Tag Archive | "ethiopia"

UNEP urges lead paints to be phased out

Children in the developing world are still exposed to “astonishingly high and dangerous levels of lead” through unsafe paints, finds a study by the UN Environment Programme, released Tuesday during the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action.

The study analysed enamel decorative paints from: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia and Uruguay. The research was organised by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, a group co-led by UNEP and the World Health Organisation.

Most of the paints tested would not meet regulatory standards established in most industrialised countries. Generally, white paints had the lowest lead content, while red, green and yellow paints had the highest lead levels.

Both Chile and Uruguay have national executive decrees that prohibit the production, import, distribution, sale and use of decorative paints with a lead concentration above 600 ppm, and all of the paints tested in these two countries had low total lead concentrations.

But in each of the other seven countries studied, two or more of the samples of enamel decorative paints had lead content greater than 10,000 ppm.

Lead in paint is a problem because painted surfaces deteriorate with time and disturbance, releasing the lead into household dust and soil outside.

An estimated 143,000 deaths a year result from lead poisoning, according to WHO data; lead paint is a major contributor to this death toll.

Worldwide, 30 countries have phased out the use of lead paint. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint has set a target of 70 countries by 2015.

Over the last seven years, similar studies found high average lead concentrations in Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

The UNEP report recommends:
National efforts to promote the establishment of legal and regulatory frameworks to control the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of lead paints and products coated with lead paints.

Paint manufacturers are encouraged to eliminate lead compounds from their paint formulations, and participate in programs that provide third party certification that no lead has been added to their paint. They are encouraged to label products to help consumers identify paints free of added lead.

 

 

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Water scarcity increasingly threatens global security

Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and an author, most recently, of Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis. 

According to his research, water shortages in the densely populated parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa could create large numbers of “water refugees” and overwhelm some states’ institutional capacity to contain the effects. The struggle for water is already escalating political tensions in certain parts of the world.

Downstream Egypt, for example, uses the bulk of the Nile River’s water, yet it is now threatening unspecified reprisals against Ethiopia’s continuing construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam.

China, already the world’s most-dammed nation, has approved the construction of 54 new dams – many of them on rivers that are the lifeblood of neighbouring countries. Turkey is accelerating an ambitious dam-building programme, which threatens to diminish cross-border flows into Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, intrastate water-sharing disputes have become common. Water conflicts within culturally diverse nations, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Sudan, often assume ethnic dimensions, thereby accentuating internal-security challenges.

But as illustrated by the disputes within, for example, the United States, Spain and Australia, intra-country water conflict is not restricted to the developing world.

Water conflicts in America have spread from the arid west to the east. Violent water struggles, however, occur mostly in developing nations, with resource scarcity often promoting environmental degradation and perpetuating poverty. Adequate access to natural resources, historically, has been a key factor in peace and war.

Countries can import fossil fuels, mineral ores and resources originating in the biosphere, such as fish and timber. But they cannot import water, or at least not in a major or sustainable manner. Water is essentially local and very expensive to ship.

Potable water supplies will come under strain if oceans rise. Rapid economic and demographic expansion has already turned potable water into a major issue across large parts of the world. Lifestyle changes have increased per capita water consumption.

It is against this background that water wars (in a political and economic sense) are already being waged between competing states, including by building dams on international rivers or by resorting to coercive diplomacy to prevent such construction.

US intelligence has warned that such water disputes could turn violent.

According to a report reflecting the joint judgement of US intelligence agencies, the use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism could become more likely in the next decade in some regions.

The InterAction Council, comprising more than 30 former heads of state or government, meanwhile, has called for urgent action, saying some countries battling severe water shortages risk failing. Water stress is adding to socio-economic costs.

The World Bank has estimated the economic cost of China’s water problems at 2.3% of its GDP. China, however, is not as yet under water stress – a term internationally defined as the availability of less than 1,700 cubic metres of water per person per year. By contrast, the already water-stressed economies, stretching from South Korea and India to Egypt and Morocco, are paying a higher price for their problems.

Nature’s fixed water-replenishment capacity limits the world’s freshwater resources to nearly 43 trillion cubic metres per year. But the human population has almost doubled since 1970.

Growth in consumption has become the single biggest driver of water stress. Rising incomes, for example, have promoted changing diets, especially a greater intake of meat, the production of which is notoriously water-intensive. It is about 10 times more water-intensive to produce meat than plant-based calories and proteins.

As a result, water could become the world’s next major security and economic challenge.

Bottled water at the supermarket is already more expensive than crude oil on the spot market. More people today own or use a mobile phone than have access to water-sanitation services. Unclean water is the greatest killer on the globe, yet a fifth of humankind still lacks easy access to potable water. More than half of the global population currently lives under water stress – a figure projected to increase dramatically during the next decade.

Although no modern war has been fought just over water, this resource has been an underlying factor in several armed conflicts.

With the era of cheap, bountiful water now gone, to be replaced by increasing constraints on supply and quality, the risks of overt water wars are increasing.

Avoiding conflict over water demands international cooperation. But there is still no international water law in force, and most regional water agreements are toothless, lacking monitoring and enforcement rules and provisions formally dividing water among users. Worse still, unilateralism is endemic in the parched world.

The international community thus confronts a problem more pressing than peak oil, economic slowdown and other oft-cited challenges.

Addressing this core problem holds the key to dealing with other challenges because of the nexus of water with global warming, energy shortages, stresses on food supply, population pressures, pollution, environmental degradation, global epidemics and natural disasters.

 

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ZTE provides green energy solutions in Africa

ZTE Corporation is launching five stories at GITEX Technology Week 2013, about advances the company has made in building business in South Africa, public safety systems worldwide, green energy, enterprise telecommunications devices, and networking.

ZTE is a global provider of telecommunications equipment, network solutions and mobile devices, is working with governments and enterprises across 15 African countries, including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Niger, to deploy the use of renewable solar energy. The company is committed to corporate social responsibility and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

ZTE is providing governments and business with the means to meet local power needs for households, communication systems and mobile power sources, bringing light and telecoms to thousands of homes and businesses throughout the African continent. The projects involve a variety of ZTE’s green energy products and solutions, including solar lighting systems, mobile solar power systems, solar power for telecommunications base stations and solar power for household lighting systems.

“The solar street lighting project constructed by ZTE is one of the best renewable energy projects that exists in Niger,” said Mr. Oumarou Dogari Moumouni, the former mayor of Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Africa suffers from constant power shortages leaving more than 580 million people to light their homes with kerosene lamps that are harmful to both their health and the environment. Fortunately, Africa’s natural resources mean that it has a great source of renewable energy from the sun, and solar power is safe, reliable and low cost, making it an ideal alternative for countries suffering from energy shortages.

“ZTE’s cooperation with governments and businesses throughout Africa is providing both economic and social benefits across the region. We are helping African countries maximise the power of their local resources and use renewable energy in a number of innovative ways,” said Wang Yiwen, ZTE CTO of Government and Enterprise business in the Middle East and Africa region.

In recent years, ZTE has developed its enterprise business and increased its investment in the field of renewable energy. ZTE can provide a full range of products and solutions, including solar lighting, household solar power, solar-powered water supply systems, and solar power generation systems. It has become the most successful Chinese enterprise in the markets of energy and accessory products and an integrated-power solution provider with global service capabilities. The company has provided services for telecommunications operators and industrial customers in more than 160 countries and regions, and has provided renewable energy of over 300 megawatt through more than 75 operators and industrial customers in 52 countries.

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