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IES focuses its attention on the Mekong River Basin

IES' new EnviroSecurity Assessment on the Province of Ca Mau, Vietnam
10 May 2010

IES focuses its attention on the Mekong River Basin - Image The Institute for Environmental Security (IES), under the Environmental Security for Poverty Alleviation program is running its 6th Environmental Security Assessment in the Ca Mau Province, Mekong Delta in Vietnam, one of the poorest areas in the entire Mekong River Basin. Ca Mau faces grave consequences from climate change, the destruction of mangrove forests for shrimp farming and the pollution from these shrimp farms, all leaving an already poor population even more vulnerable.

The objective of the IES is to investigate the interaction between the locals and the vulnerable coastal ecosystems by means of participatory and multidisciplinary methods and earth observation technology, assess the potential for conflict, draft recommendations and advocate to bring attention to root causes of the problems and the alternatives.

At the end of April in the Nam Can District of Ca Mau, IES successfully completed a participatory stakeholder workshop and interviews of key actors. The full ESA report, maps, posters and interactive mapper website will be published in the third quarter of this year.


Jeanna Hyde Hecker
Scientific Coordinator
Project Coordinator Mekong/Colombia

More information about ESPA Programme | More information about other ecosystems of global importance

IES Interactive Map on DRC now on-line

10 May 2010

IES Interactive Map on DRC now on-line - Image The Institute for Environmental Security, in collaboration with MARIS, is pleased to announce the launch of its new Interactive Map Viewer ?Vision? on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). ?Vision? aims to inform decision makers on the state of play in specific areas in an interactive way. Fourth in a series of webGIS interfaces, the DRC interactive map viewer allows internet users to select any combination of data layers and satellite images in order to run a visual analysis without having any special GIS expertise or software.

The interface is produced in the framework of the IES Environmental Security Assessment (ESA) of the Ngiri ? Tumba ? Mai Ndombe wetland landscape. One of the assessment?s main objectives is to investigate threats to environmental security and formulate recommendations for preventing conflicts and alleviating poverty. Some of the main threats the Congo Basin is facing today include temporal and spatial expansion of forest concessions, poaching mainly associated with logging operations, overfishing, and illegal trafficking of natural resources.

The Environmental Security Assessment study carried out in the Ngiri ?Tumba - Mai Ndombe area by IES highlighted some key security issues, which may explain recent clashes and raise the potential risk for violent conflict: - Land tenure, exploitation rights, control and access to wetland resources are not guaranteed; - Pervasive poverty; - Weak state capacity, including impunity and lack of government authority; - Absence or inefficiency of controls in economic sector; - Political disorder and disputes at provincial level; - Presence of local and uncontrolled armed groups, including former soldiers of Mobutu and of the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), and also poachers.

The Ngiri ? Tumba ? Mai Ndombe wetland has become the world?s largest wetland site of international importance, officially recognized by the Ramsar Convention in July 2008. Through the realisation of this interface, IES wants to keep a high level of attention on the situation in the DRC and encourage policy makers to respect their obligations regarding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other international environmental agreements on poverty alleviation and conservation of vulnerable areas in the DRC.

ESAs | Ramsar | MDGs | MARIS | DRC Interactive Map

Fuel for Securing Ecosystems and Livelihoods

13 November 2009

Fuel for Securing Ecosystems and Livelihoods - Image On 27 October, 2009, the Institute for Environmental Security and the IUCN-Netherlands Committee have published their report "Dealing with energy needs in humanitarian crisis response operations". The report presents the findings of a quick scan of energy-related policies and practices in emergency response operations.

Recent examples demonstrate that insufficient provision of energy sources in refugee and returnee operations can have dramatic ecological and humanitarian consequences. The report contains some examples from Nepal, Tanzania, DR Congo and Ethiopia, where the large consumption of firewood and timber has led to large scale deforestation and forest degradation. In Darfur, camp residents are forced to travel up to 15 kilometers - in some cases even 75 kilometers - to find firewood. This has dramatic impacts on health, (food) security and future livelihood opportunities of the affected people and host communities.

UNHCR and other emergency aid organizations have included substantial elements of sustainable energy supply in their policies and plans; however, implementation is often late or insufficient. Although there may be time and security constraints, careful planning of refugee and returnee camps and implementing sustainable energy solutions as soon as possible are key elements of humanitarian operations, states the report.

A wide variety of potential alternative energy sources and technologies already exists. Some interesting alternatives to firewood and charcoal are:
- fuel briquettes, that were used by Burmese refugees in Thailand;
- biofuels, for instance ethanol stoves, as tested in Ethiopia; and
- solar energy cookers, that were successfully introduced in Chad, Ethiopia and Nepal.

IUCN-NL and the IES recommend here that humanitarian aid organizations take the long-term ecosystem impacts into account from the start of all relief operations. Existing guidelines and regulations (such as the UNHCR Environmental Guidelines and the Sphere Handbook) should be used by all humanitarian agencies. Also, the implementation of sustainable fuel supply should be structurally included in the budgets of relief operations.

One other important recommendation in the report is to improve coordination of fuel-related initiatives. To start with, all Netherlands based humanitarian aid agencies are invited to engage in further dialogue, during a workshop to be organized on this issue by the IES and IUCN-NL.

Eric van de Giessen
FUEL Project Coordinator

FUEL project | Quick Scan report | Eric van de Giessen

Not a drop to spare

The Kenyan Mau forest and drought linkage
30 September 2009

courtesy google images Around 20,000 families in the Kenyan Mau forest hills fear to be evicted from their lands. The inhabitants of this region are held responsible for the droughts which have affected several million of their compatriots.

The Mau forest is a protected area at the heart of Kenya?s natural water supply system. Over the last fifteen years these forests have been cleared by many people, to provide for settlement and agricultural production. This has resulted in huge disruption of the forest ecosystem and the rivers and areas that depend on the forest hydrological services. Now a special task force appointed by the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga sees eviction of its inhabitants and replanting trees as the only solution to restore the region?s water deficit.

For many people, including some high-level politicians, this approach by the Kenyan government may come as an awful surprise, for others these actions come much too late. Although compensation measures have been promised, many families facing evictions from their farm are rightfully afraid to lose their sources of livelihood.

With thousands of people frustrated by these harsh government actions, strong (and possibly even violent) resistance can be expected. On the other hand, if remedial measures are not taken immediately to secure the livelihoods of the millions of people who depend on the Mau forest, the danger of civil conflict breaking out looms close.

BBC Article

IGAD Executive Secretary visits the Institute

17 June 2009

IGAD Executive Secretary visits the Institute - Image On June 10, the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), His Excellency Mr. Mahboub M. Maalim, paid a working visit to the IES. The high delegation further included IGAD Team Leader Professor Stefan Bruene, and Coordinator of Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Dr Atnafu Tola.

President and Chairman of the IES Wouter Veening and the East Africa Project Coordinator Eric van de Giessen were honoured to receive the high delegation in IES? office in The Hague.

In a lively meeting, a variety of issues was discussed, ranging from food security and to cross-border environmental cooperation in the IGAD region, which consists of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti. IGAD also presented its Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC). This Centre aims to provide timely climate early warning information and support specific sector applications to enable the region to cope with various risks associated with extreme climate variability and change.

The IES presented its Environmental Security for Poverty Alleviation programme, including the forthcoming Environmental Security Assessment on the Horn of Africa. IGAD and IES further discussed the possibilities of cooperation in the near future, in order to strengthen environmental security in the region.

More info on IGAD | IES Horn of Africa project

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