Talk­ing About Wa­ter...

Nepal takes the first step of rais­ing aware­ness on wa­ter con­ser­va­tion through­out the en­tire re­gion.

Southasia - - Contents - By Sal­man Shah Jil­lani

The Global Peace As­so­ci­a­tion Nepal and Di­rec­tion Nepal re­cently or­ga­nized a three-day wa­ter fes­ti­val in Kath­mandu. The fes­ti­val, ti­tled ‘Wa­ter Sus­tain­abil­ity for Peace and Se­cu­rity’ was aimed at spread­ing knowl­edge and cre­at­ing pub­lic aware­ness for the sus­tain­able use of wa­ter. The fes­ti­val is the first of its kind in Nepal to em­pha­sise wise con­sump­tion con­sump­tion of wa­ter.

The three-day fes­ti­val pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about the use of wa­ter and also ex­hib­ited new tech­nolo­gies that can en­hance proper and con­trolled use of wa­ter. Though Nepal is the sec­ond rich­est coun­try in wa­ter re­sources with a large num­ber of river basins and flow­ing fresh wa­ter,, the pop­ula- tion lacks pure drink­ing wa­ter, with the sit­u­a­tion only wors­en­ing due to cli­mate change.

Data shows an es­ti­mated 8.6 mil­lion cu­bic me­ters of wa­ter flow ev­ery year from the Hi­malayas to the plains and then to the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent, which is enough to sup­port more than a bil­lion peo­ple. Glaciers and snowmelts are the only source of fresh wa- ter for the pop­u­la­tion in Nepal which has around 3,000 glaciers and 2,000 gla­cial lakes. How­ever, as many as 20 lakes are at risk of burst­ing. Ex­perts be­lieve that the trend in cli­mate change shows that the con­tin­u­ous de­crease in snow ac­cu­mu­la­tion and gla­cial re­treat might lead to acute wa­ter short­ages in the fu­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Wa­ter Sup­ply and Sew­er­age, 42 per­cent of Nepal’s 27 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion lives below the poverty line. Out of this, only 80 per­cent has ac­cess to drink­ing wa­ter.

How­ever, not all drink­ing wa­ter is safe ow­ing to the mass pol­lu­tion in the rivers and other wa­ter re­sources. While peo­ple in the north travel hours and wait in queues to fetch a bucket of wa­ter, those re­sid­ing in the plains de­pend largely on ground­wa­ter that is se­verely con­tam­i­nated due to in­creased use of chem­i­cals in agri­cul­tural prac­tices. Nu­mer­ous rivers flow­ing through the ur­ban ar­eas of Nepal con­tain high amounts of pol­lu­tion, mak­ing them un­suit­able as sources for drink­ing wa­ter.

Wa­ter is rapidly be­com­ing a scarcity, es­pe­cially in South Asia. With cli­mate change and an ap­palling record of wa­ter pol­lu­tion, the re­gion is fac­ing an ur­gent cri­sis that does not re­ceive the at­ten­tion it de­serves. Pro­grams like the wa­ter fes­ti­val are there­fore very im­por­tant in the so­ci­ety to raise aware­ness about wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and wise con­sump­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, the wa­ter fes­ti­val in Nepal at­tracted the gov­ern­ment as well as the pri­vate sec­tor, draw­ing close to 16,000 vis­i­tors. Ap­peal­ing to the civil so­ci­ety, the fes­ti­val fea­tured stu­dents from schools, col­leges and univer­si­ties who par­tic­i­pated by dis-

play­ing their tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts for wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and ef­fi­cient us­age.

A part of the aware­ness cam­paign was to trig­ger a di­a­logue over the wide use of wa­ter in in­dus­tries and agri­cul­ture. The Wa­ter and En­ergy Con­sul­tants’ As­so­ci­a­tion in­tro­duced a new tech­nol­ogy, Ghatte Bi­juli, whereby wa­ter is con­verted to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity. Mean­while, a group of en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents have de­vel­oped a wa­ter level in­di­ca­tor -- a de­vice that in­di­cates when the tank is full. As the wa­ter level in­creases, a bulb lights up and an alarm rings, thus pre­vent­ing wa­ter from over-flow­ing.

Stu­dents also show­cased homemade wa­ter foun­tains made of re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als such as old CDs, pa­per, and plas­tic. When asked about the link be­tween solid waste and wa­ter, Narad Bas­tola, Sec­re­tary of the Nepal Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Fo­rum, said, “Solid waste is dumped in the wa­ter and causes pol­lu­tion. In­stead of throw­ing them in sources of wa­ter, we can use them to make cre­ative things.” Be­sides dis­play­ing new tech­nolo­gies, stalls also gave out pam­phlets and held short pre­sen­ta­tions de­scrib­ing rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing, wa­ter treat­ment, waste­water treat­ment ma­chines and wa­ter pu­ri­fiers. “I was re­ally cu­ri­ous to know what would be there at the wa­ter expo be­cause I had never heard of it be­fore,” quipped Pra­tima Ma­gar, a Bach­e­lor’s level stu­dent and a house­wife who was ex­cit­edly learn­ing all about rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing. “I also want to in­stall such a sys­tem in my house,” she said af­ter know­ing that she too “could solve the prob­lem of wa­ter short­age dur­ing the dry sea­son.”

Though the tar­get group was mainly the youth, the or­ga­niz­ers were over­whelmed by the re­sponse they re­ceived from a healthy cross-sec­tion of so­ci­ety. Apart from rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness, the or­ga­niz­ers were also suc­cess­ful in bring­ing to­gether stake­hold­ers work­ing in the wa­ter sec­tor.

The wa­ter fes­ti­val was a suc­cess for Nepal ow­ing to its unique con­cept, large me­dia cov­er­age, au­di­ence re­sponse and the num­ber of or­ders re­ceived by the ex­hibitors. The event has set a bench­mark for other South Asian coun­tries to em­u­late be­cause the en­tire re­gion faces a loom­ing wa­ter cri­sis which, if unchecked, could soon make wa­ter a lux­ury item.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.