:: Silvanus Lamin::
The crisis of fresh water has increased in consonance with the population growth and it is assumed that after 50 years, another 40 or 50% new population would be added with the present population. However, more lands, wetlands and other sources of fresh water would be used to accommodate the increased population worsening the present situation of water crisis. As to meet the fresh water demand of the world population, more underground water would be extracted which in one hand will make the water table more downward and on the other hand, to accommodate this increased population, the rate of land and river encroachment would be increased.
Fresh water crisis versus water pollution
Water occupies 75% of the world surface yet crisis of drinking water is immense due to small quantity of fresh water available in the world. It is said that the quantity of fresh water is only 2.5% while the rest is saline water besides, among 2.5 of the fresh water, only 0.025% is drinkable. However, among the fresh water sources available in the globe include: river, canal, ponds, stream, other forms of wetlands and ground water. Thus due to small quantity of available fresh water, people across the world now are facing difficulties in managing their household works, cultivation, industrial works etc. But when we see the tendency of some people to contaminate water sources through various activities, it never seems to us that water crisis is immense. The most sacred Hindu river, the Ganges, for instance, is so depleted that the Sundarban wetlands and mangrove forests of Bangladesh are seriously threatened. It is also said to contain unacceptable levels of arsenic. As more trees are chopped down, and more buildings erected along its banks, the glaciers supplying the river have been melting, raising fears of shortages and drought downstream. On the other hand, 95% of the United States’ fresh water is underground. As a consequence, North America’s largest aquifer, the Ogallala, is being depleted at a rate of 12 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year. In Bangladesh fresh water sources such as Buriganga, Dholeswari Shitolkhya is being contaminated while unplanned shrimp cultivation which leads saline water intrusion, arsenic contamination, construction of infrastructure using wetlands as well as introduction of chemical agriculture somehow play vital role in contaminating fresh water sources. Besides, rapid climate change which intensifies the high rate and frequency of natural disaster is not less responsible for the contamination and degradation of water sources. Thus due to these destructive events it is estimated that the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources ofAsia‘s biggest rivers Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Salween and Yellow – could disappear by 2350.
Water crisis versus water management
According to the human development report of United Nations (2006), Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water; 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation. On the other hand, the report says thatsome1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhea and 443 million school days are lost each year from water-related illness. The negative impact of water crisis reflects on women as they have to fetch water from a long distance along with doing daily household works which kills some of their working hours. Besides, due to drinking contaminated water women suffer from some water born diseases. According to the report of UNICEF (2005),1.4 million children will die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.UN human development report (2006) says,almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than 2 US dollar a day, with one in three living on less than 1 US dollar a day while the report mentions,more than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than 2 US dollar a day. Thus where enough resources are not available for maintaining livelihood then it becomes really difficult for poor people to afford buying water. Thus they are compelled drinking contaminated water which brings illness to them.
However, water crisis or shortage is merely a human created crisis and this shortage is seen not because of the small quantity of water sources available in the globe but because of a water managementcrisis. It is true that contamination of water sources somehow creates negative impact on fresh water and increases the misery of poor people collecting water but it is the mismanagement of water which creates immense crisis of fresh water. 12 percent of the world’s population, for instance, uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World. It is said that the scarcity at the heart of the global water crisis is rooted in power, poverty and inequality, not in physical availability. Nonetheless, with regard to mismanagement of water we find the statistics that about 1.8 billion people in the globe use less than 20 liter of water per day while the people from UK use 50 liter of water per day just for toilet flash. People from United States as well use 600 liter of water per day to maintain their needs. But it is ironic that multinational company Coca Cola rooted its business in the third world country where immense of crisis of fresh water exists which intensifies the problem of the people of these countries.
In order to combat fresh water crisis in developing countries including protecting the sources of fresh water initiatives need to be taken to ensure proper management of water.