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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid