Human beings have taken over the world. They have created and introduced many elements, which are of utmost importance to them. But water is one such natural resource that is depleting at an alarming rate and at the same time is vital for sustenance. It is the need of the hour that we get our acts together and stop undervaluing the importance of water.
The United Nations led ‘World Water Day’ has been held on March 22 every year. It is an initiative that strives to bring attention to the importance of freshwater and the advocacy for sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme, ‘Nature for Water’, explores nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.
The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Report has consistently ranked “water crisis” as among the global threats with the greatest potential impact.
According to a report released by BBC, about 11 cities across the globe are on the verge of facing severe water problems. Bangalore which is the technological hub of India is in that list. The level of water pollution in Bangalore is so high that 85% of its lakes have water that cannot be used for agriculture or industrial use. There are several other districts in India which are ‘water scarce’ and ‘water stressed’ due to poor surface and ground water.
Talking about the depletion of this resource, no place knows that better than Cape Town, the South African city which is contending with the worst drought. The region is also experiencing a long-term decline in average rainfall and the city faces “Day Zero”- the point at which taps will be shut down across the city.
These water crisis that we see around us, is because our ecosystem has been neglected, leading to environmental damages. Floods, droughts, water pollution have increased by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes. The increase in civilization has not only led to draining of the underground water reservoirs but has also contaminated rivers with agriculture and residential waste. This has led to personal water insecurity and region – wide tensions. Damaged ecosystems have affected the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. We already have instances where billions of people live without safe drinking water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.
Many experts have claimed that the situation will only worsen by 2030. But the better part is Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We as responsible inhabitants of this planet need to have a comprehensive approach and spread the word about the role of nature in addressing and solving our water issues. Challenges like water scarcity, demand, and pollution can be mitigated with nature-based solutions like planting new forests, water harvesting, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, watershed restoration, restoring wetlands and creating buffers of vegetation along water courses to meet the present-day water challenges. This will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.
The central government in India has sponsored several schemes and programmes with reference to provision of quality water. But this is not just the responsibility of the government alone. We’ve each got roles to play and the power to bring about change. Every individual needs to become an influencer and educate people on how water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development. Teachers, families, students, humanitarians, environmentalists, animal rights activists — everyone together can create a momentum that will contribute remarkably to major change towards imbibing the habit of water conservation. This will contribute to Sustainable Development Goal – 6 ensuring availability, sustainability and management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala heads the non-profit organisation, Wockhardt Foundation, which runs several programmes in health, education, water and sanitation across India. He is also the Executive Director of Wockhardt Limited. An MBA from the prestigious Yale University in USA, he has won numerous awards and is associated with many social causes. He is also the Founder of “The World Peacekeepers Movement”, an online movement.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
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The CSR Journal Team