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NGUYO: How standards can address water scarcity

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Adopting standards for reuse can help address water scarcity hurdles

drinking water
4.5 billion people still lack safely managed sanitation services, particularly in rural areas. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Today is World Water Day – a global initiative celebrated annually on March 22 – advocating for sustainable ways of managing the world’s water resources.

The focus is on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 – dubbed “Leaving no one behind” – which means ensuring access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. This is the United Nation’s roadmap to ensure every human being benefits from getting clean, fresh water. But available statistics make this a mirage – somewhat.

Although water covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface, only a fraction of it is freshwater. The available drinking water is unevenly distributed across the globe – polluted or disputed – which means billions of people are still living without safe water.

The current situation also means that 4.5 billion people still lack safely managed sanitation services, particularly in rural areas.

By 2030, water scarcity in mainly arid and semi-arid areas will have displaced between 24 and 700 million people, according to UN Water – the United Nations coordinating body on water issues.

According to the World Health Organisation, water scarcity affects four out of every 10 people. A lack of water and poor water quality increases the risk of diarrhoea, which kills approximately 2.2 million people every year.

So, what is keeping us from getting there and how can ISO standards make a difference?

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It is noteworthy that the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has made water one of its key strategic priorities. ISO has developed more than 1,400 standards relating to water, each representing best practice in several sectors including water quality, water supply, wastewater and stormwater systems, and infrastructure.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has taken a frontline role in engaging water sector players to ensure applicable procedures and standards across the water supply chain are adhered to.

Kebs has also ensured that technical competence of its testing laboratories is such that results are reliable and universally accepted. These lab tests must operate in accordance with requirements of the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025.

In pursuit of our critical role of protecting consumers from harmful sub-standard products, facilitating trade and protecting the environment, Kebs is implementing at least four water sector related standards meant to address issues on water quality, recycling, supply systems, among others.

For instance, the KS EAS 12:2018 is an East African Standard that specifies requirements, sampling and test methods for portable water intended for direct human consumption, domestic and industrial use.

The KS EAS 153:2018 specifies requirements and sampling and test methods for packaged drinking water for direct human consumption and applies to drinking water, carbonated drinking/sparkling drinking water and alkaline drinking water.

The KS EAS 13:2018 specifies requirements for packaged mineral water for human consumption. Another key standard addressing SDG 6 is ISO 30500 on non-sewered sanitation systems.

By offering basic requirements for the design and testing of stand-alone faecal sludge treatment units, ISO 30500 will help address the health needs of many communities worldwide.

The writer is acting Managing Director, Kenya Bureau of Standards.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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