Participation of Local People in Water Crisis Management

Participation of Local People in Water Crisis Management

Participation of Local People in Water Crisis Management

Rahul Bhandari, IAS

When the noted water conservationist and environmentalist Rajendra Singh said, “The Third World War is at our gate, and it will be about water,” the world realised how big is the threat. An apparent prediction of the “Waterman of India” hailing from Alwar district in Rajasthan has made people ponder over the issue.

The rains keep failing us and that is nothing new, one might say. Because the population is rising, there is no doubt that stress on water resources will increase. This global crisis calls for all the stakeholders to come together and play their own roles in managing one of the most notorious effects of climate change.

Involve Locals

One of the best sustainability driven solutions come from involving the local people, keeping in mind their knowledge, perception and control over the local natural resources. For instance, Lima in Peru gets an average of just 25 mm rainfall in a year. However, there is a long spell from June to November, wherein most of this geographical location is covered in a thick blanket of mist from the sea. A project called ‘Green Desert’ was initiated to harness the potential of this mist to be converted into an additional source of water. The project was focused on the communities living in the outskirts of Lima, and with a minimal capital cost of $12,900, the local people seemed to have managed a grave crisis in the nick of time. It is believed that more than the geographical suitability of the location, the eagerness of the community to participate, played the key role in this project and finally led to success.

Learn from Turkey

It is not a surprise that seafood and fish-processing industry consume huge amounts of water in order to maintain appropriate hygiene levels and prevent spoilage. A seafood processing plant in Adana (Turkey) used to extract freshwater from the local groundwater aquifer, which was later recognised as ‘extremely vulnerable to climate change’. The local population intervened, as a result of which, new water treatment units were installed, thereby reducing the water withdrawal from the aquifer by up to 70%. Countries like China are laying heavy emphasis on reducing the cost of water reuse in textile industries.

India Wakes Up

India is also waking up to the crisis, albeit slowly. The farmer community in parts of Rajasthan like Neemrana, constructed six recharge structures to manage the local groundwater resource. The initiative benefits more than 4000 farms on a regular basis and has become an exemplary pillar of hope for an otherwise ‘Desert State’ of the country.

The big stories of change can be found in the smallest of places like Neemrana. And if all come together to share in it, what is left to fight for?

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