The Stream, January 30: China Water Pollution Funds Misspent

The Global Rundown

Officials in China misspent billions of dollars meant to prevent water pollution last year, a report found. The United Nations warned that millions of people in the Horn of Africa face hunger due to drought. The drought could also cut manufacturing in Kenya. Syrian government forces recaptured the water supply for Damascus. Brazil announced plans to privatize operation of the new Sao Francisco river diversion. The closure of a gold mine in South Africa left thousands of people without adequate power, water, and sewage services.

“The catastrophe at Blyvooruitzicht is the result of a toxic cocktail involving private sector abdication of responsibility, an inadequate legislative framework and state enforcement effort.” –Excerpt from a report released by human rights group detailing the plight of communities surrounding the Blyvooruitzicht gold mine in South Africa. The mine closed four years ago, and crumbling water, power, and sewage infrastructure now threatens public health, according to the report. (Bloomberg)

By The Numbers

17 million people Number experiencing emergency food shortages and hunger in more than half a dozen countries across the drought-hit Horn of Africa. “If response is not immediate and sufficient, the risks are massive and the costs high,” the United Nations warned. FAO

5-6 percent Estimated growth rate for Kenya’s economy this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Still, industry groups say that an ongoing drought could drag down growth in the manufacturing sector. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Provincial governments in China misspent more than $2.5 billion meant to prevent water pollution in 2016, according to a report by the National Audit Office. The money was destined for nearly 400 projects, part of China’s efforts to enforce environmental laws and address public concern over poor air, water, and soil quality. Reuters ; Xinhua

In context: Learn how energy and food production affect China’s water supplies.

On The Radar

Syrian government forces are once again in control of the primary water supply for Damascus, which was cut off by fighting in late December and has since been a focal point of clashes between the government and rebels. The cuts left more than 5 million people in the city without a reliable water source. BBC News

More than 10 years after it began, a canal project to divert water from Brazil’s Sao Francisco river to four northeastern states could make its first deliveries in March. The government announced Friday that it is considering a public-private partnership to operate the 470-kilometer canal system. Reuters