Looming Water Crisis

Looming Water Crisis

Parvathy Kaimal

Looming Water Crisis

Fresh water is a scarce resource. Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water, but only 2.5 percent is fresh. Of the fresh water, just one percent is accessible and found in glaciers, lakes and rivers.
As the world’s population grows, and countries like China and India increasingly urbanize, water shortages are fast becoming a reality. About a fifth of the world live in countries where water scarcity is a reality. A lack of water will “soon tear into various parts of the global economic system,” a United Nations report quotes from a 2009 World Economic Reform report.
Today, the need for finding efficient ways to use water is all the more pressing, especially in agriculture. Farming uses around 70 percent of the world’s fresh water resources, and wastes much more through weak irrigation methods than the average household. Of that, says the United Nations, between 60 percent and 70 percent go to waste. Multinational corporations also employ unethical practices in extracting ground water. In 2000, for instance, in Plachimada, a village in the state of Kerala in India, a Coca Cola bottling plant built on 34.4 acres of mainly rice fields began drawing ground water. Within months, the village faced drought, damaging crops on the one hand and resulting in a severe shortage of fresh water in wells and ponds on the other.
The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization advises people to take a number of steps to save water.
1.Farm water management
At the moment, farmers in developing countries have no economic incentive to save water. Government programmes to do so are few. Water management in farms depends on many factors like the productivity of the cultivator and soil as well as how water is controlled after harvest. Water in farming is evaluated by making sure that limited water is utilized properly through sprinkle and trickle irrigation methods where water is discharged close to the plants. Economic incentives also influence people in their use of water as saving water can improve crop yields. Economic incentives can be in the form of financial assistance as loans or via low-water pricing and subsidies based on the volume of water used.
2.Enforcing irrigation services
Farmers need to have efficient irrigation. Demand for fresh water from different users including farming communities and others keep rising. To achieve optimum water management, the concerned government departments need to focus on delivering water to agricultural areas while also keeping in mind the prudent use of water in other areas of activity.
3.Boost water supply
Where fresh water is scarce, the use of treated sea water and waste water has been increasing. This has become essential for millions of people around the world, especially in the Middle East. Water management experts should encourage governments everywhere to invest in wastewater treatment technology that can control pollution, thus increasing water quality.
4.Water harvesting
Rainwater harvesting has the potential to help farming as well as helping store water for long time. Harvesting rainwater can reduce our need – and demand – for water transport systems that threaten the health of the water cycle and our local environment. Rainwater harvesting done in the state of Kerala in India is gaining momentum among farmers and normal households, since the investment required is low. If the government helps farmers develop environmentally sustainable water harvesting methods, more food can be produced.
5.Allocating water to agriculture
The UN’s FAO advises agricultural departments in all countries to provide clear information on water use. The agricultural and irrigation departments in different countries should identify and change the approach to a demand-driven working situation rather than relying on a supplydriven approach. The development strategy of a country and its policies are affected by the investment it makes in its water related activities. Governments should also keep in mind the consequences of increasing demand for water in farming areas before creating new policy.


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