The commodification of water and land in Mali

For the inhabitants of the Dogon plateau at Bandiagara in Mali, water is both a source of life and a public good. Now the privatisation of water threatens to exclude citizens from managing their most precious resource. Ecological representation of water as a common good explains why the creation of the ‘water business’ and the commercial logic of public-private partnerships is so unacceptable. In Mali, a public-private partnership system and a framework of long-term leases have been used to lease several tens of thousands of hectares of land at very low cost to investors. Read more here.
Sekou Diarra

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ICT services to support human developments in Africa

It is true that Africa has more pressing priorities than Information Communication Technologies (ICT), but bringing water and electricity to schools does not prevent Africans from equipping themselves with the latest digital tools. Among the most active ICT players are the AfDB, OECD, UN, including UNESCO, NEPAD, the African Union (AU), MTN, Google, Microsoft , Ericsson, Orange, Vodacom, Alcatel-Lucent or Airtel, all seeking to identify, adapt and launch applications suited to Africa. Read more here.

Much at stake for South Africans in electricity choices

In Keeping the Lights On? A Review of the Draft Assumptions Underpinning South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan 2, Gary Pienaar and Smita Nakhooda note that decisions around how much electricity South Africa needs and how to meet those requirements have major implications for all sectors of South African society and for all South Africans. South Africans will pay the bills to finance the choices made. And they will pay more than money currency: they will also pay in water quality, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions if the choice is made to continue dependence on current coal plans. There are no easy solutions to the challenges at hand.

Idasa is leading the South African programme of the Electricity Governance Initiative (EGI), which aims to improve governance of the electricity sector. The EGI is a joint project of the World Resources Institute in Washington and the Prayas Energy Group in India.

FAO warns against jastropha ‘hyped claims and half-truths’

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that the developing countries should not buy blindly into the ‘jatropha for biodiesel’ argument. Warning against the hype and half-truths around jatropha curacas, an oil seed plant touted as a major potential source of biofuels. There have been increasing investments and policy decisions concerning the use of jatropha as an oil crop. The report comes after researchers said that the crop requires more water than had been thought, and was best suited for small-scale farming in remote areas, where alternative fuel supplies are erratic and expensive. Read more here.

Social Accountability: Tools and Mechanisms for Improved Urban Water Services

The WaterAid paper discussed the need for specific pro-poor measures to ensure water services provision to poor urban populations. The engagement of users in utility reforms and ongoing service improvement processes is crucial, since reforms to improve efficiency do not necessarily translate into geographical equity or a commitment to serve the poor. The paper follows from the discussion to outline the principles behind, and the application of, social accountability mechanisms as a means to increase the responsiveness of water utilities to poor people. Read more here.

Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa

Organic agriculture is a sustainable and environmentally friendly production system that offers Africa and other developing countries a wide rage of economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits. Evidence from research shows that agricultural yields in organic systems do not fall, and at least remain stable when converting from systems that use relatively low synthetic inputs, which frequently found in Africa. Given the paper’s origins, special attention has been given to East Africa. Read this story here.

Africa is Capable of Feeding itself

The celebration of World Water Day (March 22) is a call for action over one of the greatest challenges we face – ensuring a growing population has access to clean and sufficient water so that it can feed itself. According to some experts, Africa will suffer most from rising temperatures, droughts and other climate change events. However, farmers putting into practice techniques like drip irrigation to make the best of every drop of water, is important to promote Green Revolution across the continent. Read this story here.