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27 March 2003

Heavy Rains Leave 10,000 Homeless

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks: Already struggling to cope with food shortages, some 10,000 people in Gwembe district in southern Zambia have now been left homeless by recent heavy rains, a senior government official said on Wednesday. "Most Gwembe residents have left the area and moved in with their relatives. Thousands have fled to higher ground to escape the flooding. Although some people have said they wanted to return to the area once the infrastructure has been restored, it would be impossible for some [to return] because the rains have destroyed most of the buildings in the area," National Coordinator of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit Jones Mwanza told IRIN. He added that torrential rains had washed away several power lines, roads and three bridges in the area. He estimated that almost 2,000 ha of maize, Zambia's main staple food, had been destroyed in Gwembe, 380 km south of the capital Lusaka.http://allafrica.com/stories/200303260579.html

US Navy's Mine-Hunting Dolphins Evoke Distaste And Praise

East Cape News (Grahamstown): Using dolphins as living mine seekers in the war against Iraq elicited mixed reactions from Eastern Cape animal rights activists yesterday. The Herald and Daily Dispatch printed photographs of a US naval sergeant and his bottlenose dolphin, "K-Dog", which had a small video camera strapped to a flipper, leaping out the water while clearing mines in the sea outside the fallen Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. The water was being cleared to allow humanitarian aid shipments through. ECN learned that trained dolphins have been used by the military since World War 2 when the Soviets had dolphins at every sea port who were trained to jump out the sea after sighting a mine. Ardent dolphin rights activist Nan Rice, of the Dolphin Action and Protection Group, said from Cape Town yesterday that practise had been going on "for years". While Rice was "not in favour" of it, but noted that the practise had progressed from using dolphins to physically place limpet mines on enemy ship hulls, to mine clearing. She made the point that it was abhorrent for "any animal" to be used in battle. East London SPCA manager Marie Eekhout was "not happy" about the practice, but pointed out it was acceptable to use animals for some social purposes, such as using dogs to sniff out arms, guide the blind and cart their shopping and to protect people. She said navy-trained dolphins were "exceptionally well-treated".


Gov't Plans Ahead for Looming Water Shortage

This Day (Lagos): Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Mukh-tari Shehu Shagari, said yesterday in Abuja that the provision of water was a priority of the Federal Government. He said government was prepared to achieve the task by stemming the looming nationwide water shortage nationwide. Shagari gave the assurance in his address on the occasion of this year's World Water Day. He alerted that there would be an increase in water requirement by almost 50 per cent in the first quarter of this century and about 4 billion people would live in severe water stress and shortages. "The aggregate use of water has increased six folds in recent times because of increasing demand for water but this administration is prepared to provide more water for both irrigation and human consumption", he assured. Shagari said the last three years witnessed a substantially increased budgetary allocation to the water sector from N32 billion in 1991 to N144 billion in 2002.

Also speaking on WWD, a researcher with the Nigeria Institute of Medical Re-search, Yaba Lagos State, Mrs. N. Idika, has said that more than 50 per cent of the Nigeria population lacked access to potable water. Idika said more than 1000 urban and semiurban water supply schemes existing by 1990 in Nigeria were all in poor condition and deteriorating rapidly. She said, "it was also reported that various state water supply agencies were at very low level of development characterised by poor funding and organisation. The effect is the fast decline in urban and semi-urban water supply delivery", she said. The recommendation, Idika said, was not only for water to be safe to drink, it should be easily accessible, available at all the time adding that water should be affordable as well as meet local standard for taste, odour and appearance.



ROAP Media Update – 27 March 2003

Topical News Issues

UNEP'S NEW GLOBAL YOUTH AND CHILDREN STRATEGY TO KICK OFF Sydney, Australia will host the first event of the United Nations Environment Programme's new global strategy for children and youth, approved last month by environment ministers and high level delegations from 130 countries. The Eco-Innovate 03 Forum, initiated by Bayer, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the United

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