Archive for the ‘Wasser’ Category

BRD: Fairer Handel – Wendemanöver in der Sackgasse?

Samstag, Juli 28th, 2012

“Grenzen der Zertifizierung

Bilanz und Ausblick

Von Carolin Callenius und
Francisco Mari

Explosionsartig erleben wir, wie immer mehr Nachhaltigkeits-Siegel Teil unseres Alltags werden. Von Bio, Fair Trade, den Runden Tischen, diversen Biospritplaketten bis zu Pro Planet und MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) hinter den Begriff Nachhaltigkeit verbergen sich die unterschiedlichsten Ziele, Kriterien, Systeme und Akteure. Allen gemein ist, dass sie bei den Importen von Agrarprodukten ansetzen. Diese sollen – je nach selbst gesetztem Zielunterschiedlich – aus einer Produktion kommen, die auf Raubbau am Regenwald verzichtet, in der keine Kinder arbeiten müssen, die Arbeiter gerecht behandelt werden, besonders wenig Treibhausgase verursacht oder/und die Artenvielfalt geschützt wird. Zu Recht wird kritisiert, dass dieses Schildermeer nicht mehr überschaubar ist. Es ist auch zunehmend unklar, welchem Siegel man Glauben schenken kann; da sich bei den meisten Siegeln höchstens eine Hand voll Experten noch auskennen.

In den Expertenzirkeln wird eifrig diskutiert, wie man diese Siegel noch weiter verbessern kann, wie man sie zusammenfassen kann und in ihrer Reichweite umfassender machen könnte und wie unabhängig eine Kontrolle der Zertifizierung sein muss. Zeitgleich wachsen aber auch die Zweifel, ob angesichts der immensen globalen Probleme diese kleinen Reformen am Agrarhandel ausreichen. Reicht das Plus für Menschen und Umwelt im Süden aus, um die Nachhaltigkeitsziele von Umwelt und Entwicklung zu erreichen? Oder dient nicht gar das Ganze nur als Beruhigungspille gegen das schlechte Gewissen? Denn der übermäßige und wachsende Konsum – auch von besiegelten Produkten – hat Folgen für die Menschen und die Umwelt im Süden.

Es besteht kein Zweifel, dass einzelne Produkte − inklusive ihrer Herstellungsprozesse und Folgewirkungen − durch eine Zertifizierung verbessert werden können. Wir aber wollen in diesem Artikel ein paar Fragen aus entwicklungspolitischer Perspektive aufwerfen, die die Grenzen des Instruments thematisieren, und welche Probleme wir wahrnehmen, die mittels der Zertifizierung selbst nicht behoben werden können:

• Ist eine exportorientierte Landwirtschaft oder Landnutzung mit zertifizierten Produkten grundsätzlich ein besserer Entwicklungsweg für die Länder des Südens als die nichtzertifizierten Exporte?

• Wer profitiert von der Zertifizierung und wer hat das Nachsehen?

• Welche ökologischen oder »fairen« Grenzen hat das Instrument der Zertifizierung?

Alle drei Fragen werden von vielen Bauernverbänden und Nichtregierungsorganisationen im Süden zunehmend kontrovers diskutiert.

Exporte von Rohstoffen als richtiger Entwicklungsweg?

Zunächst will die Zertifizierung nichts weiter, als bestehende Agrarhandelsströme qualitativ verbessern. Dabei geht es immer um unsere Ansprüche als KonsumentInnen im Norden. Egal ob für Biosprit, Schokolade, Tropenholz, Palmöl oder Shrimps, gleichgültig ob öko oder fair oder beides – die Standards werden in den Industrieländern gesetzt. Für die lokalen Märkte im Süden spielen diese Zertifizierungen, ja meist auch die Produkte selber, keine Rolle. Keine Verbraucherin in Costa Rica fragt nach öko-fairen Bananen oder in Dakar nach einer MSC-Sardine. Konsequenterweise heißt das, dass aus Sicht der KonsumentInnen im Süden niemand Zertifizierungen oder private Standards braucht.

In den Ländern selbst aber beobachten wir, dass diese Nachfrage häufig zusätzlich erfolgt; während gleichzeitig die natürlichen Ressourcen immer knapper werden. Während also einerseits die durchschnittlichen Ackerflächen pro Betrieb immer kleiner werden, beansprucht der Exportanbau immer größere Flächen und greift meist auf die besten Böden und Wasserressourcen zurück. Diese Knappheit an Land, Wasser, Biodiversität, etc. führt dazu, dass die Eigenversorgung mit Grundnahrungsmitteln in den letzten Jahren drastisch abnimmt. Viele Entwicklungsländer sind zunehmend von Nahrungsmittelimporten abhängig.

Eine Entwicklungsstrategie durch »Rohstoff- oder Agrarexporte« wurde in den letzten Jahrzehnten als der Königsweg propagiert. Sie versprach die gesteigerten Kostenvorteile in der Landwirtschaft und hohe Rohstoffpreise auszunutzen, um mit den Einnahmen Infrastruktur, Energie, Gesundheit und Bildung zu finanzieren. Niedrige Weltmarktpreise für Nahrungsmittel Nahrungsmittel förderten die Illusion man könne mit diesen Einnahmen auch die Ernährung der Bevölkerung sichern. Doch seit 2008 ist dieser Traum ausgeträumt. Die hohen und sehr stark schwankenden Nahrungsmittel- und Rohstoffpreise führten den Ländern ihre Abhängigkeit vom Weltmarkt und die Unsicherheit der Budgetplanung vor Augen. Weder die Armen in den Städten und noch weniger die große- Mehrheit der Landbevölkerung haben davon profitiert.

Im Hinblick auf die Bekämpfung von Armut und Hunger muss hinterfragt werden, ob eine Export-Expansion, auch wenn sie als nachhaltig zertifiziert ist, im Sinne einer ernährungssichernden, landwirtschaftlichen Produktion für die arme ländliche Bevölkerung in den Ländern des Südens zu wünschen und zu unterstützen ist. Letztendlich dient auch sie nur dazu, unsere Versorgung im Norden mit natürlichen Ressourcen abzusichern. Den meisten Zertifizierungen, wie FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) und den Runden Tischen fehlt bereits im Ansatz das Ziel der Armuts- und Hungerbekämpfung. Sie gehen in ihrem Anspruch oft nicht über eine Verringerung der schlimmsten (ökologischen und teilweise sozialen) Probleme hinaus. Auch die wachsende Ernährungsunsicherheit kann durch Zertifizierung nicht erfasst und nicht vermieden werden.

Sind denn die Mengen an zertifizierter Ware überhaupt nachhaltig verfügbar?

Es sind die gleichen Äcker, die gleichen Flüsse und Wälder, die, bisher von bäuerlichen Familien genutzt werden, nun aber von den Investoren in nachhaltige Produktion benötigt werden. Der Zugriff auf das Ackerland aber führt zu neuen ernst zu nehmenden Konkurrenzen, die in Folge auch zu Nahrungsmittelengpässen auf den lokalen Märkten führen können. Nämlich dann, wenn Menschen der Zugang zu den natürlichen Ressourcen geraubt wird oder wenn auf den lokalen Märkten nicht mehr ausreichend Lebensmittel zur Verfügung stehen oder nur zu Preisen, die für die Ärmsten schlicht nicht mehr bezahlbar sind. Zwar lässt sich überprüfen, ob bei der Anlage einer zertifizierten Plantage das Ackerland legal erworben wurde, ob Landkonflikte anhängig sind, oder Regenwald zerstört wurde und damit ausschließen, dass Menschen von ihrem Acker vertrieben, oder ohne ihre Einwilligung umgesiedelt wurden. Doch wird die wachsende Nachfrage nach Agrarimporten aus dem Süden – mit oder ohne Zertifizierung – zu weiteren indirekten Folgen führen. Denn die ursprünglichen Nutzer des Landes werden nun an anderen Orten beginnen zu produzieren, wo sie unter Umständen einen Raubbau an Primärwäldern vornehmen. Im Zuge des Wettlaufs um die natürlichen Ressourcen, wie Land und Wasser haben die besonders Benachteiligten oft das Nachsehen. Nomaden, Hirten, Fischer und Indigene werden in ihren Nutzungsrechten eingeschränkt und sind dann auch Opfer von »politisch korrekten « und zertifizierten Investitionen von landbesitzenden Kleinbauern.

»Die Dosis macht das Gift.« Dies wird in den Diskussionen um Agrotreibstoffe immer wieder deutlich: Denn ob mit oder ohne Zertifizierung, es wird nicht gelingen die steigende Nachfrage nach Agrarprodukten auf nachhaltige Weise zu befriedigen. Bei immer knapper werdenden natürlichen Ressourcen sind vielerorts die Grenzen für eine Produktionserweiterung bereits erreicht oder gar überschritten. Insbesondere dann, wenn immer mehr Energie und Grundstoffe aus Biomasse, Rohstoffe auf Erdölbasis ersetzen sollen. Bioethanol und Biodiesel benötigen jetzt schon zwei Prozent der weltweit verfügbaren Ackerflächen. Die neuen Hoffnungsträger einer »Grünen Technologie« aus nachwachsenden Rohstoffen, wie Biokerosin, Biokunststoff, Baufasern und Schmierstoffe werden diesen Trend fortsetzen.

Partizipation für wen?

Nachhaltigkeitsstandards funktionieren in gewisser Weise wie alle privatwirtschaftlichen Standards, die von Handels- und Industrieverbänden angewendet werden (beispielsweise Standards des Codex Alimentarius, der für die Einhaltung von Hygienestandards sorgt und private Standardnormen wie EUROGAP). Sie führen zu einer dem Agrobusiness genehmen Uniformität der Produkte, der sich alle Produzenten unterwerfen müssen. Da der Vormarsch der Supermärkte auch im Süden voranschreitet, verlieren Kleinproduzenten ihre lokalen Märkte und nur wenige, die in die Standarderfüllung der meist internationalen Handelsketten investieren können, beliefern sie. Alle Anderen müssen auch noch zusehen, wie Billigreste die den Standard nicht erfüllen, sie auch noch von den Straßenmärkten der Armen vertreiben.

Kleinproduzenten können sich die Kosten, die mit der Zertifizierung verbunden sind, oft nicht leisten. Aber auch Landwirte mittelgroßer Betriebe gehen ein hohes Risiko ein. Denn je höher ihre Investition, desto größer die Gefahr durch Markteinbrüche bei nur geringfügigen Nichtstandarderfüllungen. Kurzfristige Erfolgs- und Gewinnbestrebungen aller Beteiligten lassen auch im Geschäft mit zertifizierten Produkten keine Zeit, um die Umwelt der Produzenten langsam und nachhaltig an neue Markterfordernisse anzupassen. Dieses Anliegen wird allein von den Standards des fairen Handels aufgegriffen, die langfristig mit Beratung die Partner unterstützen und die Produzenten an eine soziale, manchmal auch an eine ökologische, Nachhaltigkeit heranführen.

Die Produktionsstrukturen sind mit Ausnahme des fairen Handels meist nicht berücksichtigt. Es werden immer nur das Produkt und die Herstellungsweise zertifiziert; aber nicht ob es von mechanisierten Großbetrieben hergestellt wurde oder in kleinen Strukturen vor Ort. Dagegen wehrt sich beispielsweise die brasilianische Landlosen- Organisation MST. Diese meint, dass Nachhaltigkeit unbedingt die Verteilung der Ressourcen beinhalten müsse, denn sonst gefährde der Anbau in immer größer werdenden Strukturen die Lebensgrundlage der Menschen.

Zertifizierung – nur ein grüner Anstrich?

Seit dem Beginn von Zertifizierungen wird heftig darüber gestritten, was denn unter Nachhaltigkeit verstanden wird. Während die Einen jeden Schritt, den die Industrie sich bewegt, als einen Gewinn ansehen (Statt der Nische soll der Mainstream erobert werden), kritisieren die Anderen, dass dies nur ein grünes Deckmäntelchen sei. Für letztere steht außer Frage, dass man gentechnisch verändertes Soja nicht als »verantwortungsvoll« zertifizieren kann; dass auch Monokulturen, die sich über zehntausende von Hektar erstrecken und große Mengen Pflanzenschutzmittel einsetzen, alles andere als nachhaltig sind. Viele Fragen sind offen: Ist nicht auch eine öko-faire Shrimps-Mast ein Widerspruch in sich? Kann es angesichts der überfischten Meere eine Öko-Aquakultur geben? Schützen Biotreibstoffe zwar das Klima, erzeugen sie aber gleichzeitig Probleme im Bereich des Erhalts von Umwelt und Menschenrechtschutz? Nachhaltigkeitszertifizierungen sind immer nur partiell. Das Wissen um die komplexen Zusammenhänge von Sozial- und Ökosystemen ist begrenzt, und die Wirkungen, die massive Eingriffe haben, sind in Öko- oder Sozialstandards nicht wirklich erfassbar und vorherzusehen.

Was wäre ein Ausweg?

Grundsätzlich muss sich jedes Land, jede Region fragen, in welchem Ausmaß Infrastruktur, Land, Wasser, Energie und Arbeitskraft in die Exportproduktion gehen soll, oder eben in die eigene Nahrungsversorgung und verarbeitende Kleinindustrien eingebracht werden. Den Landwirten, die die Mehrzahl der Hungernden ausmachen, wäre mehr gedient, wenn (…).”

Weiterlesen…

(Quelle: Forum Umwelt & Entwicklung.)

Israel / Palästina: Gleiches Recht für alle?

Dienstag, Juli 3rd, 2012

“Visualizing Occupation: Distribution of Water

Israel controls the access to water from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Its disproportionate allocation of water, the settlements’ takeover of natural springs, and the prohibition against maintaining and constructing water cisterns in the West Bank without Israeli permits make water a sparse commodity for Palestinians. This illustration is the sixth in a series of infographics on Palestinian civilian life under occupation.

 

Visualising

 

Sources:
B’Tselem: The Shared Water Sources and the Control Over Them
Amnesty International: Troubled Waters: Palestinians Denies Fair Access to Water United Nations OCHA: The Humanitarian Impact of the Takeover of Palestinian Water Springs by Israeli Settlers

Michal Vexler is a designer and an activist. This work – a part of a series of infographics regarding the effect of the occupation on the Palestinian civilian population – is presented here with her permission.

Previous posts in this series:
Visualizing Occupation: Who profits, and who pays?
Visualizing Occupation: Freedom of movement
Visualizing Occupation: Palestinian Prisoners’ Day – the numbers
Visualizing Occupation: Ethnic cleansing
Visualizing Occupation: The right (or privilege) to protest?

 

(Quelle: +972mag.com.)

Israel / Palästina: Schade, dass Beton nicht brennt

Montag, Juli 2nd, 2012

A Decade of Separation

By Mina Remy
July 2nd, 2012

The Separation Wall is now 10 years old. The Israeli government has not reversed course despite protests, a UN General Assembly resolution (ES-10/13), an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion, and almost unanimous international condemnation.

The Israeli government began constructing the Wall—a system of electric fences, concrete walls and ditches—across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2002 at the height of the second Intifada. Though  many in the international community, including the UN General Assembly and then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, readily acknowledged Israel could build a wall as a security measure, all voiced strong opposition to the proposed path of the wall. Instead of the proposed (and since then actual) incursion deep into the West Bank (incorporating settlement outposts while isolating Palestinian communities), the UN urged the Israeli government to build the Separation Wall either within its own territory or along the internationally recognized “Green Line” (the de facto border between Israel and Palestine since the 1949 Armistice). The UN’s reasoning was that such construction would minimize the social and economic impact of the Wall on Palestinian communities – hard to imagine how since Palestinians in the occupied territories had been economically integrated into Israel since the occupation began in 1967.

Also, the international community was [rightly] concerned that as planned the Wall would create “facts on the ground” that would undermine the eventual creation of an independent, viable, contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Today in 2012, the combination of the Wall, the numerous settlements (which in some cases are really large towns), and the Israeli-controlled Area C (at 60%, the majority of the West Bank including the vital Jordan Valley) the notion of an independent Palestinian state is just that – notional, as in unreal. What is on the ground are dozens of little Bantustans (including Gaza, the largest of them) à la Apartheid South Africa.
 
Concerned with Israel’s flagrant disregard of ES-10/13, which called for an  immediate end to the Wall’s construction, the UN General Assembly requested an advisory opinion on the ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’ from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On July 9, 2004, the ICJ issued its landmark advisory opinion, concluding that the construction of the wall was contrary to international law, violated Palestinian rights to self-determination and “that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction.” The ICJ further ordered the Wall’s immediate demolition and compensation to Palestinian communities for destruction caused by the Wall’s construction through their communities. Even the Israeli Supreme Court intervened in 2004, 2005, and 2007 ordering changes to the Wall’s path where it found a proposed  route’s detrimental impact on the economic and social lives of Palestinian communities far outweighed the government’s security interest. 
 
While in Palestine, I observed the meandering path of the Wall as it snaked across a vibrant landscape—complete in some places, and with only a skeletal metal structure in others. As a first-time visitor to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the Wall felt oppressive and looked dreadfully out of place in the Holy Land. There’s nothing holy about this Wall. It’s currently 90 percent complete and is twice the length of the internationally recognized Green Line at 422.53 miles long with 85 percent of the Wall falling within Palestinian territory. As a result, 8.5 percent of Palestinian land, mostly agricultural land, is now on the Israeli side of the Wall in the so called seam zone—an area between the Green Line and the Separation Wall. For all practical purposes, this land is inaccessible to Palestinian farmers. For one, they need permits to cross the Wall, and secondly entry and exit points through the Wall are few and far in between. What was a five minute walk from home can now be a two-to-three hour journey or more and not on foot!

Effects of the Wall on Palestinian Communities
 
For Palestinian communities encircled within the Separation Wall – which is practically the entire West Bank – life is severely circumscribed. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) regulates entry and exit into their communities through gates that are only open a couple times a day for less than 30 minutes, if at all. All visitors, including emergency personnel, require entry permits. Because these communities rarely have health services, schools, and first responders within the community, restricted access to these basic resources affect their ability to access health care (including in emergencies), to educate their children and to put out fires. And since the Wall’s path consumes farmland, affected communities are becoming more dependent on food aid from humanitarian agencies as food insecurity increases.
 
The Wall is breeding discontent and poverty in affected communities. The Palestinians I spoke with in places like Tulkarm, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem reported traveling a minimum of 30 minutes to get to places that were once five minutes away before the Wall. They spoke of diminished access to water and their farms. They spoke of not being able to sell to neighboring communities with whom they had traded for centuries. They spoke of children not being able to get to school. And they spoke of the Wall’s negative impact on household income. The injustice of the Wall’s destructive path through agricultural land, the way it separates communities, or completely isolates Palestinian communities by imprisoning them within unnatural concrete slabs are a few ways in which it violates Palestinian rights to self-determination and human rights.  It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which one increases one’s security by unilaterally constructing a wall through a neighbor’s house. Your neighbor would not stand for it—no one would, including Palestinians who demonstrate against the Wall on a weekly basis.
 
The Wall was purportedly constructed to protect Israelis, including nearly 500,000 settlers living across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But since Israelis can move freely across many areas of the West Bank, these settlers enter adjacent Palestinian towns and villages where they have uprooted olive trees, set Palestinian farms and mosques on fire, and destroyed wells. Palestinians across the West Bank are living extremely difficult lives in the shadow of the Wall.
 
Who Benefits from the Separation Wall?
 
Israel is the primary beneficiary of the Wall because of land and freshwater resources acquired by the Wall’s construction. And that is really what the Wall is about – permanently incorporating the settlements (that extend deep into the West Bank as far as the Jordanian border), the Jordan valley (the West Bank’s bread basket), and the major sources of water (such as the Mountain Aquifer) into Israel.
 
However, there are also corporations profiting from the misery of Palestinian farmers and communities. One such corporation is Elbit Systems, Ltd., an Israeli defense contractor instrumental in the Wall’s construction that provides drones and surveillance equipment utilized in monitoring Palestinians along the Wall. Its products help the IDF control Palestinians’ freedom of movement along with access to their farms and wells. Elbit’s shameless profiteering from the occupation  is one reason Grassroots International launched a campaign calling for the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) to divest from all Elbit investment holdings. The Elbit campaign calls on TIAA-CREF to do the right thing by living up to its motto of “Financial Services for the Greater Good.” 
 
The 3.7 million non-profit and public sector employees who hold TIAA-CREF accounts are unwittingly funding house demolitions, displaced communities, land and water grabs, food insecurity and widespread human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories through their TIAA-CREF investments. These are all acts that are decidedly not in the public interest and do not advance a just society nor a just, peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
On the 8th anniversary of  the ICJ’s advisory opinion striking down construction of the Wall as an illegal, unilateral act contrary to international law, Grassroots International is renewing its call to TIAA-CREF’s 3.7 million account holders—join us in demanding an end to TIAA-CREF’s continued investment in Elbit. 
 
At this year’s shareholder meeting, tell TIAA-CREF that they cannot promote the greater good by funding the destruction of communities and livelihoods throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.  Sign our petition today.
 
 
 
Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org

Caption: A caterpillar bulldozer works on a new section of the Separation Wall in Shu’fat refugee camp near the new military terminal located at the entrance of the camp, East Jerusalem, December 27, 2011. The Wall and the new military terminal will separate more than 20,000 Palestinian Jerusalem residents from East Jerusalem directly affecting their access to their schools, workplace and other facilities and institutions

 

(Quelle: Grassroot International.)

Irak / USA: Mission accomplished…

Freitag, Januar 6th, 2012

“Seven years after sieges, Fallujah struggles

With their city largely destroyed by two US military assaults, residents of Fallujah continue to suffer.

By Dahr Jamail

Many of Fallujah’s buildings that were damaged or destroyed in 2004 remain in disrepair [Dahr Jamail/Al Jazeera]

Fallujah, Iraq - Fallujah still bears the scars of war; skeletons continue to be pulled from the rubble of bombed buildings, and, worse, rates of birth defects and childhood malformations have skyrocketed.

There is evidence of reconstruction, but shortages of electricity and clean water remain prevalent. The overall mood in the city is one of anger, hopelessness, and fear.

In April and November of 2004, the United States military launched two massive military sieges against the city of Fallujah, located 60km west of Baghdad, due to on-going resistance there against the occupation.

Doctors at Fallujah General Hospital told Al Jazeera in 2004 that 736 Iraqis had been killed during the April siege. They said approximately 60 per cent of the victims were women, children, and elderly, and told of medical personnel being fired on by US forces while trying to evacuate the wounded.

By the end of nearly three weeks of heavy bombings and a ground invasion in the November siege, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed, according to Fallujah doctors.

‘Everything here is bad’

Most of the residents of the city of 300,000 had been displaced from their homes at that time, and while most have returned, thousands remain homeless, unemployed, and struggle to rebuild their lives.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of the buildings and homes in Fallujah were damaged or destroyed, along with at least 100 mosques, 6,000 shops, and nine government offices.

The Nazzal quarter of Fallujah bore the brunt of both sieges. Most of the streets were destroyed by US bombs and tanks. Today, they are dusty dirt roads strewn with garbage.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of the buildings and houses in Fallujah were damaged or destroyed, along with at least 100 mosques, 6,000 shops, and at least nine government offices [Dahr Jamail/Al Jazeera]

“We fear what is coming,” Yassir Faisal, who has worked several years as a Reuters cameraman and lives in Fallujah told Al Jazeera. “Clerics here started warning people that after the US withdrawal the Iranian troops may come, and they will be worse than even the Americans were.”

Faisal said that he knows that the Iraqi resistance that remains in Fallujah are “well prepared and waiting for what is coming”. His warnings may be an ominous sign of things to come, as more Sunnis are leaving mixed neighbourhoods in Baghdad to move to places like Fallujah.

Mahir Khudair, a policeman, told Al Jazeera he felt things were “good” in the city despite the near-daily killings that occur.

“Recently in Gharma we had four policemen killed by an IED [Improvised Explosive Device],” Khudair said.

Another policeman standing nearby, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disagreed.

“We are losing two to three of us each day,” he replied to Khudair.

He held up his hands and asked: “What is good about our situation? Assassinations and bombings happen all the time, and the reconstruction is mostly bad!”

Ayad Hadi, a bakery worker, agreed.

“Everything here is bad,” Hadi told Al Jazeera. “No water, no electricity, no good health care. We have between 75 and 80 per cent unemployment. Widows have no rights, no compensation.”

Hadi described the mood in the city as “a general attitude of depression and hopelessness.”

“The government is busy trying to keep power, and they’ve forgotten the poor people,” he said.

“We used to have a poor, middle class, and rich class. But, now, there are only the rich and the poor. That’s why I have no hope for this country or for the future.”

Jassim Fakhri, an 18-year-old student, was 10 years old during the 2004 sieges.

“The last seven years have been hard,” he said. “My family and I fled during the sieges then returned after. There are no jobs now, so I’m doing day labour.”

Although most of the police in Fallujah are locals, most of the Iraqi military operating in and around the city is from southern Iraq.

During the 2004 sieges, Shia militiamen in the Iraqi army fought alongside the US military. This raised sectarian tensions in the predominantly Sunni city that continue to this day.

Faisal explained that, despite its problems, he believes Fallujah is safer than Baghdad.

“As Sunnis, we consider Fallujah much safer than Baghdad, but there are still assassinations of police nearly every day,” he said. “We have some people here in the Dawa party and connected to [Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki] and that’s a problem.”

Resistance continues

Contributing to instability in the city are armed groups that continue to operate inside and outside the city.

In 2004 Fallujah became known as the city of resistance, since for a time it was the only unoccupied place in Iraq. Residents and resistance fighters fought hard during the two US sieges to defend their homes and their cities, causing Fallujah to be seen throughout much of the region as a symbol of resistance to American hegemony.

A resistance fighter who asked to be referred to as Ahmed said his movement is growing in Fallujah. He said it will continue to launch attacks against the on-going US presence in Baghdad.

Ahmed, who fought against occupation forces during both of the US attacks on Fallujah in 2004, said that resistance continues because “what the Americans left us is an Iranian occupation”.

“We learned not to trust the words and promises of the Americans,” he said. “They say they left, but have over 10,000 people at their embassy. This means they have not left our country.”

Fallujah residents are still angry about the on-going lack of adequate reconstruction, which causes many to remain without clean drinking water, electricity, and jobs [Dahr Jamail/Al Jazeera]

According to Ahmed, there are several brigades of 80 fighters each still in Fallujah. He said if you include the number of intelligence, support, and logistics members “we have a very large number”.

“Right now, we only operate against the American forces, until they truly withdraw,” he added. “After that, we hope that what came with the occupation will leave with the occupation, whether they be Iranian, or politicians. The Iranian occupation is the child of the American occupation.”

Another fighter, Abu Abdullah, explained that their groups remain well armed, and have “plenty of ammunitions” for roadside bombs, and other types of “heavy artillery”.

He, like Ahmed, fought against the Americans during both Fallujah battles, and says their battle continues.

‘’No one should be disillusioned that the resistance has ended or defeated,” he said.  “They say there are leaving … we doubt that … but if the Americans don’t leave we will continue fighting them. We will also fight the Iranian occupation, their supporters, and anyone who helps them stay in Iraq.”    

Reconstruction falls flat

One re-construction project promised in the wake of the US siege of the city was a new hospital.

The new Fallujah General Hospital, in the city’s Dhubadh district, was completed in 2008. It is a larger, more modern version of its former iteration.

Still, this appears to be an exception to what most residents believe to be a rule of failed reconstruction projects in the city. Fulfilment of promises to rebuild destroyed schools, homes, mosques, and government buildings often remain only promises.

The Coalition Provisional Authority, the US civil administration created during the first year of the occupation, initiated the project and promised the plant would be a centerpiece of the US reconstruction effort in Iraq. 

As of September 2011, the project has cost $107.8m, nearly four times more than originally planned. Although it is operational, it only connects 6,000 homes, approximately 38,400 people, and is still not complete. 

There are plans for Baghdad to finish the project, which will cost an additional $87m and take three more years to complete.

Given how other projects taken over by Baghdad have largely failed to be completed, the wastewater treatment plant in Fallujah looks likely to become yet another symbol of another broken promise made by US authorities.

In late 2004, US and Iraqi officials launched a compensation campaign for the city.

Fawzi Mudhen, deputy head of the reconstruction committee formed at the time, said the compensation to residents was “almost fair”, though it overlooked the extensive damage caused to the city’s infrastructure.

Of the $1bn allocated for compensation, Mudhen said half of the $500m destined to affected homeowners was paid, but only $100m out of $500m for infrastructure was spent.

Two of the highlighted reconstruction projects were a water purification plant and a wastewater treatment project launched in 2004. Seven years later, the sewage system remains unfinished and the future of the project is uncertain.

Despite Baghdad allocating $100m for the city’s reconstruction and $180m for housing compensation, very little reconstruction can be seen on the streets of Fallujah.

Lack of electricity, clean drinking water, and properly functioning sewage systems continue to plague thousands of homes.

“The Americans didn’t bring us anything good,” Ahmed Hussein, a taxi driver, told Al Jazeera. “Most of us are jobless, and we are fighting to make a living.”

Barakat Yassin, a day labourer, had his home destroyed by the US military during the second siege.

“We have not received help,” he explained. “The Americans kicked us out of our house and took it as a headquarters, and then they levelled it with bombs when they left. We are today living in a rented house.”

Yassin, speaking with Al Jazeera as many residents looked on, found everyone agreeing with his statements as he continued.

“As a city, we only have two hours of electricity per day, three if we’re lucky,” he said as others nodded. “Our water is not clean. Mostly we drink bottled water.”

Another man, who asked not to be named, added that government security forces regularly enter Fallujah and “cause problems”. Three months ago, they detained so many people. They raided houses and claimed they were searching them, but they were just looting.”

Yassin added, “We hope things will improve, but things only get worse each year.”

The wastewater treatment plant that was promised the city of Fallujah after the April 2004 siege has yet to be completed, and stands as an example of what angers so many residents.”

 

(Quelle: Al Jazeera.)

Afrika: Welche Wege führen aus der “Wasserkrise”?

Montag, September 12th, 2011

“Africa: Access to water and privatisation

Why proclaim access to water a fundamental human right?

By Jacques Cambon

2011-06-07, Issue 533

Despite UN recognition of access ‘to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights,’ it is a right that is far from being realised in most parts of the world, writes Jacques Cambon.

On 29 July 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations recognised, in a proposed resolution by Bolivia and adopted by 122 votes with 41 abstentions, ‘the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.’ The resolution also calls upon ‘states and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer, in particular to developing countries’.

It was a historical decision. But what explains the need to proclaim this right is that it is barely respected around the world. According to the UNESCO/WHO 2010 report, 884 million people around the world (13 per cent of the world population), among whom 343 million are in Africa, do not have access to an ‘improved drinking water supply’ (running water network, public drinking fountains, protected wells or springs, rainwater tanks), and 2.6 billion people (39 per cent of the world population) do not have access to ‘improved sanitation systems’ (mains drainage, septic tanks, latrines). The consequences are tragic: To this day, water-borne diseases (diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, polio, meningitis, hepatitis, etc) are the main cause of death in the world, killing 8 million people a year according to the NGO Solidarites International (and about 3 million as stated by the World Health Organization). The culprits behind the ‘water crisis’ are numerous: Climate, demography, lifestyles, economy, politics, institutions, and the like. It is imperative that all are eliminated, so this ‘right to clean drinking water’ can at last become a reality.

EXPLAINING THE WATER CRISIS

The African climate is often considered the catalyst. While it is true that the world’s water is not distributed fairly, the effect of global warming will only accentuate the gaps by bringing more rain in polar, temperate and equatorial zones, and less in tropical ones. Moreover, human needs are spread out over twelve months, usually increasing during the dry season; however, supplies vary greatly during the year. Natural storage (glaciers, lakes, rivers, perennial water flows) is also more scarce in the tropical regions. Those disparities are nothing new, yet they haven’t precluded the development of adapted human societies on the world’s continents.

It is a different story with demography and globalisation of lifestyles. The world’s population rose from 2.5 billion in 1950 to almost 7 billion in 2010 while – it goes without saying – proportionally increasing its water needs. Because those needs add up to less than 10 per cent of water consumption, the list should include more than just domestic use (5 litres per day for survival, 50 litres per day for a decent life, more than 500 liters per day to satisfy North American standards). To accurately measure the impact of population growth on water needs, we should consider the total amount of water used for food, goods, energy production, and the like, which is called the water footprint. On average, this footprint reaches 3,400 litres per day worldwide, varying from 6,800 litres per day in the United States to 1,850 litres per day in Ethopia, while France uses about 5,140 litres per day. The water footprint depends on global consumption, lifestyle and climate. For example, knowing that the output of one kg of beef calls for 15,500 litres of water, one kg of chicken for 3,900 litres and one kg of wheat for 1,300 litres, it is possible to measure the impact that westernisation has had on consumption patterns.

Urbanisation is another key element of the water crisis. Though a fairly simple problem for small rural communities who make do with limited amounts of water, supplying this natural ressource becomes a much bigger problem as the community grows and diversifies its activities: In such cases, we need to look for further water repositories. The water they contain will need to be transported, stored, distributed among a zone too large to be supplied by only one water point, etc. All this is not free.

Nowadays, more than half the world’s population live in urban areas, which increases water conveyance and distribution needs, as well as the costs associated with storage, pumping, and potabilisation. This conurbation not only exacerbates purification and storm water drainage problems and their treatment, but also the ones associated with service management. Unlike small villages in which most of the time the community manages its water resources, water service management and purification (when the latter exists) is usually under the leadership of political powers, either the central government or municipal authorities.

In countries recently decolonised, where technical competence was scarce, those services have long been the responsibility of national utilities in the case of cities, and most often of the Department of Agriculture through a programme for water supply in rural areas. The achievements of these utilities is variable, but on the whole they have been, alas, quite poor. Numerous reasons, which too often mirror the country’s political and economic landscape, explain these failures: Unfit and corrupt leaders, lack of supervision, shortage of maintenance equipment, insufficient funding, penniless consumers. From these deficiencies, multinational water companies made a lot of profit, being able to say that better (private, of course) management of the water service would help put the situation back on its feet.

PRIVATISATION: A SOLUTION?

In the past, Africa has only marginally interested water multinationals, aside from the Ivory Coast’s water taken over by the Saur group, then owned by the Bouygues group, in 1960. In the early 1990s, the increasing intervention of two major international financial organisations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, forced developing countries to put in place structural adjustment policies: The only way to reduce the external debt was by decreasing public spending. Privatisation, including that of drinking water distribution, is at the heart of this system. In sub-Saharan Africa, Saur lead the way in Conakry (1989), Central African Republic (1993), Mali (1994), Senegal (1995), South Africa (1999) and Mozambique (1999). As the leader in the public works and civil engineering sector, Bouygues uses its influence as a water contractor (not always a lucrative endeavour) to be awarded, competition-free, the far more profitable renovation and expansion contracts. Veolia (former Vivendi) and Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, which did not share the same interests, resisted a bit before following in Bouygues’ footsteps: South Africa (1992), Guinea-Bissau (1995), and Cameroon (2000) for Suez; Gabon (1997), Kenya (1999), Chad (2000), Burkina Faso (2001) and Niger (2001) for Vivendi. Some outsiders, not related to ‘Françafrique’, were also involved, among them Biwater in South Africa, or IPE (Portugal) in Mozambique or Cape Verde. In the more prized North Africa, while SONEDE Tunisia resisted privatisation, Morocco, on the other hand, gave Casablanca to Suez (1997), Rabat to a Lusitanian Spanish group for a short while before Veolia inherited it, the latter also getting Tangier and Tétouan (2002). Algeria, which was contemplating broadening the scope of privatisation, hesitated a bit longer before entrusting Alger to Société des Eaux et de l’Assainissement d’Alger (SEEAL) in 2006 (of which Suez is a shareholder), Oran to the Spanish Agbar Agua, and Annaba to the German Gelsenwasser (2007). Yet, Africa is a lightweight on the scale of multinationals’ profits: 8.5 per cent (total for Africa Middle East-India) of Veolia Eau’s sales figure (out of 12.5 billion euros), 7 per cent (total for Africa-Middle East) for Suez Environment (out of 12.3 billion euros), but 19 per cent for Saur (of 1.5 billion euros) in 2009.

One possible reason for such small numbers may lie in the poor achievements of these public services’ handovers. Almost always translating into a rate increase (up to 40 per cent in Nairobi) without improving the service, privatisations often anger users that are unable to pay any more and who form coalitions to force the government to cancel the contracts. Veolia had to get out of Mali, Gabon, Chad, Niger, and Nairobi, while Saur left Guinea. Movements against water privatisation spread here and there, particularly in South Africa, and movements of about forty other countries joined together in what is called the African Water Network during the World Social Forum held in Nairobi.

In fact, the privatisation model doesn’t answer Africa’s multiple water problems:

– The water resources being exploited are insufficient, potential new resources are scarce, remote, and expensive to develop.

– Actual production, purification and storing equipments are often run-down because of a chronic lack of technical and financial means to maintain them; therefore they need renovation.

– Distribution networks are in need of renovation and extensions, another costly endeavour.

– Purification networks (not including purification stations) are at best embryonic.

– Public corporations’ institutional flaws are just ‘the icing on the cake’.

In short, it’s pointless to add expertise (even if it is at a high-level) and to improve business management if installations remain in disrepair, a fact that calls for investments that municipal authories cannot make. Moreover, users’ buying power will not suffice to pay back a debt through an increased water price tag. And this picture doesn’t even include the need of multinational companies to release funds to satisfy their shareholders.

THE EXAMPLE OF MOMBASA IN KENYA

With a population of more than 3.3 million people, 60 per cent of whom live below the poverty line, Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya, and the capital of the Coast Region. It is Kenya’s first touristic destination as well as the main port of East Africa, where more than 10 million tons of merchandise transit annually. Fifty-two percent of the population have access to drinking water supplies, to which 16 per cent of them are directly connected, and 36 per cent get their water through public drinking fountains (PDF). The rest have to make do with water peddlers (whose costs can be as much as 10 per cent higher than the PDFs). The remote two major existing supply installations, 215 km for Mzima and 85 km for Marere, are in ruins (built respectively in 1950 and 1920): 60 per cent of the water is lost to leaks. The actual production capacity is 95,000 m3/d, but once we substract the supply to industries and hotels (a priority), only 26,000 m3/d remain for 52 per cent of the population (17 litres per day). The main consequences of this situation are the consumption of unsafe waters (wells, backwaters, water peddlers, etc) by the population, which brings inevitable sanitary and financial woes, limits to the development of economic activities (which in turn affect employment), and the priority given to production of water, which leads to a neglect of water purification, again with adverse consequences in termes of public health.

Renovating the existing infrastructure and increasing its capacity to 260,000 m3/d would cost about US$1 billion. With the World Bank’s terms of lending, a price increase to 50 Ksh/m3 (about US$0.60), from the actual 15 Ksh/m3 charged at drinking water fountains, would necessary to repay the loan, and this ‘arrangement’ doesn’t even include the cost of pumping (production), all of which would be financially unbearable for the population. What good would a DSP do in such a case?

WHAT NOW?

The UN’s declaration making water a fundamental human right has not reduced the water multinationals’ expansionism. On the contrary, they applauded, considering that this new right would open new markets for them, paid by the states, but in reality funded by the people! Even though it won’t be possible anymore to claim, as did the European Union’s spokesperson Joe Hennan, that ‘water is a good like any other’, multinational companies will aim at using water to do ‘business as usual.’ To fight this, we can use the existing notion of ‘common heritage of humankind’ which thus far has been applied to the management of seas and oceans, planets, celestial bodies, etc. It includes the following four components:

Enforcement of a principle of non-appropriation by anyone
International management by the UN
Benefit sharing by all nations
Exclusively peaceful use of natural resources.

‘The battle goes on’ and the enemy is known: The World Water Council, the private sector-led international organisation which pretends to be the leading political forum for water issues at global level, although it was created and is still managed mostly by water mutinationals.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Jacques Cambon
* Translated from French by Odile Leclerc
* This article is part of a special issue on water and water privatisation in Africa produced as a joint initiative of the Transnational Institute, Ritimo and Pambazuka News. This special issue is being published in English and in French.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.”

FIGURES

AVERAGE YEARLY PLUVIOMETRY DISTRIBUTION

NATIONAL WATER FOOTPRINTS

VEOLIA’S SALES FIGURES AROUND THE WORLD

LYONNAISE-DES-EAUX’S WORLD LOCATIONS

MOMBASA WATER RESOURCES

 

(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)

Klima: Ägypten droht zur Wüste zu werden

Montag, Juni 27th, 2011

“Hyper-arid Egypt

A recently issued UN report reveals that desertification is among Egypt’s main environmental threats. Reem Leila leafs through the report

The number of transgression cases on agricultural lands increases by the day
On the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, marked on 17 June, a UN report entitled Desertification Challenge in Egypt revealed that Egypt ranked first in the rate of desertification. Egypt is facing a serious challenge in its swift loss of agricultural lands. According to the report, Egypt is losing its fertile lands faster than any other country. The report reveals that Egypt is losing 3.5 feddans of its agricultural lands every hour, the equivalent of 30,000 feddans per year due to urban spread- out and construction. This is an unprecedented record in the global rate of deforestation. (One feddan equals 4200.83 metre square, also 0.42 hectares).

The report, authored by Ismail Abdel-Galil, the national coordinator for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, stated that during the past three months — after the 25 January Revolution — the loss of fertile land has escalated to five feddans per hour due to the state of chaos and lack of security. “Egypt is losing thousands of fertile feddans formed through the accumulation of the River Nile’s alluvium throughout the past thousands of years. This is almost impossible to be repaired due to the decline in land reclamations policies adopted by the government,” stated Abdel-Galil.

According to the report, the reduction of agricultural lands increases the food gap, thus leading to importing more food and agricultural products. This provides decision- makers with a hint about the likely increase in the import bill.

The UN report also pointed out that this month there were 158,000 transgression cases on agricultural lands compared to 128,000 cases last month.

With the situation being what it is, Salah Arafa, physics professor at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and head of the Dialogue Forum for Participation and Development, says there is a dire need to take swift political and legislative decisions in order to keep the country from experiencing famine. “Current laws and regulations governing the process of buying and owning lands in the desert must be properly and closely reported,” said Arafa.

According to Arafa, increasing youth awareness about the importance of leaving the narrow strip of the Nile Valley to the spacious desert is a must. “The government along with all the concerned authorities must provide adequate financial support to youth in order to encourage them to leave their homeland to the desert to build new communities,” stated Arafa.

The population will increase during the coming 30-40 years; accordingly, it is essential that at least 40 million people within the coming few years must leave the valley to the desert. According to Mohamed Deraz, head of the Desertification Research Centre in Egypt, youth must be provided with training courses — for at least a year or two — in order to educate them on the best possible means of leading their lives in the desert. According to Deraz, youth should be provided with proper machinery in order to help them in cultivating the land and digging for water. They must also be trained to live in different circumstances. The government must build schools, universities, hospitals and provide transportation in order to encourage youth to go and live in the desert. “Each of the five million unemployed citizens can be granted 10 feddans for reclamation. Within a few years, Egypt will be covered in green instead of the desert as is the case now,” suggested Deraz.

At the same time, laws must be strictly applied on anyone building over cultivable lands. “The law exists but it is not enforced,” said Deraz.

Deraz raised the other important issue of water desalination utilising solar power might play an essential role to encourage youth to live in the desert. “We are facing a serious problem; this requires immediate intervention by adopting new laws and legislations because this is Egypt’s only way out.” said Deraz.

According to the report, two million feddans are suffering from salination. Some 60 per cent of cultivated lands in the northern part of Egypt are affected by salt due to the misuse of irrigation water and an improper field drainage system.”

 

(Quelle: Al-Ahram Weekly.)