropower dam to help expand mining and mineral processing. Toxic pollution of the rivers and soil, disappearance of fish, and lack of public information are amongst Brainforest’s main concerns. The report hopes to bring attention to the government's role in enabling profits at

Ghana Dams Dialogue: Focus on Affected People

Bui Dam resetttlement site
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
From June 2010 World Rivers ReviewBui Dam resetttlement site Clement Otu-Tei Hydropower plays a major role in Ghana's energy supply. Demand for energy is rising and despite strategies to diversify the energy supply (for example, through a new gas pipeline), hydro schemes remain high in the government's National Strategic Energy Plan. Ghana now has two major dams: the Akosombo and Kpong dams, whose considerable social and environmental problems still linger today, decades after they were built. Another large dam, Bui, is being built by a Chinese company. Ghana's Dams Dialogue, inspired by the

Better Options Assessment in Kenya

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
From June 2010 World Rivers ReviewThe Government of Kenya learned about the unreliability of hydropower the hard way. In recent years, drought crippled its hydropower-dependent energy system many times (about two-thirds of the nation's electricity currently comes from dams). But unlike many other drought-prone African nations, Kenya has taken steps to analyze its energy options and work to diversify its supply. After two months of power rationing in 2009, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said "The country can no longer continue to rely on hydroelectric power supply." The government wants to

Renewing Africa with Community Energy

Africa’s most famous wind turbine was built out of bicycle parts, scrap wood and assorted junk by William Kamkwamba, at his family's homestead in rural Malawi. His story got international attention, and resulted in a book.
Monday, March 8, 2010
From March 2010 World Rivers Review African countries are making some important strides toward a green energy sector. According to the Global Renewables Status 2009, Northern Africa boasts more than 500 MW of installed wind power, while Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania are all planning their first wind farms. Mauritius, Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa have all enacted feed-in tariffs (pricing policies that encourage renewable electricity's access to the grid). Renewable energy targets have been set by Rwanda, Tunisia, Kenya, and Madagascar. But the energy divide between urban and rural areas rem

A Green Energy Plan for Mozambique

Cahora Bassa power lines bypass Zambezi villagers
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Cahora Bassa power lines bypass Zambezi villagers Lori Pottinger Mozambique has among the lowest uses of electricity in the world. Yet virtually all of the electricity it does produce from Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi is shipped to its wealthy neighbor, South Africa. As the government prepares to build another costly large dam on the Zambezi that will also power South Africa rather than homes and businesses in Mozambique, a new report lays out a saner plan for developing renewable energy sources across the nation that would share the energy wealth more equitably; diversify the national ele


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