South Africa is a water scarce country facing a water crisis. We need to start using existing resources more wisely.Sluices at the Grootdraai Dam in Mpumalanga. (Image: Jan Truter)South Africa is experiencing a water crisis, with scientists saying there is strong evidence of decreased water flow and water quality, although the problem currently is mostly quality rather than quantity.Researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) also warned that continued population and economic growth, combined with climate change, could result in serious water shortages in some parts of the country by 2025.Speaking to the media on 29 July 2015, they said there was a range of actions – besides investments into large inter-basin transfer schemes – that could be taken to improve the prospects for water supply and quality.“Everyone says there is a litany of bad news, but working with government we can look for where might the good news be, where the opportunities for innovation are,” said Emma Archer van Garderen, the CSIR chief researcher of integrated water assessments.Meanwhile, Marie Brisley, the chief director in the Department of Water and Sanitation in charge of Water Policy, spoke about water shortages in the country at the Southern African Development Community National Water Week-South Africa Workshop.In some parts of the country there was already not enough water available to meet the needs of citizens, agriculture and industry, or to sustain the country’s ecological baseline. (Image: Werner Bayer)She said the search continued for alternative methods to get water since the conversion of seawater to drinking water – and then distributing it to areas affected by severe drought – was extremely expensive. The conversion of seawater to drinking water was only possible in coastal areas as it would be more costly to reticulate seawater inland.The water workshop comes amid severe drought in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and North West. Brisley told delegates from the SADC about the National Water Resources Strategy-2, a guiding document to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of water in South Africa.Its key points include:Water conservation and water demand management;Surface water resource management (operation of water supply systems);Managing and use of groundwater resources;Re-use and desalination of water;Eradication of invasive alien plants (catchment care);Re-allocation of water;Eradication of illegal use;Development of surface water resources (e.g. dams);Transfer of water; andRainwater harvesting.The workshop ends today.CSIR scientistsOn Wednesday at the CSIR briefing, Dr Harrison Pienaar, the council’s water resource competence area manager, concurred with the Department of Water and Sanitation that there was no immediate problem with regards to theoretical water availability, with South Africa still having sufficient resources to meet demand.But in some parts of the country there was already not enough water available to meet the needs of citizens, agriculture and industry, or to sustain the country’s ecological baseline.Dr James Dabrowski, the council’s principal researcher specialising in water quality and aquatic ecology, said that, with over 98% of South Africa’s available water resources already allocated across various sectors, the country could face a water deficit of between 2% and 13% by 2025, depending on economic performance, reported Polity, the news and information resource.There is a water crisis and its the responsibility of all South Africans to do their share to save water. (Image: Werner Bayer)These projections did not take water quality into account, despite the fact that water use was “dependent on both water availability and water quality”.Innovative ideasWhile it is agreed there is a water crisis, scientists are working on innovative solutions to improve quality and quantity.In an apple orchard in Western Cape, researchers were measuring exactly how much water the trees needed to allow for more efficient water use, said CSIR hydrosciences researcher Mark Gush.Agriculture in South Africa has led the way in finding innovative ways to save water. (Image: IFPRI -IMAGES)It had shown it was possible to save water, particularly at the end of the growing season. Research was also being conducted to reduce food waste, which would help to save the water that would have been used to grow the wasted food, he explained.“People in agriculture have done some incredibly innovative things, and we need to draw on those stories,” added Van Garderen, referring to a rooibos tea co- operative.Rooibos was grown in a winter rainfall area and was having a very bad season. The co-operative, with the help of a non-governmental organisation, brought in scientists and reduced its water use. It was now exporting its tea under a water- wise label. “Farmers are incorporating concerns about water and soil conservation into marketing agricultural products.”Regarding water quality, the Olifants River catchment area in Mpumalanga was “one of the worst case scenarios”, said Dabrowski. The combination of agriculture, coal mining, and construction of Eskom’s Kusile Power Station with its increase in human activity, was causing large-scale pollution of rivers in the province.“It can’t get much worse than what it is,” he said of the catchment area. But one proposal was to follow the practices of places such as the UK and the US to reduce river pollution from sources such as fertilisers.Land use in a catchment area is mapped. This information is overlaid with topographical and weather information, and combined with the location of wastewater treatment plants. The result is a map indicating the sources and extent of agricultural pollution. Each wastewater treatment works can then determine the level of nutrients needed to filter out of the water.“We do have quite a number of challenges, but there are solutions to these challenges,” Dabrowski said.Wastewater treatmentA particular concern was the state of wastewater treatment facilities. According to Polity, the most recent Green Drop status report indicated that about half of the country’s 824 treatment works were in either a poor or critical condition.Pienaar said the crisis lay with how South Africa’s water was managed. “At local government level there are serious challenges. We are not addressing inefficiencies,” he said.His colleague, Dabrowski concurred, and said the department’s recent release of a tender to develop an Integrated Water Quality Management Strategy was a welcome development.Dr Marius Claassen, the principal researcher for resource-specific scientific measures, said the country needed to begin identifying its “preferred water roadmap and taking active steps in achieving it”. A patient, methodical approach would be required, with “quick wins” eschewed in favour of long-term sustainability.There were many elements to consider: the creation of large-scale infrastructure, such as dams and transfer projects; tackling municipal water leaks and dam silting; improving water efficiency in agriculture and industry; and drawing on groundwater and desalination solutions.Gush added that, as a water scarce country, South Africa would need to use existing resources more wisely. “This means minimising wastage of water, through solutions such as rainwater harvesting, and increasing efficiencies.”The irrigated agriculture sector, which had been allocated 62% of the surface water resources, should be a key target for improved efficiencies, of “more crop per drop”.But there was no single water entity, such as Eskom in the electricity sector, the scientists pointed out, which meant dealing with the crisis would necessarily be complex.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? 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Forward, Unilever’s new collective defined contribution (CDC) pension fund, has reported a 20.5% loss for the last nine months due to rising interest rates and falling equity markets.In its annual report, Forward’s board said the scheme recorded a loss on its 35% interest hedge of more than 17 percentage points, after long-term interest rates began to climb over the second quarter.At the same time, equity markets entered a period of decline, hitting returns by another 3 percentage points.In terms of funding, however, the scheme, launched in April 2015, remains in good shape, reporting a coverage of 137% as of the end of September. At launch, Unilever contributed €15m to the scheme as starting capital and paid an equal amount for indexation for active participants.The latter allowed Forward to grant workers full salary indexation of 2.15% while paying pensioners 0.44% inflation compensation based on the consumer index.At year-end, the scheme’s assets amounted to €63m, against €38m of liabilities.Forward’s board warned that both its assets and liabilities were set to grow substantially in the coming years, reducing the positive impact of the starting capital on its funding ratio.The pension fund’s investment policy is based on a 60% return portfolio and a 40% matching portfolio, with an interest hedge ranging between 30% and 50%.The board said the scheme needed to generate returns of at least 5.5% over the long term to achieve its indexation target.It pointed out, however, that part of the required return had already been factored into the valuation of its liabilities, currently based on a relatively low interest rate.“As a consequence,” the board said, “as long as the interest level remains low, a return of between 1% and 1.7% will suffice for indexation.”Forward and Progress – Unilever’s defined benefit fund, closed in April last year – share the same investment philosophy, but, owing to the former’s smaller size, as well as its members’ objectives, their asset allocation differs.In November’s How We Run Our Money, chief executive Rob Kaal says Forward’s portfolio has greater potential on the risk/return side.On the one hand, he says, its smaller size means it cannot take advantage of all the asset classes available to larger investors, such as Progress.“But the required return is slightly higher because of the different member population,” he adds. “In Forward, downside protection is particularly important because participants bear the risk, and there is no employer protection in place.”Since Unilever closed Progress, all new pensions accrual has gone to Forward.The company is awaiting a licence for its general pension fund (APF), which is to accommodate both schemes.With this arrangement, Unilever hopes to simplify governance and achieve the benefits of scale.How We Run Our Money: Unilever Dutch pension funds
By Joe ChapmanTHE Amelia’s Ward Jets were able to overcome a strong Kwakwani side 70-68, to capture the Linden Amateur basketball Association/Hamid Foundation Under-23 basketball championships in dramatic style last Saturday night at the Mackenzie Sports Club hard court.Jets were able to snatch the win after the final’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Akini Wilson, scored a reverse drive to the hoop to score with 15.2 seconds on the clock and stifled the Kwakwani unit out of the game to come away victors.After knocking off Half Mile Bulls in the semi-finals, the Jets found themselves against the outsiders Kwakwani in a final which seemed to favour the running game of the out-of-town side.With that first-quarter spurt led by Troy David, the tournament’s MVP, and his captain Leonard Primo, the Kwakwani side looked formidable but Jets remained in contention as they pulled within reach at half ime, trailing 31-37.By then Akini Wilson, Vibert Benjamin and Keison Butters had come to the party and made incisive plays down low to upset the rhythm of the un-ranked Kwakwani players. But the third quarter saw the visitors pull away once more and look for the kill as the third quarter finished 54-46 for the underdogs.However, the Jets would not go away and they pulled within a basket, adrift 54-56, with 6:18 to go. The Jets captain Shannon Cadogan then hit a floater as they remained in contention 56-58; but then David penetrated for a four-point advantage.Wilson sank a hook shot with 2 mins 28 secs left after the Kwakwani team, under pressure, turned the ball over and Butters played big with a penetration that sent his team ahead 65:64 with 1:16 remaining.Kwakwani regained the lead with just over a minute to go. Cadogan had a chance to send his team into the lead but could only hit one of two free throws for a tied game at 68. with 49.1 seciods to go.But with the tension rising with every second Kwakwani lost possession to the pressing Jets side and, after taking the ball cross court, the pass went in to Wilson on the left low post. He rounded his man and swished the ball for the go-ahead basket with 15.2 seconds remaining.Then Jets defended well to ensure victory was once again earned from pretty good team play as they were crowned the new champions and left Kwakwani dejected from that heartbreaking loss 70-68.The top shooters for the game for the winners came from Wilson with 23 points, Vibert Benjamin 17, Keison Butters 13 and George Yearwood 10. The Kwakwani best players were Tournament MVP Troy David with 18, Leonard Primo 13 and Domar Gladstone 10 points.In the third-place playoff game defending champions and top seed Half Mile Bulls pulled out a 51-49 win over fourth-ranked Retrieve Raiders. Tahquille Johnson and Terron Welch each had 15 points for the Bulls while the Raiders top scorers were Travis Sutton with 16 and Coel Winter 14.The championship trophy, donated by Gordon Moseley Promotions, was handed over by Mayor of Linden Carwyn Holland while the replicas, compliments of Save The Children Foundation, were handed over to the winning team by LABA president Lawrence Simon.The Most Valuable Player-of-the-Final Trophy, donated by LABA, went to Akini Wilson and that was presented by the Public Relations Officer of LABA.The Most Valuable Player Trophy for the Tournament, won by Kwakwani’s Troy David, was donated by World Access. It was presented by Tracey Liverpool and the second place trophy was presented by Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira.Before the final game the teams were introduced by LABA president Lawrence Simon to Regional Executive Officer of Region Ten Gavin Clarke and Mayor of Linden Carwyn Holland.Abdulla Hamid of the Abdulla Hamid Foundation, who collaborated with LABA, thanked the many sponsors who came on board including Gordon Moseley, Save the Children Foundation and World Access.
Hundreds of Amerindians, from more than 13 villages, on Sunday unanimously passed a motion at the Mabaruma Sub-Region District Conference of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) condemning the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) by President David Granger, “to examine all issues and uncertainties surrounding the claims of Amerindian land titling”.People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo and a team interacted with more than 800 Amerindians, from more than 13 villages, on Sunday during the PPP’s Sub-Region District Conference at Mabaruma, Region One (Barima-Waini)The Amerindians joined with the PPP; the National Toshaos Council (NTC); the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA); the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples; the Amerindian Action Movement; the South Central Peoples Development Association, and the National Amerindian Development Foundation in condemning the coalition Government’s ploy to set up the land CoI.The delegates and observers at Sunday’s conference view the establishment of this CoI as “an expression of gross disrespect to the Amerindian People of Guyana and indeed, Indigenous people everywhere”.“They view this initiative as a vulgar and divisive device to distort our history, deny Amerindians their rightful place as the first people of this land and to deprive them of their ancestral legal entitlements to traditional lands recognised long before independence and which successive PPP Governments committed billions of dollars towards ensuring that land titles were issued to the Amerindians for these lands,” the PPP said in a statement.“This Commission, the delegates and observers feel, was established without any consultations whatsoever to further polarise our people along racial lines in a failing economy, which the Government is plainly incompetent to revitalise,” the Party added.It said the delegates and observers unanimously resolved not to recognise this Commission and are calling upon the President and the Government of Guyana to rescind it immediately.“They made it clear that Amerindian entitlements to traditional land must not be, and cannot be, confused with the rights of any other ethnic groups. They are separate issues and must remain so,” the PPP stated.In attendance at the Mabaruma Sub-Region District Conference were Opposition Leader and PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo; and PPP Members of Parliament Anil Nandlall, Pauline Sukhai and Colin Croal. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedAmerindian Act 2006: PPP/C calls for wide consultation on amendmentsAugust 21, 2017In “latest news”Speaker disallows PPP’s motion calling for the Lands COI to be revokedApril 13, 2017In “latest news”Granger has a message for Indigenous Leaders: “beware of the Govt’s promises”November 1, 2014In “Politics”