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Donors Come Together with US$138.1 Million in New Funding for Education Cannot Wait During Un General Assembly to Leave No Child Behind

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 20:16

By External Source
NEW YORK, Sep 27 2021 (IPS-Partners)

– On the sidelines of this year’s United Nations General Assembly, public, private and philanthropic donors announced a total of US$138.1 million in new contributions to Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The new contributions come from: Germany (€50 million; approx. US$58.6 million); United States of America (US$37 million); European Union/European Commission (€25 million; approx. US$29.3 million); The LEGO Foundation (DKK35 million; approx. US$5.6 million); France (€4 million; approx. US$4.7 million); Switzerland (CHF2 million; approx. US$2.2 million); and, Porticus (€500,000, approx. US$588,000).

This new round of funding contributions will accelerate the impact of ECW’s education in emergencies investments, which have already reached more than 4.6 million crisis-affected children and adolescents. ECW’s COVID-19 response has also been delivered in record speed across 32 countries, reaching an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys. Since its inception in 2016, ECW has mobilized US$828.3 million through the ECW Trust Fund, and helped leverage with its partners US$1 billion worth of programmes aligned with ECW’s multi-year resilience programmes in 10 countries.

“We all see the dramatic crises worldwide. Children and young people suffer the most from hunger, violence, and lack of education. Every child has a right to education. Thus, I am proud to announce that Germany will commit €50 million to Education Cannot Wait,” said Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany.

“We need to act now, because we know that in times of crisis, education can offer stability, protection and prospects for the future. For 2022, we will make available a total of €50 million for the ECW multi-year resilience programmes, because education is key for achieving all dimensions of sustainable development,” said Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany.

“The United States has proudly supported Education Cannot Wait since its inception in 2016. And we are proud to boost our support today. Education Cannot Wait is an educational lifeline in dozens of crisis-affected countries globally. We look forward to continued cooperation to increase access to education, improved learning outcomes and reach the most marginalized students – especially girls, refugees, internally displaced communities, gender and sexual minorities, and children with disabilities. We know when access to education is equal, the results are clear: greater economic growth, improved health outcomes, stronger democracies, more peaceful and resilient societies, and healthier and more successful children,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

“We want all children to be born with the same opportunities. All too often, the fate and lives of our children are determined by the lottery of birth. This is why I am pleased to announce that Europe will be donating €25 million to the Education Cannot Wait global fund. An investment in education is an investment in a better world,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

“We must unite to put the SDGs back on track. As we continue to witness, we can never take access to education for granted. Team Europe has to date contributed to more than 40% of the funding of Education Cannot Wait, and the new €25 million contribution from the EU will further support it to reach the most vulnerable children and bring them back to education,” said European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urplilainen.

“As world leaders gather for the UN General Assembly and define a path to address the interconnected crises of conflict, COVID-19, climate change and forced displacement, these crucial contributions will ensure the world’s most vulnerable children and adolescents have the chance to go learn, grow and thrive. We call on all governments and private sector partners to follow suit and support the mission of Education Cannot Wait: to leave no child or young person behind in conflicts or as refugees, but to ensure they can exercise their right to a quality education. This is a true investment in peace and prosperity,” said The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of ECW’s High-Level Steering Group.

“This new round of funding is a bold and important step in reaching the world’s most marginalized children and adolescents with the power of inclusive quality education,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “It shows the commitment of our strategic donors to scale up their generous support and we are deeply grateful for the trust placed in the proven ECW model. I thank you for this important funding by all of our partners, who came forward during the UNGA Week, enabling us to deliver more support, faster and more sustainably, for crisis-affected children and youth.”

Falling behind in achieving SDG4
Despite these significant contributions, large gaps for education in emergencies funding persist. ECW analysis of humanitarian appeals indicate that funding requirements for education grew from US$1 billion in 2019 to US$1.4 billion in 2020.

Global leaders are signaling the alarm bells as new reports indicate the world is falling behind in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, (including SDG4 for inclusive equitable quality education), by 2030.

According to the United Nations, COVID-19 has wiped out 20 years of education gains, with an additional 101 million of children in grades 1 through 8 falling behind in minimum reading proficiency levels. Globally only 85% of children completed primary school in 2019, up from 82% in 2010, while only about half of students will graduate from secondary school.

An estimated 1.5 billion students were impacted by COVID-19 school closures, and a recent study by the Malala Foundation estimates that an additional 20 million girls would lose their access to education as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Girls and boys already impacted by conflict, climate change and displacement are being pushed further to the margins. When these girls and boys are pushed out of school, they face increased risks of gender-based violence, forced recruitment, and other grave violations.

Excerpt:

With new contributions from Germany, United States of America, European Union/European Commission, The LEGO Foundation, France, Switzerland, and Porticus, ECW and partners are building a movement to reach millions of the world’s crisis-affected children and youth with the safety, hope and opportunity of a quality education.
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Mexican Illustrators Blur Art Lines in Paris Show

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 14:42

Maru Aguzzi at the exhibition in Paris, in front of works by Alejandro Magallanes (photo by SWAN).

By SWAN
PARIS, Sep 27 2021 (IPS)

So, what’s the difference between illustration and “art”?  When asked this question, Maru Aguzzi replies with a wry smile: “Perhaps the price?”

Aguzzi is the curator of Gran Salón México-Paris – Contemporary Mexican Illustration, an exhibition taking place at the Mexican Cultural Institute in the French capital until Oct. 26. The show brings together some 40 illustrators, whose work includes painting, drawing, print-making, video and other genres.

‘Autorretrato’ by Rocca Luis Cesar, photo courtesy of Gran Salón México.

The pieces are strikingly artistic, even if they’re being presented as illustrations. All are “original” works created especially for this exhibition, which is the first in France from Gran Salón México, an annual art fair that Aguzzi created in 2014.

The fair’s mission, she says, is to offer a glimpse into the country’s growing illustration “wave”, and to bring to the public some of the best contemporary works in this category – a field that actually “plays” with the limits of art.

“Saying that price makes the difference is perhaps the funny answer, but you can go deeper and see how illustrators choose to explore content or not,” Aguzzi told SWAN. “The way the work is presented, viewers don’t have to dig for content or meaning as with contemporary art, where the work requires some kind of engagement from the viewer for completion. Illustration has an immediate impact, and viewers can like what they see or not. It’s that simple.”

Gran Salón’s participating illustrators use a variety of media just like their “artist” peers, she said. Works in the show range from oil and acrylic paintings on canvas to charcoal drawings on paper. In between, viewers can enjoy watercolours, collage, animation and digital art.

In fact, some of the illustrators do exhibit in art fairs as well, further blurring distinctions, Aguzzi said. They draw on a long tradition of Mexican artists working in various genres, as did renowned painters Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo – whose influence can be felt in the current show, alongside that of multi-genre Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, for instance.

‘Creciendo juntos’ by María Ponce, photo courtesy of Gran Salón México.

Picasso and his paintings of women are evoked with a twist in the illustrations of Rocca Luis Cesar (born in Guadalajara in 1986), while the more “veteran” Carlos Rodríguez (born in La Soledad, San Luis Potosí, 1980) draws upon images – such as the watermelon – that appear in the paintings of Tamayo.

Both illustrators convey a strong artistic sensibility, with Rodríguez in particular being inspired by “classical painting, mythology, naïve art and porn” – as his bio states. His two vibrant, erotic paintings in the show were created specifically to conjure a Latin American ambience in Paris, Aguzzi said.

Another notable aspect of the exhibition is its sense of humour or satire, in addition to the addressing of serious topics, such as climate change and language rights. One of the youngest illustrators, María Ponce, born in Oaxaca in 1994, exemplifies this with her colour drawings about daily life and with her “Creciendo juntos” piece, which conveys the message that we have to take care of the environment and trees if we too wish to keep thriving.

Meanwhile, illustrator and filmmaker Gabriela Badillo (born in 1979) uses her work to highlight Mexico’s indigenous languages through her 68 Voces project, a video series with stories told in these languages. Badillo co-founded audiovisual production company Hola Combo with a belief in the social responsibility of media, according to the exhibition, and she and her colleagues have worked with indigenous groups, including children, on creative initiatives.

Her videos, and other film clips and works of animation, add to the unexpected scope of the Gran Salón show.

“The work that illustrators are producing in Mexico includes numerous genres, and I really wanted to show this range,” Aguzzi told SWAN.

Additional information:

https://icm.sre.gob.mx/francia/index.php/fr/ & https://gran.salon/ 

Categories: Africa

Fire, smoke and colour as Ethiopians mark Meskel

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Categories: Africa

When Love is Called as a Conspiracy: The ‘Love Jihad’ Bogey Targeting Interfaith Couples in India

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 11:43

Sheeba Aslam Fehmi at an event organized by Dhanak, celebrating couples who married under the Special Marriage Act.

By Mariya Salim
NEW DELHI, India, Sep 27 2021 (IPS)

When Ali (name changed) proposed to his best friend, little did he know that her parents would take six years to agree to their alliance because he was born into a Muslim family, and they were Hindus.

“Everything they had heard all their life pointed to Muslims being violent, conservative, forceful etc. The idea of me being Muslim and marrying their Hindu daughter was too much to fathom despite them thinking of me highly,” he said in an interview with IPS.

This story is one of the few where the end was ‘happy’, and the family did not bow to societal pressure. However, if one looks at recent propaganda and the increase of Islamophobia in India, one concept which has added fuel to this fire is the fictitious propaganda of ‘Love Jihad’.

Love Jihad is a term propagated by religious fundamentalist groups, alleging a conspiracy by Muslim men to convert non-Muslim girls in the guise of love.

The propagation of this concept is perhaps one reason why Ali had to struggle to convince his wife’s parents that his religion had nothing to do with his love for their daughter.

While it may be easy to counter such a narrative, socially, with more awareness, what has made this term popular and the hate associated with it resulting, in some cases, in violence is the support it has garnered from right-wing political parties and their success at turning such marriages into a criminal offence.

“Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, host hundreds of pages and handles which post unverified incidents as ‘real news’ of Hindu women being deceived by Muslim men into marrying them and ending up either dead or as captives forced to convert and live in the homes of their supposedly violent Muslim husbands,” says Ashwini KP, an academic and rights activist based in Bangalore.

Challenging the provisions of one such draconian state law passed in the state of Gujarat as Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, Advocate Isa Hakim, one of the petitioners’ lawyers, argued: “Amendments (in the Act), read with the discourse around Love Jihad, it is clear that the impugned Act is enacted with nothing but a communal objective and is thereby opposed to the constitutional morality, basic features and fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19, 21, 25, and 26 of the Constitution.”

The Gujarat High Court, through an order on August 19, 2021, put a stay on the operation of several sections of the Act, including a provision that termed interfaith marriages as a means for forceful conversion. The order, the court stated, was being passed “to protect the parties solemnising inter-faith marriage from being unnecessarily harassed”. The state government soon after decided to challenge this order in the Supreme Court of India.

Addressing a rally last year in Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister Yogi Adityanath openly proclaimed: “Govt will work to curb ‘Love-Jihad’, we’ll make a law. I warn all those who conceal their identities and play with the respect of our sisters if you do not mend your ways, your ‘Ram naam satya’ journey (a phase associated with people being taken to be cremated) will begin”. Therefore, it is not surprising that in a state whose chief minister makes such open threats, right-wing groups have used love Jihad to stoke communal tensions and rioting. A total of five states in India, where the BJP is in power, have laws based on the conspiracy theory of Love Jihad, without actually using the phrase.

“It is also to undermine the agency of 21st-century Hindu women. We are a society that is afraid of its own daughters, and to keep a check on them prohibiting them from making their own choices, they (current regime) have brought out very Islamophobic and communal legislation under the garb of a safety and security issue for ‘their’ women,” says Sheeba Aslam Fehmi, research scholar and journalist in an exclusive interview with IPS.

Fehmi, also the president of Dhanak, works to protect the couples’ right to choose marriage or relationship partners. The organisation supports couples in inter-faith and inter-caste marriages.

She told IPS they also try to assist interfaith couples with safe houses to ensure they do not become targets of right-wing attacks.

Popular Indian jewellery brand Tanishq withdrew this advert with a depiction of an inter-faith marriage. It said while the campaign was to celebrate diversity it had prompted reactions “contrary to its objective”.

It is perturbing that couples who want to marry under the ‘Special Marriage Act’ (an Act passed by the Indian Parliament allowing interfaith marriages without conversion) have a section, which is now being challenged, where a 30-day notice is publicly displayed, inviting objections, before the marriage is registered.

Shital (name changed), shared with IPS how she received threatening calls from some right-wing groups once she and her Muslim partner decided to register under the Act.

“My Aadhar card (national ID) details were made public on a Facebook group. My parents, who approved of our alliance, received calls where they were threatened with ‘dire consequences’ if they did not stop our marriage,” Shital said. She called the marriage off because of these security concerns.

Asif Iqbal, the co-founder of Dhanak, said in an exclusive interview to IPS that they started the organisation because there was no support system for interfaith couples trying to marry using the Special Marriage Act. The objective was to organise people against religious fanaticism.

“I was made to sit for six hours in a police station in Delhi. The investigating officer was trying to enquire about a possible conspiracy as I was the last person an interfaith couple spoke to before they eloped. The boy was Muslim, and the girl Hindu,” said Iqbal.

The fear of vigilante groups, in the online and in actual physical spaces, is so prevalent that even brands advertising using the idea of inter-faith marriages, particularly where the boy is Muslim, are targeted as promoters of Love Jihad. A recent example was a popular jewellery brand depicting a Hindu woman and a Muslim man getting married. The advert was trolled on social media, that the company removed the advertisement from all forums.

For couples looking to challenge the draconian laws, the only recourse is the courts. However, the worrying feature is that Love Jihad targets Muslims and criminalises its men in a society with frequent incidences of Islamophobia.

 


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Categories: Africa

Nigeria win third straight Women's AfroBasket title

BBC Africa - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 10:24
Nigeria become only the second side to win three straight African women's basketball titles after beating Mali 70-59 in Sunday's final in Cameroon.
Categories: Africa

Data Drought in the Global South

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 08:24

Young girls in Turkey use their digital devices. Over 30 years after the invention of the world wide web, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has laid out the ways that young people and children should be treated in the digital world, and how their rights should be protected. Credit: UNICEF/Olcer

By Hamid Mehmood
HAMILTON, Ontario, Canada, Sep 27 2021 (IPS)

In 2020, every human on Earth created an average of at least 1.7 megabytes of data per second, collectively amassing 2.5 quintillion data bytes. Some 90% of the world’s total data was created in the last two years alone.

Globally, companies are undergoing transformations including the use of digital technologies to create new or modify processes, culture and customer experience to meet changing business and market expectations.

The COVID pandemic has accelerated companies’ digital transformations, and by 2022 an estimated 70% of global Gross Domestic Product will have gone through some form of digitization, the result of an estimated $6.8 trillion in investments.

This exponential growth of big data availability is propelling disruptive technologies like those using artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and cloud computing, which all significantly alter how consumers, industries, or businesses operate.

Data-fueled artificial intelligence applications alone are projected to generate additional economic activity of around $13 trillion by 2030. Because of this value generation capability, data is considered the “new oil.”

However, the trend from the last decade shows that, just like oil, the hot spots to generate and create value from data are located just in a selected few countries. We are witnessing the creation of a data-impoverished Global South, which cannot reap the financial benefits or use data to address challenges like massive forest fires, water scarcity, floods, droughts, and other manifestations of the changing climate.

It is alarming that, despite the much talked-about explosion in data generation, critical high quality data for global, regional, and national development is lacking. Major gaps are opening between the data haves and have-nots.

Unfortunately, the have-nots include the majority of countries facing challenges like water scarcity, access to clean water, exposure to flood risk, and drought, which require quality data to be generated and processed to create actionable information and knowledge.

Today in the Global South water data collection tends to focus on individual development projects, spawning a patchwork of data sets of short time duration, restricted spatial coverage and limited availability.

This decline is most evident in Africa, where the density of water-data collection networks has been declining over time and falls far below World Meteorological Organization guidelines.

In the last two decades alone, the majority of new stations established to report to WMO’s Global Runoff Data Center are located in “new oil” rich countries. According to the WMO database, gauging stations in North America outnumber those in the 20 most water-stressed countries by more than 10-1. Similar data inequality exists for water-quality and water-related disasters.

In the last decade, remote sensing data coupled with cloud computing has shown promise to address the water-data inequality in the Global South and is successfully used to monitor various parameters of surface water bodies over a period of time.

However, the lack of traceable ground truth observations against which to validate the satellite observations is a key challenge, essentially making the remote sensing data unfit to be used as part of water-related decision support systems. Also, the remote sensing data has failed to accurately quantify parameters like precipitation and river flows where the data gaps are most prominent in the Global South.

In addition to the lack of water data faucets, the uncoordinated and unmonitored data generation efforts in the Global South are leading to the creation of data wastelands, where more than 80% of data created is unstructured and random.

Converting this unstructured data to actionable information is expensive; cleansing and deduplicating a record can cost as much as $10. This poor quality and sparse data also impacts AI and blockchain adoption, essentially shutting out the Global South from the economic activity, social and climate change mitigation benefits these technologies provide.

Given the rise in the severity and frequency of water-related challenges, it is essential to address the data inequality-related issues to achieve the water-related Sustainable Development Goals in this decade.

The solution includes Global North leadership in the new world data order to share their data and information-related technologies with the Global South to help generate quality and actionable data at a global and national scale.

The Global North must also commit to water science capacity building by funding operation monitoring, data rescue and update, and training of water scientists. Given the international nature of emerging water resource issues, the commitment and support of the entire global community is required to reverse the ongoing decline of critical water data sets.

Hamid Mehmood is a Senior Researcher, Hydro-informatics and Information Technology, at the UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment, and Health, which is supported by the Government of Canada and hosted at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. The Institute marks its 25th anniversary in 2021.

 


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Categories: Africa

Rural Water Boards Play Vital Role for Salvadoran Farmers

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 04:52

Members of the Cangrejera Drinking Water Association in the Desvío de Amayo village, La Libertad municipality in central El Salvador, stand at the foot of the tank from which water flows by gravity to the nine villages that benefit from this community project. There are an estimated 2,500 rural water boards in the country, which provide service to 1.6 million people. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

By Edgardo Ayala
LA LIBERTAD, El Salvador , Sep 27 2021 (IPS)

After climbing a steep hill along winding paths, you reach a huge water tank at the top that supplies peasant farmer families who had no water and instead set up their own community project on this coastal strip in central El Salvador.

“It wasn’t easy to carry out our project; building the tank was tough because we had to carry the materials up the hill on our shoulders: the gravel, cement, sand and iron,” José Dolores Romero, treasurer of the Cangrejera Drinking Water Association, told IPS.

The association is located in the village of Desvío de Amayo, in the canton of Cangrejera, part of the municipality and department of La Libertad.

The system, which began operating in 1985, provides water to 468 families in this and eight other nearby villages.

This is what hundreds of rural communities and villages have done to gain access to drinking water, as the government has failed to provide service to every corner of this impoverished nation of 6.7 million people.

Faced with the lack of service, families have organised in “juntas de agua”: rural water boards that are community associations that on their own manage to drill a well and build a tank and the rest of the system.

In El Salvador there are about 2,500 rural water boards, which provide service to 25 percent of the population, or some 1.6 million people, according to data from the non-governmental Foro del Agua (Water Forum), which promotes equitable and participatory water management.

The boards receive no government support, despite the fact that they provide a public service that should fall to the National Administration of Aqueducts and Sewers (Anda).

María Ofelia Pineda, 58, washes a frying pan and other dishes she used to prepare lunch at her home in the village of Las Victorias in Cangrejera on El Salvador’s coastal strip. Families like hers benefit from the water provided by the Cangrejera Drinking Water Association, which has been operating for 36 years. For seven dollars a month, the residents of this rural town receive 20 cubic metres of water. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

A community project

In the village of Desvío de Amayo, located at the centre of the country’s coastal strip, families used to dig their own wells in their backyards, but the water was not potable, and caused health problems as a result.

“It’s true that when you drill a well here you find water, but it isn’t drinkable, and the springs in the coastal area are contaminated with feces,” said Romero, who along with several other members of the water board met with IPS for a tour of the area.

The water in the tank is made potable by adding chlorine, a task carried out by José Hernán Moreno, 66, who described himself as the “valvulero”, responsible for the tank, which has a capacity of 200 cubic metres.

When there is a mishap with one of the pipelines running to one of the communities, it is Moreno who is in charge of closing the necessary valves.

With a quiet chuckle, he recalled that on one occasion he “killed” some fish that a local resident was raising in a pond, hinting that he may have put in more chlorine than he should have.

“They got mad at me, they blamed me, but my duty is to pour in the necessary chlorine,” Moreno said.

The well drilled by the association is 60 metres deep, and the water is pumped four km uphill to the tank from the village using a pump driven by a 20-horsepower engine.

From there, it is gravity-fed to the nine villages it serves.

“We have water all day and all night, and what we pay depends on how much we use,” one of the beneficiaries, Ana María Landaverde, a 62-year-old mother of five, told IPS.

Carlos Enrique Rosales stands in front of the lighting panel of the community water system. He is in charge of maintaining the well, pump, motor and other parts of the system, located in the Desvío de Amayo village in Cangrejera, in the Salvadoran municipality of La Libertad. The project provides water to 468 families in this and eight other villages, which the government does not supply. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Each family pays seven dollars for 20 cubic metres a month, the equivalent of about 20 barrels or 20,000 gallons. If they consume more than that, they pay 50 cents per cubic metre.

But water was not always available 24 hours a day.

Years ago they received only a couple of hours a day of service because, as there were no metres to measure water consumption, many families wasted water, while others received little.

Some used it to irrigate home gardens and even small fields where they grow corn, beans and other crops.

“Before there was a lot of water waste, that’s why the micro-metres were installed,” said Landaverde. The 20 cubic metres are enough to cover the needs of her family, which now has six members, including several grandchildren.

Since these devices were installed to measure consumption, families have used water more rationally and now there is enough for everyone, 24 hours a day.

“We know that we have to take care of it, with or without metres we have always taken care of it,” Ana Leticia Orantes, 59, told IPS.

She lives in the village of La Ceiba, which is also in Cangrejera. She and one of her sons grow crops like corn, beans, yucca and chili peppers on a 2.7-hectare plot of land.

“This little piece of land gives us enough to live on,” she said.

However, not everyone was happy when the metres were installed. People who were using it irrationally, to irrigate crops for example, were furious, said Romero, the treasurer.

“We had serious problems because they were used to wasting water and suddenly we restricted their water use with the metres, measuring consumption,” he said. “I made a lot of enemies, they almost killed me.”

With the money received for the water service, the association has managed to become self-sustainable, and has the necessary financial resources to pay for repairs and equipment maintenance.

This is important because the system has been operating for 36 years and, as with a car, breakdowns can happen at any time.

The well of the community water system in Cangrejera, in central El Salvador, is 60 metres deep, and a 20-horsepower motor drives the pump that directs the liquid to a tank four kilometres uphill. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Strength through unity

The Cangrejera project initiative is part of the Association of Autonomous Drinking Water and Sanitation Systems (Asaps), a group of 15 water boards located in four municipalities in the department of La Libertad.

The four municipalities are La Libertad, Huizúcar, Villa Nueva and Santa Tecla. The idea is to support each other when technical or other problems arise.

“There are problems that we can’t solve on our own, we need other people to lend us a hand,” said Romero.

Asaps is also part of a cooperative in which two other community water associations participate, one located in Suchitoto, in the department of Cuscatlán, in the centre of the country, and another in Chalatenango, in the north.

The aim is that through the cooperative, materials and equipment can be acquired at a lower cost than if the associations were to purchase them on their own.

The boards are also part of the Water Forum, a nationwide citizens’ organisation that, among other questions, is pushing for a water law in the country to achieve equitable and sustainable use.

The draft law has been debated in the legislature for more than a decade, but it has stalled over the issue of who should control the governing body: whether only state agencies or representatives of the business community should be included as well.

The latter would include members of the powerful industry of producers of carbonated beverages, juices, beer and bottled water.

The government of Nayib Bukele, in power since June 2019, introduced a new proposal in the legislature last June, and has enough votes to pass it: the 56 out of 84 seats held by the ruling party, New Ideas.

Social organisations and the water boards themselves see the government proposal as a sort of veiled privatisation, since one of the articles grants exploitation rights to private entities for 473,043 cubic metres per year, for periods ranging from 10 to 15 years.

Experts say this amount could supply an entire town.

“How much profit will those barbarians who bottle and sell it make from the water?” complained Romero.

The water boards are demanding to be included in the government proposal, arguing that they play an important role in providing a service not offered by the State.

“We are doing a job that should fall to the government, and what does it give us in return? Nothing,” he added.

María Ofelia Pineda, a 58-year-old native of the village of Las Victorias, also in Cangrejera, said the service received from the community water system changed their lives forever.

“It’s a great thing to have the water right here in the house, we don’t have to go to the river anymore. When it rained we couldn’t go, we were in danger because of the floods,” she told IPS, while washing a frying pan and other dishes she used to make lunch.

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Letter from Africa: The wonders of Somali cuisine and a taste of home

BBC Africa - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 01:38
Ethiopian and Eritrean food is well known globally, but this is your chance to discover Somali cooking.
Categories: Africa

Rwanda genocide 'kingpin' Théoneste Bagosora dies in prison

BBC Africa - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 01:26
Bagosora was serving a 35-year sentence for his role in the massacre of 800,000 people.
Categories: Africa

UCI Road World Championships: Rwanda selected as first African hosts in 2025

BBC Africa - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 14:16
Rwanda is selected as the first country in Africa to host the UCI Road World Championships, which it will stage in 2025.
Categories: Africa

Seven killed in suicide attack near Somalia's presidential palace

BBC Africa - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 13:30
The Islamist militant group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack in the capital.
Categories: Africa

Ghanaian player who 'stopped match-fixing' charged with match-fixing

BBC Africa - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 09:28
A player who says he scored two own goals to prevent a pre-arranged scoreline in Ghana's top flight is one of 24 people charged with match-fixing.
Categories: Africa

Gambia's Jammeh pact bombshell: Treachery or reconciliation?

BBC Africa - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 04:55
A political pact that could see the return of Gambia's exiled ex-President Jammeh proves divisive.
Categories: Africa

Can green energy power Africa's future?

BBC Africa - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 02:06
Energy access is a big issue for businesses in Africa, but can the continent go green as well?
Categories: Africa

Attacked by a hyena: My advice for a fellow victim

BBC Africa - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 01:19
Nine-year-old Rodwell Nkomazana lost an eye, his nose, and his upper lip when he was mauled by a hyena.
Categories: Africa

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