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The Herald – Zimbabwe
The water woes of Harare City Council are largely of its own making and it has to now initiate the action required to provide a lasting solution, not a difficult task since what is needed is restoration and expansion of assets already in place.
The main fact that those addressing Harare’s water problems must start with is that the main supply dams — Lake Chivero and Lake Manyame — that store the raw water for the city and its surrounding urban councils are downstream of the city. Even the two smaller dams, Harava and Seke, are downstream of some parts of Harare and of Ruwa and Epworth.
On the upside this means that the metropolitan area never need run short of raw water, even in a drought year, since more than half the water extracted can be recycled. It also means that the councils, businesses and residents of the area should be fanatical about not polluting their water supply by dumping toxins in the storm water drainage or the sewers.
On the downside there is the need to pump treated water uphill to all users, not that great a burden, and a need to ensure that all sewage treatment is done to a high level and that we are all very careful about what we dump in drains. But the law requires a high standard of sewage treatment, basically to something approaching drinking water quality, before effluent can be dumped back into a river and those polluting water sources can be hit by fines and even jail terms.
Up until the mid-1980s Harare could not treat its sewage to the required levels to allow discharge into rivers. The effluent was instead sprayed onto farmland near the city and even on those farms there were limits to what could be grown for eventual human consumption.
But in that decade both the Firle treatment works, which cope with the sewage from the Mukuvisi catchment, and the Crowborough works, which deals with the Marimba catchment, were rebuilt to the most modern standards. The consulting engineers who did the design work won international prizes.
As they were commissioned it was found that the water downstream of the two-sewage works was significantly higher quality the water upstream, so good was the treatment process.
Plans, still to be implemented, were being drawn up to upgrade the existing sewage works on the Nyatsime River draining Chitungwiza and the Ruwa River draining far eastern Harare and Ruwa and to build the eventual sewage plant on the Gwebi River, draining far northern Harare and Mount Hampden, to the same standard.
This was all part of the process of sorting out inherited deficiencies by doubling the size of the Morton Jaffray Works and doubling the distribution of water in Harare and surrounding towns.
At this time, with water in the supply dams being clean the main problems were higher than desired nutrient levels caused by fertiliser leeching. This fed the water hyacinth in Lake Chivero, but did not really affect the quality of water, just the quality of boating.
Four simple chemicals were required to treat water as a result: alum to coagulate the muck, lime to adjust the acidity and help clean, activated charcoal to remove the dissolved chemicals and chlorine to kill the bugs and keep them dead.
Then the rot started. The sewage treatment plants were not properly maintained. They were not expanded to cope with the greater loads from expanding populations and economic growth.
New plants were not built on the other drainage systems. Municipal inspectors that used to hunt down polluters were withdrawn, so some could use the drains to dump toxins without reprisal.
Even when money started becoming available to fix and expand the plants corruption and the like derailed the exercise.
So the result is that Lake Chivero, the main storage dam, is a filthy toxic stew close to ecological collapse. Even when good rains fall and the Manyame River flows strongly to fill that dam and flush it out, it just moves pollutants downstream to the larger Manyame Dam and messes that lake up.
Harare municipal engineers now have to use a cocktail of 12 chemicals, instead of a basic four, to clean the water at vast expense, more than the city can afford. To give the water engineers their due, the treated water is reasonable quality although in some areas problems with distribution pipes and filthy feeder reservoirs discolour the water.
And the distribution network problems are another mess that the city needs to attend to.
What is now needed is for the entire metropolitan area to take its water seriously. The modern activated plants already there need to be restored and expanded. The more basic plants on other basins need to be rebuilt with modern technology. Polluters need to be hunted down and stopped. That will at least start the process of cleaning the water as only clean non-toxic water will be flowing in.
As the water being treated starts off being cleaner, treatment costs fall fast, freeing up funds to fix the distribution network.
Harare and its satellite towns are the centre of an aspiring modern state. Yet water and sewage treatment are kept at levels that would disgrace a Victorian parish. We need to stop complaining and start doing something.
And what is most irritating is that we know, technically, exactly what we need to do yet our councils do not seem to care.
They need to change.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Sifelani Tsiko Senior Writer
Zimbabwe today joins the world in commemorating the International Workers’ Day amid brighter prospects that the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) Bill, which seeks to confer powers and functions of the forum in relation to consultation, cooperation and negotiation on social and economic issues by Government, business and labour will create a better platform for dialogue on labour matters.
The Government has taken positive steps to show its commitment by gazetting the TNF Bill, which has taken a long time to develop.
Furthermore, TNF Bill has been tabled in the National Assembly and prospects are bright that it will sail through by end of May, in a development that will enhance the efficient settlement of disputes between labour and employers.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza is quite optimistic about the TNF Bill.
“We are quite excited about the TNF Bill. It is a step in the right direction and it is set to help both parties in the long run.
“The Bill has been outstanding for seven years and I hope that by the end of May, it will have passed through the National Assembly,” she was quoted saying.
“We have been trying to improve our relations with workers since the disturbances that took place in January such that we are now meeting regularly with both Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU).”
Dialogue between Government and labour has been a major priority for the Second Republic.
Improved relations between employers and workers are a vital component of economic growth and the prevention of conflicts that have in the past cost the country millions of dollars in lost production time, led to the loss of lives and damage of property.
It is heart-warming to learn that Minister Nzenza has already hammered a deal to meet every two weeks with unions to discuss pressing matters and iron out differences.
The going for the majority of poor workers is rough, especially after the sky rocketing of prices of basic commodities and services.
Earnings of the vast majority of workers have been deeply eroded and given the difficult economic circumstances we are in, its important for the Government, employers and labour to engage each other to prevent conflicts.
Legal experts and labour unions are all optimistic that the TNF Bill will sail through with minor or no amendments.
Among other things, Clause 3 of the Bill sets out the functions of the TNF, which is a body corporate capable of suing and being sued in its name.
The functions of the forum include consulting and negotiating over social and economic issues and submitting recommendations to Cabinet.
It will negotiate a social contract as and when necessary and foster cooperation of the tripartite constituents and consult other key stakeholders and contribute to the formulation and implementation of social and economic policies.
The TNF will also follow up and monitor implementation of agreements.
Government representatives to the forum will be appointed by the President, seven labour members nominated by labour and appointed by the line minister and seven business members.
There will be two observers drawn from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and the National Economic Consultative Forum.
Clause 4 of the Bill sets out the qualifications of members, among them that one should be a citizen or permanently resident in Zimbabwe, must not have been declared insolvent and should not have a criminal record.
Clause 5 stipulates that it is the preserve of each constituency to remove a member from the main TNF provided that the removal should not take effect before the expiry of 14 days from the date of notification.
Clause 8 stipulates that the agenda of the main TNF should be set by the management committee composed of representatives from the ministry responsible for labour, business as nominated by the respective principals.
Clause 10 provides that decisions of the main TNF shall be by consensus.
The decisions of the main TNF within the domain of socio-economic policy shall form recommendations to Cabinet.
Apart from this Bill, the Government must be lauded for availing its workers non-monetary benefits that are critical in enhancing their livelihoods besides giving them a salary.
To demonstrate its commitment, Government rolled out a $60 million housing facility for civil servants in the past few months.
Despite criticism from some quarters, this goes a long way in improving the conditions of service for workers through a major shift away from the traditional focus on salaries only.
Government is also keen to implement an all-round improvement of standards of living for workers through the provision of decent housing, quality health, productive education and a sustainable transport system among other demands.
What the Government has done must also be embraced by all other major corporates in the country to help meet the needs of workers in the private sector.
Upholding workers rights and improving their conditions of service can help the country to meet its Sustainable Development Goals on labour rights and job creation.
This, too, has a major bearing in the transformation of the country as it moves progressively towards becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Problems facing workers are quite diverse and massive, given the rising prices and austerity measures being taken by Government and most companies.
As the country marks the Workers’ Day —all players — Government, private sector employers and labour should all take time to reflect and dialogue on the gravity of challenges confronting the country’s workers.
Prices are a major grievance and dialogue by all parties could help find some solutions to the pressing problems facing the workers.
Fuel price increases have also pushed up the cost of doing business in the country, with the worker bearing the brunt.
Workers are now demanding a pay rise given the erosion of their earnings at a time when most businesses are struggling to remain operational.
In a response to the plight of its workers, on April 1 this year, Government announced a RTGS$400 million cost of living adjustment allowance for civil servants.
The private sector too, needs to do the same to cushion workers from rising prices.
Apart from settling the workers’ demands for pay increases, the country must not lose sight of its: “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
Focus on attracting investment could also spur job creation and instil some hope in thousands of jobless people in the country.
Ever since President Mnangagwa assumed office, he has emphasised the need to attract foreign investment to create jobs and boost national economic growth.
His Government has since adopted a battery of measures to tweak archaic rules and operations that deter investment and job creation.
Furthermore, he has said he remained open to new ideas and views that could be actionable to boost job creation, investment and economic growth.
Through President Mnangagwa’s leadership, the country has scored major successes in attracting investment commitments running into billions of dollars.
All this is largely due to the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra and a culture that he is spearheading through a spirit of openness, honesty and hard work.
The thrust of his administration to press for transparency and accountability marks complete departure from the previous administration which was riddled with bureaucratic inefficiencies, corruption, lack of transparency and accountability — something which scarred potential investors.
Confidence has enveloped the business sector and charmed the international community to embrace Zimbabwe.
Scores of foreign investors are now trekking to the country to scout for business opportunities and expand their business interests — a move which is likely to create jobs and instill hope among the jobless people.
Handouts bring misery and poverty, while jobs bring dignity to people.
All efforts to create jobs must be promoted and given priority in the country.
But as the country moves to attract huge investments in various sectors, it must also ensure that it balances its appetite to create jobs with the need to create better conditions for its workers, with better wages, safe working conditions and union rights.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Stephanie von Friedeburg
Governments are often more eager to invest in physical infrastructure – such as roads, bridges, and airports – than in human capital, through channels like health care, education, and skills training. This can be good politics, because it enables leaders to deliver concrete, visible results over the course of a few years. But the best way to ensure that economies grow and prosper in the long term is to ensure that citizens are healthy and educated.
With technology’s continuing advance, this is becoming easier for governments to achieve. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforms some sectors (notably, manufacturing) and creates new fields (such as robotics, 3D printing, and autonomous vehicles), it is also enabling new approaches to health care and education.
Already, technology has proved effective for lowering costs, expanding access, and improving quality in both the education and health care fields. The Internet and mobile-phone technology have enabled scarce medical specialists to serve patients in remote places using telemedicine, and facilitated the rise of distance-learning university campuses, giving students everywhere access to professors who previously were available only to those in major cities or on university campuses.
Many individuals in developed countries have taken to wearing watches and bracelets that measure their activity, heart rate, and sleep quality. By fostering a greater awareness of their physical condition, such devices spur people to adopt healthier habits, potentially reducing their risk of chronic disease, a major contributor to health-care costs worldwide.
But these devices have even greater potential to improve health, and today’s innovators are using cutting-edge technology to build on these successes. Unlike traditional patient records, stored in individual doctors’ offices, the data collected by such “wearables” are aggregated and analyzed. This can improve diagnostics, while helping to compensate for skills shortages in medical labor markets.
The Singapore-based company Tricog, for example, has developed algorithms to read electrocardiograms, flagging problem cases for doctors. This efficiency-boosting technology – which enables doctors to initiate treatment within minutes instead of hours – is already proving useful in India, where hospitals often suffer from a lack of trained cardiologists.
Big Data analytics and machine learning also enable greater personalization of health services. Among other things, these technologies can help in treating noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and cancer, which are fast becoming the biggest health-care challenge facing emerging economies.
Similarly, innovators in online learning – a $165 billion sector that is growing by 5% per year – are using disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence to develop advanced tutoring tools and improve personalization. For example, BYJU’S, a learning app —and a client of the International Finance Corporation (IFC)—has taken advantage of new technologies to make high-quality math and science tutoring available to K-12 students who would otherwise be excluded because they live in remote areas or have limited mobility.
In higher education, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms offer the flexibility workers need to pursue the lifelong learning required by the twenty-first-century labor market. One such platform is Coursera (also an IFC client), which works with universities and other organizations to offer online courses.
After its launch in 2012, Coursera worked hard to expand into the developing world. By 2015, almost half of the platform’s subscribers were located in emerging markets. Like other MOOC platforms, Coursera’s business model continues to evolve; most recently, it added upskilling services for enterprises, and it has been forging partnerships with traditional campus-based institutions to develop online degrees.
Six years ago, when IFC, seeking to mobilize early financial support for startups offering products relevant to emerging markets, first dipped its toes in EdTech waters, the path to commercial sustainability was far from clear. Now, however, EdTech companies have successfully developed profitable, scalable business models that can be applied elsewhere.
Since its founding in 2011, for example, BYJU’S has become a major global player with more than two million subscribers, 30 million app downloads, and a valuation of over $5 billion. As we work with the private sector to close gaps in access to quality health care and education in emerging economies, such success stories provide useful models.
Of course, using technology to transform education and health care carries some risks. Safeguarding the privacy of patient records and student test scores must be a top priority. And no one should think that AI-enabled diagnostic tools will displace doctors, or that online learning platforms should supplant teachers – especially when it comes to developing the socio-emotional skills that tomorrow’s job market will demand.
But the potential benefits of disruptive technologies for economic growth, sustainability, and human wellbeing are simply too great to pass up. Considering the payoff from today’s investments in these areas – particularly in the emerging economies – the risks are undoubtedly worth taking.