Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bins that treat your canine pets to a meal

Soon you could treat your canine pets to a meal by just getting rid of your plastic bottles and cans. Delhi parks will have solar-powered recycling bins which would offer dog food and water to its users. The Capital will be the first city to have this innovative facility.
The concept -- implemented in the U.S., Russia, Turkey, and so on – is an incentive to people who dispose of non-biodegradable wastes like plastic bottles and cans inside bins. The bins will be installed by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in association with Pugedon Asia, the company that designed it.
In the first phase, 20 bins will be installed at 5 places -- Lodhi Garden, Satya Marg (Chanakyapuri), Golf Link, Talkatora Garden and Nehru Park.
“This is a free model which means these bins do not require electricity and are totally unmanned. A person has to insert a plastic bottle, juice or cold drink can and s/he would get dog food in return. During morning and evening hours, a lot of people come with their pets to NDMC gardens. Locations have been identified based on the residents living around it,” said Nikhil Kumar, Secretary, NDMC. The facility would be launched by July-end.
The machine can take 800 units of plastic bottles and cans. It is fitted with sensors and led lights which would display when the bin is full.
“There are three bins inside the machine – one for plastic waste, another 20-litre water tank and the third is the food bin. The sensors automatically drop kibbles and water when anyone throws the waste inside. The NDMC is giving us the space and we are installing these facilities for free,” explained Madhuresh Singh and Sangdrema Khrimey, founders of Pugedon Asia. The bottles are then sold to recycling companies, they added.

Monday, April 20, 2015

World’s Water Future Demands Action Today

DAEGU, South Korea, April 14, 2015 (ENS) – In 2050 there will be enough water to produce food for a global population of nine billion, but over-consumption and climate change will increase water scarcity in the planet’s neediest regions, finds a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Water Council.
The report, “Towards a water and food secure future” was released Tuesday at the Seventh World Water Forum now underway at the Daegu EXCO. Held every three years since 1997, this year’s forum is jointly organized by the World Water Council, the Republic of Korea, the city of Daegu and the province of Gyeongbuk.
“Food and water security are inextricably linked. We believe that by developing local approaches and making the right investments, world leaders can ensure that there will sufficient water volume, quality and access to meet food security in 2050 and beyond,” said World Water Council President Benedito Braga.
The Nooksack River in Washington State, USA (Photo by Rose Braverman)
Meanwhile, another UN agency reports the planet will face a 40 percent shortfall in water supply in 2030 unless the international community “dramatically” improves water supply management.
The 2015 World Water Development report, released by UNESCO for World Water Day, March 22, predicts that demand for water will increase 55 percent by 2050 while 20 percent of global groundwater is already overexploited.
The FAO predicts that by 2050 some 60 percent more food will be needed to feed the world, placing added stress on water supplies. Agriculture is already the most water-intensive industry, accounting for at least two-thirds of the water drawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers in many countries.
“Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and underinvestment,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO deputy director-general for natural resources.
“In an era of accelerated changes unparalleled to any in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever,” said Semedo.
Water supply improvements are possible, says the FAO, calling for governments to allocate water rights “in fair and inclusive ways” and to help farmers increase food output even with limited water resources by empowering them to better manage water scarcity risks.
Organic vegetable farmer in Boung Phao village, Laos waters her crop. (Photo by Asian Development Bank)
The world’s attention to water comes as UN Member States prepare to roll out a post-2015 sustainable development agenda that includes water governance and quality, wastewater management and the prevention of natural disasters.
The current UN development agenda is governed by the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, established following the UN’s Millennium Summit in 2000 and extending through 2015. The eight goals include one on environmental sustainability.
The UN is now formulating post-2015 goals that place sustainability at the core of its development activities.
“We have to integrate the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. We must act now to slow the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation, which pose unprecedented threats to humanity,” declared the UN’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
“This is an opportune time to re-visit our public policies, investment frameworks, governance structures and institutions,” Semedo said Tuesday. “We are entering the post-2015 development era and we should mark it with solid commitments.”
The international community must gear up for a new era of “hydro-diplomacy” as the threat of water scarcity risks plunging the world into a period of geopolitical tension and stunted development, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the UN General Assembly March 30.
“Water is one of the highest priorities for development and lives in dignity, as well as a serious factor in maintaining peace and security,” said Eliasson opening the High-Level Interactive Dialogue on the International Decade for Action Water for Life, 2005-2015.
“The lack of water causes individual tragedies,” he said. “And it also, growingly, constitutes a threat to international peace and security. There is a need for ‘hydro-diplomacy’ – making scarce water a reason for cooperation, rather than a reason for conflict.”
Eliasson warned that in a period of “intensifying disasters, both man-made and natural,” social and economic stresses related to water supply would increasingly flare up, spawning tensions between communities and nations.
“Shared water sources have historically brought countries closer together,” Eliasson said. “Instead of seeing water-sharing as a problem, we have to treat it as a potential solution, with the help of innovative and dynamic hydro-diplomacy.”
Children in South Sudan enjoy a drink of water. (Photo by Steve Evans)
Every day nearly 1,000 children die from diarrhea linked to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, or poor hygiene. In three countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea – more than half the population does not have improved drinking water.
“The impact of water on human health as well as economic well-being is better understood than a decade ago, including water’s critical importance for households, industries, agriculture, cities, energy production and transportation,” said President of the UN General Assembly Sam Kutesa in a message to the meeting.
Kutesa recognized progress made under the Millennium Development Goals, yet, he said, 800 million people continue to live without access to an improved water source while many more are without a safe and sustainable water supply.
“This year represents a pivotal opportunity for the international community,” he said. “We are in the midst of an historic opportunity to change our world by improving livelihoods everywhere and protecting our planet.”
Léo Heller, UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, said, “What is needed is a better application of resources – by identifying and targeting those who still do not have access; by practicing effective mechanisms for affordability; by integrating the principle of equality and non-discrimination in policies and programs and by putting in place the necessary physical and regulatory frameworks to monitor who are benefitting from interventions and who are being left behind.”
Heller said, “No one should be left without access to water and sanitation under the new post-2015 development framework.”

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ten-year review finds 87% of disasters climate-related (UNISDR - United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction)

Data shows that more than 150 million people were affected by floods in 2010 alone.
06 March 2015, GENEVA - A week before world leaders and representatives of civil society gather in Sendai, Japan, for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said today that climate-related disasters now dominate disaster risk management.

Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said: "We now have ten years of experience in implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action which has guided global efforts to reduce disaster risk since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

"Despite many successes and greatly improved performance in disaster management, it is sobering to note that 700,000 people have died in disaster events over the last ten years. A total of 1.7 billion people have had their lives disrupted in some way. It is of great concern that economic losses in major reported disaster events come to $1.4 trillion."

Ms. Wahlström said that while 70% of deaths are caused by earthquakes, climate-related disasters now account for over 80% of all disaster events and contribute enormously to economic losses and short and long-term population displacement triggered by disaster events. 155 million people have suffered short or long-term displacement since 2008.

She said: "It is very important that the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which opens on March 14, should provide clear, action-oriented guidance to governments, local governments, the private sector and civil society in general on how best to tackle the underlying drivers of risk such as poverty, climate change, poorly planned urban growth, land use and the decline of protective eco-systems."

The World Conference is due to adopt a major revision of the Hyogo Framework for Action which will guide disaster risk management efforts for the next ten to 15 years depending on the time frame adopted by the Conference.

The agreement on disaster risk reduction is one of three mutually supportive processes which will be decided this year as part of the overall Post-2015 development agenda. Major frameworks are also to be agreed on sustainable development goals (September) and climate change (December). - See more at:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

India's fast-growing cities face polluted water crisis

NEW DELHI -- Ranbir Singh still remembers when the wells in his village on New Delhi's southwestern edge were filled with sweet-tasting water and livestock drank from the small ponds that dotted the area.
Now the village has been all but subsumed by Dwarka, a high-rise satellite city that sprang up in the 1990s on the edge of India's sprawling capital.
The ponds dried out long ago and are now filled with rubbish, while over-extraction has caused the groundwater level to fall so far that industrial pumps are needed to bring water to the surface.
“Today what you get from underground is not even drinkable,” the 62-year-old told AFP in Pochanpur, now a hodgepodge of small-scale construction overshadowed by Dwarka's tower blocks.
“People who still consume it complain of stomach problems, and many young people in our village suffer from skin problems because of this water.”
Decades of population growth and uncontrolled urbanization have created a water crisis in India.
The World Resources Institute, a Washington-based research group, says the national supply is predicted to fall to 50 percent below demand by 2030.
A new U.N. report to be launched in Delhi on Friday ahead of World Water Day on March 22 will warn of an urgent need to manage the world's water more sustainably and highlight the problem of groundwater over-extraction, particularly in India and China.
It says 20 percent of global groundwater sources are already over-exploited and warns the problem will only become more acute without better management, with demand expected to rise by 55 percent by 2050.
Contaminated Rivers
Sushmita Sengupta of the Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment says much more could be done to manage supplies in India.
“Our lakes and ponds were once a natural way of recharging groundwater, but they are being destroyed through urbanization,” she said.
“Our sewage goes untreated, so the rivers are contaminated. We used to be very good at managing water in India, but we are losing that ability.”
Activist Diwan Singh is campaigning for the city to divert rainwater drains, which currently flow into the sewage system, to lakes and ponds in order to replenish the water table.
 The 44-year-old experienced Delhi's water woes first hand when he moved into a tower block in Dwarka, which like many parts of the capital receives no piped water and has to rely on tanker deliveries and borewells.
“Delhi's groundwater management has been dismal,” complained Singh, who says he faces an uphill struggle against a slow-moving and sometimes corrupt bureaucracy.
“In some areas around Dwarka, the groundwater level has fallen by 60 meters. Meanwhile all the water that falls in the monsoon is being drained into the sewers and lost.”
The result is that in many parts of Delhi the groundwater contains such a high concentration of impurities that it is undrinkable.
'People get very angry'
A few kilometers away from Dwarka's modern high-rises in the working-class suburb of Kailash Puri, life revolves around the city water board's twice-weekly deliveries.
Residents used to drink water drawn from the ground with borewells, but that is now too toxic, and few can afford the expensive water purifiers that are a standard feature of Delhi's wealthier households.
As the water board's brightly colored trucks roll down the street, entire families including small children dash out of their homes with plastic containers to fill.
“I was supposed to be at a job interview today, but I had to miss it because the water was coming,” said 22-year-old Neha Rana as she filled her buckets.
“It doesn't matter what's going on, you have to come and get the water. At times people get very angry, and fights can break out.”
No one at the Delhi water board would speak to AFP on the record, but an official speaking on condition of anonymity said this was a national crisis and could not be resolved at the state level.
“It is an issue that needs concerted, long-term planning at the national level,” he said.
The issue has become so big in Delhi that providing free water was one of new Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's key campaign promises in state elections last month.
In the meantime, private water “mafias” are catering for demand unmet by the government — at a price.
Many source their water from illegal borewells, exacerbating the problem, and there have been reports they collude with water board officials to create an artificial shortage.
“They can recharge their pockets but they can't recharge the groundwater,” said Singh, the Dwarka campaigner, as he looked despondently at the empty pond in the park near his home.