News Around the Globe


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Global Press Journal reporters offer unique insights into their communities. In this new series, How to Spend an Hour In: reporters take you inside their communities to highlight unique landmarks and cultural touchstones. Today from Global Press Journal Zambia: Enjoy native plants and animals at Munda Wanga, a botanical garden and animal refuge.
Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia
April 17, 2015

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Once a dilapidated zoo, a popular animal sanctuary south of Lusaka is now called Munda Wanga, which means “My Garden” in a local language, Nyanja. Located about 7 miles from Zambia’s capital city, the environmental park features more than 45 types of animals and a botanical garden with more than 1,000 plant species.

Munda Wanga is a place for relaxing. Shrubs and trees provide shade over tranquil pathways. Visitors can lie on green grass and gaze at colorful blossoming plants. Sculptures stud areas around a stream and man-made ponds.

It’s also a place for learning and playing. More than 40,000 schoolchildren and their teachers visit every year, says Tipilile Silwamba, a revenue collector at the park. They watch the lions, cheetahs, camels, wild pigs, impalas and other animals, which are kept in enclosures.

Many of the animals in the sanctuary were rescued from bush meat and pet traders. While some will be released into the wild after being rehabilitated, others are expected to live out their lives in the sanctuary.

Visitors learn about environmental conservation and wildlife management at an education center.

The park also boasts a playground and swimming pool, plus a bar and restaurant.

Munda Wanga was established around 1950 as a private botanical garden where Zambian artisans, including sculptors and bricklayers, could show off their skills. The Zambian government bought the site in the late 1960s and added a zoo, but Munda Wanga and its animals fared poorly until 1998, when the Munda Wanga Trust took it over. Now, the Zambia Wildlife Authority controls the park.

Details

Munda Wanga is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last entry at 5 p.m.) from April to July and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last entry at 6 p.m.) from August to March. Admission is about $3.30 for adults, about $2 for children between the ages of 2 and 13, and free to children under 2. Groups of more than 20 that book in advance receive a discount. Educational discounts are also available. Call 260-21-1278-614 or visit www.mundawanga.com for more information.

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In rural areas adjoining forest reserves, elephants attack farm communities in their quest for food and rangeland, causing injury, death and costly property destruction. Hostilities are rising as the habitat of the protected species shrinks: Elephants now kill about 70 people a year, and people kill an average of 200 elephants a year. Conservationists and government officials are trying to find affordable, effective ways to minimize the violence and destruction.
Chathuri Dissanayake GPJ Sri Lanka
April 14, 2015
“We cannot go out at night, even to attend any function of relatives. We can no longer go even to the temple in the evening. We live in constant fear of death. ”

MORAGODA, SRI LANKA – On the morning of Jan. 22, 2015, Shalika Karunaratne watched helplessly as an enraged elephant chased her father, picked him up and dashed him to the ground like a toy.

Villagers ran for cover.

“Nobody came to my father’s aid until the elephant was out of sight,” she says. “They were all scared.”

Elephants frequently visit Karunaratne’s village during harvest time – March, April and August – in search of food. In the months before the attack on her father, elephants had destroyed mango trees in the family’s garden.

On the morning of the attack, Karunaratne, 19, alerted her father to two wild elephants going past their house in Moragoda, a small village in Anuradhapura district in Sri Lanka’s North Central province.

One of the elephants crossed the road and entered a protected area. The second, alone and separated from the herd, was wandering around the village when he came upon Karunaratne’s father working in the family vegetable garden.

After the attack, villagers took Karunaratne’s father to a nearby hospital; he died a few hours later. He was the second Moragoda resident to be killed by an elephant.

Elephants enter villages because, having lost much of their wilderness habitat, they compete with human communities for land and food. When harassed, they usually move along, but sometimes they react with fear and go on the offensive.

The human-elephant conflict is complicated by the fact that Sri Lankan law prohibits the killing of elephants for any reason, including self-defense.

To ensure species conservation, Sri Lanka restricts interaction with protected species in certain biologically diverse areas. The Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of 1938 establishes six categories of protected area and spells out conservation and protection guidelines for each.

Elephant incursions have increased over the past five years, Karunaratne says. The massive animals eat crops, trample fields, smash into houses – and sometimes attack people they perceive as a threat. A week before the attack on Karunaratne’s father, an elephant chased Karunaratne’s aunt as she walked home at dusk.

Karunaratne’s father was the family breadwinner. Now Karunaratne and her mother have no regular income, she says.

The Department of Wildlife Conservation, the primary government agency responsible for managing and protecting wildlife, pays compensation of 100,000 rupees ($745) for a death caused by a wild elephant and up to 50,000 rupees ($372) for a nonlethal injury.

Karunaratne’s family received 15,000 rupees ($111) a few days after her father’s death, and the department promised to pay the balance this month.

Karunaratne’s mother, Y.M. Podimanike, lives in fear of elephant attacks. The men of a household commonly take charge of scaring elephants away, often by lighting firecrackers. Without a man to guard the family garden, Podimanike fears she and her daughter are now more vulnerable to attack.

The long-running conflict between humans and wild elephants in rural Sri Lanka is intensifying, with the number of reported attacks surging in the past five years, researchers and conservation officials say. The problem is worsening because the elephant population is growing while human settlement and agriculture reduce the animals’ habitat.

In villages that border protected elephant habitat, farm families live in fear of attacks. To keep elephants from roaming outside protected areas, the Department of Wildlife Conservation is expanding the nation’s network of electric fences. However, independent researchers, activists and leaders advocate for less costly and more community-oriented methods to reduce the incidence of conflict.

Sri Lanka is home to well over 10 percent of the global population of Asian elephants, the Elephas maximus.

A nationwide elephant census carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Department in 2011 found 5,879 wild elephants in areas near nature parks and sanctuaries. The largest wild elephant populations are in the country’s North Western and North Central provinces, the census found.

In Sri Lanka, elephant herds range in size from 12 to 20 elephants.

Culturally, the elephant plays a significant role in Sri Lanka, says Deepani Jayantha, wildlife biologist and country representative of Elemotion Foundation, a U.S.-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of Asian elephants and the people connected to them.

The elephant is woven into Sri Lanka’s main religious traditions – Buddhist and Hindu. Many Buddhist temples use captive elephants in pageants and festivals.

Owning captive elephants has long been a sign of prestige among noble families, and elephants are prominently featured in ancient works of art.

The Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance makes elephants a protected species. Killing a wild elephant under any circumstance is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 500,000 rupees ($3,750) and a prison sentence of up to five years.

While the number of human and elephant deaths has gradually increased since the 1990s, the number of reported elephant attacks on village farms and houses has risen sharply over the past five years, says H.D. Ratnayake, director general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The number of attacks causing property damage rose from just shy of 700 in 2008 to nearly 2,000 in 2010 and nearly 3,200 in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the department.

Farmers bear the brunt of the property damage.

After living his whole life in his ancestral home in Karuwalagaswewa, a remote village in the North Western province, Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Gunasekara, 60, moved to a different part of the village in 2013 to escape the rising danger of elephant attacks.

But Gunasekara has had no respite. His new home has been attacked three times since he moved. The most recent attack was in February, when elephants destroyed a wall of his new house.

“We were all in the house when suddenly an elephant came and banged on the outer wall,” he says. “My son’s family and my wife and I all ran out of the back door to the nearby woods and waited till the elephant left.”

Gunasekara’s son, daughter-in-law and grandson have been living with him and his wife since January, when rampaging elephants destroyed their home in the same village.

Gunasekara has lost count of the number of attacks his family has faced. Elephants are attracted to grain fields, garden crops and even produce stored in homes, he says.

In the February attack, elephants apparently were drawn to the peanuts that the family had harvested and stored indoors pending their sale.

But property damage, as bad as it is, is not the worst element of the conflict.

Between 2005 and 2010, an average of 71 people died annually as a result of elephant attacks, according to the Department of Wildlife Conservation. In 2014, elephants killed 67 people, Ratnayake says.

The conflict is deadly to the elephants as well. From 2005 to 2010, people killed 1,154 elephants – an average of nearly 200 a year.

In 2014, 231 elephants died in Sri Lanka; people killed about half of them, Ratnayake says.

“At the crux of the human-elephant conflict is a land issue,” he says.

Forests make up less than 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s land area, limiting the amount of land available for elephants, Ratnayake says. Each herd’s range is becoming smaller and more fragmented.

“Villages bordering and among forest reserves are constantly under threat of elephant attacks, especially during dry and drought times, as food becomes scarce in the reserves,” he says.

Around 70 percent of wild elephants range in small, isolated forest areas scattered among human settlements, Ratnayake says.

But while the herds’ ranging areas are shrinking, the elephant population is growing.

A census conducted in 1993 showed the country was home to at least 1,967 elephants. That census excluded the Northern province, where a military conflict then raged; by 2011, when a census was conducted nationwide, the tally had tripled.

Sarath Kotagama, a professor of environmental science at the University of Colombo and a former director general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, attributes the growth in the elephant population to favorable breeding conditions.

“Scientific data shows secondary forests and grasslands to contribute to the highest rate of elephant population growth,” he says. “As land with conditions conducive to the growth of elephant population increase, so does the population.”

Habitats around vast croplands and man-made reservoirs favor elephant breeding by providing nutrition and increasing the number of encounters between male and female elephants, Jayantha agrees.

The intensification of agricultural farming in the country’s dry zone has contributed to the conflict, Kotagama says.

Elephants raid practically all food crops, he says. Since rice is the most widely cultivated crop in the dry zone, elephants commonly attack rice fields.

Apart from small garden plots that provide sustenance, almost all crops are grown for income, Kotagama says. Destruction of sale crops can send families into debt.

Most Sri Lankan farmers practice slash-and-burn agriculture, clearing forestland for planting by setting it afire. After cultivating a crop for a season, a farmer will leave that field fallow and burn another plot for cultivation.

The departure from seasonal farming, when farmers grew crops only from September to March and from May to August, has exacerbated the human-elephant conflict, Jayantha says. Elephants now have less fallow cropland on which to roam unharmed, and villagers must guard their fields year-round.

“This makes protecting farms more difficult,” she says.

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Legally Protected, Proliferating and Losing Habitat, Elephants Step Up Deadly Struggle With Sri Lankan Villagers
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MORAGODA, SRI LANKA  ̶  On the morning of Jan. 22, 2015, Shalika Karunaratne watched helplessly as an enraged elephant chased her father, picked him up and dashed him to the ground like a toy, fatally injuring him.

Elephants frequently visit Karunaratne’s village during harvest time – March, April and August – in search of food. In the months before the attack on her father, elephants had destroyed mango trees in the family’s garden.

Elephants enter villages because, having lost much of their wilderness habitat, they compete with human communities for land and food. When harassed, they usually move along, but sometimes they react with fear and go on the offensive.

Under Sri Lankan law, killing a wild elephant under any circumstance is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 500,000 rupees ($3,750) and a prison sentence of up to five years.

The long-running conflict between humans and wild elephants in rural Sri Lanka is intensifying, with the number of reported attacks surging in the past five years, researchers and conservation officials say.

The massive animals eat and trample crops, knock down trees, smash houses – and sometimes, when provoked, attack people.

The problem is worsening because the elephant population is growing while human settlement and agriculture are reducing the animals’ habitat.

In villages that border protected elephant habitat, farm families live in fear of attacks. To keep elephants from roaming outside protected areas, the Department of Wildlife Conservation is expanding the nation’s network of electric fences. However, independent researchers, activists and leaders advocate for less costly and more community-oriented methods to reduce the incidence of conflict.

Sri Lanka is home to well over 10 percent of the global population of Asian elephants, the Elephas maximus. A nationwide elephant census carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Department in 2011 found 5,879 wild elephants in areas near nature parks and sanctuaries. Elephants roam in herds of 12 to 20.

The number of reported elephant attacks on village farms and houses has risen sharply in recent years, from just shy of 700 in 2008 to nearly 3,200 in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the Wildlife Conservation Department.

Between 2005 and 2010, an average of 71 people died annually as a result of elephant attacks, according to the Department of Wildlife Conservation. During the same period, people killed an average of nearly 200 elephants a year.

Habitats around vast croplands and man-made reservoirs favor elephant breeding by providing nutrition and increasing the number of encounters between male and female elephants.

The Department of Wildlife Conservation’s primary strategy for reducing elephant-human conflict is to restrict elephants to protected areas using electrified fences.

The department plans to erect up to 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of electric fencing nationwide, Ratnayake says. The department spent 300 million rupees ($2.2 million) in 2014 to erect 500 kilometers (310 miles) of fencing and maintain fences.

It plans to erect another 400 kilometers (248 miles) of fencing in 2015.

Elephant conservationists advocate for more community-driven solutions. Some recommend fencing off some small villages instead of fencing off the adjoining protected areas.

Nut Graph: 

In rural areas adjoining forest reserves, elephants attack farm communities in their quest for food and rangeland, causing injury, death and costly property destruction. Hostilities rise as the habitat of the protected species shrinks: Elephants now kill about 70 people a year, and people kill an average of 200 elephants a year. Conservationists and government officials are trying to find affordable, effective ways to minimize the violence and destruction. 

Main Quote: 

We cannot go out at night, even to attend any function of relatives. We can no longer go even to the temple in the evening. We live in constant fear of death.”
Pemasiri Harischandra, community organizer, Karuwalagaswewa

Background: 

In Sri Lanka, home to well over 10 percent of the global population of Asian elephants, human settlement is encroaching on the herds’ protected habit.

At the same time, the elephant population is growing thanks to conditions that favor their breeding and sustenance and laws protecting them from harm. A census conducted in 1993 showed the country was home to at least 1,967 elephants. That census excluded the Northern province, where a military conflict then raged; by 2011, when a census was conducted nationwide, the tally had tripled.

The number of reported elephant attacks on village farms and houses has risen sharply in recent years, from just shy of 700 in 2008 to nearly 3,200 in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the Wildlife Conservation Department.

The Department of Wildlife Conservation’s primary strategy for reducing elephant-human conflict is to restrict elephants to protected areas using electrified fences.

Quotes: 

“Villages bordering and among forest reserves are constantly under threat of elephant attacks, especially during dry and drought times, as food becomes scarce in the reserves.”

H.D. Ratnayake, director general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation

 

“Scientific data shows secondary forests and grasslands to contribute to the highest rate of elephant population growth. As land with conditions conducive to the growth of elephant population increase, so does the population.”

Sarath Kotagama, professor of environmental science at the University of Colombo

 

“If this the issue is to be sorted out, unpopular decisions – like removing people from reserve areas and demarcating the reserve areas – will have to be made.”

Deepani Jayantha, wildlife biologist and country representative of Elemotion Foundation

 

 

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Although Goma is on a shore of a massive freshwater lake and has one of the highest rainfall totals in the region, the city is unable to provide clean water to residents’ homes. A 2002 volcanic eruption decimated Goma’s already antiquated water system, and reconstruction is taking years. As protests over water access and reconstruction efforts coincide, NGOs are trying to prevent cholera by chlorinating the containers of water that people haul home from the lake every day.
Noella Nyirabihogo, GPJ, Democratic Republic of Congo
April 13, 2015
“Every morning I have to go get water,” she says. “I walk 45 minutes with full water bottles on my back. It's very tiring. But I have to; I do not have a choice.”

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Every day, thousands of people here wake up ahead of the sun and throng the access points to Lake Kivu, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Africa.

Children bathe. Men wash their cars. Women wash clothes and dump cooking waste. Many people use the lake as a latrine. Others come daily to collect water for their families or to sell in town.

Goma has only 57 water distribution sites, each with four taps, according to Mercy Corps, a global aid organization. That leaves most of Goma’s 1 million people reliant on water drawn directly from Lake Kivu.

One recent Sunday, Esther Shukuru toted a week’s worth of laundry to the lake at 5 a.m.

Like most other Goma residents, Shukuru does not have running water in her home. She can’t even obtain water in her neighborhood.

Sitting on a rock next to a pile of dirty clothes, a tub of soapy water before her, Shukuru scrubs her family’s laundry. It is important to her that her two children have clean clothes, she says.

“I come here every Sunday to do laundry because where I live there is no water,” she says. “Transporting a pile of wet clothes is not simple at all. Even someone who is strong cannot get home.”

Running a household without ready access to water is difficult, Shukuru says.

“Life without water is extremely hard, especially for women like me who oversee the welfare of a family,” she says. “I have to clean the house, prepare food, bathe my children, wash the clothes and clean my husband’s shoes. For all of this, I must have water.”

Paradoxically, Goma is on one of the world’s largest freshwater reservoirs and boasts one of the highest annual rainfall averages in the region.

But Goma lacks the infrastructure it needs to provide running water throughout the city. And Lake Kivu, the primary water source for the city’s residents, is dirty; untreated water from the lake is responsible for a rising number of cholera cases.

Lack of access to clean water has become a hot-button topic for residents, protesters, the local government and international agencies.

The water infrastructure throughout the region remains weak. For seven years, international agencies have been working with the government to rebuild water infrastructure destroyed by the 2002 volcanic eruption of nearby Mount Nyiragongo.

In an effort to prevent cholera in the meantime, international organizations have set up camp on the banks of the lake to purify visitors’ water supplies with chlorine. But a local youth movement says lakeshore chlorination is insufficient; its members and their supporters agitate for clean running water for the people of Goma.

Although DRC holds over half of Africa’s freshwater reserves and Goma is on one of the continent’s largest reservoirs, an estimated 51 million Congolese – 75 percent of the population – have no access to safe drinking water, according to the United Nations Environment Program, or UNEP.

A 2011 UNEP report cites DRC’s “legacy of conflict, environmental degradation, rapid urbanization and under-investment in water infrastructure” as the primary causes of residents’ inadequate access to clean water.

Millennium Development Goals call for reducing the number of people without access to safe drinking water by half by the end of 2015. Local activists say that’s a far-off goal considering that total access to clean drinking water in DRC has increased by just 3 percent since 1990, according to the UN site for MDG indicators.

The nation would have to provide safe drinking water to more than 20 million more people by the end of the year to meet even its national development goals, which are far below the MDG targets, according to UNEP.

The lack of access to safe drinking water here causes more than inconvenience.

Over the past 12 months, 2,181 cases of cholera have been reported in Goma. And 16 of those cases have been fatal, according to Solidarités International, an organization that supplies chlorine injections at Lake Kivu.

Every day, Gabriel Msaada Boroto squirts chlorine into thousands of cans, buckets and plastic containers of water.

A chlorinator agent with Solidarités International, Boroto treats water pulled from the lake by Goma residents.

“With the naked eye, we cannot see the problems that are in the water,” he says. “We are the heart of the project against cholera. Each can is purified by liquid chlorine that kills the germs.”

Afia Himbi Health Network, a regional health clinic, works in conjunction with local organizations to ensure that everyone who uses lake water has access to chlorine, says Beatrice Mishamba, a sanitation officer for the clinic. She is especially determined to chlorinate water collected from the lake for sale in town.

“We use chlorine to kill germs because lake water is very dirty,” she says. “Each person who collects lake water here should go through us.”

Mishamba takes pride in the clinic’s mission.

“The work I'm doing really helps people,” she says. “If not for this work, cholera could exterminate the people all around us.”

Mishamba cautions water carriers that chlorine is not a magic elixir.

“I tell them to wait 30 minutes to use the water because the chlorine needs time to eliminate the germs,” she says.

Furthermore, chlorine’s effect wears off after 48 hours, she says.

Ombeni Nzigire, 14, comes to the lake before school every day to fetch water for her family. She is grateful for the chlorine service, but she wishes the family’s water source were not so far from home.

“This method helps a lot, but it would be even better if the water could be accessible in our neighborhoods,” she says. “Coming to the lake every day is so tiring.”

Ombeni begins the daily chore at sunrise so she can complete it before school.

“Every morning I have to go get water,” she says. “I walk 45 minutes with full water bottles on my back. It's very tiring. But I have to; I do not have a choice.”

Didier Habimana collects water at the lake to sell in Goma for 200 francs (22 cents) per liter.

The chlorine programs are good for his business, he says.

“Before, people bought water for washing or housecleaning only,” Habimana says. “But today they buy for other things, too, such as preparing food, … because they know that the water is clean. So my customers have increased.”

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Residents of Goma, DRC, Dream of Clean Running Water on Their Daily Treks to Lake Kivu
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GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Every day, thousands of people here wake up ahead of the sun and throng the access points to Lake Kivu, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Africa.

Children bathe. Men wash their cars. Women wash clothes and dump cooking waste. Many people use the lake as a latrine. Others come daily to collect water for their families or to sell in town.

The city’s decrepit water system was constructed in the 1960s and decimated by lava flow after the 2002 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. Goma has only 57 water distribution sites, each with four taps, according to Mercy Corps, a global aid organization. That leaves most of Goma’s 1 million people reliant on water drawn directly from Lake Kivu.

One recent Sunday, Esther Shukuru toted a week’s worth of laundry to the lake at 5 a.m.

Like most other Goma residents, Shukuru does not have running water in her home. She can’t even obtain water in her neighborhood.

Sitting on a rock next to a pile of dirty clothes, a tub of soapy water before her, Shukuru scrubs her family’s laundry. It is important to her that her two children have clean clothes, she says.

Running a household without ready access to water is difficult, Shukuru says.

“Life without water is extremely hard, especially for women like me who oversee the welfare of a family,” she says. “I have to clean the house, prepare food, bathe my children, wash the clothes and clean my husband’s shoes. For all of this, I must have water.”

Goma is on one of the world’s largest freshwater reservoirs and boasts one of the highest annual rainfall averages in the region, but it lacks the infrastructure it needs to provide running water throughout the city. And Lake Kivu, the primary water source for the city’s residents, is dirty; untreated water from the lake is responsible for a rising number of cholera cases.

An estimated 51 million Congolese – 75 percent of the population – have no access to safe drinking water, according to the United Nations Environment Program, or UNEP.

The water infrastructure throughout the region remains weak. For seven years, international agencies have worked with the government to rebuild water infrastructure destroyed by the 2002 volcanic eruption of nearby Mount Nyiragongo.

In an effort to prevent cholera in the meantime, international organizations have set up camp on the banks of the lake to purify visitors’ water supplies with chlorine. But a local youth movement says lakeshore chlorination is insufficient; its members agitate for clean running water for the people of Goma.

The lack of access to safe drinking water causes more than inconvenience.

Over the past 12 months, 2,181 cases of cholera have been reported in Goma. And 16 of those cases have been fatal, according to Solidarités International, one of several organizations that supply chlorine injections at Lake Kivu.

Residents say progress on the rebuilding and expansion of the water system has been too slow and that the chlorination efforts are insufficient to meet the people’s water needs. More than 3,000 people have participated in marches demanding drinking water for Goma residents.

Nut Graph: 

Although Goma is on a shore of a massive freshwater lake and has one of the highest rainfall rates in the region, the city is unable to provide clean water to residents’ homes. A volcanic eruption decimated Goma’s already antiquated water system, and reconstruction is taking years. In the meantime, in an effort to prevent cholera, NGOs chlorinate water that people haul home from the lake every day.

Main Quote: 

“Every morning I have to go get water. I walk 45 minutes with full water bottles on my back. It's very tiring. But I have to; I do not have a choice.”

Ombeni Nzigire, 14, Goma resident

Background: 

Goma’s decrepit water system was constructed in the 1960s and decimated by lava flow after the 2002 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. Goma has only 57 water distribution sites, each with four taps, leaving most the city’s 1 million people reliant on water drawn directly from Lake Kivu for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

The lack of access to safe drinking water causes more than inconvenience. Over the past 12 months, 2,181 cases of cholera – 16 of them fatal – have been reported in Goma. To fight the spread of disease, NGOs are supplying chlorine injections at Lake Kivu.

Many of the city’s residents say the reconstruction of the water system is taking too long and that chlorination efforts are insufficient. Thousands have joined with a local youth organization to demand access to clean drinking water.

 

Quotes: 

“With the naked eye, we cannot see the problems that are in the water. We are the heart of the project against cholera. Each can is purified by liquid chlorine that kills the germs.”

Gabriel Msaada Boroto, a chlorinator agent with Solidarités International

“I come here [to Lake Kivu] every Sunday to do laundry because where I live there is no water. Life without water is extremely hard, especially for women like me who oversee the welfare of a family.”

Esther Shukuru, Goma resident

“We knew from the start that the Goma water project would be a massive undertaking, and rehabilitating Goma’s water system took years of construction and innovative thinking.”

Lynn Hector, communications officer with Mercy Corps

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Reliant on an inadequate water supply and antiquated pipes, Bamenda has been short of water for six months. The shortage is a boon for cart pushers, mineral water distributors and borehole drillers, but the high cost of obtaining water is an added burden to parched residents. The crisis is expected to ease once the rains set in this month.
Comfort Mussa, GPJ Cameroon
April 10, 2015
“Before, water business was slow, but now, water sells like fuel. ”

BAMENDA, CAMEROON – The unpaved road leading to the Bamenda Main Market in Metta Quarters bustles this morning. Cargo truck drivers offload supplies, moto drivers drop off and pick up fares, and merchandise hawkers call out to passers-by. Cart pushers – freelance porters – line up with their hand carts, all set to help load and unload trucks.

At 9 a.m., the heat is already scorching. A thin cloud of dust hangs in the air. As in most of Bamenda, the capital of Cameroon’s Northwest region, the water taps in Metta Quarters have run dry. 

Roger Sali, a cart pusher for more than five years, has come here to rent a hand cart. Since the water shortage began, Sali has worked as a middleman, buying water from water tanks and selling it to business owners.The water crisis assures him steady business.

“I now have five times the number of clients I had before the water problem became very serious,” Sali says.

Sali’s clients include restaurants, hair salons and other businesses. Many are residential customers who do not own cars or have time to search for water. The entrepreneur advertises his services by posting notices with his mobile number on salon walls and restaurants where he supplies water.

After renting a two-wheeled cart for 300 francs (50 cents), Sali proceeds to his first client to collect empty containers. After a 30-minute trek, he finds a water tank filled from a private borehole outside Metta Quarters and purchases water at 25 francs (4 cents) per 20-liter container.

He supplies it to his clients at 75 francs (12 cents) per container. Sali makes a profit of about 1,250 francs ($2) a day, up from the 250 francs (40 cents) he was earning when he started.

Many tanks dry up, so Sali often must walk far in his daily quest for the precious commodity.

He sees the water shortage in Bamenda as both a blessing and a challenge.

“I make more money fetching water, but at the same time, it is very stressful because I trek long distances in search of water,” he says.

A drop in volume at Ntanti Retention Dam has severely diminished Bamenda’s water supply for half a year. Camerounaise des Eaux, or CDE, the agency responsible for supplying water in Cameroon, has been unable to provide sufficient water throughout the city.

To alleviate the crisis, the army distributes free water via tankers, but it’s not enough. Many Bamenda businesses and residents must seek alternative sources.

Entrepreneurs are cashing in on the business opportunities posed by the shortage.

Some buy water from cart pushers like Sali; others buy bottled water or pay hefty sums to have their own boreholes drilled.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Energy says the crisis will ease once the rains begin this month. But even then the problem can only be fixed with overdue infrastructure changes.

When the shortage began last October, some parts of Bamenda were still getting water. Now the entire city lacks sufficient water, says Emmanuel Moki, the Northwest regional delegate for the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy.

Some households get water on some days, but others have not received water for six months, he adds.

The retention dam will rise when the rains set in, providing more water for distribution, Moki says. The rainy season usually starts around mid-March, but it is yet to begin this year.

Some households will continue to experience water shortages because the city’s water infrastructure is inadequate, he says.

“So, even if the water level in the retention dam increases, we will still have to do structural changes to upgrade the pipes and system to suit the demands of a growing city,” Moki says.

The city’s water pipes were designed more than 40 years ago to carry water to 10,000 households but now serve over 15,000, he says.

Bamenda’s population has increased rapidly since the University of Bamenda was founded in 2010, Moki says. With the university came infrastructure development and an influx of students, lecturers, business people and public servants.

As of 2012, Bamenda had a population of about 567,000 – an 81 percent increase from the 313,000 people recorded in the 1987 census, the first population count in Cameroon.

Competition in the retail water supply business is high, Sali says.

In the early hours of the day, independent distributors form long queues at area water points. At one water point, nearly 17 people queue up for water.

Bottled water suppliers and companies that drill boreholes are also taking advantage of the water crisis.

Derrick Forpena, who distributes bottled Hesco Water to retailers in the Northwest region, says he now supplies twice as much water as he did before October.

“Before, water business was slow, but now, water sells like fuel,” he says.

To cash in on the water crisis, Forpena, who has been in the business since 2012, has created smaller distribution depots and new sales points. He also advertises the water on local radio stations.

Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, the company that bottles Hesco Water, sells water in one-liter bottles. In response to consumers’ requests for larger containers, the company will start selling five-liter bottles of water in May, Forpena says.

The water crisis has also provided business opportunities for companies that drill boreholes.

Princewill Tafor, the CEO of Water and Habitat for All, a company that offers borehole drilling services, says he is strategizing to accommodate rising demand.

The clients include individuals, boarding schools and other institutions. Before the shortage began, Water and Habitat for All received about 10 inquiries a month for drilling services. It now receives about 40, Tafor says. The average cost of drilling a borehole is 2.5 million francs ($4,100).

To meet demand, Tafor has increased his payroll from 12 workers to 40 over the past six months, he says.

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Cameroonian City’s Water Shortage Brings Deluge of Opportunists
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BAMENDA, CAMEROON – Roger Sali arrives at bustling Bamenda Main Market on a scorching morning to rent a two-wheeled hand cart.

A cart pusher – an independent porter who loads and unloads vehicles for hire – for more than five years, Sali now serves as a middleman in the city’s temporarily unregulated retail water trade, reselling water from local tanks to city residents and businesses.

Business is flourishing.

“I now have five times the number of clients I had before the water problem became very serious,” Sali says.

Sali’s clients include restaurants and hair salons. Many are residential customers who do not own cars or have time to search for water.

After collecting empty containers on his first stop, Sali treks for 30 minutes in search of a wholesaler with a functioning borehole. When he finds one outside the city’s Metta Quarters, he purchases water at 25 francs (4 cents) per 20-liter container.

He supplies water to his clients at 75 francs (12 cents) per container, making a profit of about 1,250 francs ($2) a day, up from the 250 francs (40 cents) he was earning when he started this occupation.

An antiquated water system and a drop in volume at Ntanti Retention Dam have gravely diminished Bamenda’s water supply for half a year. Camerounaise des Eaux, or CDE, the agency responsible for supplying water in Cameroon, has been unable to provide sufficient water throughout the city, forcing many Bamenda businesses and residents to seek alternative sources.

Some buy water from cart pushers like Sali; others buy bottled water, get water from an army unit that visits periodically, or pay hefty sums to have their own boreholes drilled.

When the shortage began last October, some parts of Bamenda were still getting water. Now the entire city lacks sufficient water, says Emmanuel Moki, the Northwest regional delegate for the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy.

When the rains begin this month, the problem will ease but persist.

The city’s water pipes were designed more than 40 years ago to carry water to 10,000 client households but now serve over 15,000, Moki says. Bamenda’s population has increased rapidly in recent years.

Like the entrepreneurial enterprises springing up, established businesses are taking advantage of the water crisis.

Derrick Forpena, who distributes bottled Hesco Water to retailers in the Northwest region, supplies twice as much water as he did before October.

“Before, water business was slow, but now, water sells like fuel,” he says.

The water crisis also has provided business opportunities for companies that drill boreholes.

Princewill Tafor, the CEO of Water and Habitat for All, a company that offers borehole drilling services, has increased his payroll from 12 workers to 40 over the past six months to meet demand.

As water businesses flourish, Bamenda residents are suffering financially.

Patrick Mbah, a resident of Nkwen neighborhood, spent 4.2 million francs ($7,000) to have a borehole drilled at his home, and now it’s dry. He spends 40,000 francs ($66) a month on bottled water.

The Cameroon government has contracted a Chinese company to upgrade Bamenda’s water pipes. All the small pipes in the city will be replaced with bigger ones to ensure that everyone in the city has an adequate supply of water. Work began in September 2014.

Nut Graph: 

Reliant on an inadequate water supply and antiquated pipes, Bamenda has been short of water for six months. The shortage is a boon for cart pushers, mineral water distributors and borehole drillers, but the high cost of obtaining water is an added burden to parched residents. The crisis is expected to ease once the rains set in this month.

 

Main Quote: 

“Before, water business was slow, but now, watersells like fuel.”
Derrick Forpena, a bottled water distributor in Bamenda

Background: 

Bamenda’s water pipes were designed more than 40 years ago to carry water to 10,000 households but now serve over 15,000. The city’s population has increased rapidly since the University of Bamenda was founded in 2010; as of 2012, Bamenda had a population of about 567,000 – an 81 percent increase from the 313,000 people recorded in the 1987 census.

The problem is aggravated by a drop in volume at Ntanti Retention Dam, the city’s principal water source. Camerounaise des Eaux, or CDE, the agency responsible for supplying water in Cameroon, has been unable to provide sufficient water throughout the city, forcing many Bamenda businesses and residents to seek alternative sources.

Some buy water from cart pushers, the private porters who commonly earn their income loading and unloading vehicles; others buy bottled water, pay hefty sums to have their own boreholes drilled, or wait for an emergency army unit to visit with a tanker. Entrepreneurs are cashing in on the business opportunities posed by the shortage.

Quotes: 

“I now have five times the number of clients I had before the water problem became very serious. I make more money fetching water, but at the same time, it is very stressful because I trek long distances in search of water.”

Roger Sali, a Bamenda cart pusher who resells water to residents and businesses

“There is a very high demand for water services and due to this desperation. There are many people posing as magicians with magic solutions to the crisis.”

Princewill Tafor, CEO of Water and Habitat for All, a borehole drilling company

“Even if the water level in the retention dam increases, we will still have to do structural changes to upgrade the pipes and system to suit the demands of a growing city.”

Emmanuel Moki, Northwest regional delegate for the Cameroonian Ministry of Water Resources and Energy

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Some 520,000 residents of the Democratic Republic of Congo live with AIDS or the virus that causes it, but few have regular access to the antiretroviral therapy (ART) they need to fight the infection. In Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, Congolese have protested the local government’s failure to disburse funds for ART. To alleviate the crisis, organizations like the Children’s AIDS Program provide AIDS orphans and HIV-positive young people with medical care and instruction in creative life skills.
Esther Nsapu, GPJ Democratic Republic of Congo
April 8, 2015
“Some of these children came here suffering tremendously, but through antiretrovirals, nutritional care, treatment of opportunistic infections and benefits from the program, they are healthier. ”

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – At 9 o’clock on a Monday morning, John Aubedi, 19, and 24 other young people living with HIV/AIDS file into the Children’s AIDS Program Center at HEAL Africa hospital in downtown Goma.

They are here to make art – and to gain access to vitally needed medication.

Everyone in the room quickly focuses on artwork. Some weave carpets. Others paint or make collages with peanuts, rice, fabric and ink. Some build wooden miniatures of chukudus, two-wheeled vehicles used to transport freight in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Aubedi, who participates in this unique art class every Monday and Friday, says engaging in artwork relieves his anxiety.

“When I am busy drawing, I forget that I’m sick,” he says.

In exchange for participating, Aubedi receives antiretroviral medication and medical care. His growing artistic skills also have helped him earn income; with profits from sales of his work, he is helping to pay his sister’s school fees.

In a country with an average per capita income of less than $430 (398,000 francs) a year, Aubedi earns as much as 3,000 francs ($3.25) a day making clothes for neighbors, he says. He now sells paintings as well; recently he sold a work he had painted at the CAP Center for 4,600 francs ($5).

Like many other young program participants, Aubedi says his newfound passion for art helps him focus on the future.

Art classes are just one aspect of the Children’s AIDS Program Center at HEAL Africa, a private medical center run by an international nongovernmental organization. The program serves AIDS orphans, many of whom are HIV-positive.

DRC was home to more than 350,000 AIDS orphans as of 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to UNAIDS, a United Nations program that coordinates global action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Young people ages 1 to 20 are welcome to make art alongside peers at the CAP Center.

Distribution of antiretroviral medications in DRC has been gravely inadequate.

For the past several months, people living with HIV/AIDS have staged sit-ins outside the provincial governor’s office in Goma to demand the antiretroviral therapy, or ART, they need. Although DRC has received private and government funds for ART, the North Kivu province has not distributed the medications since 2013. To help fill the need, programs like the CAP Center are finding creative ways to get medicine to their participants.

More than half a million DRC residents live with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes it, but most are unable to obtain the antiretroviral medications they need to fight the infection, public health authorities say.

Global partners including the Clinton Foundation and UNICEF have provided funding for antiretroviral therapies (ART). But the local government has not disbursed funds allocated for HIV medicine and care in the 2013 provincial budget since 2013.

In 2014, fewer than 6,500 HIV-positive patients in DRC had regular access to ART, says Dr. Augustin Mbula, executive secretary of the National Multisectoral Programfor the Fight against HIV/AIDS in DRC. (Mbula’s organization goes by PNMLS, the acronym for its French name, Programme National Multisectoriel de Lutte contre le SIDA; SIDA – Síndrome d'Immunodeficiència Adquirida – is the French name for AIDS.)

Less than 5 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women receive ART, so mother-to-child transmission remains common here, Mbula says.

The government’s failure to disburse 2013 funds is having long-reaching consequences, Mbula says.

“External donors have reduced their support of the HIV sector because the 2013 funds have not yet been disbursed,” he says. “But we continue to advocate for resource mobilization locally for this year, 2015.”

Approximately 440,000 people – including 66,000 children – in DRC are HIV-positive, according to UNAIDS. PNMLS estimates the total HIV-positive population at more than 600,000.

Throughout North Kivu, doctors and activists lament the high rate of infections and the inadequacy of medical and psychological care.

The CAP Center provides program participants with ART as well as an opportunity to learn life skills. The center opened its doors 10 years ago with just seven young enrollees. By 2014, it was serving 862 young people, 66 percent of whom were AIDS orphans, says Dr. Elali Vindu, head of the CAP Center and the department of pediatrics at HEAL Africa.

Aubedi says CAP has transformed his life.

“I suffered tremendously,” Aubedi says. “I had constant headaches, and I could not study. Doctors brought me here so that I could learn to draw like others to de-stress my life and rid my mind of bad thoughts.”

For the sake of privacy, doctors at the center asked GPJ to identify participating minors solely by first name and last initial.

Six-year-old Aline M. is learning to sew at the CAP Center. Cutting and sewing fabric are her favorite tasks.

She says she misses her mother, who died of AIDS, but adds that the thought of earning money by sewing outfits for classmates cheers her up.

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Congolese Art Program Boosts Access to HIV/AIDS Meds
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GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – At 9 o’clock on a Monday morning, John Aubedi, 19, and 24 other young people living with HIV/AIDS file into the Children’s AIDS Program Center at HEAL Africa hospital in downtown Goma.

They are here to make art – and to gain access to vitally needed medication.

Everyone in the room quickly focuses on artwork. Some weave carpets. Others paint or make collages with peanuts, rice, fabric and ink. Some build wooden miniatures.

Aubedi, who participates in this unique art class twice a week, says engaging in artwork relieves his anxiety.

“When I am busy drawing, I forget that I’m sick,” he says.

In exchange for participating, Aubedi receives antiretroviral medication. His growing artistic skills also have helped him earn money to help pay his sister’s school fees.

Art classes are just one aspect of the Children’s AIDS Program Center at HEAL Africa, a private medical center run by an international nongovernmental organization. The program serves AIDS orphans, many of whom are HIV-positive.

DRC was home to more than 350,000 AIDS orphans as of 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to UNAIDS, a United Nations program that coordinates global action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Young people ages 1 to 20 are welcome to make art alongside peers at the CAP Center.

Distribution of antiretroviral medications in DRC has been gravely inadequate.

For the past several months, people living with HIV/AIDS have staged sit-ins outside the provincial governor’s office in Goma to demand the antiretroviral therapy, or ART, they need. Although DRC has received private and government funds for ART, the North Kivu province has not distributed the medications here since 2013. To help fill the need, programs like the CAP Center are finding creative ways to get medicine to their participants.

More than half a million DRC residents live with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes it, but most are unable to obtain the antiretroviral medications they need to fight the infection, public health authorities say.

Global partners including the Clinton Foundation and UNICEF have provided funding for ARVs. But the local government has not disbursed funds allocated for HIV medicine and care in the 2013 provincial budget since 2013.

In 2014, fewer than 6,500 HIV-positive patients in DRC had regular access to ARVs, says Dr. Augustin Mbula, executive secretary of the National Multisectoral Programfor the Fightagainst HIV/AIDS in DRC.

Less than 5 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women receive ARVs, so mother-to-child transmission remains common here, Mbula says.

Approximately 440,000 people – including 66,000 children – in DRC are HIV-positive, according to UNAIDS.

Throughout North Kivu, doctors and activists lament the high rate of infections and the inadequacy of medical and psychological care.

The CAP Center provides program participants with ART as well as an opportunity to learn life skills. In 2014, it served 862 young people, says Dr. Elali Vindu, head of the CAP Center and the department of pediatrics at HEAL Africa.

The CAP Center also improves the health care available to program participants. The center provides medical follow-up and care, including at least a six-month supply of ARV drugs.

UNICEF supports the center, providing funds for medical care, logistics and operations, including art supplies, sewing machines and other equipment.

Nut Graph: 
Some 520,000 residents of the Democratic Republic of Congo live with AIDS or the virus that causes it, but few have regular access to the antiretroviral drugs they need to fight the infection. In Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, Congolese have protested the local government’s failure to disburse funds for ARVs. To alleviate the crisis, organizations like the Children’s AIDS Program provide AIDS orphans and HIV-positive young people with medical care and instruction in creative life skills.
Main Quote: 

“Some of these children came here suffering tremendously, but through antiretrovirals, nutritional care, treatment of opportunistic infections and benefits from the program, they are healthier.”
Dr. Elali Vindu, head of the Children’s AIDS Program Center at HEAL Africa hospital in Goma, DRC

Background: 

DRC is home to more than 350,000 AIDS orphans and about 66,000 children who are HIV-positive. Global partners including the Clinton Foundation and UNICEF have provided funding for antiretrovirals, or ARVs. But the government of North Kivu, a province in the nation’s east, has yet to disburse all the funds allocated for HIV medicine and care in the 2013 provincial budget.

Throughout North Kivu, doctors and activists lament the high rate of infections and the inadequacy of medical and psychological care.

The Children’s AIDS Program at HEAL Africa, a medical center in the capital of North Kivu, serves the medical and creative needs of orphans and infected young people, providing antitretroviral therapy, or ART, as well as training in salable art. Young people ages 1 to 20 are welcome to make art alongside peers at the CAP Center.

Quotes: 

“I suffered tremendously,” Aubedi says. “I had constant headaches, and I could not study. Doctors brought me here so that I could learn to draw like others to de-stress my life and rid my mind of bad thoughts.”
John Aubedi, 19, art student at AIDS Program Center

“Sometimes I draw the faces of children, flowers and nature. When I am here, I feel good.”
Marc S., art program participant

“External donors have reduced their support of the HIV sector because the 2013 funds have not yet been disbursed so far. But we continue to advocate for resource mobilization locally for this year, 2015.”
Dr. Augustin Mbula, executive secretary of the National Multisectoral Program for the Fight against HIV/AIDS in DRC

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