water, nature and climate change
Water can be part of climate change and nature conservation: better water management in agriculture, which accounts for about 70 percent of all water use, is a key component of effective climate change reduction and adaptation strategies to achieve local and global environmental security, especially in regions where water scarcity and climatic changes are severe. The South Asian region has high-altitude mountainous terrains, sub-mountainous tracts, large flood-plains, with a network of rivers, streams and canals and link canals. The region accounts for 58 percent of the total irrigation potential of Southern and East Asia and has best—but poorly managed—irrigation network in the world.
South Asia is an agricultural region. It has the distinction of having the largest contiguous gravity flow irrigation system in the world. About 20 percent irrigation water waste is in seepage/evaporation which could be used to secure nature and minimize the impact of climate change on the region. Just take the province of Punjab as a pilot project for this purpose. Punjab has 19 barrages, 12 inter-river link canals and 43 independent irrigation canals with a total length of the main canals at 64000 km2 where we can plant fruit-bearing trees, and the eco-friendly ones as well (18-20 feet apart) along the runway. By doing so, we can save up to 20 percent of irrigation water, and this would also help to reduce the air pollution.
Some suggestions on World Water Day
On March 22, the world will celebrate World Water Day. This year, the theme of this international observance is: “Water, Nature and Climate Change.” As the global population increases, so does the demand for water, meeting which, in many ways, depletes natural resources and pollutes the environment as well. In the face of changing climatic conditions worldwide, this issue highlights the urgent need to improve access to sustainable water supply. Water scarcity is a severe yet growing problem. For some part of each year, nearly 71 percent of the world’s population (around 4.3 billion people), experience moderate to severe water scarcity.
The governments must:
- Direct all efforts to improving livelihoods and agricultural productivity, reducing waste and the demand for resource-intensive water, and improving governance in the WASAs of various cities.
- Promote local-level efforts to empower people; creating sustainable rural livelihoods is also highly important.
- Provide for continuous education on water conservation for farmers through mass media, short courses, and exchange programmes with other South Asian states.
- Support its Ministry of Climate Change to provide scholarships to students who want to conduct research on issues related to water and environment.
- Prioritize research on high-value crops, livestock, fisheries, forest conservation, post-harvest handling, irrigation water management and management of soil problems.
- Ensure adequate and timely availability of water for farming as it will lead to enhanced food production, ergo availability.
- Incorporate climate change adaptation into the National Climate Policy. Water security should be the top priority in the climate change scenario.
- Assess issues, goals and strategies across the Indus basin and establish joint scenarios, modelling and risk assessments, a Joint Experts Group from all riparian countries should be formed
- Put in place valid institutional structures and implement integrated management of the water resources as these are the key components for trans-boundary cooperation on climate change
- Make it mandatory for every person to plant a tree, save water for the preservation of nature and its resources.
The writer is a member of Anti-Drug Task Force Punjab Mianmajid582@gmail.com