Sunday, March 21, 2010

Water, Water, but not everywhere

Tomorrow, March 22nd, is the UN designated World Water Day, which originated from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (more specifically, according to the proposals in chapter 18 of Agenda 21). This year’s theme is ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’ which, as some may know, is an issue very close to the heart!

I wish not to elaborate more on the specifics, and consequentially deviate from tomorrow’s importance,
but I do hope that the day will result in increased awareness of the issue, more participation at the grassroots level, as well as a perceptible impact on the implementation of feasible governmental regional and national policies alleviating this problem. The estimated stats are gruesome: 4500 people die daily due to lack of clean drinking water and around 1.1 billion use unsafe drinking water sources.

Water is a central need in human existence, and thus has ripple effects on all other activities of an individual. But it’s not just about quantity, but also about quality- a fact especially relevant in developing nations which tends to follow unsustainable development, which, in turn, results in detrimental effects on the water quality.

I must admit that when it comes to water supplies and resources, Kerala probably fares much better than its peers (even though the state anticipates acute water shortages due to the drought conditions). Based on the 2001 census, 69.1% of rural households (total-4,942,550) and 78.9% of the urban households (total-1,652,656) had drinking water located within premises; of which, 13.9% of rural households and 39.9% of urban households had access to tap water. Yet, there are still many households without access to clean drinking water (and who use the water from wells, rivers, streams, and lakes- 77.2% of rural households and 56% of urban households use water from wells for drinking purposes), and it even might be worth researching on the impurities contained in the drinking water supplied to our homes.

Thus, when it comes to drinking water, it shouldn’t just be about ensuring that something in the form of H2O is supplied, but also to ensure that it is safe and drinkable, and available without any interruptions and free of charge for those who live below the poverty line.

I am always impressed by the commitment which citizens of other nations have towards alleviating the water problem faced by their less fortunate neighbours. However, I do hope that the funds raised are utilised productively. Or else it would be a shame if that $5.90 from a five-year old’s piggy bank is helping some official in constructing a swimming pool in his home.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, and a little frightening!
    A recent survey found that 82% of Brazilian municipalities discharge raw (untreated) sewage into the same rivers that they extract drinking water from (though it is treated before drinking of course). As an aside, a good measure of human, as opposed to industrial, effluent is apparently to measure the caffeine concentration, as human waste is the only source and it is removed pretty effectively by sewage treatment.


It would be wonderful to read your thoughts/comments on the post.