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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid