- UNESCO’s Director-General appoints new Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences
- Sessions held on Water, Culture, Power: Global Trends and Local Realities
- Helping Africa from space
UNESCO Water Family (*)
- International Law and Transboundary Freshwaters Symposium and Workshop 2010
- Transboundary Aquifers and International Law: The experience of the Guarani Aquifer System
- 5th International Symposium on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and 3rd International Symposium on Methodology in Hydrology
Featured International Events
- 2010 Riverprize
- Integrated Urban Water Management: Humid Tropics
Did you know?
Facts and figures about Cameroon
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UNESCO’s Director-General appoints new Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences
The new Assistant Director-General in charge of the Natural Sciences Sector will be Gretchen Kalonji of the United States of America. Currently Director of International Systemwide Research Development at the University of California’s Office of the President, Ms Kalonji’s international career in materials science and educational transformation has taken her to university positions in France, Japan and China. She has also worked with several African universities and is fluent in Kiswahili and Lingala. Ms Kalonji helped to establish a science and health initiative linking partners in East Africa with the University of California.
Read about all the newly appointed senior staff of UNESCO
Sessions held on Water, Culture, Power: Global Trends and Local Realities
Four sessions titled "Water, Culture, Power: Global Trends and Local Realities" were held at the meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology held in Mérida, Mexico, on 27 March 2010. Sponsored by the Political Ecology Society (PESO), sixteen presentations were made that address the complex interplay of water, culture and power, in recognition of water as a contested resource that is central in conflicts over land, and intimately tied to the wellbeing of people, cultures, and the environment.
During the sessions, case-specific examples situated within the broader global context were presented, and considered issues such as:
- Where is water on the climate change agenda, as the world strives to remake the economy, make the transition away from oil, and redefine notions of security?
- What are the consequences of water enclosure, commodification, and displacement for cultural diversity, food security, health, and sustainable livelihoods?
- What futures do we envision, given emerging trends?
Some issues that emerged during the discussions were:
- Difficulties of securing water quality and effective clean-up after industrial disasters and their effects on local communities and cultural diversity;
- Importance of cultural information and experience-based knowledge in shaping a concept of environmental flows water management.
These sessions were held as part of the UNESCO-IHP's project on Water and Cultural Diversity, and some of the presentations will contribute to a book titled "Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?" to be published in late 2010. The sessions also served as a means through which the Community of Practice (CoP) on Water and Cultural Diversity has been further expanded.
Helping Africa from space
ESA, the European Space Agency, recently selected twenty projects for the Tiger II initiative. The programme involves using satellite imagery to tackle water problems on the African continent and to improve water management practices. ESA has contracted with the Institute for Geo-information Sciences and Earth Observation (ITC), a University of Twente faculty since 2010, for knowledge transfer as part of the Tiger II initiative.
The first Tiger initiative resulted from the Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg in 2002. The programme was run from 2005 to 2009. In the Tiger I programme, data from ESA earth observations were used by local African organizations for water quality monitoring, groundwater mapping and for investigating the impact of irrigation on agriculture.
The Tiger II programme is a follow-up to the initial project. One of its most important goals is to promote the further development of scientific skills on the African continent. All projects will be implemented by local African organizations. ESA will provide the earth observation data free of charge and will invest in knowledge transfer. Universities, institutes and water authorities will be able to learn how best to use the earth observation data.
According to Zoltan Vekerdy, one of the ITC project managers, the use of earth observation data in Africa is still in its infancy. ‘For Africans, it is certainly not easy to determine what information they need, how to request the information and finally how to incorporate it into their own systems.’
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UNESCO Water Family (*)
International Law and Transboundary Freshwaters Symposium and Workshop 2010
21-24 June 2010: University of Dundee, Scotland, UK
Transboundary Aquifers and International Law: The experience of the Guarani Aquifer System
31 August 2010: University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom
5th International Symposium on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and 3rd International Symposium on Methodology in Hydrology
19-21 November 2010: Nanjing, China
Featured International Events
11-14 October 2010: Perth, Australia
Access a complete list of water events around the world
Integrated Urban Water Management: Humid Tropics
Edited by Jonathan N. Parkinson, Joel A. Goldenfum and Carlos E.M.Tucci. UNESCO-IHP Urban Water Series - UNESCO Publishing / Taylor & Francis
Excess water in the urban environment leads to flooding, which in turn causes structural damage, risks to personal safety and disruption to city life. Water is also a major contributory factor in disease transmission as well as being the transport medium of many pollutants. These problems are of increasing concern due to climate changes and are particularly apparent in the humid tropics.
Integrated Urban Water Management: Humid Tropics – the output of a project by UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme on the topic – focuses on engineering aspects related to water supply, wastewater and stormwater management in the humid tropics. Flood control is dealt with, focusing on reducing vulnerability to flood disasters in urban areas. The book also addresses environmental health concerns related to the different components of the urban water system and proposes strategies for their control. It illustrates different aspects of integrated water management in the urban environment by drawing upon a set of case studies – predominantly from South America.
Did you know...? Facts and figures about Cameroon
- The country’s 1,200 km length, proximity to the sea and topography give it a varied climate with wide differences in rainfall and vegetation. The maximum rainfall of 10,000 mm occurs in the equatorial climate zone in the south, and the minimum of 500 mm in the extreme north on the edge of the Sahara. The average annual rainfall is about 1,684 mm.
- Agriculture is the backbone of Cameroon’s economy, accounting for about 41% of GDP and 55% of the workforce. Irrigation has contributed substantially to productivity, making cultivation possible during the dry season. In 2000, irrigated area of about 224.5 km2 corresponded to around 8% of the potentially irrigable area.
- Cameroon has a dense network of rivers, most of which arise on the central Adamawa plateau and flow north or south. These provide it with abundant water resources in relation to current demand. The six main basins are Sanaga, Sanaga West, Sanaga South, Benoue, Congo and Lake Chad.
- Average rainfall has been declining since the 1950s. In the last three decades it has decreased by about 5%. Reduced flow rates have been more pronounced in areas with a Sahelian climate, where reductions ranging from 15% to 25% have been recorded. These changes have led to increased desertification in the north and a falling water table due to reduced recharge. In addition, previously permanent wells are drying up late in the dry season.
- Although Cameroon has sufficient water resources, choices in water use have started to affect water availability and ecosystems. For example, plantation of eucalyptus in the western highlands to provide firewood and construction material induced a very high evapotranspiration rate, which has altered the ecosystem and greatly diminished groundwater recharge and the flow rate in the area.
- The country’s estimated hydroelectric potential is 35 GW. Even with only around 2% of this potential developed, hydroelectricity accounts for about 97% of electricity generation in Cameroon
The section "Did You Know…?" is taken from the 3rd World Water Development Report "Water in a Changing World".
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