water news roundup: disputed elections + a new cholera + water as a risk

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Periodically, we recap the latest news relative to the water sector and the areas we work.
Have news to add? Leave us a comment, let us know.

bozize

Disputed elections in C.A.R.

Central African Republic (C.A.R.), a country where charity: water has funded more than 200 water projects, held presidential elections on Sunday. Provisional results showed the incumbent, President Francois Bozize, won with 66% of the votes. But his opposition believes the election was rigged; courts are reviewing the votes next week.

C.A.R. has struggled with chronic political instability since winning independence from France in 1960. The most recent coup was staged by Mr. Bozize in 2003 to overthrow a man named Ange-Felix Patasse — one of his contenders in Sunday’s election. Mr. Patasse is leading the appeal to the election’s results.

We focused on C.A.R. during the 2010 September Campaign. Watch our video on the country’s history here >

Cholera: a new strain, harder to fight.

Cholera is one of the most dangerous and contagious waterborne diseases, especially in crowded areas lacking sanitation after a major disaster or displacement. But specialists studying cholera outbreaks in the last decade are saying that the strain of cholera we’ve seen most recently in Haiti is harsher than normal — and we don’t yet have an effective way to combat it.

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Of the up to 5 million cholera cases each year, the World Health Organization estimates that 100,000-120,000 are fatal. Researchers say a new strain causing 1-5% more deaths first appeared in the 1990s, in Bangladesh and India. In 2004, it popped up in Mozambique, then Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. Cholera struck Haiti in October and has since taken more than 2,000 lives.

The prevalence of the [new] strain may explain why we are seeing case fatality rates of 1% to 5% (or higher) in recent outbreaks.

– Edward Ryan, Harvard University

The most effective way to combat a cholera outbreak of any strain is with sanitation and ready access to safe water sources. As you probably know, we funded 10 large-scale water projects in rural Haiti last year — each with a sanitation component to help fight waterborne disease.

See more from The Guardian on this story here >
global risks

Global risks: water is crucial.

What makes or breaks a country’s economy? There’s no easy answer, of course — but the World Economic Forum just published data tracking what they consider to be “global risks” for economies around the world. About 580 leaders and officials helped compile the info and identify 37 risks; water security is a major one.

See how water is connected to social, environmental and economic risks — click through their interactive graphic here >

Our take on the report: Notice that water ranks above “chronic diseases” in costs to the global economy and is in the “very likely” category in terms of whether its effects will have major economic impact in the next decade. The Forum predicts these impacts will be on food supply, conflict between countries, political and social unrest, pressure on people to migrate from their current homes, spread of infectious waterborne diseases and loss of biodiversity in ecosystems. It’s a bleak prediction — but it does shed light on the effects of the water crisis, which we believe we can prevent with sustainable solutions. And we’re encouraged that water is a part of the conversation in Davos, where the world’s top businesspeople and economic specialists meet. Water is connected to everything: it deserves a chunk of the agenda at any global summit of leaders.

Keeping it local: our mycharity: water fundraisers in the news.

From Miami, Florida: Aiden, 7, gives up his birthday for water.

We try to keep up with our mycharity: water fundraisers, who are constantly making their local press for their inspiring or unique campaign ideas. Here are a few from the past month… if you spot more, just comment or send us an email to let us know:

From Alexandria, Va.: Nine-year-old Nathaniel gives up toys to fund water.

From the University of Alabama: Brother and sister raised enough to fund an entire project during the September Campaign in honor of their school.

From Lake Zurich, Ill.: Middle schoolers will hold a talent show this Friday for donations to water projects.

Thanks for joining the conversation! Remember to let us know if we missed anything.

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