Though there are many facts and figures to illustrate the existence of a water crisis, it’s an eventuality that is preceded by a number of ecological and civilizational tell-tale signs. For years, we’ve observed these developments, sometimes disguised as natural disasters, or written off as seasonal fluctuations. But it’s undeniable that they are all parts of a larger narrative of depleting water resources that should set alarm bells ringing.
An impending water crisis is caused in no small part by structural inadequacies. That’s the reason why even inhabitants of areas with abundant water supply find it difficult to access water. The lack of initiative and investment in nurturing and managing water supply then leads to abuse and pilfering, which sets a more vicious cycle in motion – one that leads from absence to apathy.
The rising instances of extreme weather might plausibly be blamed on climate change. But it also hints at a deeper ecological imbalance. All instances of floods have been precipitated by the crowding out and concretization of large parts of the flood plains. It’s disrupted the natural water cycle, reducing a region’s natural stock of replenishable underground water and causing droughts, when rainfall turns scarce.
A Poverty Of Options
A combination of climate risks and water insecurity has been the biggest factor in keeping a large swathe of India’s population stuck in poverty. They must sacrifice economic productivity to dedicate large parts of their day searching for and collecting water. Even once they do find this water, its poor quality leads to incidents of disease and malnutrition, which render people unable to exert themselves. Their poor health and sanitation then lead to further contamination of surrounding water resources, propelling the cycle of poverty.
It’s time for India’s people and policymakers to recognize these warning signs and channel our water conservation and sanitation efforts towards the most vulnerable communities. Addressing these symptoms would be a fruitful first step in solving the water crisis, and saving the lives of those most affected by it.
Mission Paani, a CNN News18 and Harpic India initiative, is working to address the issue of water shortage and sanitation, to ensure every Indian citizen has equal access to both. Be part of this landmark transformation, and take a Jal Pratigya to save water and promote hygiene. Visit www.news18.com/mission-paani