News / Africa

Water Feeds African Green Economy

Joe DeCapua

Africa can see strong economic growth by making better use of the environment, according to proponents of a green economy. It’s one of the subjects being discussed at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm.

“A green economy is essentially an economy that really invests in looking after the environment by putting money into the environment. The work is revealing. In fact, you can have faster economic growth and development,” said Professor Mike Young, executive director of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide in Australia. Young is also writing the chapter on water for a U.N. Environmental Program report on the green economy.

Investment would be accompanied by policy and government reforms. “So the gains are sustained and last into the future,” he said.

Africa application

Young believes the components of a green economy could be quickly applied on the continent.

“First by understanding, particularly in the case of water, that getting water management right and investing in processes that give people access to water at affordable costs,” he said, “adding, “The costs of not having access to clean water are incredibly high.”

Easy access to water allows more time and money to be spent on other things.

“In much of Africa, people spend a lot of money buying water from people who cart it to them," said Young. "Others spend a lot of time walking to cart water backwards and forwards and just queuing to get access to water. That’s one half. The second half is because, in fact, the standards of water are so poor in many areas a lot of people get sick and people also die. Reversing that means that people have access to more dollars to spend on other things and more time they can put into things that contribute to economic growth and development. Water is basic. Getting it right is really important.”

Step by step

Implementing a green economy means getting down to the very basic levels of water management.

“You really have to take it partly country by country in terms of the policy reforms, but secondly, doing it catchment by catchment and essentially river by river and ground water supply by ground water supply, working locally building the institutional arrangements that make sure that opportunities are sustained,” Young said.

Ultimately, people do pay the full cost of having water supplied to them.

“So they’re aware of how valuable water is. But the costs are much lower than they are at the moment because you’re managing things efficiently and well,” he said.  For example, using gravity to move water is a free energy source, while pumping water can be very expensive.

Recession resistant

According to his research, a green economy could help Africa withstand global recessions, like the current economic downturn.

“Very much so. The modeling we’re doing shows that if you go down a green approach and put money into water, into forestry and agriculture first, then you get faster economic growth and the number of people living in water-stressed regions is much lower. So you get win-win results – faster growth, less stress and greater opportunities,” he said.

Calls for a green-based economy are not always welcomed by some mainstream economists, at least not initially, according to Young.

“Very difficult at first,” he said, “We’re dealing with things that have not been well administered in the past. If you look once again at water, we haven’t invested in the institutions that assign rights to people or to regions and development government arrangements, which do simple things like make sure that whenever you allow one person to take more water in areas that are already fully allocated, you first of all work out who’s going to take less water.”

He said it’s vital to have institutions that work on local, regional and national levels. World Water Week is sponsored by the Stockholm International Water Institute.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid