Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mahanadi River Basin Update - 12th April 2015

WIO’s Mahanadi River Basin Update – 12th April 2015

Theme: Healthy Mahanadi, Happy Cities

Open Defecation too huge a pollution load for Mahanadi at Sonepur:

Open defecation ratio almost 1000 per kilometre of the river bank stretch in the city!

A jaundice epidemic may not be far from being reality!!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

As part of its ‘Mahanadi River Basin Initiative’, the WIO along with Mahanadi River Waterkeeper, RARE, Nature for All, Mahanadi Sahitya Sansad and The Ayauskam, organised a day long consultation with media and concerned citizens at Sonepur today. 

Speaking at the occasion Mahanadi River Waterkeeper Ranjan Panda said that the consultation was aimed at sharing findings of a citizen’s survey of Mahanadi pollution at Sonepur and seeking cooperation of the participants in furthering the state wide campaign “Healthy Mahanadi, Happy Cities” that aims at linking urban people to the river so that they can love, respect and protect the Mother River of Odisha.

 This voluntary state wide campaign was launched at Sambalpur on 29th June 2013 and we are trying to cover all cities of the basin.

Sonepur is a very small city but is based at a very important position on the banks of the River Mahanadi.  Our citizen’s survey found out that at least 5000 people - that is near to 25 per cent of the entire city’s population - defecates on the banks of the river.  This makes the open defecation ratio almost 1000 people per kilometre in the bank of river here.  This is too huge considering the small size of the city. (Ranjan Panda)

The city generates at least 17, 50,000 litres of waste water on a daily basis.  This added with about 11.50 metric tonne of solid waste ultimately find their way to the river and pollute that heavily.  Sonepur still has the opportunity to correct these problems and create a good example in talking River Pollution. (Ranjan Panda)

Sonepur has about about 18 bathing ghats in which more than 5000 people bathe daily.  The drains discharge heavily polluted water into theghats exposing the people to severe health hazards.  The garbage and solid waste management of the city is also disastrous and besides polluting the ponds of the city, they are also polluting the river heavily. (Shyama Om Prasad Mishra, Nature for All)

Noted environmentalist Prof. Arttabandhu Mishra spoke about the dying fate of river Mahanadi as a whole and urged upon the Sonepur city dwellers to start a concerted drive without further delay to save it.  “Mahanadi’s capacity to dilute pollution has been chocked by Hirakud dam.  The basin needs efforts to rejuvenate the feeding nullahs and rivulets and all the surface water bodies.  The polluting industries need also be checked from discharging their pollutants into the River.” (Prof. Mishra)

Senior social worker of Sonepur Shri Hara Prasad Ratha presided over the consultation and asked all the journalists and other citizens of the city to join hands in this historic opportunity to save Mahanadi. 

Mr. Ambuj Bihari Satapathy of RARE welcomed the participants and Mr. Benudhar Pradhan of Mahanadi Sahitya Sansad gave away the vote of thanks.

The programme ended with a resolution to take a number of local actions to save Mahanadi from pollution at Sonepur.  A local coordination committee was formed which will work with the Mahanadi River Waterkeeper on these campaigns. 

For further information please contact:

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)

Mobile: +919437050103

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver


Please join with us in saving Mahanadi, India's 6th largest River...

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) is a state level coalition of civil society organisations, farmers, academia, media and other concerned, which has been working on water, environment and climate change issues in the state for more than two and half decades now.

Friday, March 20, 2015

WIO to join World Water Day function at Angul: I shall speak on water crises of industrial towns!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Greetings from Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)!

For a network like ours that is at forefront of water action, research and advocacy in the state, each day is a Water Day.  However, we try to engage ourselves in some meaningful activity on the World Water Day(WWD) designated by the UN, i.e. 22nd March 2015.  

Last year, we celebrated the day with the fisher folk communities on the banks of River Mahanadi where hundreds of fisher folks took pledge to be part in WIO's 'Mahanadi River Basin Initiative' to save India's 6th largest river from further decay.

We thank you for your support during the last year's programmes and throughout our 25 years of journey in becoming the voice of water in the state.

This year, we have decided to join the WWD function organized by groups of Angul as they have invited me to speak about water crises faced by industrial towns such as this.  I am informed the Member of Parliament will also join the function among others.  

We look forward to a meaningful programme and to strengthen our network and campaigns further.

Thanks and regards


Ranjan K Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha*
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance, New York)

Mobile: +919437050103

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) is a state level coalition of civil society organisations, farmers, academia, media and other concerned, which has been working on water, environment and climate change issues in the state for more than 25 years now.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Latest Article on Sendai Framework published in Down To Earth!

Sendai framework on disaster risk reduction disappoints

Posted on: 19 Mar, 2015

Goals are without specific time plan and targets
On the midnight of March 18, representatives from 187 UN member states adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 with seven targets and four priorities for action. After the marathon negotiations that preceded the convention,one would have expected a clear cut action plan and commitments from developed nations.  So far, it is understood, only Japan made some funding commitment for this proposal as the five-day-long conference wrapped up.
imageIn 2013 cyclone Phailin ravaged over 300,000 houses in coastal Odisha in India's east coast, which is listed by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change among regions of maximum vulnerability
Earlier proposals for percentage goals were rejected, so the current set looks like vague targets.  The current framework for 15 years replaces the 10 year long Hyogo Framework for Action. The Sendai Framework aims to lower the global mortality rate from disasters between 2020 and 2030, compared with 2005 to 2015, and reduce the proportion of people affected.
Disasters and the related devastations have increased in the last decade despite of the existence of the Hyogo Framework, the current Framework recognises.  During 2005-2015 alone, over 700,000 people lost their lives. More than 1.4 million people were injured and approximately 23 million became homeless due to disasters. 
The world’s worry about disasters, more so due to climate change, has aggravated manifold as more than 1.5 billion people were affected by disasters in various ways during the last decade. Women, children and people in vulnerable situations were disproportionately affected. The total economic loss was more than $1.3 trillion. In addition, between 2008 and 2012, 144 million people were displaced by disasters.
Disasters induced by climate change have in fact increased in frequency and intensity.  While there are more noises around large-scale disasters among planners globally, the conference rightly points out that recurring small-scale disasters and slow-onset disasters particularly affect communities, households and small- and medium-sized enterprises.  In fact, these sections of people face a high percentage of losses. 
While all countries face mortality and economic losses from disasters, in the case of developing countries these are disproportionately higher.  In fact, poor countries face increased levels of possible hidden costs and challenges to meet financial and other obligations.  And, as we know, they are the least prepared to handle the challenges.  Take for example India that faces huge losses due to climate change-induced disasters, so much so that the expenses on adaptation increased from 2.6 per cent in 2012 to 6 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2014. And the country is even not able to assess the real (covering all areas and all intensities) losses and damages due to climate change properly. 
Just take the water crisis faced by the nation, most of which is due to climate change—global and local (growth induced)—and you would realise the vastness of the problem that the country faces now. Eight of the 10 warmest years in the country’s history fell in the last decade; and almost 54 per cent of the country’s geographical areas face high to extremely high water stress.  Things are getting worse and we have not been able to cope with such disastrous situations.
The Sendai Framework recognises that the goals of sustainable development are being outsmarted by the gaps in progress and achievement agenda such as the Millennium Development Goals and have tried to give a perspective to overcome all these so as to contribute meaningfully and substantially to the new era December climate negotiations in Paris, however, the broadness of the goals without specific time plan and targets disappoint us. 
It recognizes the need to develop an action-oriented framework that Governments and relevant stakeholders can implement in a supportive and complementary manner that can help to identify disaster risks to be managed and guides investment to improve resilience.  It also recognizes some vital factors that are contributing to the disasters and rightly mentions about the role of unsustainable urbanisation. 
However, it completely fails to discuss the way we produce our energy and the impacts there from. Fossil fuel, especially coal, continues to be the major source of our energy.  The GDP growth oriented economy, that most of the climate change vulnerable countries such as India are following in fact not only contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions and disasters but also increase lot of local woes that club the impacts and devastate the poor the most. 
The commitments for the Sendai Framework are voluntary but unless the signing countries adhere to green growth models, most of the goals would remain to be addressed in the same light even after 15 years.  A new framework may then be developed but the gaps in implementation and disasters would have grown.
Ranjan Panda is convenor of Combat Climate Change Network, India


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Weather Reports from the Future: WMO

If humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the average temperature of the Earth’s lower atmosphere could rise more than 4 °C (7.2 °F) by the end of the 21st century. But what does a global average temperature rise really mean? How would we experience it on a daily basis?
To find out what could lie in store, the WMO invited television weather presenters from around the world to imagine a “weather report from the year 2050.” What they created are only possible scenarios, of course, and not true forecasts. Nevertheless, they are based on the most up-to-date climate science, and they paint a compelling picture of what life could be like on a warmer planet.
These worst-case futures do not need to happen. WMO is releasing Series 3 of the future weather reports during the March 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to highlight the need for action to minimize the risks of extreme weather and climate events. Series 2 was launched in December 2014 during the Lima conference on the Climate Change Convention, and Series 1 was launched in September 2014 to support the UN Secretary-General’s call for action at the UN Climate Summit.
Links to the videos, hosted at, are available below on the date scheduled for their release:
(Broadcast and projection of these videos is authorized free of charge and without formal written permission provided that the original source is acknowledged and subject to the standard creative commons licensing conditions.)
Source: By email from Michael Williams, WMO, Switzerland

Monday, March 16, 2015

Women and Girls of Central and West Africa lack access to clean water and private spaces to manage menstruation - WSSCC & UN Women

On Friday, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and UN Women revealed that women and girls in Central and West Africa lack access to clean water, private spaces for managing their menstruation, and clean, functioning toilet facilities. In a series of studies, developed within the Joint Programme on Gender, Hygiene and Sanitation in West and Central Africa, researchers drew upon the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) prepared by the Open Working Group and the Secretary General’s Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 development agenda. The studies provide critical information about sociocultural taboos on menstrual hygiene and linked knowledge and practices in the region in order to highlight an area of global neglect with deleterious consequences for the education, mobility and economic opportunity for women and girls, societies, and economies.

At an event hosted by the Permanent Missions of Singapore and Senegal to the United Nations,  Government representatives, policymakers, researchers and development practitioners articulated the need to talk about this neglected area in women’s health and education- menstrual hygiene management. Informed by evidence from Central and West Africa, South Asia and wider, the discussion took stock of the gross neglect of this issue in awareness, policy, facilities and monitoring.
Key findings from the reports included:

·         At present, there are no public policies in West or Central Africa mentioning menstrual hygiene management. Although women manage the water, sanitation and hygiene services in their households and community and are key users as mothers and caregivers, they are not consulted in the design and maintenance elements of sanitation and water facilities. Since 2013, India’s sanitation policy and guidelines include menstrual hygiene management as a key element of the national campaign to achieve a clean India.

·         A lack of information, inadequate sanitary infrastructure and the persistence of certain beliefs have a negative impact on girls’ education, on female health and on women’s potential for economic empowerment. Half of all schools surveyed in the Kedougou region of Senegal did not even have toilets and 96% of the women surveyed said they did not regularly go to work while they were menstruating.

·         The majority of respondents in all regions surveyed said that toilets are the most common places for the disposal of used menstrual pads or cloths due to the absence of a waste management system.

·         90% of the women and girls interviewed in Kedougou have undergone female genital mutilations. Nearly a quarter of them reported infections during their menstrual period, suggesting a link between this practice and increased vulnerability to infections.

 Key policy recommendations from the event include the following:

·         Member states must break this silence, articulating menstrual needs in policies, budgets, programmes and monitoring systems and calling upon the global community to empower women and girls by guaranteeing safe menstrual hygiene management.

·         Menstruation is an indicator of female health and vitality. Sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy and programmes must ensure knowledge, safe conditions and dignity so that the trauma at puberty is replaced by pride and confidence.

·         Citizens, the media, schools and colleges, health practitioners, mothers and fathers must talk about menstruation and enable safe, dignified management in order to replace shame with pride.
·         Safe spaces for changing, cleaning and washing and drying at home, school, the market and work must be ensured for women and girls everywhere. This means changing the design, construction and maintenance of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to serve a human lifecycle by age, gender and physical ability.

·         Half of humanity is female. Women and girls menstruate as this enables them to have babies and reproduce humanity itself.  The silence, taboos, and stigma linked to menstruation violates a host of human rights.

Source: Email from Alison Bradley, WSSCC

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network India
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance, New York)

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver


Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

Please join hands with WIO's 'Mahanadi River Basin Initiative' to save India's 6th largest River...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Searching for an answer to farmers' woes...

Why are the children of farmers not interested to become farmers? If we can find real answers to this question, I think, we can address most of the problems farmers of this nation face today...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Speaking 'Climate Change and Water' at Kolkata today!

Good Morning from Kolkata, the City of Joy!

Will be speaking here on 'Climate Change and Water' in a Workshop that brings experts and practitioners from India and Bangladesh to discuss Climate Change in Bay of Bengal!

On an another note: Just realised, the cost of roadside food stalls is fast catching up with other cities. Re 10 for a cup of tea is a big rise compared to Re 5 just couple of years back! Don't know if it is leading towards further joy or adding more burden on people!!