It’s a little late in the month. But 22nd March was the world water day.
The theme of water day 2020 is water and climate change.
2015 WHO round up shows that 663 million of the population lacks access to safe drinking water.
2016 93%in of the people in Africa have access to mobile phones while 63%have access to piped water.
2015 UNICEF-WHO study 1/3 of the schools in water lack access water
2009 UNESCO-WWAP study ½ of all the drinking water of the world is from ground water. so what is ground water?
Ground water is the water present beneath the earth’s surface in soil pres and spaces, in fractured rock or natural rock socket formation. An unit of rock or unconsolidated deposit is called aquifer when it can yield usable qualities of water. Ground water gets recharged by rain water, snow melt and small rivulets. These sources are now weakened due to concrete covering, indiscriminate bore-wells and sandmining . This kind of infrastructure construction is referred to as greyscaping. Groundwater is also sustained by watertables.
Water table is the upper level of an underground surface in which the soil or racks are permanently, saturated with water.
Water is required but fast depleting resource. Water is also essential to manage climate changes the water cycle is the primary player of the climatic circle.
We cannot really wait water has to become the heart of all developmental action plans. Sustainable easy sanitizations techniques are available. We need to diligently do our bit. Water harvesting, and recycling are simple things that can be done on individual levels.
Depleting water resources are the fall out of rapid urbanization and population growth. Concreting the land, acquiring agricultural lands, and floodwater basins for construction. Perennial building of grey infrastructure alters the natural water cycle and depletion of both ground water and the water table.
The focus of the theme this year is to look at natural infrastructure for water management. natural infrastructure refers to natural services that nature provides us, such as
- mangroves that protect the shore line from storms.
- Peat lands that help in sequestering carbon
- Wetlands that filter contaminated water.
- Lakes that store large water supplies.
- Flood plains that absorb water run offs.
These perform infrastructure like function and provide what is termed as “nature based solutions.”(henceforth referred to as NBS) these are not built or constructed, but are shaped from naturally shaped, grown, eroded or deposited by nature over time. The use of these not only engineers water management it also fosters financial returns.
For example an upstream in the forest, if left intact regulates soil run-off, which in turn reduces the soil sedimentation in reservoirs, this reduces clean up costs and ensures continued electricity generation.
Unfortunately grey infrastructure projects side line NBS. very often the natural water infrastructures, and NBS are sidelined as their value cannot be quantified. However grey infrastructure project have a massive, social, environmental and economically negative impact which is rationalized in the name of collateral.
Restoring and replanting mangroves help to buffer against storm. It also restores the carbon balance. Wetlands and mangroves are natural mechanisms of water treatment and ensuring safe water supply. The flood plains that absorb the flood water, makes excellent soil and allows for agriculture.
Of all the funds allotted to climate crisis management only 2% is allotted to natural climate solutions. Like I mentioned before natural infrastructure is less well understood, and its benefits are hard to quantify.
Applying NBS requires inclusive governance. Change has to come from individuals and community. But most often in a large institutional change, directed by our Top Down Governance the mechanism for participation of local population and farmers is inadequate. In addition to this the lack of information and intrinsic apathy allows the large built infrastructure intervention to sideline the local population.
If NBS was used then local population become the custodians of the resource and women tend to become key players in resource management.
In the wake of the theme, maybe we as local population could take responsibility for the mangrove belt that is being destroyed. The wetlands with their aquatic life, would help to bring in the much needed oxygen. It is the need of the hour for us, to
- rejuvenate, recycle water.
- adopt smart agricultural techniques,
- responsible greyscaping.
“water need not be a problem, it can be part of the solution. Water can support efforts to both mitigate and adapt to climate change” Audrey Azoulay UNESCO Director-General.