Books & products

The GEO Year Book 2003 is the first report in a new annual series from UNEP, presenting major environmental issues and developments of the year at both global and regional levels. It includes a special Feature Focus on Water and its critical role in realizing internationally agreed goals and targets, including those in the Millennium Declaration and the WSSD Plan of Implementation. A section on Emerging Challenges – New Findings, focusing on the nitrogen cycle and marine fisheries, describes some of the latest scientific knowledge. The Year Book also uses Indicators to highlight trends in many of the global and regional environmental issues featured in previous GEO reports. It will be an important guide for policy makers. Copies can be ordered from UNEP’s online bookstore:
Hippos are saving thousands of women and children in southern Africa from the daily backbreaking trudge to collect water. The Hippo Water Roller is a plastic drum, carrying 90 litres of water, that is pushed along the ground, even over rough terrain. It allows women and children to collect five times as much water as they would normally carry in a bucket, increasing their supplies and relieving them from making repeated journeys to the water source – both improving health and saving time for other vital activities. However their modest cost, $50, is still beyond the means of most poor people and the Hippo Water Roller Project is trying to raise money from business to fund their distribution.
Some 45 ministers of water and environment from across Africa launched an action plan to meet the Millennium Development Goals on water, in December. Meeting at the Pan-African Implementation and Partnership Conference in Addis Ababa, they resolved to give special attention to countries likely to miss their targets for water and sanitation. They made proposals for concrete actions, launched initiatives – including the Africa Water Facility with targeted funding of over $600 million for medium-term projects – and signed a joint declaration with the European Commission. More than 300 million people on the continent lack reasonable access to safe water and 14 of its countries are suffering from water stress or scarcity.
Recycled glass from used wine bottles is to be used to filter drinking water and purify sewage. Backed by a grant from the European Union and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a British company is building a factory in Scotland to turn the bottles into ‘green sand’ for the purpose. It is thought that the process, once fully developed, could both save the quarrying of high quality sand, and provide a use for most of the bottles put out for recycling in Britain. (More information at
Oxen, one of the most traditional of all sources of power, are being harnessed to a modern task – turning brackish groundwater into drinking water. The Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute in Gujarat, India, has developed a desalination plant driven by two bulls constantly circling on the end of a 4-metre shaft. Over an eight-hour day, the system can produce enough water for drinking and cooking for a village of 1,000 people. The Institute is now working to modify the system to desalinate seawater for coastal settlements.
A technique developed by the Romans has proved more effective than modern technology in stabilizing river banks, the UK Construction Industry Research and Information Association concludes.

Stakes of live willow, woven into trellises, are up to nine time cheaper than sheet piling, work more effectively and look better, it says. (For more information see the Slimbridge Wetland Plants website at

PHOTOGRAPHS: Grant Gibbs, Dryden Aqua, CSMCRI, Slimbridge Wetland Plants

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Töpfer | Action for tomorrow | Turning words into action | One hand washes the other | People | Fragile resource | Realizing the dream | Washing away poverty | At a glance: Water and sanitation | Music makes magic – Angélique Kidjo | Targeting sanitation | In a city like Mumbai | Flowing from the bottom up | Books & products | Watering a thirsty land | Peace through parks | Reaching the unheard