- Al Jazeera English

http://m.aljazeera.com/story/20143247252981587#&ui-state=dialog

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A Tale of little frogs and girls washing their hair…

Water memories from India.

When I was small even in a city like Bombay which used to be the most developed place in India water was a rare good. Rain was abundant during monsoons, yet, it would be gone away soon. I remember collecting tiny little frogs who would jump into the house in an empty wastepaper basket and put them out into the rain.

People would just have one sort of cell in their one or two room flats inhabited by large joint families that were used as a wet-room. Only the rich people in and around Malabar Hill had attached marbled bathrooms to their respective bedrooms (inhabited by each couple of the joint family).

The women of the house would fill the plastic buckets sometimes even very old fashioned steel buckets with tap water (which would run only for few hours in the early morning). Then the family routine would start with a fight over who can take a bath first and the water would be heated on the gas. You would get one bucket or maximum two bucket and then pour water over yourself with a small container.

Very often the same cell would be used for other sanitary purposes. Water closets were a rarity and a kid Indian Toilets were my worst nightmare!

Yet, water, as we all know, has a holy status in India. If you enter somebody’s house as a guest you receive a glass of water first. Water is precious and its scarcity made it even more precious.

I grew up in northern Germany where water is abundant. You just open the tap and cold and hot water just runs out of it. I grew up with the luxury of having a tub and could stay in there literally for hours until my mom would scream. I learned swimming in a pool. And, I could straight away drink the water from the tap. Things like this were a 5 star luxury in a city like Bombay in those days.

Yet, I also learned to be careful with my water consumption, i.e. only use flush ones and not leaving the tap open while brushing my teeth.

For most parts of Bombay the before mentioned things are unheard, but more and more joint families of those little flats are able to move in bigger flats, also having more then one bathroom. The families are getting smaller, the flats bigger and so does the water consumption. People drive flashy cars and wash there hair everyday.

Leaving aside nostalgia this is an import big step of a developing emerging economy. Yet, question is, what is going to be the impact.

From the big nexus my thoughts lead me to my small cross-cultural observations which are closer to me.

I would like to know what you think? What are your everyday observation in water use? what do you to conserve and save water? Where do you see a nexus?

 

flickr-404900175-original

 

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NEXUS thinking – or what happens if a sack of rice falls in China?

Water has become globally a hot topic. The integrative perspective on water and shifting the focus from supply to demand and bringing the tackling water as a management issue is EN VOGUE since many years and substituted under the IWRM-appraoch. In one of my next articles I want to reflect on IWRM by considering a paper written by Francois Molle on Nirwana concept.

The integrative perspective is sensible and pushes us to think in a more complex and holistic way – it makes us think beyond the box. The previous video highlights this very graphically.

We are interdependent, more and more after the post-cold war world globalized world.

The danger might be though that if we look at the big nexus we might overlook the finer lines holding together the socio-ecological system where mankind is attached to natural resources by exploiting these for their livelihoods. The social system is complex. It consists of institutional mechanisms, such as rules and regulations, demographic changes, irrigation infrastructure, pumps and power plants, and so many more attachments.

I my next article I want to show an example of energy-food and water from Gujarat.

 

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The Water Food Energy Nexus

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Word Water Day 2014

It is on the nexus water & energy. Both are linked strongly together as the following key messages suggest. 

1. Water requires energy and energy requires water

Water is required to produce nearly all forms of energy. Energy is needed at all stages of water extraction, treatment and distribution.

2. Supplies are limited and demand is increasing

Demand for freshwater and energy will continue to increase significantly over the coming decades. This increase will present big challenges and strain resources in nearly all regions, especially in developing and emerging economies.

3. Saving energy is saving water. Saving water is saving energy

Choices concerning the supply, distribution, price, and use of water and energy impact one another.

4. The “bottom billion” urgently needs access to both water and sanitation services, and electricity

Worldwide, 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity, 768 million people lack access to improved water sources and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation. Water and energy have crucial impacts on poverty alleviation.

5. Improving water and energy efficiency is imperative as are coordinated, coherent and concerted policies

Better understanding between the two sectors of the connections and effects on each other will improve coordination in energy and water planning, leading to reducing inefficiencies. Policy-makers, planners and practitioners can take steps to overcome the barriers that exist between their respective domains. Innovative and pragmatic national policies can lead to more efficient and cost effective provision of water and energy services.

 

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Sicherheitskonferenz: Studie warnt vor Wasserkrise in China und Indien

Article from Spiegel online

Von Markus Becker, München

Die Zerstörung der Umwelt und die Ausbeutung natürlicher Ressourcen bereiten Politikern und Militärs zunehmend Sorge. Eine Studie, die bei der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz präsentiert wurde, warnt jetzt vor potentiellen Konflikten durch Wasserengpässe in China und Indien.

Frau in Allahabad, Indien: Grenze zum "extremen Wasserstress" in Sicht Zur Großansicht

AP/dpa

Frau in Allahabad, Indien: Grenze zum “extremen Wasserstress” in Sicht

Wer sich davon überzeugen will, dass Umweltschutz längst nicht mehr nur Ökopaxe in Norwegerpullis interessiert, sollte die Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz besuchen. Im Norwegerpulli käme man hier vermutlich nicht einmal durch die erste Polizei-Absperrung, geschweige denn in das mit Staatssekretären, Ministern, Generälen und Top-Managern gefüllte Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Doch den Anzug- und Uniformträgern bereitet der Umgang der Menschheit mit Natur und Ressourcen inzwischen ähnlich große Sorgen wie Freunden des Grobstricks.

Wie berechtigt die Sorgen sind, wurde schon vor der offiziellen Eröffnung der Konferenz klar. Bei einer Diskussion mit dem markigen Titel “Begrenzte Ressourcen – unbegrenzte Sicherheitsrisiken” saßen Ex-Nato-Generalsekretär Javier Solana und Chinas amtierende Vize-Außenministerin Fu Ying nebeneinander und schauten zeitweise ziemlich besorgt drein.

Ein Grund: Bei der Diskussion wurde der neue Earth Security Index vorgestellt. Der Report versucht, die Situation diverser Länder in Sachen Ressourcen, Finanzen und Gesellschaft auf einen Nenner zu bringen – und zeigt brisante Entwicklungen auf. Eine davon lautet, dass China und Indien, die zusammen mehr als ein Drittel der Weltbevölkerung stellen, schon bald ein massives Wasserproblem bekommen könnten.

Verdrecktes Grundwasser

In China sei mehr als die Hälfte des Grundwassers mit Rückständen aus Industrie und Viehhaltung verdreckt. Durch die Belastung mit Schwermetallen würden nach Schätzungen des zuständigen chinesischen Ministeriums jährlich rund zehn Millionen Tonnen Getreide vernichtet und zwölf Millionen kontaminiert. “Zudem plant China einen 75-prozentigen Anstieg der Stromgewinnung durch Kohle”, sagt Alejandro Litovsky, Chef der Earth Security Initiative. “Und die meisten neuen Kraftwerke sollen in Gebieten mit ohnehin belasteter Wasserversorgung entstehen.”

Noch bedrohlicher wirkt die Situation in Indien. “Extreme Wasserknappheit” könne die Energie- und Nahrungsversorgung gefährden, heißt es in dem Bericht. Er zitiert Berechnungen des Uno-Umweltprogramms Unep, laut denen Indien bereits im Jahr 2025 die Grenze zum “extremen Wasserstress” überschreiten könnte. Schon jetzt müssten einige Städte mit Tankfahrzeugen aus dem Umland versorgt werden. Im Schnitt entnehme Indien 37 Prozent mehr Grundwasser, als auf natürlichem Wege nachkomme. Exzessive Bewässerung und Düngung hätten zudem Millionen Hektar Land unbrauchbar gemacht.

Auch der Nahe Osten und Nordafrika könnten in absehbarer Zeit auf erhebliche Probleme zusteuern: Länder wie Saudi-Arabien, Libyen, Israel oder Jordanien decken große Teile ihres Wasserbedarf aus fossilen Grundwasserspeichern, die sich vor Jahrtausenden gefüllt haben, als das Klima der Region noch feuchter war. Dieses Wasser ist nicht nur teils mit natürlicher Radioaktivität belastet, sondern könnte stellenweise schon in einigen Jahrzehnten zur Neige gehen.

“Das Bewusstsein für drohende Konflikte um Wasser ist noch wenig ausgeprägt, anders als bei anderen Ressourcen”, sagt der frühere CDU-Außenpolitiker und Unionsfraktionschef Friedbert Pflüger, der inzwischen ein Institut für Energie und Ressourcensicherheit am Londoner King’s College leitet. “Der Wasserbedarf in China, Indien und Südostasien steigt dramatisch, was in den kommenden Jahren und Jahrzehnten enorme Sicherheitsprobleme mit sich bringen könnte.”

Zwei Milliarden Menschen werden zur Mittelklasse gehören

In den kommenden Jahrzehnten könnte sich die Situation durch das Bevölkerungswachstum und den wirtschaftlichen Aufstieg der Schwellenländer noch verschärfen. “Heute gibt es sieben Milliarden Menschen, 2050 werden es neun Milliarden sein”, sagt Solana bei der Podiumsdiskussion. “Zwei Milliarden von ihnen werden der Mittelklasse angehören.” Was bedeutet: Sie werden Fleisch essen, mit dem Flugzeug in den Urlaub fliegen, Auto fahren und eine Menge Strom verbrauchen.

Dass eine Steigerung des Lebensstandards in den Schwellenländern prinzipiell wünschenswert ist, bestreitet in München niemand – kein Vertreter der Industriestaaten und erst recht niemand aus den Schwellenländern. “100 Millionen Chinesen leben unterhalb der Armutsgrenze von 230 Dollar pro Jahr”, erklärt Vizeaußenministerin Fu Ying. “Der chinesische Traum ist ein anständiges Leben für jeden normalen Menschen.”

Die Preisfrage lautet: Werden die Schwellenländer ihr Ziel erreichen, ohne die Umweltsünden der Industriestaaten zu wiederholen und den Planeten zugrunde zu richten? Dazu müsste in Zukunft der Pro-Kopf-Ressourcenverbrauch sinken. Der ist allerdings schon heute zu hoch: Die Menschheit verbraucht derzeit etwa eineinhalb Mal so viel, wie die Erde langfristig bereitstellen kann. Sollte der Pro-Kopf-Verbrauch auf heutigem Niveau verharren oder gar steigen, wird die Menschheit im Jahr 2050 womöglich drei Erden benötigen.

In der Folge könnte es in vielen Ländern ungemütlich werden – und dank der Globalisierung bleiben Konflikte auch nicht immer lokal begrenzt. “2010 gab es eine Dürre und Missernten in Russland”, sagt “Earth Security Initiative”-Chef Litovsky. Die Folge war ein starker Anstieg der Getreidepreise auf dem Weltmarkt und ein Stopp der russischen Exporte. In Ägypten wurden Lebensmittelpreise dadurch drastisch teurer. “Das”, meint Litovsky, “war ein wichtiger Faktor für den Arabischen Frühling.”

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India’s socioeconomic growth to heighten water stress in years ahead

Source: India Water Review : January 11, 2014, 5:42 pm

Several areas across urban India do not get regular water supply, forcing people to fill up pots and pans every day. (India Water Review file photo)

New Delhi : Large parts of India, the Middle East and North Africa will continue to reel under severe water stress over the next four decades, with population and economic growth being responsible for most of the stress, a new study by the US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has said.

Researchers at MIT said they expected 5 billion (52 per cent) of the world’s projected 9.7 billion people to live in water-stressed areas by 2050. Also, by then, about 1 billion more people would be likely living in areas where water demand exceeds surface-water supply. A large portion of these regions — India and MENA — already face water stress.

Further, of the 5 billion people, up to 3 billion could be exposed to overly exploited conditions.

The population at 2050 under this overly exploited water stress are nearly double the current estimate (1.7 billion people), and among the future scenarios it represents a range of increase between 1 and 1.3 billion people.

While population growth and increasing social pressures on global water resources have required communities around the globe to focus on the future of water availability, climate change is expected to further exacerbate the demands on water-stressed regions.

MIT researchers used a new modeling tool to calculate the ability of global water resources to meet water needs through 2050 in an effort to assess future water demands and the impacts of climate change.

The study applied the MIT Integrated Global System Model Water Resource System (IGSM-WRS), a modeling tool with the ability to assess both changing climate and socioeconomics — allowing the researchers to isolate these two influencers. In studying the socioeconomic changes, they found population and economic growth are responsible for most of the increased water stress.

Such changes will lead to an additional 1.8 billion people globally living in water-stressed regions, the study noted.

“Our research highlights the substantial influence of socioeconomic growth on global water resources, potentially worsened by climate change,” said assistant director of science research at the Joint Program on Global Change and lead author of the study Adam Schlosser.

“Developing nations are expected to face the brunt of these rising water demands, with 80 percent of this additional 1.8 billion living in developing countries”.

Looking at the influence of climate change alone, the researchers found a different result. Climate change will have a greater impact on water resources in developed countries. This is because, for instance, changes in precipitation patterns would limit water supplies needed for irrigation.

When researchers combine the climate and socioeconomic scenarios, a more complicated picture of future water resources emerges.

For example, in India, researchers expect to see significant increases in precipitation, contributing to improved water supplies. However, India’s projected population growth and economic development will cause water demands to outstrip surface-water supply.

Overall, the results of the study highlighted the substantial influence of socioeconomic growth on the global patterns of water stress, particularly in developing nations.

Additionally, the factors that determine the sign and magnitude of water-stress response vary between major economic and developing regions. The study found that water-stress changes within developed nations are more sensitive to climate drivers, whereas developing countries are far more responsive to socioeconomic growth.

In addition, the results imply that the greatest risks to regions facing future water-stress may not be captured by extreme outcomes from global assessments of climate scenarios, but rather by regional extremes occurring within a subset of climate-model projections.

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Huge freshwater reserves discovered under the sea

Huge freshwater reserves discovered under the sea.

It seems to have found the famous honeypot behind the rainbow… it shouldn’t be the goal to find new resources and exploit them but caring about our resources and using them in a sustainable way that serves future generations!

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19th November: World Toilet Day

HAPPY World Toilet Day – November 19th !

World Toilet Day is observed annually on 19 November. This international day of action aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge. 

For information, ideas, or to join in, see www.worldtoiletday.org

Join hundreds of thousands of people “who give a shit” !

 

(Source: WASRAG)

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Water makes beautiful

http://www.charitywater.org

This is a wonderfully written piece recommended to me by a very very dear friend from Ghana.

It is about the simple fact that water makes a woman feel more beautiful.

Reference to this story: http://www.charitywater.org

 

Driving down a bumpy road in the middle of Northern Uganda, we were kicking up dust as we headed into the rural countryside. I was traveling with teams from two other non-profit organizations to evaluate the work of our shared local partner, Joy Drilling, who was drilling wells and training communities in sanitation and hygiene. Before piling in, I made a last minute decision to jump into the truck’s flatbed. The Ugandan drilling crew looked stunned that I’d do such a thing, but I didn’t care. I was happy to suffer a little dust for the view.

I have a pretty incredible job. As charity: water’s Water Project Manager, I travel to some of the most desperate places on earth in search of clean water. And while the landscape changes, there’s always one thing that remains the same: the women are always walking. Whether I’m trekking the mountains of Haiti, taking cover from a rainstorm in rural Liberia, or tramping through the jungles of Central African Republic, the women are always carrying water.

Helen Apio

From my vantage point in the truck, I watch women gather up their children and move to the edge of the road to let us pass. Their feet are gnarled and calloused: a result of thousands of miles walked barefoot over rocks and mud. With babies strapped to their backs, their brightly colored skirts sway and their knees quiver and brace under the weight of water and children. Most balance pails on their heads, while some grip 80 pounds of water with sweaty palms, a bright yellow 5-gallon Jerry Can in each hand.

I’m in awe of how they manage. But of course, they have no choice. The average woman in Africa walks three miles every day for water. Often, it’s water from putrid rivers or disease-infested swamps. Worldwide, women are more than twice as likely as men to collect drinking water.

Without warning, our truck swerves off the road and up over an embankment. Dried corn stalks thump against the side of the truck as we plow through a field. My knuckles are white as I try to hold on and not bounce out.

Moments later, we find ourselves in a clearing and in the middle of a huge celebration. Esther, our photographer, pokes her head out the window, smiles, and yells back at me, “Looks like our mission’s been compromised!” I usually prefer to surprise communities by our arrival because it makes it easier to monitor how our water points are functioning without hundreds of people watching. But once you visit a few communities in the neighborhood, rumors of your presence spread like wildfire.

We jump out of the truck and walk into a party. The women meet us with exuberant cheering and dancing. Pure and loud joy rocks the village.

* * *

This is when I met Helen Apio. While most women hung back politely, Helen jumped toward me and screamed two inches from my face. Technically, it was singing. But the high-pitched shrieking was so loud and reverberated with such energy and emotion, I knew I had to talk with her.

She told me about the new freshwater well in her village.

“I am happy now,” Helen beamed. “I have time to eat, my children can go to school. And I can even work in my garden, take a shower and then come back for more water if I want! I am bathing so well.”

A few of the men chuckled to hear a woman talk about bathing. But all I noticed was Helen’s glowing face, the fresh flowers in her hair, and the lovely green dress she wore for special occasions. Touching her forearm, I replied, “Well, you look great.”

“Yes,” she paused. Placing both hands on my shoulders and smiling, she said, “Now, I am beautiful.”

That really hit me.

My job is to focus on sustainable development, health, hygiene and sanitation; to make sure charity: water’s projects are working in 20 years. But nowhere on any of my surveys or evaluations was a place to write, “Today we made someone feel beautiful.”

How Helen became beautiful is the real story.

Before she had clean water, she would wake up before dawn, take her only two 5-gallon Jerry Cans, and walk almost a mile and a half to the nearest water point, which happened to be at a school. Because there simply wasn’t enough water for the area’s population, she’d wait in line with hundreds of other women who also valued clean water. Helen’s only other option was to skip the wait and collect contaminated water from a pond.

Helen spent most of her day walking and waiting. She told me each day she’d say to herself, “How should I use this water today? Should I water my garden so we can grow food? Should I wash my children’s uniforms? Should I use it to cook a meal? Should we drink this water?” With two children, one husband and 10 gallons, Helen had to make choices.

I saw the shame in her eyes when she described how she would return from her long trek to find her two young children waiting for her. They were often sent home from school because their uniforms were dirty. Helen just never had enough water.

I saw now why she was so eager to scream out her joy and gratitude. She wanted me to understand that this gift from charity: water was real. With the new well in her village, her life was transformed. She now had choices. Free time. Options. Also, Helen has been chosen to be the Water Committee Treasurer, collecting nominal fees from 51 households to use for the maintenance of their well. Water Committees are often the first time women are ever elected to leadership positions in villages.

Last month, Helen was standing in line waiting for water.
This month, she’s standing up for her community. And now, she is beautiful.

 

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