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Water Day

World Water Day 2019

With the theme, ‘Leaving no one behind’ this World Water Day (22 March) aims to advocate for the promise of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development wherein the Goal 6 talks about ensuring the availability of safe water for all by 2030. In 2010, the United Nations (UN) recognised the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right. This human right entitles everyone, without any discrimination, to sufficient, safe, and affordable water for drinking, sanitation, hygiene, washing clothes, and cooking. However, today as per an estimate of the United Nations, 2.1 billion people around the world are living without safe water at home.

While access to safe water is a challenge for many people around the globe, here are five stark facts about the water crisis in India:

  1. A Large Population In India Is Facing High Water Stress

According to NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), 60 crore Indians face high to extreme water stress. NITI Aayog estimates that by 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people.

  1. Lack Of Access To Safe Water Cause Staggering Number Of Deaths Every Year

As per an estimate of NITI Aayog, about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. As much as 75 per cent of total households do not have drinking water on premise and 84 per cent of rural households do not have piped water access.

  1. Lack Of Water Puts More Burden On Women

As per an estimate by the International Development Enterprises (IDE), across India, women spend 150 million work days every year fetching and carrying equivalent to a national loss of income of Rs. 10 billion.

  1. More Than 10 Crore People Consume Drinking Water With Excess Fluoride

According to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, about 10.06 crore population living in 12,577 habitations in different states and union territories are getting drinking water with excess fluoride. Ingestion of excess fluoride can cause fluorosis which affects the teeth and bones. As per World Health Organisation (WHO), the optimal level of fluoride for preventing tooth decay is 0.7 milligrams (mg) in every liter of water and any level more than 1.5 mg is dangerous.

  1. As much as 70 per cent of India’s water is contaminated due to Lack Of Water Management

At present, India treats only 30 per cent of its water and reuses a negligible amount leading to water pollution due to discharge of untreated waste water, says NITI Aayog. As much as 70 per cent of our water is contaminated making India rank 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. Globally, according to the Water Waste report 2018 of International Water Association, 80 per cent of all wastewater is discharged into the world’s waterways where it creates health, environmental and climate-related hazards.

What is safe water?

‘Safe water’ is shorthand for a ‘safely managed drinking water service’: water that is accessible on the premises, available when needed, and free from contamination.

Water crisis in India

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation ‘WaterAid.’

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled ‘Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019,’ which will be released today, to mark World Water Day.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable ‘water footprints’ – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries.

Countries to face high water stress

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and by climate and population changes.

By 2040, it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

India – Third largest exporter of groundwater

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 percent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 percent during the same period.

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 percent of the global total, more than that of China and the US combined – and is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 percent of the global total.

Water scarcity can’t be fixed without fixing agriculture in India

According to the report, wheat and rice were the two most important and highest water-guzzling crops that India produced.

“Rice is the least water-efficient grain and wheat has been the main driver in increasing irrigation stress. Replacing rice and wheat with other crops like maize, millets, sorghum mapped to suitable geographies could reduce irrigation water demand by one-third,” said the report.

Though replacement of rice and wheat crops is challenging, in an ideal scenario, the choice of crop needs to be matched with ecology and the amount of water available in the area it is being produced in.

Noting that one kg of wheat required an average 1,654 litres of water, the report said one kg of rice requires an average 2,800 litres of water.

“In 2014-15, India exported 37.2 lakh tonnes of basmati. To export this rice, the country used around 10 trillion litres of water, meaning India virtually exported 10 trillion litres of water,” said the report.

6 common ways we waste water without realisation

  1. The bathroom singing water waster

Showering for even five minutes can consume up to 37 litres of water. While you can use low-flow showers, or just fill up a bucket to serve the same purpose and cut down on your water consumption, you choose to be a bathroom singer who bathes under it in luxury.

  1. The Sunday morning cleaning spree

A Sunday morning calls for cleaning the lawn, backyard, porch, basement or staircase– doesn’t it? So you draw out the hose pipe and start flooding the area in the high hopes that your mom would be proud.

No, she wouldn’t. Instead, make her proud by sweeping the same areas instead of wasting up to 570 litres of water.

  1. The sleepy brushing session

Brushing your teeth is probably the most common occurrence in your life (at least we hope so). Be considerate to not waste that 15 litres of precious water by letting the water run the whole time you’re brushing and secretly checking your sleepy face out. It isn’t that difficult to close the tap when you don’t need to rinse your mouth.

  1. 18 litres for every toilet visit

We read this somewhere and it’s stuck like a mantra in our heads: ‘If it’s yellow, keep it mellow, if it is brown, flush it down!’ Flushing your toilet every time you use it means flushing up to 18 litres of water per flush– which means about a 300 odd litres a week. Let us make this simpler: if it’s just urine, half-flush your toilet or use a small amount of bucket water to replace the flush.

Also, your flush is a cranky little thing that leaks up to 3500 litres of water into the toilet every month. Don’t ignore a leaky toilet. Fix it.

  1. Keeping the kitchen tap open for ‘cleaner’ veggies

Washing your daily dose of fruits and vegetables in running water will not get them any cleaner than washing them in a pan filled with water. If you’re obsessed with hygiene, and only feel better when you wash them under running water, then at least collect that water and use it to water your plants.

Cooking also uses a lot of water, especially when you boil or steam vegetables. Reuse that water when making a curry or soup. You’ll even get valuable nutrients while saving water. Thank us later.

  1. Playing Holi the filmy style

Holi. Water fights. Splashing in the swimming pool — no, it’s not cool. The fact that you even have these provisions makes you a luxuriously rich human being, with half the world running out of the scarce life source.

Hold on to it as much as you can, teach toddlers not to splash around with water meaninglessly, tell them that isn’t the idea of fun, educate them — and yourselves– about the shortage, and understand that you have a lot of other things to play with than water.

What is being done to save water?

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) said it is extending support to #GlassHalfFull initiative led by the non-governmental organisation ‘Why Waste’ to stop wastage of water at restaurants.

The initiative requests restaurants to fill the glass of water half full only unless otherwise requested by the customer, NRAI said in a statement.

Through this partnership, both Why Waste and NRAI aim to reduce wastage of water served at restaurants, it added.

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