April 9, 2014

IRC joins dialogue in Washington on Sanitation and Water for All

IRC and WaterSan Perspective
April 09, 2014

The third Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting will be held at the World Bank in Washington DC on 11 April 2014. It is a major milestone as developing and donor countries, and international organisations meet to discuss and commit to improved access to sanitation and water for all.

The Dutch based think-and-do tank IRC says water, sanitation and hygiene deserve the attention of the highest level policymakers around the world.

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The SWA High Level Meetings are organized to address the issue that nearly 800 million people do not have access to clean drinking water, and over a third of the world’s population lives without adequate sanitation facilities.

Held once every two years, the SWA High Level Meetings bring together ministers of finance, water and sanitation from developing countries; ministers of development cooperation from donor countries such as the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States; high-level representatives from development banks such as the African Development Bank and the World Bank; and leading sanitation and water organisations.

DEVCO Eco Composting Toilet

DEVCO Eco Composting Toilet

As an active member since the SWA launch in 2009, leading water and sanitation organisation IRC has publicly committed to and wishes to be held accountable for five statements , one of them being to:

“Contribute to driving a global movement, in partnership with local and national govern­ments and other organizations, that promotes the delivery of sustainable services to achieve safe water, sanitation and hygiene services for everyone, forever by 2030.”

In a news statement, IRC notes that it believes that today’s world water crisis is not just about scarcity or lack of hardware. Systems that should give people access break down, or provide sub-standard services on a massive scale across the world. IRC believes that strengthening the ability of governments to lead water and sanitation services is not only the best route to bring improvements to scale, but the only viable strategy in preparing for a post-aid era.

After the High Level meeting, IRC says it will continue to support its partner countries and other sector players in implementing its commitments. Through its engagement in SWA working groups, IRC actively contributes to lesson learning and sharing among the SWA partners and strengthens the sector’s knowledge base on successful approaches to achieve sustainable service delivery for everyone, forever.

April 9, 2014

Ministers to Make New Promises on Water and Sanitation at SWA Meeting

WaterAid Nigeria and WaterSan Perspective
April 09, 2014

Ministers from nearly 50 countries including Nigeria will submit new commitments to increase access to water and sanitation at the Sanitation and Water for All High-Level Meeting in Washington, DC, USA, on Friday, 11 April 2014.

The Sanitation and Water for All partnership High-Level Meeting, which is being held in conjunction with the 2014 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, will be opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

The Sanitation and Water for All partnership is a global partnership of over 90 developing country governments, donors, civil society organizations and other development partners working together to catalyse political leadership and action, improve accountability and use scarce resources more effectively.

The High Level Meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, of which WaterAid was a founding partner, brings together this coalition of more than 90 partners, including organisations such as the World Bank and UNICEF, to work towards a common vision of universal access to safe water and adequate sanitation.

Two years ago, 48 countries, including Nigeria, made 415 commitments toward expanding access to safe water and sanitation. This year, countries will assess their progress and make new efforts to continue that momentum.

March 21, 2014

2014 World Water Day Theme To Spur Increased Links Between Water And Energy Sectors In SADC

Barbara Lopi
March 21, 2014

As the international community commemorates the 2014 World Water Day tomorrow, March 22 whose theme is Water and Energy, Member States in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should consider the occasion as an added opportunity in their efforts towards improved, combined and coordinated management of water and energy.

World Water Day (WWD) is an international event which is held every year on 22 March to focus global attention on the importance of water and the need for sustainable management of the resource.

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SIWI Logo

WWD 2014 Logo

WWD 2014 Logo

The goal for this year’s WWD is to encourage increased awareness among decision-makers, inside and outside the water and energy domains, as well as stakeholders and practitioners about the interlinkages, potential synergies and trade-offs. Furthermore, the goal of this year’s theme is to highlight the need for appropriate responses and regulatory frameworks that account for both water and energy priorities.

The theme, water and energy, therefore, challenges national governments and other stakeholders to collectively address the water-energy nexus, particularly addressing inequities, especially for the majority who are struggling to survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services.

One of the overarching key messages behind the 2014 WWD theme of water and energy is that, “water requires energy and energy requires water”. This is because water is required to produce energy and energy is needed for the extraction, treatment, and distribution of water as well as its collection and treatment after use.

Clean water shortage affects the lives of individuals and the vitality of entire communities

Clean water shortage affects the lives of individuals and the vitality of entire communities

The water and energy sectors are closely interlinked and interdependent, hence the need for more integrated planning and crosscutting frameworks that will bridge ministries and sectors, leading the way to interlinked energy security and sustainable water use.

The SADC region which comprises of Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, has more than 40 per cent of its Member States having water and energy sectors sitting in one ministry, thereby facilitating sectoral linkages.

The growing demand for limited water supplies in the SADC Member States put increasing pressure on water intensive energy producers to seek alternative approaches, especially in areas where energy is competing with other major water users such as agriculture, manufacturing, drinking water and sanitation services for cities. Furthermore, with increasing climate variability, many parts of the region will start to experience water restrictions in their uses to maintain healthy ecosystems.

In October last year, delegates from SADC Member States who were attending the 6th SADC Multi-Stakeholder Water Dialogue held under the theme, Watering Development in SADC: Exploring the Water, Energy and Food Nexus acknowledged the interlinks between water and energy and called for more practical interventions to facilitate breaking down the culture of working in sectoral silos towards integrated planning and implementation of development programmes.

The delegates noted that while policy instruments existed at the SADC regional level which took cognizance of the nexus approach, such as the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the SADC Regional Water Policy, more practical interventions were needed to break the practice of working in silos.

Other fundamental frameworks that are in place to ease coordination and integrated planning between the water and energy sectors in the SADC region are the revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses, and the Southern African vision for water, life and the environment.

Competition for water resources is perceived by a majority of countries to have increased over the past 20 years

Competition for water resources is perceived by a majority of countries to have increased over the past 20 years

As the region will be joining the rest of the world in commemorating the 2014 World Water Day, activities that will improve understanding of the connections and effects that the water and energy sectors have on each other should be promoted to facilitate improved coordination in planning and subsequently result in optimized investments and reduction in inefficiencies.

Integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues can achieve greater economic and social impacts, hence governments need to be encouraged to create enabling environments to foster greater coordination between the water and energy domains. – Barbara Lopi is the communications and Awareness Expert in the Water Sector at the SADC Secretariat.

March 21, 2014

Kenya: Low Knowledge Levels On Water and Integrity Reported, Despite Huge Funding In the Sector

Mary Mwendwa
March 21, 2014

Many Kenyans have no idea of where to get quality services on water related issues despite the huge financing the sector has attracted in the recent times; Water experts have noted.

Climate change phenomena and poor planning and pollution are some of the factors that have left many Kenyan’s taps dry.

For example, in Nairobi town, 20 years ago, the city had clean and safe drinking water for its small population by then. With a current population of 3 million, with a majority of its population living in informal settlements, clean, affordable and regular water is no longer guaranteed to these people. Water cartels have flooded the water market, making the basic commodity expensive for people.

In Kibera, one of Kenya’s largest slums, water goes for 10sh per 50 kg container. A price that many say is far too high depending on the water they need to use in a given day.

Kibera Slum in Nairobi, Kenya

Kibera Slum in Nairobi, Kenya

According to Athi Water Services Board, a body that is mandated to oversee water supply in Nairobi, informal settlements are yet to be incorporated in their plans. They say many dwellers in the sector cannot afford the connection fee for water supply .They however, add they are working with partners like World Bank who to see how these people will be placed in the water connection plans of the city.

Agnes kyoli, a mother of three in her late 30s,who lives in one of Nairobi suburbs, Kasarani, complains, “I only get water three times per week in my house, any it only flow very late at night. This means that I have to cut down on my sleep and spent almost the whole night fetching this precious commodity. My bill of 800 ksh per month remains the same. I have no idea who to complain to. I am now used to this water problem.”Same sentiments are echoed by her neighbor who seemed so annoyed with the whole issues.

Prof. Munguti says the water sector is facing huge challenges that without proper legislation more and more taps will still run dry in the country. So much water is lost to unscrupulous dealers with illegal connections.”We need a law that will regulate all these and also the law should be able to reduce the number of too many water regulatory bodies which confuse the public on their roles and mandates. I believe these many bodies might be just another hub for corrupt individuals who will always play blame games as people suffer.”

He also notes how County governments have a major role to play on water sector. “Counties can come up with their own water use plans and supply enough water to their people without any problems,” he concludes.

More than half the diseases worldwide are caused by dirty water like the one above.

More than half the diseases worldwide are caused by dirty water like the one above.

During a tour that was aimed at collecting views from people about the proposed water bill 2013, many people had less information on where to access water information. “For example in Coast province, knowledge on water was too low as compared to other regions in the country. In western human rights and water integrity was the hottest issue among the community members.

In Tana River district they had issues with national regulatory body which manages water in the region. All these are just some of the indicators that give us an overview of how many Kenyans have less information regarding water accessibility,” Prof.Munguti Katua, Centre For Social Planning administration Development (CESPAD) says.

The Kenya water Act 2002,spearheaded more resource generation , government commitment and development partners which has resulted in a proposed water Bill 2013 which is still being worked on.

Water Resource Users Associations (Wruas) with their current functions of equal distribution and sustainable use of water is among the success stories , the water sector has managed to come up with.

These are eight regional Water Services Boards (WSBs) in charge of asset management through Service Provision Agreements (SPAs). The Act also created a national regulatory board (WASREB) that carries out performance benchmarking and is in charge of approving SPAs and tariff adjustments. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is in charge of policies for water supply and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation is in charge of policies for sanitation.

The Bill however, points out areas of major concerns; unclear mandates, where citizens are not able to hold the government to account, appointments to the bodies, where there is limited cushioning of the institutions from political interference by appointing authorities.

To improve on governance in the sector, it recommends; a defined framework for monitoring, evaluation and reporting for the proposed institutions and devolved structures so as to encourage information sharing in public participation in decision making and a need to plan for frequent water forums by stakeholders , where water issues would be discussed and recommended.

March 11, 2014

Zambia to Hold First African Water Integrity Summit

Wallace Mawire
March 11, 2014

Zambia will on April 29 to 30, 2014 host the first African water integrity summit.The summit “Accelerating towards a Water Secure World” takes place in Lusaka, Zambia.

Hosted by UNDP-Water Governance Facility, The Water Integrity Network, UNDP/Cap-Net, WaterNet and the Stockholm International Water Institute, the summit marks the conclusion of a successful three-year regional integrity training programme in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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SIWI Logo

The programme successfully trained more than 400 stakeholders across 36 countries, the impact of which will be documented and analyzed at the summit, in order to further disseminate practical insights on how to respond to misconduct in the water sector.

Gathering water sector stakeholders from Western, Southern and Eastern Africa to exchange knowledge and experiences, the conference aims to encourage and stimulate dialogue on learning how corruption can be addressed in the water sector at a regional and national level.

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

The purpose of the summit is to share know-how, experiences, successful tools and challenges when implementing water integrity action plans. It will contribute to building political ownership for water integrity practice, assess the gaps and develop a way forward for further enhancing integrity in the water sector.

March 11, 2014

Zambia: Government Formulates a 3-Year Strategy to Improve Water Resource Infrastructure

Newton Sibanda
April 11, 2014

The Zambian government has formulated a strategic plan to improve water resource infrastructure covering 2013 to 2016, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma has said.

Mr Yaluma says Government’s vision is to increase access to water and sanitation to over 80 percent by 2016 for both rural and urban areas.

Zambia’s Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma

Zambia’s Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma

He was speaking in Lusaka during a national stakeholders’ consultative meeting on water hosted by Global Water Partnership Southern Africa.

The proportion of population with access to safe water supply in rural areas stands at 66 percent and 82 percent for urban areas, while the proportion of population with access to adequate sanitation in rural and urban areas stands at 51 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

Mr Yaluma said Government will also develop skills to ensure effective water resource management and efficient provision of reliable and safe water and sanitation services.

“We will provide a long-term implementation framework for water-related programmes in the national development plans,” the minister said.

Mr Yaluma said Government has created an enabling environment through the development of the revised national water policy of 2010 and the Water Resources Management Act of 2011.

He said the Water Resources Management Act provides legal and institutional frameworks for the water sector.

A water Kiosk in Ndirande Malawi. In places without access to clean water children and walk long distances, use dirty water from ponds and rivers or they are charged large amounts of money by water sellers.

A water Kiosk in Ndirande Malawi. In places without access to clean water children and walk long distances, use dirty water from ponds and rivers or they are charged large amounts of money by water sellers.

Mr Yaluma is also happy that the development of the water and sanitation policy by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing has advanced.

February 19, 2014

Uganda: Living Water International Helps Thousands to Access Clean Water

Taremwa Charlotte
February 19th 2014

Living Water International, Uganda a faith-based non-profit organization that helps communities in developing countries to acquire safe drinking water has constructed up to 263 boreholes in North Eastern Region Uganda.

The move has helped thousands of households in the region to access safe water.

About a quarter of Uganda’s population lack access to safe water

About a quarter of Uganda’s population lack access to safe water

North Eastern Region Uganda region includes the semi-arid Karamoja sub region where water scarcity has been a big challenge. Most people in this region derive their livelihood from pastoralism since rainfall is not sufficient to support agriculture.

Alex Muhumuza, the Programs Manager at the western region office for Living Water International, Uganda says the problem of water shortage has been a big challenge to the people of Karamoja and their livestock.

“Harvesting rainwater is also a challenge because people there live in grass-thatched houses but now they have at least boreholes which can provide clean water,” notes Muhumuza

A drilling ridge used in the construction of boreholes

A drilling ridge used in the construction of boreholes

The agency has also supported communities in southwestern Uganda to access clean water by constructing two gravity-water flow systems and seven rainwater tanks in Ruhaama county Ntugamo district and Nyabushozi, in Kiruhura district.

“People in these areas dig water dams but when drought comes, the dams dry up so the water reserved in tanks can be used,” elaborates Muhumuza

February 19, 2014

Journalists Gather In Cotonou to Place Spotlight on African Commitments to Water and Sanitation

WaterSan Perspective and
WSSCC – Water Supply & Sanitation, Collaborative Council
February 19, 1014

Less than a year from the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), journalists in Africa are casting a critical eye on the progress in water, sanitation and hygiene improvements being achieved by African governments, and the on-going challenges in this priority sector. This week, some 40 journalists and other stakeholders are gathering in a regional media workshop organized by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) in Cotonou, Benin.

Overview of the room during the opening session

Overview of the room during the opening session

At the global level, rates of open defecation have been substantially reduced, but considerable disparities are still apparent between the different regions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) / United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme report of 2013, “Eastern Asia, South-eastern Asia and the Latin America and Caribbean regions have seen a steady decline since the JMP’s earliest measurements describing conditions in 1990.

In Southern Asia, the population practising open defecation peaked around 1995, after which it declined. Only in sub-Saharan Africa is the number of people defecating in the open still increasing.”

In terms of water supply, inequalities also persist. “Of the 2.1 billion people who gained access since 1990, almost two thirds, 1.3 billion lived in urban areas. By the end of 2011, 83% of the population without access to an improved drinking water source lived in rural areas.” Women are usually responsible for supplying their households with safe drinking water, but in some cases the water is not safe. Recent studies have lifted the lid on the difficulties for them, particularly rural women.

These include, but are not limited to: time wasted fetching water or finding a private place to defecate which has economic and social implications, discrimination, and also health risks associated with poor management of menstrual hygiene.

Speaking to participants at the opening ceremony of the regional meeting, Amanda Marlin, WSSCC Programme Manager for Advocacy and Communications, said that the delay in achieving WASH goals posed huge challenges in both rural and urban areas.

“We know that the lack of sanitation and drinking-water supply presents economic and health-related problems for individuals and communities,” Ms. Marlin said. “The disparity between the rural and urban areas in terms of distribution and service provision is a challenge. The MDGs helped us achieve great outcomes but there is still room for improvement. Unfortunately, we are off track for the sanitation target. Reducing and eliminating inequalities is key.”

Mme Amanda MARLIN, WSSCC Programme Manager Communications & Advocacy WSSCC

Mme Amanda MARLIN, WSSCC Programme Manager Communications & Advocacy WSSCC

In a context of global mobilization for the post-2015 development agenda, WSSCC is putting this unfinished business at the heart of the discussions. In partnership with the Ministry of Health of Benin, and the Partenariat pour le Développement Municipal (Partnership for Municipal Development), this regional workshop takes place from 18 to 20 February 2014 at the Azalai Hôtel de la Plage in Cotonou. It has brought together 40 participants including 30 journalists from the West Africa WASH Journalists Network (http://washjournalists.wordpress.com/) present in 13 West African countries.

February 17, 2014

Uganda: Plastic Bottles and Bags for Construction

Akatukunda Basemath
February 17, 2014

An American volunteer has helped to construct a school library in Uganda out of used plastic bottles and Plastic shopping bags popularly known as buvera – all picked from dust bins.

The building, the first of its kind in the country, is found at Mwizi Secondary School in Mbarara district, southwestern Uganda.

 Part of the school library that was constructed using plastic bottles stuffed with plastic bags


Part of the school library that was constructed using plastic bottles stuffed with plastic bags

The low cost technology is helping the region to reuse plastic bottles and bags in a move to avoid plastic menace.

Kimberlaly Koeven, an American Peace Corp volunteers worked with the school leaders to construct the library.

She describes this as an effective solution for reusing the plastic wastes.

Kimberlaly Koeven, in blue, stands next to the school's headmaster as they explain the importance of constructing using plastic bottles and bags to the community members

Kimberlaly Koeven, in blue, stands next to the school’s headmaster as they explain the importance of constructing using plastic bottles and bags to the community members

Polythene bags are non-biodegradable and take between 15 and 1,000 years to breakdown in the environment.

Students and residents living close to this school were shocked. They told our reporter that this initiative will help them clean their environment and at the same time construct buildings cheaply.

“These plastic materials are a time bomb for Uganda because they affect the economy by undermining agricultural productivity through soil degradation,” they lamented.

Speaking during this occasion, Kenneth Tumusiime- the Director Ply Waste, a local NGO noted that this move could increase soil productivity and reduce toxic gases produced as after burning plastic bottles and bags.

 Students of Mwizi Secondary School in Mbarara district stuff plastic bags into the plastic bottles meant to be used in construction of their school's library


Students of Mwizi Secondary School in Mbarara district stuff plastic bags into the plastic bottles meant to be used in construction of their school’s library

Uganda has some of the richest soil in Africa, but in some urban centers and villages it is laced with plastic. Polythene bags when discarded into the soil degrade it, they block waste water drainage systems, they kill farm animals and wild animals that eat it.

In June 2007 the government of Uganda slapped a ban on the importation, use and production of polythene bags of 30 microns and below but this ban has since failed to work.

January 24, 2014

Uganda: Saved by Underground Water Tanks

Paschal B. Bagonza
January 24, 2014

In Buzaya County, Kamuli district, there is Balimi Network for the Developing Enterprises in Rural Agriculture, BANDERA 2000, a land innovative agricultural community.

Their goal is to empower farmers to harvest rain water, practice conservation agriculture and sustainable land management. This group, formed over ten years back, comprises of more than 2500 community members.

Adequate resources such as these men constructing a water tank are needed to sustain routine operation and maintenance of existing WASH systems and services

Adequate resources such as these men constructing a water tank are needed to sustain routine operation and maintenance of existing WASH systems and services

This project is found in Nalimawa village, Kamuli district, approximately 80 Kilometres, East of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

Mrs Betty Tigawalana, 52, is a member of BANDERA 2000. She is one of the 12 farmers who have embraced rainwater harvesting through this project. The members learnt to harvest water in these underground tanks, after an exchange visit to other farmers in the country.

The water has fetched dividends for her and the neighbors.

“I use the water from this underground water tank for domestic purposes. I also share the water with my neighbors during the dry season,” she says as she adjusts her blue wrapper around her waist.

To harvest the rainwater from her iron-roofed house, Tigawalana uses a 15,000 litre underground water tank.

The water tank has saved Tigawalana’s family from walking long distances to the nearest water point.

Daily tasks for her and the family have now been made easier.

“I thank SLM (Sustainable Land Management). This water also helps me in irrigating my crops. I give the same water to my cows. I then use the cow dung for my biogas project,” she adds while smiling in consonance with the sun.

The satisfaction, with which her kitchen garden of a variety of vegetables dances, is a reassuring reflection of Tigawalana’s family.

Water scarcity is one of the world's leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally

Water scarcity is one of the world’s leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally

According to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification, land degradation and drought affect more than two billion people.

UNCCD adds that the situation might worsen due to the unsustainable use of soil and water under present scenarios of climate change. Thank God Mrs Tigawalana, like other members of BANDERA 2000, are trying to counter this through sustainable land and water management.

A few meters away in Tigawalana’s backyard, there is also rainwater which has been harvested in an open pit.

This water is used by farmers in this group to irrigate crops using overhead spraying and drip irrigation, on this piece of land used for training.

The piece of land was donated by Betty’s husband, Mr James Tigawalana.

The chairperson of BANDERA 2000 Mr George Mpaata explains that during drip irrigation, “the water goes directly to the plant”, thereby minimising water wastage.

After which, Mpaata says, the garden is mulched to reduce water evaporating from the soil. This, he adds is replicated in other farmers’ gardens who can afford this technology.

Apart from irrigating crops, other indirect benefits of such water tanks include, reducing domestic violence, early pregnancies and the time spent waiting for water at the few boreholes in the area.

David Ngadu, 40, a father of four also owns such a tank in his home. Ngadu gloriously talks about how this facility has saved them trekking two kilometers to the nearest borehole. That borehole serves 200 homesteads.

Ngadu says since the borehole “attracts different people”, it exposes their daughters to early pregnancies. He adds that such tanks have also helped keep their wives at home, instead of going to the borehole to fall prey to other men, thereby reducing domestic violence.

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Ali Kasadha, 48 a father of eight from Kisozi Sub County also had a water tank constructed at his home.

Kasadha lives near a lake, but he does not want his family members to fetch the lake water because of the dangers associated with it.

This husband of two wives is all praises for this underground water tank given its cycle of benefits.

Like all the other water tank owners observed, this facility has “helped keep their daughters at home and saved them from preying men.”

Kasadha says since his land had degraded, he uses the water from the tank to irrigate his crops and give it to his cows. In return, he uses the cow dung to fertilize his land to give him better yields.

An expert from the National Agricultural Research Organisation—NARO in Kawanda, Dr Onesmus Semalulu describes this as a good example of sustainable land management.

However, such technologies come with their own challenges like high construction costs, according to Dr Semalulu.

“The initial investment cost is high, but I think it is worthwhile. Then this pit is open. It is risky to children. They can harbor reptiles. But overall, the benefits outweigh the risks,” he observes.

Dr Semalulu says that a farmer can start by digging trenches to trap running rainwater which does not cost a lot.

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