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from Breakingviews:

Carlyle descends into a public-private inferno

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A Carlyle Group investment in Montana lays bare why so many roads are paved only with good intentions. The mayor of Missoula, a city of about 70,000 once known as Hellgate Trading Post, is trying to seize the local water utility from the buyout firm. The confrontation shows why joint efforts between public and private entities to improve infrastructure don’t proliferate.

John Engen, the mayor, on Wednesday sought court approval to acquire Mountain Water using the legal power known as eminent domain. This amounts to launching condemnation proceedings which are generally invoked when governments claim private property is needed for public use. In that context, the advance on Carlyle seems aggressive.

Missoula also tried to pry the water company from its last owner back in 1984. The Montana Supreme Court rejected that attempt. When Sam Wheeler decided to sell 27 years later, the bad blood lingered. Ultimately, Engen defied vocal opposition and threw his weight behind Carlyle in part because the deal included provisions for the city to bid for Mountain Water when the private equity firm was ready to exit.

from The Human Impact:

Only two Southern African countries on track to meet 2015 MDG water and sanitation targets – report

Some 120,000 children under the age of five in Southern African countries die every year from diarrhoea, which is primarily caused by lack of access to clean water and sanitation.

More than 40 million people in the region who should have received access to safe drinking water by 2015 will miss out, and 73 million will go without basic sanitation due to investment shortfalls, according to a report.

from Counterparties:

Megadrought

Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com.

On January 17, the governor of California declared a state of emergency due to the state’s megadrought. Most regions have only received 20-30% of their usual rain or snowfall this winter. This follows two straight less extreme, but still below normal, years of precipitation. According to US Trust’s Joseph Quinlan (via Steven Perlberg), California joins China, India, Australia, and the Middle East -- all of which “are experiencing multiyear water challenges that threaten to slow or impair economic activity".

from Photographers' Blog:

On the lifeblood of Cairo

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Cairo, Egypt

By Asmaa Waguih

On a bridge that overlooks the Nile, a couple stands close to one another, planning for their future. A fisherman passes under the bridge in the boat his sons are rowing and a larger vessel approaches blaring loud music, with young people dancing inside and enjoying a cruise. Elsewhere, school children stand on the bank near some rocks and take a dive into the water to cool off. Everything’s happening on the Nile – this is the lifeblood of Cairo.

I wanted to shoot a story about life on the river because in Cairo it attracts everybody, rich and poor. There are expensive places where you can go and hang out, have dinner and see a belly dancer, but the Nile is also a huge attraction for the majority of the population who are less well off and who can pay two or three Egyptian pounds (around 30 or 40 cents) to take a cheap shared cruise down the river at night.

from The Human Impact:

“Urinating in dams” to solve India’s drought? Minister faces backlash

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As India's western state of Maharashtra reels from the worst drought in over four decades and millions of people face the risk of hunger, a top official has sparked outrage with a crass, insensitive joke that he should urinate in the region's empty dams to solve water shortages.

Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and former irrigation minister, referred in a speech last weekend to a poor drought-hit farmer who had been on hunger strike for almost two months to demand more water.

from Global Investing:

There’s cash in that trash

There's cash in that trash.

Analysts at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch are expounding opportunities to profit from the burgeoning waste disposal industry, which it estimates at $1 trillion at present but says could double within the next decade. They have compiled a list of more than 80 companies which may benefit most from the push for recycling waste, generating energy from biomass and building facilities to process or reduce waste. It's an industry that is likely to grow exponentially as incomes rise, especially in emerging economies, BofA/ML says in a note:

We believe that the global dynamics of waste volumes mean that waste management offers numerous opportunities for those with exposure to the value chain. We see opportunities across waste management, industrial treatment, waste-to-energy, wastewater & sewage,...recycling, and sustainable packaging among other areas.

from The Human Impact:

UNDP’s Helen Clark: balancing water, food, energy key to post-2015 goals

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Global development goals due to replace current anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015 could be unified by a concept that calls for an integrated view of economic growth and development, said Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The concept -- the water-energy-food nexus -- aims to create a sustainable economy and a healthy environment by considering how each of the three elements interrelate and are affected by decision-making.

from The Human Impact:

Menstruation taboo puts 300 mln women in India at risk – experts

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More than 300 million women and girls in India do not have access to safe menstrual hygiene products, endangering their health, curtailing their education and putting their livelihoods at risk, say experts at the Geneva-based Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

At least 23 percent of girls in India leave school when they start menstruating and the rest miss an average of five days during each monthly menstrual period between the ages of 12 and 18, according to WSSCC, a partnership run by government, non-governmental organisation (NGO) members and a United  Nations-hosted secretariat.

from The Human Impact:

Think local on post-2015 U.N. global water-security goals – study

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Policymakers debating water security must consider how the world’s most vulnerable people cope with variable access to water or the next global development goals will fail to lift rural areas out of poverty, say the authors of a new study.

Ignoring the humanitarian aspects of water security sidesteps important socio-political, economic and environmental factors related to rainfall levels, according to the report from international charity WaterAid and the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

from The Human Impact:

New interactive web atlas pinpoints water risk hotspots

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A new online mapping tool for monitoring global water resources will improve water-risk management by showing patterns of water stress, flooding, drought and areas of water access, its creators say.

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, developed by environmental think-tank World Resources Institute (WRI) and an alliance of businesses and governments, can be customised by users to reflect a range of data with a few clicks of a computer mouse.

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