On the 14th of December 2022, the UN General Assembly unanimously supported an initiative by the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Emomali Rahmon, and adopted a resolution declaring 2025 as the International Year of Glaciers Preservation. This initiative was proposed by the President on the 3rd of March 2021 at the first High-Level Panel of the Water and Climate Coalition Leaders Meeting. The initiative was based on the understanding that this issue is crucial to the future of humankind, as glaciers are a key source of fresh water on earth.
Currently, under the influence of climate change, these vital freshwater resources are rapidly melting, endangering the water cycle and the future of our planet. The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate 2019 (SROCC) reports that up to a third of the world's glaciers could disappear by the end of this century. According to the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment , we could lose more than two-thirds of the Himalayan glaciers by the end of this century. A similar situation is developing on the Pamir glaciers which are the main water source of the Amu Darya basin. In Tajikistan, more than 1,000 glaciers have completely melted over the past few decades.
Another severe consequence of the melting of glaciers is the formation of a large number of glacial lakes, the outburst of which causes devastating floods in the world. For example, glacial lake outbursts (GLOFs) in the Andes, the Himalayas and the Alps have killed thousands of people while causing massive damage to infrastructure.
Scientific evidence points to the fact that glaciers are melting globally at different rates with significant inter-annual variability, but in general, the amount of fresh water fed by glaciers is expected to decline dramatically by the end of the century, with detrimental consequences for society and the economy. Our current ability to predict and evaluate these changes and to accurately contribute to policy decisions remains limited.
In this regard, the initiative to declare 2025 as the International Year of Glaciers Preservation is very relevant and timely to draw the attention of the world community, especially political leaders and policymakers, to work together to identify and maintain strategies to minimize the impact of climate change on glaciers, coupled with increased capacity and the ability to better explore and control, understand and predict changes as an essential condition for adaptation.
The resolution declaring 2025 as the International Year of Glaciers Preservation also includes a number of other measures that are aimed at the successful implementation of this initiative. These include the declaration of March 21 as the International Day of Glaciers’ Preservation, the establishment of a UN Trust Fund in support of activities for glaciers’ preservation and the convening of an International Conference on Glacier’s Preservation in Dushanbe in 2025. The initiative aims to further raise the awareness of the world community on the accelerated and irreversible reduction in the world's ice reserves and its consequences. At the policy level, it will support the integration of water and climate agendas at the global level and promote the development of adaptation measures to the possible consequences of glacier melt, in particular to reduce the need for water resources and the impact of natural disasters. With improved integration of the water and climate agendas, it will be possible to integrate the understanding, reporting and predicting of changes in snow and ice conditions and their impacts at scales consistent with societal needs (e.g. water, adaptation, disaster risk reduction, etc.). At a process level this requires the mobilization of financial resources from various sources for the implementation of these actions and tasks. In addition, it will require improving international cooperation and establishing a sustainable international mechanism to facilitate and maintain access to accurate and timely information about the cryosphere on a scale commensurate with changes.
The long-term goal is to ensure that people whose lives depend on glaciers and snow, as well as those who are directly affected by the processes of the Earth's cryospheric system, receive “fit for purpose” hydrological, meteorological and climate services at levels that recognize the importance of mountain regions, as the home of the cryosphere and the source of global fresh water and ecosystem services for the world. It is expected that this will give an additional impetus to global efforts to limit and, if possible, prevent global warming through various measures and actions to protect glaciers from intense melting and disappearance.
The Rome Water Dialogue was organised on 29 November 2022 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in the run-up to the UN Water Conference in March 2023 and in line with the other major water events of the year (Dakar, Dushanbe, and Sharm el Sheikh). The event highlighted the urgency of sustainable water resources management for the agricultural sector and sought to deliver key messages for New York. FAO Director-General Dongyua Qu stated: "Unless we find ways to manage the world's water resources sustainably, we will need more than a third more water to produce the additional food needed for the world's growing population by mid-century. He went on to say: "By 2050, global food, fibre and feed production will need to increase by 50% over 2012 levels to meet growing demand. In a business-as-usual scenario, this would mean at least 35% additional freshwater resources .
FAO data shows that 2.3 billion people currently live in water-stressed countries, with more than 733 million people (about 10% of the world's population) living in countries with high to critical water stress. According to the FAO, agriculture consumes about 72% of the world's freshwater, making it "an essential component of any strategy to combat water stress".
The Rome Dialogue served to emphasise the role of an inclusive, participatory and holistic process to achieve not just the targets and indicators of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation, but through water, to support the implementation of the whole agenda for sustainable development. Governments, international organisations, civil society, the private sector nd academia need to be involved in a process with a broad vision that embraces water, sanitation, health, ecosystems, oceans, energy, food systems and nutrition.
This requires the political will to strongly integrate and prioritise water in national sustainable development strategies, policies and investment plans, to understand how water can best be used to achieve national goals. To achieve this, and as highlighted in the preparatory meeting for the UN Water Conference in Dushanbe in June, country-led water dialogues are an essential tool, as are the development of National Water Roadmaps.
On 7 and 8 December 2022, the Groundwater Summit took place at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This summit was the culmination of a year-long campaign implemented by the UN-Water Task Force, coordinated by UNESCO and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), entitled "Groundwater: making the invisible visible". It drew on data from the UN World Water Development Report 2022 (WWDR 2022), published in March 2022, which focuses on groundwater, as well as on the global acceleration framework for Sustainable Development Goal 6, to identify actions for more responsible and sustainable use and protection of this vital natural resource. The event also prepared a joint statement on groundwater to feed into the 10-year conference in New York in March 2023.
At the opening ceremony, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, stated: "Four billion people live in regions where water is scarce. This scarcity is increasing with climate change. Groundwater is part of the solution if it is managed sustainably. To succeed, we need strong international cooperation. But today, only 1.2% of transboundary aquifers are managed through agreements and coordination mechanisms between the countries concerned. This summit at UNESCO must multiply the efforts. » Henk Ovink, special envoy for international water affairs from the Netherlands, added that he believed it was a time bomb that few people in the world recognise and which, due to lack of knowledge, is badly managed and polluted. Finally, the Moroccan Minister of Equipment and Water, Nizar Baraka, added: "We are convinced that we can only really take up the challenges linked to groundwater together, by acting together, by sharing, and by being part of a logic of responsibility and action.
There have been growing tensions over water resources in recent years, amongst others due to the effects of climate change and poor governance of the resource. In addition, withdrawals at the global level have increased sixfold over the last 70 years, with all the consequences that this entails (degradation of ecosystems, soil subsidence and the intrusion of sea water into coastal aquifers, etc.). There was therefore an urgent need for sustainable groundwater management, including at international level.
In this respect, the Paris summit was the occasion for the official launch of a coalition for transboundary water cooperation with the aim of requesting concrete commitments to be presented at the United Nations Water Conference in New York in March 2023. The coalition is a multi-stakeholder partnership of over 30 governments and organisations. The coalition aims to :
Provide a unified voice for the transboundary water community;
Demonstrate and communicate the benefits of transboundary water cooperation, both for upstream and downstream countries and for adaptation to new climate challenges;
Give impetus to concrete commitments related to transboundary water cooperation;
Catalyse support to initiate, sustain and deepen transboundary water cooperation.
The commitments, which will arrive in the meantime, will be submitted as contributions to the Water Agenda, one of the main outcomes of the 2023 UN Water Conference
International Water Law and Transboundary Water Cooperation
The United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP 15) was held from 7 to 19 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada, to set new targets for nature for the decade 2020-2030 (the conference was originally scheduled to be held in China in Kunming in 2020). As stated by UNEP, the framework aims to put in place "an ambitious plan to implement far-reaching action to transform society's relationship with biodiversity and ensure that by 2050 the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is achieved". The conference marked a landmark agreement by establishing a new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GFB).
Four global targets were adopted:
To halt human-induced extinction of threatened species and to reduce the extinction rate of all species by a factor of ten by 2050;
To use and manage biodiversity sustainably to ensure that nature's contributions to humanity are valued, maintained and enhanced;
Share equitably the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and information on the digital sequences of genetic resources;
Ensuring that adequate means of implementing the World Wildlife Fund are available to all parties, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing states.
The new framework also sets out 23 targets to be achieved by 2030. These include :
Goal 1 on "participatory and integrated land-use planning for biodiversity and/or effective management processes for land and sea-use change". This includes all developments related to hydropower projects, among others.
Objectives 2 and 3, which concern the restoration, conservation and management of at least 30% of terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystem areas. These include lakes, rivers and wetlands of interest. Currently, 17% of the world's land and 8% of its seas are protected.
Goal 7 which aims to "reduce, by 2030, the risk of pollution and the negative impact of pollution", which will have a direct impact on river health and water quality.
Objective 10, which addresses, among other things, the impact of aquaculture and fisheries and the introduction of new, more biodiversity-friendly practices.
Objective 11, which deals with the restoration, maintenance and improvement of ecosystems and the services they provide to populations (drinking water, disaster risk prevention, etc.).
Goal 12, which addresses the impact of urban areas on the resource and the importance of urban biodiversity areas, including wetlands, for local populations.
A stumbling block during the conference (the countries of the South were demanding US$100 billion per year), the question of financing was concluded by the creation of a special trust fund, the WCD Fund, which will reach "at least US$20 billion per year by 2025, then at least US$30 billion per year by 2030". The particularity of this fund is that it is open to private sector actors and philanthropy. It will be managed by an existing mechanism, the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Finally, 23 countries have launched a new platform, the Accelerator Partnership, to help governments accelerate the implementation of their national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs).
The 7th meeting of the Task Force on the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Interface took place in Geneva on 12-13 December 2022. The objective of the meeting was to discuss, plan and provide guidance for the implementation of activities under the 2022-2024 work programme of the UNECE Water Convention. A first element of reflection focused on the application of the Water Convention's and similar approaches to assessments and dialogues on transboundary linkages around the world. The role of transboundary cooperation was identified as key to identifying and implementing nexus solutions and investments that, in turn, benefit water management and cooperation. Finally, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was the subject of the last exchanges, in particular from the point of view of the opportunities for water-energy cooperation in transboundary basins.
In the same month (14-16 December 2022), more than 300 experts and diplomats on water management "from source to sea" met at a workshop organised by the secretariat of the water convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva to "strengthen cooperation, identify synergies between activities and share good practice in policy-making", particularly in relation to plastic and chemical pollution from river to sea (a topic of particular relevance in the context of international negotiations on the use of plastics). The organisers also wanted to offer a space for dialogue in order to break down the silo logic between experts on marine and river issues on these questions.
Finally, to close the year, the Secretariat of the Water Convention made several announcements in December 2022, notably on the progress of Panama's accession to the Water Convention by organising a national workshop on 6 and 7 December 2022, which brought together more than 60 stakeholders "to identify priorities for the future implementation of the Convention"), Tanzania, which confirmed its intention to accede to the Convention during the national workshop held on these instruments in Dar es Salaam on 1 and 2 December 2022, and finally Uganda and Zambia, which have also recently shown an interest. As a reminder, in Africa, since 2018, Chad, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Cameroon have joined the Convention. At this stage, more than 15 African countries are in the process of joining.
"Acting for wetlands is acting for humanity and nature" was the theme of the Ramsar Convention COP 14 which took place in Geneva from 5 to 13 November 2022, with 146 Contracting Parties and 55 observer organisations present. As a result, 21 resolutions were adopted, which will be implemented over the next three years. Amongst others, a resolution was passed on the potential of wetlands as nature-based solutions, as well as in ecosystem-based approaches for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Secondly, representatives adopted a resolution on integrating actions "for wetland conservation, restoration, sustainable management and wise use into sustainable development strategies. These include national biodiversity protection and restoration programmes under the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the UNFCCC to address climate change. Similarly, on the theme of integrated approaches, the caucus resolved to "strengthen cooperation with related multilateral organisations and agreements such as the UNFCCC, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity".
Furthermore, an important resolution was passed recognising the importance of mangroves and blue carbon ecosystems and the principle of establishing an International Mangrove Centre, and the Global Strategic Framework for Wetland Conservation 2025-2030 was adopted.
The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Ms Musonda Mumba was pleased with the outcome, stating that "COP14 has shown that Parties and partners are deeply committed to the protection and restoration of wetlands, our most precious ecosystem to address this triple global crisis. With 21 resolutions adopted, the Convention has a strong mandate to improve the conservation, restoration and wise use of wetlands over the next triennium. This means extending its all-important work to youth, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, the scientific community and civil society, as well as linking the various global multilateral processes for climate, biodiversity and sustainable development for all.
The International Court of Justice in the Hague has stated that Chile and Bolivia now agree on the status of the Silala River which originates in the Atacama Desert in Bolivia and flows for four kilometres before entering Chile. The two countries had disagreed on the status of the river since 1999 and a case was filed with the International Court of Justice by Chile in 2016. Chile sought declarations concerning the status of the Silala river system as an international watercourse as well as clarification of the resulting rights and obligations of both parties. In 1999, Bolivia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs had addressed Chile, stating that the Silala lacked any characteristic of an international water course. The Bolivian argument relied on a claim that Chilean concessionaries had altered the course of the river in 1908 and that without this intervention, the river would never have crossed the border. Bolivia therefore annulled the concession 1997.
The Silala river provides water for mining operations and human consumption for the region of Antofagasta. Chile has sought recognition of the river as an international watercourse and that customary international law applies to its waters. During the oral proceedings, Bolivia acknowledged that the Silala waters, including those parts that are artificially enhanced, qualify as an international watercourse. Bolivia now also recognizes that the customary international law applies to the entirety of the Silala waters. Given that the Parties agree with respect to the legal status of the Silala River system as an international watercourse and on the applicability of the customary international law to all the waters of the Silala, the Court finds that the claim made by Chile in this respect (submission a) no longer has any object and that, therefore, the Court is not called upon to give a decision thereon.
ICJ President Judge Joan Donoghue, reading a judgement adopted by 15 judges, stated that the ICJ recognised the agreement between the parties and that the dispute no longer exists. As a result, the claims and counter claims no longer had any objective, and as a result, the court could not be called upon to pass judgement.
Water in Armed Conflict and other situations of violence
CONFLICT in northern Ethiopia's Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions have resulted in millions of people- - men, women and children - internally displaced. According to the UNICEF report on Humanitarian Action for Children 2023, the fluid conflict in the northern regions threatens new and secondary displacements of up to 7.8 million people and poses a grave threat to the rights and welfare of 3.9 million children.
In addition, in the southern, southeastern and eastern regions of the country, ongoing severe drought has caused the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) to rise to phase 4 (representing emergency levels), because it has eroded all means of community resilience and caused the complete destruction of the livelihoods of more than 24.1 million people.
"This severely compromised food and nutrition security situation has been aggravated by the global domino effects of the war in Ukraine: increased food, agricultural input and fuel prices," the report stated. The report also highlights that more households will risk being unable to afford nutritious food, and the next harvest will be compromised.
UNICEF is appealing for US$674.3 million to enable it to respond multiple and overlapping hazards which include drought, flooding events, and the outbreak of diseases including cholera. The funds requested are intended to ensure amongst others that children who are undernourished or dehydrated receive quality treatment, to ensure that mobile health and nutrition teams can access hard-to-reach populations, water sources are rehabilitated and climate-resilient water systems are built.
The UNICEF Report estimates that 20.5 million people lack access to safe water. The programme aims to ensure that 8,078,358 people are provided with access to a sufficient quantity and quality of water for drinking and domestic needs. In addition it aims to ensure that about 1,462,249 people can access appropriate sanitation services and ,098,620 women and girls can access menstrual hygiene management services.
According to Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) 2022, the country has been experiencing one of the most severe La Niña- induced droughts in the last decade following the fifth consecutive failed rainy season since late 2020. The areas most affected are Afar, Oromia, SNNP, Somali, and Southwest regions. This prolonged drought, which commenced in 2020, has severely compromised the already fragile livelihoods.
To make matters worse, poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH)-related services have also negatively contributed to the challenges, including a lack of safe and adequate water supply, widespread open defecation and poor personal hygiene practices. In some drought-affected regions, people have also been displaced in search of water, pasture, and assistance.
On 2 December,2022 the President of the Amhara Region officially launched a Post-Conflict Recovery and Rehabilitation Project in Werke Kebele of Raya Kobo Woreda, North Wollo Zone aimed to provide basic needs including building houses, schools, health centers , hospitals, and clean water schemes.
It is reported that during the first phase of the project, the regional Government aims to build 3,000 houses, 21 schools, 10 health centers and one hospital, 31 clean water schemes, three livestock markets, 10 irrigation canals, and 17 youth development centers. Some 12 billion birr is currently allocated for the project, but much more is needed.
More than 1,260 cases of cholera have been confirmed in Haiti and more than 290 deaths have been recorded, according to the latest figures released in December 2022 by UNICEF. Haiti is one of ten countries in the world suffering from a food crisis, according to the United Nations. More than three years after the end of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the waterborne disease reappeared in early October 2022 in a country facing a serious security and humanitarian crisis.
In response, the Pan American Health Organization is coordinating with Haitian public health authorities to support the response, as "gang violence continues to affect Port-au-Prince and other cities," making access to affected areas difficult, the UN said on its website. About 70,000 gallons of fuel are needed to serve 9 of the 16 cholera treatment centres in Port-au-Prince and some partner hospitals. So far, UNICEF has been able to obtain only one-third of this amount, putting the lives of many women and children affected by cholera at risk. Access by health staff to suspected cases in communities is a major challenge, preventing the monitoring, surveillance and reporting of cholera cases. A key statement was made by Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti: "When you are unable to get clean water from the tap in your home, when you don't have soap or water purification tablets, and when you don't have access to health services, you may not survive cholera or other waterborne diseases. The devastating impact of fuel restrictions and violence has made children the main victims of the epidemic.
On 15 November, the UN and its partners continued to mobilize with a humanitarian appeal for $145.6 million to support the country's emergency response to the new wave of cholera and provide life-saving assistance to 1.4 million people living in the most affected areas. On 22 December 2022, UN Under-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed addressed the Security Council on Haiti. She stressed that it was time to step up and turn the current crisis into an opportunity for Haiti and its people to bounce back stronger. In her speech, she described how "insecurity and violence have increased in the country this year. "Haiti really needs international support to get back on track towards sustainable development, stability, democracy and peace," continued UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. The economic situation is also catastrophic, she said. The mission, she reassured, continues its efforts to advance political dialogue through the national consensus document.
On the ground, in early December, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched an urgent appeal for $3.2 million to continue to respond to this deadly epidemic and the disastrous situation of the displaced population in the country, reports the media Haiti Libre. "Urgent action must be taken to save lives," said Philippe Branchat, IOM's Chief of Mission in Haiti, who added that inaction could have devastating consequences for thousands of people already living in very difficult conditions. With this appeal, IOM will continue to work with the Ministry of Public Health, the National Directorate of Water, Sanitation and Potable Water (DINEPA) and other partners to ensure the continuity of essential services, such as the provision of clean drinking water to displacement sites. Despite this worrying situation, UNICEF believes that the vicious circle between malnutrition and cholera can be broken, especially, the organization says, as simple, affordable and effective treatment can save the lives of Haitian children, provided that the most vulnerable families are reached before it is too late.
A paper published in Geophysical Research Letters on the 29th of November has shown that global groundwater recharge rates are much higher than previously thought. Groundwater is an important source of freshwater, especially in arid areas, it is used for around 40% of global irrigation, and is often used as an important source of drinking water in urban areas. However, accurately measuring groundwater recharge rates is a challenging task, and as a result, it is difficult to estimate sustainable levels of withdrawal.
The researchers – a team led by Wouter Berghuijs at the Free University of Amsterdam – analysed a synthesis of recharge measurements from 5237 sites spread across the world (but excluding Antarctica) which cover the period between 1968 and 2018. The authors immediately acknowledge that the diversity of landscapes and climates across the world result in a huge variation in groundwater recharge rates – in fact the recharge rates differ from each other by several orders of magnitude. And although groundwater recharge is affected by a large range of factors such as climate, landscape, vegetation type and cover, and the nature of the surface on which precipitation falls, the authors show that climate aridity is a dominant factor in determining the rate of recharge. In humid areas, typically, more precipitation is converted into groundwater than in arid areas. Groundwater recharge is low across roughly one half of earth’s surface, as drylands are prevalent across all continents except Europe. Recharge rates are highest in wetter areas and coastal regions in Central and North America, Europe and Oceania. In addition, crucially, the research shows that the recharge rates observed in the study more than double recharge rates estimated in a number of global recharge models. Therefore, groundwater’s role in the global water cycle is larger than previously suggested.
The 2022 UN Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) report released on the 14th of December highlights the need for accelerated action to achieve the 2030 targets on water, sanitation and hygiene. The global overview, compiled from reports received from 121 countries, underlines the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on health systems, but has also highlighted the critical importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in maintaining public health. During the pandemic, two major areas for government interventions were WASH in health facilities and hand hygiene for all.
In addition, the report notes that increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events obstruct the sustainable delivery of WASH services. All climate hazards affect the use of WASH facilities such as by forcing people to use unsafe water resources or to use unsafe sanitation facilities. resorting to open defecation 71% of countries report using climate change preparedness approaches in national planning, and yet only 20% report implementing climate change preparedness approaches at sufficient scale for local risk assessment and appropriate WASH management.
In the realm of resources for WASH, 75% of countries reported having insufficient funds to cover the implementation of WASH strategies. Only 3% of countries reported having sufficient human and financial resources to support a formally approved policy and costed plan for WASH in health care facilities.
Overall, 45% of countries report being on track to meet their drinking water coverage targets, but only 25% of countries are on track to achieve their sanitation targets. The report notes that better performing countries are likely to have effective financial strategies such as high levels of utilisation of domestic capital commitments towards WASH infrastructure and the recovery of operations and maintenance costs from tariffs. In addition, high performing countries have effective regulatory authorities as well as financial and human resources in place to implement national strategies.
A record $51.5 billion is needed to help 230 million of the worlds most vulnerable people in 69 countries this year, an increase of 65 million people compared to previous year. This is according to a report published last month by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
“The gap between needs and funding received has never been wider or more concerning, the report said highlighting funding deficiencies that will hinder 109 million others to benefit from the assistance.
Although 45 per cent of countries are on track to achieve drinking water targets by the end of the decade, only a quarter are likely to meet sanitation targets. Countries must ramp up investments to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to all people in a bid to save more lives.
In the same vein, partners call for all countries and stakeholders to increase support for WASH service delivery through strengthened governance, financing, monitoring, regulation, and capacity development.
Needs are shockingly high, the UN's top emergency relief official, Martin Griffiths, said during the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview report 2023 in Geneva, warning that it was very likely that last years emergencies would continue into 2023.
The needs are going up because weve been smitten by the war in Ukraine, by COVID-19 and by climate change, he said. I fear that 2023 is going to be an acceleration of all those trends, and thats why we hope 2023 will be a year of solidarity, just as 2022 has been a year of suffering. He added.
Across Ukraine, 26 per cent of people report a lack of access to essential services especially water and hygiene support, with the situation particularly acute in the east (29 per cent) and south (31 per cent), and with older people worse off.
“Ukraine regional response in 2023 will combine both a humanitarian and refugee response plan, aiming to support 13.6 million people with a total requirement of $5.7 billion,” Global Humanitarian Overview 2023 report underlines.
The month of December 2022 was punctuated by several announcements of investments or loans by multilateral development banks, in the water sector, in different parts of the world.
18 million loan to the Dambovita Region Water Company in Romania as part of a €325 million European Union Large Scale Infrastructure Operational Project to expand, rehabilitate and upgrade its water and sanitation infrastructure. This investment will benefit nearly half a million people and will result in a significant improvement in water connection and wastewater treatment. In the Americas, two important announcements were made: the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a $500 million line of credit to the Bolivian government to finance mechanised irrigation systems for approximately 12,500 families in communities that depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, adding 13,871 hectares to the area irrigated by the new systems; and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a US$80 million loan to enhance the efficiency, quality, sustainability and resilience of the drinking water supply and water security in Trinidad and Tobago. The programme will directly benefit approximately 1,025,000 residents as well as approximately 16,841 commercial, agricultural and industrial customers. On the African continent, a consortium consisting of the African Development Bank, the German Investment Agency (AFC) and EAIF has just completed a €174.3 million financing deal for the construction of the Singrobo hydropower plant in Côte d'Ivoire. The project, which is part of the African Development Bank's New Deal on Energy for Africa, will increase the population's access to energy and the share of renewable energy in Côte d'Ivoire's energy mix. Finally, in Asia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $20 million in financing to improve access to safe drinking water, irrigation services and climate resilience in Thimphu, Zhemgang and Wangdue Phodrang districts in Bhutan. The Flagship Water Support Project will construct integrated drinking water supply and gravity-fed irrigation systems in the Hetshosamchu area of Wangdue Phodrang district and in Zhemgang town and surrounding villages. This will include the rehabilitation of irrigation networks and drinking water treatment facilities. A new drinking water supply system, including a new water treatment plant, will be set up to provide a safe and continuous water supply to over 1,300 households in the Thimphu-Pamtsho area.
Another financial transaction that should be mentioned, on a completely different topic but closely related to the water sector, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration successfully launched its inaugural dual-tranche blue bond issue to finance eligible projects under its recently published green and blue bond framework. This represents over US$2 billion in ESG bonds, or about 32% of the total outstanding issuance, to finance water resource protection, sustainable water management, renewable energy, the blue economy and nature conservation. Finally, it was interesting to recall the publication of the latest annual report 2022 of the International Cooperation in Water in Africa (CIWA), a programme of the World Bank Group, which, as its name indicates, takes stock of the evolution during the year of the various water cooperations and projects on the African continent. The latter is available in English and French and can be consulted by following the link: https://www.ciwaprogram.org/resources/
For the first time since the signing of the 1944 treaty sharing the use of the Colorado River between Mexico and the United States, the International Boundary and Water Commission (CILA) between the two countries has had to extend the drastic measures adopted in August 2022. Agreements signed in 1972 and 2008 allow the city of Tijuana in Mexico to purchase emergency water deliveries from California, and on August 1st, the state public utilities commission ordered 4 million mᶟ of Colorado river water. According to experts, this is the worst drought on record in 114 years of climate data for the region. Experts acknowledged that the situation was still deteriorating. At the beginning of December, the river's various water storage systems were only 28% full (34% in August, which also caused problems with electricity production for users in the region). The first measures adopted during the year to reduce water use between the two countries should very quickly no longer be sufficient, and "lead to unacceptable levels of exploitation, jeopardising water deliveries to users in the lower Colorado River basin, including in Mexico", even going so far as to speak of the risk of "system collapse". The authorities are calling for "extraordinary measures to protect the system as early as 2023". The Mexican side has already asked the authorities of Baja California and Sonora to take all necessary measures to ensure the vital needs of the population and to sustain the minimum supply for crop irrigation. On the American side, the authorities announced on 9 December 2022, drastic measures to reduce water consumption were extended to all the water agencies in Southern California, affecting nearly 19 million people (including the metropolises of Los Angeles and San Diego, this region depends for 50% of its needs on water from the Colorado). For once, which was not originally the case, all stakeholders in the state of the Colorado River were invited to participate in the Colorado River Water Users Association conference in Las Vegas from November 29 to December 2, 2022, including representatives from Mexico and the Indian tribes along the river, to discuss the future of the river. In mid-December a US$5 billion project was discussed with the Arizona state authorities to build one of the largest seawater desalination plants on the Mexican coast and transport the water several hundred kilometres to the US.
The number of children threatened by hunger, lack of water and disease in the Horn of Africa has doubled to 20.2 million since July 2022. The number of people suffering from acute water shortages has also doubled to 24 million. In Kenya, the worst drought in 40 years is effectively pushing some 1.5 million children out of school. This is in addition to the 1.9 million children already out of school in the arid and semi-arid regions of the country, the United Nations announced on its website . The situation is due to the historic drought in East Africa, Education Cannot Wait, the UN's global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, attributed the situation to the historic drought, simultaneously announcing a $2 million grant towards emergency needs. The situation is alarming, especially as millions of children are at risk. UNICEF and UNHCR are announcing the first emergency response grant that will reach 39,000 girls and boys in need of urgent support. A one-year grant will provide access to safe water in schools to ensure children are protected, get children back on track to learn with supplies, back-to-school campaigns and support for teachers. A child who drops out of school faces hunger, early marriage, forced labour, recruitment into criminal and armed groups and other abuses, UNICEF warns. "The climate crisis impacts the education of 40 million children every year. In Kenya and across the Horn of Africa, we need to combine action on education with action on climate to keep girls and boys in school," said Yasmine Sherif, Director of the UN Global Emergency Education Fund. Lack of water affects parents' livelihoods and increases children's vulnerability, especially in drought-affected areas. According to UNICEF, as many as 460 schools have no water source, and more than 1,800 rely on rainwater collection. In addition to Kenya, UNICEF warned on 22 December that water insecurity has more than doubled in Ethiopia and Somalia. Nearly 24 million people are now facing severe water shortages, the fund said in a statement.
AT least 24,860 homes have been destroyed and 48,250 homes damaged by floods in 16 of the 18 states of Sudan this year, according to the Sudan Situation Report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released on Dec,2022. According to the Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), humanitarian organisations on the ground, and local authorities, the number of people affected by seasonal rains and flash floods across Sudan has remained constant at 349,000 since 26 September,this year.
According to the report, the most affected states according to the report are are South Darfur (79,937 people), Gedaref (64,685 people), Central Darfur (41,747), White Nile (34,357), and Kassala (25,890). The other affected states are Northern (18,046), West Darfur (17,354), River Nile (16,572), North Kordofan (15,235), Aj Jazirah (8,715), West Kordofan (6,030), South Kordofan (5,768), Sennar (5,379), and East Darfur (3,650), with more limited impact in Khartoum (2,741), and North Darfur (2,621).
People have reportedly lost over 4,800 heads of livestock, and over 12,100 feddans (about 5,100 hectares) of agricultural land have been affected by floods which will increase the rist to food insecurity.
The rainy season in Sudan usually starts in June and lasts up to September, with the peak of rains and flooding observed between August and September. Annually, an average of 388,600 people were affected by floods between 2017 and 2021. This year, the number of flood-affected people surpassed those affected in 2021 (about 314,500).
According to Sudan’s 3rd Flood Response Report, the Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) estimated that about 15,000 people, mostly women and children, were displaced from Juguma village to Tuktuka village and that at least 48 people were killed and another 17 injured as a result fo the floods. The victims are currently in of need shelter, food, and health services.
As of August 14, torrential rains and floods destroyed about 8,900 houses and damaged another 20,600 in 12 states. The National Council for Civil Defence reported on 13 August that 52 people died and another 25 injured since the beginning of the rainy season.
The report also states that by early December 2022, the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) received US$825 million in funding out of a total requirement of $1.94 billion, where by around $12 million will be carried over to 2023, to cover the needs coming from emergency shocks taking place before May 2023, when new contributions are expected to arrive to the SHF.