Community rights around large dams.


Photo credit: IIED – LAND-L

Global Water Initiative animations

In February 2017, the Global Water Initiative (GWI) West Africa released an animation explaining how policymakers can work with local communities to protect the rights of people affected by large dams in West Africa.

The animation is the first in a series of three animations looking at community rights around large dams. It is available in English and French, and can be viewed at the IIED website.

The second animation in the collection looks at revenue sharing from dams and will be released next week – watch this space!

For further information on GWI contact Jamie Skinner (, principal researcher, IIED’s Natural Resources research group.


Anne Schulthess

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

80-86 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8NH

Dam development should only take place if it serves a greater purpose for the local population



Photo credit: Huffington Post

The Salween basin is shared by several Southeast Asian countries.
International Rivers, CC BY-SA

The plan to dam Asia’s last free-flowing, international river


Thousands of protesters gathered in Myanmar’s North Kachin state on October 4, as fresh violence and clashes between ethnic groups continue to mar the ongoing peace process.

But hopes for economic development in the region remain high, particularly related to potential foreign investment in the country’s growing hydropower infrastructure, as State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi signalled to US investors at an international conference in Washington in September.

Environmental and human rights concerns

One planned project would directly impact the Salween River, which supports a biodiversity comparable to the Mekong.

Read the full story: Huffington Post

Dams and malaria Dams increase risk of malaria infections in Kenya

The study conducted by researchers from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) correlates malaria infections with the location of dams in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

In Kenya, residents living near the Kamburu Dam located on the Tana River in the Eastern Province complain of increased malaria infections. The dam’s slow-moving water is said to be the perfect breeding ground for the Anopheles mosquito, which carries the malaria parasites.


Read more..


============================== Can dams increase the risk of malaria?

By comparing the difference in the number of cases for communities further away, the researchers from theCGIAR program on Water, Land and Ecosystems and the International Water Management Institute stipulate that at least 1.1 million cases of malaria annually can be directly linked to the presence of dams.

Read more..


Climate change and the Great Green Wall in Africa

Photo credit: Google

Lake Chad: The Shrinking Giant

Lake Chad, a living example of the devastation climate change is wreaking on Africa


Stronger partnerships, sound national policies, more funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation, research, community involvement and sensitization are key to realizing the goals of the Great Green Wall initiative in Africa.

The initiative, a pan-African proposal to “green” the continent from West to East intends to fight desertification. The project, which began five years ago, aims to tackle poverty and degradation of soils in the Sahel-Saharan region, on the 8,000-kilometre-long strip of land stretching from Dakar to Djibouti.

Speakers at COP21 during the debate on the initiative noted that urgent measures must be put in place to reverse desertification and save human life as those living in the Saharan-Sahelian region are among the poorest and most vulnerable to climatic variability and land degradation.

“The livelihoods of 100 million people are in danger. We are aware that due to heat and drought, 40 million Africans from this region migrate to North Africa and later to Europe. Some die during the long journeys. We should solve this problem,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina.

Adesina singled out agriculture as a key component of changing the livelihoods of millions in the region together with other initiatives.

“There is a correlation between the effects of climate change – like the shrinking of Lake Chad, which was 25,000 square kilometres in 1967 but is now less than 2,500 – and the loss of livelihoods, radicalization, terrorism, forced migration, insecurity, poverty and deaths,” Adesina said.

He announced that AfDB has released US $12 billion and will mobilise an additional US $50 billion to provide clean energy in Africa including in the Sahara-Sahel region.

Read the full article: Relief Web

Public agree to fund environmental report into Brazilian mining disaster

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Julio Etchart/Panos

Dam project proves power of science crowdfunding

“The success of the campaign shows that the general public cares about science, and it sends a powerful message to the government.” – Suzana Herculano-Houzel

by Barbara Axt

Speed read

  • Public agree to fund environmental report into Brazilian mining disaster
  • US crowdfunding site has raised US$3 million in five months
  • Method engages public and allows them to shape research agenda

Just weeks after two dams collapsed in Brazil, releasing a flood of toxic mining waste, a crowdfunding campaign to pay for an independent environmental report into the disaster’s impact has exceeded its target.

“This is one of the biggest environmental disasters that ever happened in Brazil, involving rivers and local populations,” says the crowdfunding page of the researchers behind the campaign, which asked the public to pay what they could.

The dams, owned by mining companies Vale and BHP Billiton, burst on 5 November, killing at least 11, leaving 12 missing and 750 homeless, and contaminating the waters of the Rio Doce.

“Considering the vague response of the public institutions and the economic power of the parties involved, it is extremely important to have an independent and impartial report,” the researchers add. So far, the campaign has raised 144 per cent of its 50,000 real (US$13,300) target.

More and more scientists in developing countries are turning to crowdfunding to get research off the ground. Not only is it a way to fill gaps in traditional research funding, but it can also be a valuable way to engage the public and attract funding from other sources, researchers say.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

New project will reduce floods and boost irrigation

Photo credit: Google

Women worshiping in holy Ganga river during Sattuani festival in Patna on Tuesday.


Ganga floodwater to be stored underground

(30 Oct, 2015 – Uttar Pradesh, India) A new initiative launched today in Uttar Pradesh could revolutionize flood management while at the same time boost groundwater stocks for dry season irrigation. Located in Jiwai Jadid village, 20 kilometers east of Rampur town, the project will be the first ever to adopt the new approach which is being developed by scientists at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

The initiative, called Underground Taming of Floods for irrigation (UTFI), channels surplus surface water from flood‐prone rivers or their distributary canals during the wet season when there is a high flood risk to a modified village pond. Brick structures in the pond allow the water to flow swiftly down below ground, where they infiltrate the local aquifer. This water can then be pumped back up again during the dry season so that farmers can maintain or intensify their crop production.

“This is an exciting concept which has never really been done before and whose benefits go directly to local and wider communities,” said Paul Pavelic, of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), who leads the research. “Putting this into practice will save on the large funds spent each year on relief and restoration efforts of flood victims and on subsidies for groundwater extraction during the non‐rainy season. We hope our approach would tackle the root causes of the problem rather than the consequences. ”

The Ganga basin suffers from regular floods with the mighty Ganga and its tributaries like Ramganga, Yamuna, Mahananda, Koshi all flooding almost annually. During the rainy season, large volumes of   excess water run off the Himalayan range often causing great damage downstream. On the other hand, some of the same regions face a shortage of water aggravated by year ‐ round agriculture production which is largely dependent on groundwater pumping particularly in dry season when canal water is limited. To deal with this variability, IWMI’s experts have devised a way to selectively capture excess water flows during monsoons and store this in aquifers underground.

The size of the land around the pilot that would receive direct benefit is currently under investigation. With floods being a common occurrence across the Ganga basin, researchers hope that the scaling up of this intervention would help in effectively protecting lives and assets downstream, boosting agricultural productivity and improving resilience to climate shocks at the river basin scale. This will be especially important to help communities deal with climate change which is likely to bring ever more variability in water supply and rainfall.

Read the full Press Release: IWMI

Dams and biodiversity

Photo credit: bluechannel24

Balbina Dam has hit populations of mammals, large gamebirds and tortoises, researchers say, warning against hydro push.
Widely hailed as ‘green’ sources of renewable energy, numerous hydroelectric dams have been built worldwide, but research reveals they are far from environmentally friendly.

Brazil: Hydroelectric dams drastically reduce tropical forest biodiversity

A study puiblished in online journal PLOS ONE from the University of East Anglia (UEA) has revealed the drastic effects of the major Amazonian Balbina Dam on tropical rainforest biodiversity. The research reveals a loss of mammals, birds and tortoises from the vast majority of islands formed by the creation of the vast Balbina Lake, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric reservoirs.

Lead author and UEA graduate Dr Maíra Benchimol, of the Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Bahia, Brazil, said: “Hydroelectric dams have been thought to be an environmentally friendly source of renewable power, and in recent years have been built to supply the burgeoning energy demands of emergent tropical countries.

Previous studies have shown that large dams result in severe losses in fishery revenues, increases in greenhouse gas emissions and socioeconomic costs to local communities. Our research adds evidence that forest biodiversity also pays a heavy price when large dams are built.

Read the full article: bluechannel24

Pioneering sand dams

Photo credit: Excellent

Sand dams to transform lives in Swaziland


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will construct six sand dams in Swaziland

Swaziland is a landlocked country in southern Africa

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will construct six sand dams in Swaziland

Releasing massive amounts of the Colorado River from dams

Photo credit: Treehugger

CC BY 2.0 Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr

Why are they flooding the Grand Canyon?

by Melissa Breyer
Science / Conservation

The U.S. Department of the Interior has taken to releasing massive amounts of the Colorado River from dams, here’s why.

The Colorado River should reach the sea, that’s what it wants to do. It wants to start in the Rocky Mountains and wind its way 1,450 miles along the Arizona-California border into the Mexican delta, irrigating farmland and nourishing loads of wildlife and flora along the way before emptying itself into the Gulf of California. That’s what it did up until 1998. But then, gradually, ouch.

The mighty Colorado continues to take top honors in American Rivers’ annual rankingof America’s most endangered rivers. The conservation groups notes, “A century of water management policies and practices that have promoted wasteful water use have put the river at a critical crossroads.” Demand on the river’s water simply exceeds its supply, to the point that it no longer reaches the sea. Instead, it dribbles into nothingness somewhere in the desert of the Southwest.

As Jonathan Waterman wrote in The New York Times:

Now dozens of animal species are endangered; the culture of the native Cocopah (the People of the River) has been devastated; the fishing industry, once sustained by shrimp and other creatures that depend on a mixture of seawater and freshwater, has withered.

The river’s sad story began in 1922 with the Colorado River Compact, an agreement among seven western states to divvy up its bounty. Mexico was allotted 10 percent of the flow. Almost a century later and a study by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation finds that the entire river and its tributaries are siphoned off to meet the needs of 40 million Americans living in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Along with hydrating 5.5 million acres of land, it also helps power much of the electricity that comes from hydro-power plants.

Did I say ouch? Ouch.

Read the full article: Treehugger

New emphasis on water security in Sri Lanka is paying dividends.

Photo credit: IWMI

Building the bund of a tank in Idaikaddu, Mullaitivu (photo: FAO).

FAO gives new lease of life to villagers in Killinochchi and Mullaitivu

Just three years ago the districts of Killinochchi and Mullaitivu in the North Western province of Sri Lanka were in a parlous state. Empty war- ravaged buildings gaped at passers-by in a lonely landscape scattered with headless palm trees. On either side of the rutted road, paddy fields had been abandoned and become choked with scrub. The districts were among those most affected by the country’s prolonged civil war. The coastal town of Mullaitivu was particularly hard hit by the twin onslaughts of the tsunami as well as civil war. Many households are now headed by women, having lost male members during the war.

But today the districts are thriving. Fields of vegetables, pulses and paddy abound, irrigated by the flowing waters of nearby tanks in which cattle and buffaloes wallow.

The transformation is in part due to a massive rehabilitation program that restored tanks and canals and helped build capacity. The Integrated Irrigation & Agricultural Livelihood Development project to the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts, introduced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and supported financially by the European Union (EU) is the cause of this transformation. The project took 35 months to complete at a cost of EUR 3,330,000 (about Rs. 550 million) and helped restore minor tanks and lands to about 170,000 people or 17,200 farming families.

A partnership to progress

FAO partnered with government organizations in the two districts. Ninety field officers were appointed to construct the irrigation infrastructure. Agricultural extension staff were trained in cultivation, water management and maintenance of the irrigation systems.

Read the full article: IWMI


Water harvesting and irrigation in Zimbabwe

Photo credit: Bulawayo

Due to  high levels of illegal gold panning, siltation is reducing the water holding capacity of the major dams in Matabeleland South

Zimbabwe Seeks to Water Crops With Irrigation Investment

By Marko Phiri


The government declared a crop failure in March, the month when farmers expect to be harvesting maize, with more than three quarters of crops lost in some parts of the south.

Heavy rains returned again from late March into April, compounding the misery for farmers across the country.

Their struggle with weather extremes has prompted a renewed focus on rainwater harvesting and irrigation, with the government now seeking investment in new infrastructure.

Earlier in the year, President Robert Mugabe – who has long touted agriculture as the country’s economic bulwark – lamented Zimbabwe’s inability to harness rainwater effectively, according to state media.

“Rains fall for two months and go but we lack water harvesting. At the end of the day, we have the maize crop wilting faster than other crops. If we have dams, we (can) resort to irrigation,” he was quoted as saying in February.


Many existing dams – like the 50 or so in Zimbabwe’s two Matabeleland provinces – are old and failing to capture enough water, while irrigation schemes are in a state of disrepair, according to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa who has been tasked with mobilising resources for irrigation.

Elisha Moyo, principal climate change researcher at the environment and climate ministry, said investment in irrigation should not be seen as a “standalone initiative” but as part of a sustainable solution to water issues.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Life in arid areas can be a blessing, not a misfortune

Photo credit: Tesfa News

“Life in arid areas can be a blessing, not a misfortune”- Eritrea’s message at the Expo Milano 2015

Expo Milano 2015: Flourishing in Arid Zones, The Eritrean Experience

By EXPO Milano 2015,


LIFE in arid areas can be a blessing, not a misfortune: this is the message that Eritrea seeks to spread during Expo Milano 2015.

Its contribution will be to illustrate the sustainability of its traditional agriculture. It outlines the potential of its natural resources as a food reserve for rural communities, explains how to deal with the challenges of water scarcity, introduces the traditional Eritrean cuisine (which, in many cases, has excellent nutritional value), and highlights the potential of cooperative approaches.

It also explores the challenges posed by desertification processes and explains the “every drop of water” conservation techniques, through dam and lake building for the purposes of farming, fishing and animal drinking water.

Read the full article: Tesfa News

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