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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora