Why soils matter …

Water and soils are limited and endangered resources. It is estimated that at least a quarter of the usable earth surface is affected by strong degradation to an extent which is substantially reducing the potential production of biomass for food, feeding as well as for resources for materials and bio-energy. In the context of an ever-growing world population this is a serious threat. While the world population in the past four decades grew from 3 to over 7.4 billion people, the agricultural area increased by only 8%, mainly through the transformation of forest into arable land. Land consumption through urbanization is further reducing the fertile cultivation area. According to climate projections for the coming decades, rainfall patterns and temperature distributions will also change significantly.

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The 22 participants from 19 countries in this short course, which started October 11th,  will deal intensively with the connections between land use and nutrient cycles in the context of water catchment areas as well as at a global level. They will be enabled to develop concepts for soil and water protection as an integral part of sustainable land management.

One of the first stops within the intense 4-weeks programme was the headquarters of the German Environment Agency (UBA) in Dessau. Here experts of the agency introduced the group to topics like land-take, soil protection and monitoring, as well as water reuse in the European Union among other things.

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There are 3 more weeks ahead to discuss the value and importance of soil as a vital and finite resource for everybody: policy makers, development planners, soil scientists, agricultural extension officers, students and other practitioners.

photos by UN Photo & Anna Görner (CIPSEM)

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Impact of climate change on water resources in Kaloleni, Kilifi county, Kenya

a field report of Ms. Louisa Chinyavu Mwenda (CIPSEM alumna, SC68)

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In most of the rural parts of Kenya including the coastal interior, few know of the term climate change. However, impacts have been felt far and wide, with many left with lingering questions on their minds. Drought is the most worrying issue that the communities in Kilifi county face. In recent years, the weather patterns have been predictable, but in 2016 it was different. It is evident that the harsh impacts of climate change have affected water resources and in turn affecting food security, and other sectors including health and education. In mid October 2016, just a few weeks after completing the SC 68 Integrated Water Resources Management and Health short course, I set out to find out more on the impacts of climate change on water resources in Kaloleni, Kilifi County with the aim of gathering sufficient information on the situation which can aid in future interventions. I interviewed some of the residents in Kaloleni, Kilifi county, and this is what some of them had to say:

Dama Kahindhi

I find Dama an elderly woman with five other ladies surrounding a well known as Mwabanda, in Zizimo village, Kilifi County, catching up while fetching water. Mwabanda is a well, which has been the source of water for the villagers for almost three years. In Swahili, she informs me that the water is undrinkable and is dirty because sediments flow in especially from harsh winds. I spot a number of frogs in the water. She also admits that sometimes the quality of the water affects health especially in young children who are vulnerable to disease. She tells me that she in normally at the pond thrice in a day and sometimes even five times. As Dama speaks, a woman balancing on her head a jerrican full of water, commonly known as a ‘kia’ interjects informing me that there is no rain and the maize crop has failed due to the severe drought. As a parting shot, Dama tells me “the drought is so severe that even men now days have to join us to fetch water”.

Glory

She is a young girl probably not a teenager.  She trembles on spotting the camera and is afraid to answer any questions; however she does answer a few in low tones. She goes to school but today she is not in class because she has to fetch water. She barely makes any eye contact but informs me the pond is called Kwa Kagogo. She then continues to fill in her jerrican with water, under the scorching sun.

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Clemence Mjeni

Clemence is a middle aged woman who informs me that the river Bemkambe, in Bemkambe village Kilifi County, has been dry for about five years now. She points towards the path where the river meandered previously which is now a bed of rocks and sand. ‘In previous years, the rains would start in March and continue till May. However this year, there was no rain at all. Our maize and rice crop failed due to drought’. She also mentions that she heard that the country would experience El Niño, but was also worried that when the rains are in excess, the coconut trees in her farm would fall because the roots become saturated with water. However she says that she is still waiting for the El Niño, because it will bring hope.

 

Samson Chome

‘Tangu El Nino ya 1997, hakuna mvua ya maana…’ which means that there has been no significant rain since the 1997 ElNino, claims Mr. Chome, who is a resident of Chanagande, Kilifi county. He is appalled by the weather pattern changes, and claims that people and livestock have died due to drought. The 60 year old man informs me that this village, Kagombani, which means ‘banana plant’, was characterized by banana plantations when he was in his youth. He counts and points three frail banana plants on his farm, which is the current situation in most parts of the village. Mr. Chome is chatty, and goes ahead to say that he is from searching for pasture for his one lactating cow but he insists that he needs a borehole to sustain his cow and calf and also his family; because the ponds that he was relying on are also drying up and the soils are no longer fertile.

Naomi Kenga

She is commonly referred to as Hawe Dena in Kaloleni area, Kilifi County. Hawe Dena is 87 years old but is strong and very knowledgeable, clearly from the many years of experience. She informs me of how the weather patterns have drastically changed affecting the water supply in the area. She has a subsistence farm, which she plants various crops, but complains that it is very tiring to carry water to the farm. ‘Mwaka huu mahindi hayakukuwa kwa sababu ya ukosefu wa mvua,” she says, meaning that this year the maize did not thrive because of lack of water. She tells us that her farm is rain-fed and so when it does not rain she is severely affected. The soil beneath my feet is very hot. She also tells me that she has a well constructed in her ‘shamba’ and she takes me on a tour around the farm and to the well, however the well depends on rain water and is currently dry. She also takes the opportunity to request for any intervention that could make the situation better.

Other than the impacts on the land and on water and agricultural resources, other effects can be seen such as the receding coastline. Boats are spotted stuck in sand in need of evacuation. Therefore it is necessary to find both short and long term solutions towards adaptation and mitigation strategies towards climate change. How is climate change affecting you? What can you do about the impacts?  What can you do about climate change?

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Looking back at SC68 …

Just when I thought my year was exciting already, I was accepted into the 68th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Integrated Water Resource Management and Health. Dresden is a beautiful city full of details to admire. It’s a very clean and quite place, rich in history and culture. It´s very comforting to walk the Altstadt, from the Semper Opera House crossing to the Procession of Princes and arriving into the Frauenkirche. And sometimes you get surprised by a white shiny piano in the middle of the square accompanying a lady singing opera. Dresden being full of green areas has a great transportation system that invites you to any of its museums. The Hygiene Museum is a very curious place, don´t be skeptical about it, try it! Although Germans are very autonomous people they are very friendly and helpers with a good sense of humor. Many times they rescue me in the supermarket trying to get regular sugar or milk. Punctuality is one of their best qualities, so don’t be late in here!

This course was a tight schedule well handled by the CIPSEM staff to deliver water knowledge from all possible angles.  Through lectures and excursions we learned about global water issues, types of treatments, bio-indicators and much more. We visit dams, reservoirs, treatment plants, a pilot project of greywater recycling (impressive!), research centers and institutes for drinking water, wastewater and underground water. Personally I learned new topics: antibiotics residual and sustainable sanitation.  One of the best lectures were Andre’s classes, in which he gave us bridges to cross and doors to open for never stopping to learn. CIPSEM was also the passage to meet foreign friends. I know we all miss the companionship and the amity will be for a lifetime. The different personalities, cultures and traditions made it fun. We never stop learning from each other, even now that we are separate.

I was very happy to accomplish my targets in this course, especially in expanding my world view. And as Dr. Paul said at the Saidenbach Dam: “We are so different but united in this course, why don’t our countries behave the same?”

by Ms. Laize Maite Barranco Pacheco – Panama

Group work time

As also outlined in the Wold Water Quality Assessment Report presented during the recent Wold Water Week, Water and health issues are highly interlinked and are in turn influenced by a range of factors. A group activity has unpacked some of the most crucial connections and helped to strengthen system thinking. 

Four groups have unraveled in a comprehensive way how the following issues influence the water-health nexus:

 • Which role do weather and climate play?

 • What can the impact of culture and habits be?

 • How does land use and land cover influence the health-water relationship?

 • What are the connections between nutrition, water and health?

Numerous cases were shared to illustrate these connections in the context of the participants home regions. 



Excursion to the German Environment Agency (UBA)

Our CIPSEM journey continued from 18th to 19th of May 2016 in the city of Dessau. The visit to the German Environment Agency (UBA) began with an introduction and welcome speech by Mr. Ralph Wollmann, who gave background information about the history of the German Environment Agency and explained its participation and contribution to CIPSEM courses. Furthermore Mr. Wollmann talked about the role of UBA in the german society and the international community.

Following up were interactive sessions on several topics from the manifold portfolio of the agency. Among others there were talks on water resources management and climate change adaptation in Germany, transboundary movement of waste, environmental risk regulation of pesticides, green economy and much more.

The stay in Dessau was furthermore accompanied guided tours through the price winning main building of UBA and the world famous Bauhaus.

Report and photographs by Hisham Abdelgawad (Egypt)

Call for applications open!

We are glad to announce a new set of courses for the 2016/17 period:

  • 31 August – 23 September, 2016
    68th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Integrated Water Resource Management and Health (SC68)
  • 5 October – 2 November, 2016
    69th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SC69)
  • 17 November – 13 December, 2016
    70th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Sustainable Cities (SC70)
  • 10 January – 11 July, 2017
    40th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing and Emerging Countries (EM40)

In support of the sustainable development goals, our courses are designed to prepare the participants for their tasks of environment-related planning, coordination and management within ministries, agencies and local governments as well as NGOs of their home countries. Participants are expected to have several years of course relevant professional experience and to be nominated by their institution in a developing or emerging country.

Interested? Then please have a look on our course website and the application FAQ.

Application deadline is on June 09, 2016.

Flyer: UNEP-UNESCO-BMUB__Course_Programme_2016-17

CIPSEM_Application-Page
https://apply-unep-unesco-bmub-courses.de

Groundwater management is a vital resource for tomorrow

Our water resources will only sustain in the long term if we build up our water management. In this context the participants of EM39th experienced two days with the experts of the Institute for Groundwater Management at TU Dresden. To develop our understanding of factors affecting sustainable management of groundwater, we had lectures about the concepts of subsurface properties, well constructions, monitoring wells & groundwater quality sampling and salinity modelling. We also visited the laboratory to support the estimation of geo-hydraulic parameters technically.

Many thanks to Prof. Dr. Rudolf Liedl, JProf. Dr. Marc Walther, Dr.-Ing. Diana Burghardt and Dipl.-Ing. Martin Binder for sharing with us linkages developed within & outside Germany.

Report & photographs by Hiba Mohammad (Syria)