Water security, management need more attention - GulfToday

Water security, management need more attention

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Drinking Water

Illustrative image.

World Water Day (WWD) is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis, in support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

In 2022, World Water Day is celebrated under the theme “Groundwater: Making the invisible visible”, and Unesco was the lead UN agency. As the theme brief explains, “Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives.

Almost all the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater. As climate change gets worse, groundwater will become more and more critical. We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource. Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind.”

A new World Water Development Report is released each year on or near World Water Day, to provide decision-makers with tools to formulate and implement sustainable water policies.

Global warming and climate change have the potential to put water security in India at risk, Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said in a statement, adding that India is witnessing a repeat of 2021 conditions, when temperatures touched 40 degrees Celsius as early as February in some parts of the country.

CSE researchers said the rising heat had severe implications for water security. First, it would mean greater evaporation from waterbodies. One option is to work on underground water storage, or wells. According to the CSE, India’s irrigation planners and bureaucracies should not discount the management of groundwater systems.

Increased heat can also lead to a drying up of moisture in soils. It will make the land dusty and will increase the need for irrigation. In a country like India, where the bulk of food is still grown in rain-fed regions, it will intensify land degradation and dust bowl formations.

This means water management must go hand-in-hand with vegetation planning to improve the ability of soils to hold water, even in times of intense and prolonged heat, the non-profit noted.

Third, heat will drive up the use of water — from drinking and irrigation, to fighting fires in forests or buildings. Already, devastating forest fires have been witnessed in many parts of the world and in the forests of India.

This will only increase as temperatures go up. The demand for water will increase with climate change, making it even more imperative that water as well as wastewater are not wasted, the CSE has said.

Climate change is already showing up in terms of the increasing number of extreme rain events. This means that one can expect rain to come as a flood, making the cycle of floods followed by droughts even more intense, according to the CSE.

India already has fewer rainy days in a year. It is said that it rains for just 100 hours on average in a year. Now, the number of rainy days will further go down, but extreme rainy days will increase. This will have a huge impact on India’s plans for water management. It means that the country needs to think more about flood management.

The World Bank in its WWD brief points out that India has only four percent of global water resources, making it among the most water-stressed in the world. A large number of Indians face high to extreme water stress, according to a recent report by the government’s policy think tank, the NITI Aayog.

India’s dependence on an increasingly erratic monsoon for its water requirements increases this challenge. Climate change is likely to exacerbate this pressure on water resources, even as the frequency and intensity on floods and droughts in the country increases. The World Bank is engaged in different aspects of water resource management and the supply of drinking water and sanitation services across the country.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193 of 22 December 1992 by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993.

States were invited to devote the Day, as appropriate in the national context, to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources.

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