Environment and sustainable development an Ethiopian perspective

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Bottled water as an Environmental problem

Posted by 4kilo on April 29, 2007

”Bottled water” according to IBWA code of practice, means water that is intended for human consumption and that is sealed in bottles or other containers with no added ingredients except that it may optionally contain safe and suitable antimicrobial agents.It is newly growing business in Ethiopia.People barely knew other than Ambo mineral water before the 1990’s.The success of Highland natural spring water was easily noticed by other investors and now different other brands are available in the market. The introduction of bottled water into market and success in the local market is a good news to Ethiopia only if it is utilized in accordance with principles of sustainable utilization of resources.

The demand for bottled water is likely to rise significantly and export to neighboring countries even to middle east and beyond is an increasingly growing possibility.Water has become increasingly a scarce resource which has to be utilized carefully keeping the water balance or hydrological cycle.Catchment re-charge during rainy season,annual production and total natural water reserve in the area has to be balanced to avoid depletion and pollution.Investor’s in this sector should play major role in making sure the water source is protected and the production is in accordance with catchment yield.They are also expected to sponsor,motivate and even organize different environment clubs and create public awareness in this regard.This also includes how to dispose used plastic bottles.

Bottled water has advantage over tap water as it encourages saving and is clean or at least easy to keep it clean and off course it is easy to handle and manage.But this advantage has come at cost of environment.I hope business in Ethiopia will play significant role in addressing the environmental issues which apparently is becoming and ever growing treat to our environment.Here is an interesting article from ‘oneworld.net’ titled Bottled Water: A Global Environmental Problem”

Consumers spend a collective $100 billion every year on bottled water in the belief—often mistaken—that it is better for us than what flows from our taps. Worldwide, bottled water consumption surged to 41 billion gallons in 2004, up 57 percent since 1999.

“Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing—producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy,” reports Earth Policy Institute researcher Emily Arnold. Although in much of the world, including Europe and the U.S., more regulations govern the quality of tap water than bottled water, bottled water can cost up to 10,000 times more. At up to $10 per gallon, bottled water costs more than gasoline in the United States.
“There is no question that clean, affordable drinking water is essential to the health of our global community,” Arnold asserts, “But bottled water is not the answer in the developed world, nor does it solve problems for the 1.1 billion people who lack a secure water supply. Improving and expanding existing water treatment and sanitation systems is more likely to provide safe and sustainable sources of water over the long term.” Members of the United Nations have agreed to halve the proportion of people who lack reliable and lasting access to safe drinking water by the year 2015. To meet this goal, they would have to double the $15 billion spent every year on water supply and sanitation. While this amount may seem large, it pales in comparison to the estimated $100 billion spent each year on bottled water.

Tap water comes to us through an energy-efficient infrastructure whereas bottled water is transported long distances—often across national borders—by boat, train, airplane, and truck. This involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels.

For example, in 2004 alone a Helsinki company shipped 1.4 million bottles of Finnish tap water 2,700 miles to Saudi Arabia. And although 94 percent of the bottled water sold in the U.S. is produced domestically, many Americans import water shipped some 9,000 kilometers from Fiji and other faraway places to satisfy demand for what Arnold terms “chic and exotic bottled water.”

More fossil fuels are used in packaging the water. Most water bottles are made with polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic derived from crude oil. “Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand alone requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year,” Arnold notes.

Once it has been emptied, the bottle must be dumped. According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. Incinerating used bottles produces toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals tied to a host of human and animal health problems. Buried water bottles can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year. Of the bottles deposited for recycling in 2004, the U.S. exported roughly 40 percent to destinations as far away as China, requiring yet more fossil fuel.
Meanwhile, communities where the water originates risk their sources running dry. More than fifty Indian villages have complained of water shortages after bottlers began extracting water for sale under the Coca-Cola Corporation’s Dasani label. Similar problems have been reported in Texas and in the Great Lakes region of North America, where farmers, fishers, and others who depend on water for their livelihoods are suffering from concentrated water extraction as water tables drop quickly.

While Americans consume the most bottled water per capita, some of the fastest collective growth in consumption is in the giant populations of Mexico, India, and China. As a whole, India’s consumption of bottled water increased threefold from 1999 to 2004, while China’s more than doubled.

While private companies’ profits rise from selling bottled water of questionable quality at more than $100 billion per year—more efficiently regulated, waste-free municipal systems could be implemented for distribution of safe drinking water for all the peoples of the world—at a small fraction of the price.


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Using the waters of Abay(Blue Nile)

Posted by 4kilo on March 31, 2007

Ethiopia is a country with many natural resources …. and yet the country is one of the poorest nation on earth! people are still dying out of hungry.A number of social ,political and economical problems can be attributed to this effect.Miss use of it’s natural resources is the root cause of it’s present day problems.Unable to use its natural resources the country is heading to the worst,starvation year after year.Using it’s water resources will at least alleviate problems related to food shortage if not all.The river Abay(Blue Nile) holds the key in this regard.Ethiopia Must use its rivers to get out of this shame.The downstream countries should face this fact.The countries internal problems together with the prevailing geo-political condition of eastern Africa has been Ethiopians biggest challenge to use its water resources.The unfair usage of the Abay river by only few downstream countries notably Egypt has exacerbated the problem even more.Equitable use of Nile waters is a distant future.The so called Nile basin initiative is basically, designed by Egypt and its allies, United states of America,world bank …. to maintain the status quo.No one ever doubts the importance of Nile to the peoples of Egypt, however one also should note the importance of it to Ethiopians.The last two or so wars with Egypt over Nile waters was ended with Ethiopians victory but now Ethiopia is in no shape for war. You can read here the background up to the Nile basin Initiative.In the Nile basin initiative Ethiopia is destined to be land for Hydro power generation and sale the power back to its neighbors and Egypt will still continue using the water as before.This will not bring sustainable development only prolongs the problem for a while.The only way out is when all the Nile basin countries work together ,however not as Nile basin Initiative where only certain group is beneficiary.The predicted war (UN report) in this region over the waters of Nile even after the Nile basin initiative confirms the need for real dialog among the stake holders

Ethiopians should also work hard and create awareness what really Abay holds for the country development.We should be able to tell fellow Ethiopians using the waters of Abay means using hundereds if not thousands of tributaries from the northern tip of the country :Tekeze and its tributary,Abay and Tana,Fincha & Dedissa,Baro to southern west corner.This also means developing highly populated parts of the country Tigray,Gondor,Gojam,Wollega,Illubabur,Gambella….

The previous Ethiopian governments efforts to utilize this resource specially by the Dergu regime after the 1984 drought should be realized.

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Global Heating and/or Global Warming!

Posted by 4kilo on March 9, 2007

according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation.

I found the word ‘Global warming’ a bit vague and it only describes the situation on west were the temperature is normally cold and warming could mean mild temperature people could enjoy.On the contrary people who live in Africa and other part of the world the effect of ‘Global warming’ is an increase in temperature that would normally represent hot or hotter to hotter or hottest situation.This practically mean heating not warming.I personally believe representing this global climatic condition with a word ‘Global warming’ may have stolen some voices in the fight against ‘Global warming’.I think we need a word that precisely describes what ‘Global warming’ is really meant for!

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Humans to blame for Global warming!

Posted by 4kilo on February 3, 2007

well known group of scientists has for the first time agreed upon on who is responsible for the cause of global warming.

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Politics of Global Warming

Posted by 4kilo on January 22, 2007

Europe is now experiencing its hottest winter! parts of Africa have been suffering from flooding the last two or three months of 2006, people lost lives. we also saw those trade lines, Canada – Northern tip of Europe (by ship), which were off course not accessible during winter time are open for business… . All these change in climatological changes are attributed to global warming!
what is Global warming? why is it happening now? do human beings contribute to the cause of global warming or is it part of process our planet earth undergoing for millions years? is there any scientific background which exactly suggests the role of human beings in Global warming? there are a number of questions to be addressed and create consensus among the different stack holders to address the issue.
For the time being let’s agree that global warming is the result of human activities as claimed by the west(in general) and that something should be done to address the issue. Then again a number of issues will come to the surface.which continent or country or nation is largely responsible for global warming? obviously we don’t consume earth’s resources in the same manner through out the world.Africa, with all its people and resources, have literally contributed nothing to cause of global warming when compared to even to a single state in the west.Unfortunately Africa is paying the price while the west, specially United states,the world half polluter is not even willing to sign an international agreement,citing its national interest.
Here is the solution, you caused it and you fix it. You the West

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Energy and Environment

Posted by 4kilo on January 21, 2007

Energy sources are now in the 21st century classified as environmental friendly and not. Some two to three centuries back cities with smokes from industries have been seen as a sign of development until recently which become the opposite. Due to the major climatological change, the world is now experiencing and the growing voice of environmentalists,and the increase in awareness of the general public about the environment, forced the politicians to review their environment polices.
Energy sources:Hydro electric power,Nuclear power,oil and gas,coal ,wind…. etc have all been seen as major polluters with significant negative consequences to the environment. Environmentalist and the general public have been campaigning against these all energy sources with no other solutions on the table to meet the ever growing energy demand.Hydro electric power has been the major victim by such campaigns. The drop in hydro electric power projects specially in the west for the last 30 year can be primarily attributed to this effect. This has given opportunity to such energy sources as wind.The technological advancement is limited and is still seen not satisfactory in utilizing such renewable energy sources as wind and solar energy.The environmental impact assessment with regard to wind energy also shows a significant negative impact on the environment. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster is also another remainder of the seriousness of the problem in the nuclear power sector .
It is with this background that once again the increase in demand of hydro electric power is noticed.The environment impact assessment is an an integral part of hydro electric power projects.This could probably contributes in minimizing adverse effect on the environment and the society in general.In recent times it is observed that most of the hydro electric power projects are taking place in developing countries.Major hydro power projects are funded by either the different regional development banks or world bank.The environmental impact assessment is a pre- requesit for such projects if it is to be financed by these banks. However,this is not clearly the best solution

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Hello world!

Posted by 4kilo on November 26, 2006

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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