The Human Impact

New water policies are key to tackling scarcity – SIWI analysts

Reining in “water anarchy” due to inadequate regulation is one way to avoid the threat of water scarcity and secure resources for the future, according to a water expert at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

Hakan Tropp, director of the United Nations Development Programme water governance facility at SIWI, told AlertNet in an interview that governments should respond to consumer trends in developing countries by instituting new water management policies to avoid future shortfalls.

In a separate interview, Ana Cascao, a programme manager with SIWI who specialises in hydropolitics, said that managing controversy between countries while putting in place a proper balance of water and energy use will help protect water resources from political risks.

Q: How do you see water scarcity reshaping the world by 2050?

 

A: Hakan Tropp:

We can’t take a business as usual approach. That’s been going on for too long…. In many places in the world, water use is already at very unsustainable levels… Increasingly, we have to look at the demand side and also the governance side of water and strengthen institutions – at times really make the hard choices in water resource allocation and re-allocation … It’s also an issue of getting the priorities right.

I just came from India some weeks ago where the whole country is really dependent on groundwater for food production as well as water supply and sanitation services. And now, in many states you have rapidly falling groundwater levels.

Foreign “land grabs” risk draining Africa dry, warns report

By Emma Batha

In the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, the power-hungry villain wasn’t seeking to control supplies of gold or oil but another commodity that some argue could one day be far more precious – water.

Not so long ago it would have seemed far-fetched to suggest water might ever be worth more than oil. But as the world population continues to soar, so does the demand for water to make enough food to feed us – it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of wheat and five to ten times more for 1kg of meat.

The problem of finding all this water is highlighted in an interesting new report which looks at the recent scramble by foreign investors to snap up millions of hectares of land in Africa to grow crops for export.

SMS could speed repair of faulty hand pumps in Africa

Hand pumps are a lifeline providing drinking water for many communities in remote, rural parts of Africa, but it is thought that around one third are broken at any given time, putting the health of many at risk.

In an effort to reduce the problem, a group of University of Oxford researchers have turned to mobile phone technology, developing data transmitters to automatically send a text message (SMS) alerting local water officials and engineers when the pumps break down.

Fitted inside the pumps, data transmitters measure the movement of the handle, which in turn give an indication of water usage.

Solutions for a hungry world

By 2050, experts say, the planet will need at least 70 percent more food than it does today as its population soars, cities sprawl and climate change takes its toll. Will it be possible?

That’s a question AlertNet put to hunger fighters worldwide for a special multimedia report out today probing the future of food. Their answer: The planet can feed itself – but only if two “revolutions” happen, and happen soon.

The first would involve sweeping changes to entrenched policies and practices that are, in the end, unsustainable. Policies such as spending trillions on agriculture and fuel subsidies. And practices such as eating so much meat and dairy.

Expert urges unity in dialogue over water security

Disconnected approaches to water security are hindering efforts to launch more effective talks on providing universal access to fresh water and sanitation, an expert said at an international conference this week.

The division between discussions on boosting access to water for the poor and those on the challenges of managing water as a resource was plain to see at the water security conference at Oxford University, according to Tom Slaymaker, a senior policy analyst at WaterAid.

“The dominant narrative on water security reflects rich-country concerns and we mustn’t forget that in developing countries huge amounts of people still lack basic facilities,” Slaymaker said.

Safer water, sanitation could save 2.5 mln lives – WaterAid

The lives of 2.5 million people could be saved every year if governments committed to universal access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, charity WaterAid has said.

Citing the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO), WaterAid said in a report that boosting access to clean water and sanitation could save people by reducing deaths from diarrhoea, malnutrition and related diseases.

Although the global Millennium Development Goal (MDG 7) water target to reduce by half the proportion of people living without safe water by 2015 has now been met, many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania are lagging behind, WaterAid said.

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