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Monday May 20, 2024

Water for peace

By Zile Huma
April 19, 2024
Representational image. — Pexels
Representational image. — Pexels

Water is an important scarce natural resource that is required for several everyday activities. Water plays a significant role in impacting our political and socio-economic decisions. It is a necessity for the growth of the agriculture sector in a country that is essential for the economic prosperity of a nation and guarantee of food security.

Similarly, industries also require water to produce different products that directly impact the import and export of the country. Clean water is a necessary commodity for the healthy lives of human beings. The availability of water resources also shapes our social structures.

With the mushrooming of population growth, urbanization also expanded. Urban planners are also very much conscious of water reservoir existence before designing any city. Now, housing societies and infrastructure developers also take into account the availability of water before urban planning keeping in view the customers’ first requirements.

International Water Day is observed every year on March 22 to highlight the importance of water in our lives and commit to conserving this precious natural resource. The theme of International Water Day 2024 was ‘Water for Peace’, reflecting the need for cooperation at international, national, and local levels.

Today, water security is the biggest challenge faced by humans across the globe due to climate change, wastage, population growth, etc. According to the UN, “Water scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world's population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one-quarter of the world's population, face economic water shortage.”

The dependency of human life on water and insufficiency leads nations and people within the states to compete to keep their hold on maximum water resources. At the international level, wars are being launched to secure natural resources to safeguard the socio-economic interests of the nations.

Pakistan and India also had a water dispute which was resolved by the Indus Waters Treaty. Similarly, India is building unauthorized dams to create water crises in Pakistan that can be termed as water terrorism which is being contested by Pakistan at international forums. Many international water disputes occurred among states due to their claims on waters of rivers Nile, Euphrates, Tigris, etc.

This year’s theme was very important to spread the message of peace through collaboration on water rather than competition. Nations must acknowledge that water is not only a natural resource but the right of every individual. We need to work together and find solutions to conserve water and ensure the accessibility of every individual to clean water.

Nations that have water disputes must sit together and reach impeccable solutions without depriving anyone of their right to clean water. Nations must extend their support to each other to cooperate on water preservation strategies.

The exchange of best practices and ideas can be useful for developing nations to learn from developed nations about technological advancement and techniques to develop efficient infrastructure of water reservoirs. Moreover, developed nations must provide financial support to underdeveloped countries to increase human resources, invest in research, and develop climate-resilient water management infrastructure.

New strategies like decreasing run-off losses, reducing evaporation losses, storing water in the soil, reusing water, and reducing irrigation losses can be important areas for developed nations to master. Similarly, governments are also required to see the water needs of different administrative units in the country to justify distributing water among them and end any water conflicts.

States should fix research grants to allow researchers, educationists, and water managers to identify new areas of research according to modern and indigenous needs. A new idea of irrigation should be introduced and adopted to avoid water theft. It will provide the local solution to local problems. Collaboration among citizens can also help to identify the culprits involved in water wastage or theft. The government should impose fines on citizens if found wasting water in their routine activities.

Moreover, awareness campaigns must be launched to create awareness among citizens to use water without waste. Schoolchildren must be taught water conservation techniques to adopt in their everyday lives. The conduct of speech, art, and essay competitions at different educational levels can help to apprize the students about the importance of water and the need to conserve it.

Water is an essential resource without which life cannot be imagined or sustained. Through cooperation and collective efforts, we can not only save water for our coming generations but also diminish the threat of wars and conflicts which was the purpose of this year’s theme: ‘Water for peace’.


The writer is a graduate of University of Oxford in Public Policy. She tweets/posts @zilehumma_1