“Let not a drop of water that falls from the sky flow into the sea….”
These were the words of Parakramabahu, a 13th century Sri Lankan monarch who constructed the Sea of Parakrama,a massive rainwater harvesting reservoir, which to this day irrigates vast stretches of paddy fields in the Gal Oya district of the country.
Rainwater harvesting has gained in popularity throughout the island in the past decades. It is a technique of conservation in which rainwater is harvested form roof and ground catchments, safely stored in special tanks and used when the rains fail. Sri Lankan archeologists have discovered a whole network of storage reservoirs, pools, artificial streams and fountains in the north and central regions of the country proving that rainwater has been an integral part of the irrigation system of the country.
The capacity of Shenzhen’s reservoirs is only enough to meet residents’ demand for one and a half months, water experts have cautioned. Lack of capacity among the existing reservoirs could render the city helpless in an emergency or a severe drought of the sort which is raging across Southwest China, experts with the city’s water resources bureau said. Shenzhen is one of seven Chinese cities facing a critical lack of water resources with a per-capita water capacity of 175 cubic meters, less than 10 percent of the national average.
Public complaints regarding the waste of water in public buildings and the leisure industry are increasing. Members of the public have asked for heavy users to be charged higher water rates. At a public hearing on a water price hike in January, the Shenzhen Water Group put forward four proposals calling for a maximum increase of 37 percent per cubic meter for domestic water and 64 percent for industrial use. Most citizens supported the price hike, saying it would help improve people’s awareness of water conservation.
Source: Shenzhen Daily, 7 Apr 2010
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has completed 80% of the country’s largest sanitation project, Nirmal Mumbai Metropolitan Region Sanitation Abhiyan. “After conducting surveys, we found that the backlog between the demand and supply was around 25,000 seats,” said Ashwini Bhide, joint metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA. The project was started in February 2008 with the intention of providing areas with community toilets. The completion date is May 1. Of the 24,000 toilets planned, which includes urinals, 19,000 are ready for use. The project covers five municipal corporations and 13 municipal councils in the metropolitan region, which includes the suburbs and Thane.
“Most toilets are built by demolishing the defunct ones,” said CK Patil, chief of Nirmal Abhiyan. There are separate toilets for women, men, children and handicapped people, bathrooms and washbasins, and a room for the caretakers. The centres have continuous water and electricity supply, and have a usage charge of Rs30 to Rs50 [Euro 0.50 t0 0.83] per month, per family. Passes are given to each family and records are kept by the caretaker.
Source: Joanna Lobo, DNA, 7 Apr 2010
With the water crisis worsening in the desert state of Rajasthan, the state government is now focusing on community-based water management solutions instead of predominantly engineering-based ones. In its recently announced water policy, the state government has shifted its focus towards community-level empowerment and responsibility for water management under the umbrella process of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The government has chosen nine blocks – three each in Jodhpur, Nagaur and Churu districts – to implement a pilot project.
“The ground water situation is quite alarming in the state with only 30 water blocks out of total 237 left in safe zone. Since water is limited, there is a need to manage water very intelligently, which is not possible without active and direct involvement of citizens,” N S Satsangi, Chief Engineer (Quality Control and External Aided Projects), State Water Resource Planning Department, is quoted by Zee news.
“Every measure to educate people and ensure their participation in water conservation and water management will be taken across the state,” he said. For this, initially, Water User Groups (WUG) of 20 local people each will be formed at every Gram Sabha level. WUG members will be trained for water management by local NGOs. The Chief Engineer said the awareness programmes, capacity building and other related activities would be conducted at a fast pace with reinstatement of funds from the European Union. European Union Ambassador Daniele Smadja had recently announced reinstatement of a grant of Rs 450 crore [Euro 75,5 million, 7 Apr 2010] for water-related projects in the state.
Source: Zee News, 6 Apr 2010
The Indian state Andhra Pradesh has produced the first global example of large scale success in self-regulation of groundwater use. At the cost of US$2,200 per village per year, communities have shown the first large-scale example of self-regulation of groundwater in drought-prone areas. Farmers have doubled their income, while bringing their groundwater use close to sustainable levels. In many cases, farmers have voluntarily reduced their water use, while continuing to safeguard their crops.
This is one of the practical interventions described in Deep Wells and Prudence, a recent World Bank report. It addresses the issue of groundwater sustainability in India where an increasing number of aquifers are reaching unsustainable levels of exploitation.
India is the largest groundwater user in the world, with an estimated usage of around 230 cubic kilometres per year, more than a quarter of the global total. With more than 60% of irrigated agriculture and 85% of drinking water supplies dependent on it, groundwater is a vital resource for rural areas in India. A 2004 nationwide assessment found 29% of groundwater blocks to be in the semi-critical, critical, or overexploited categories, with the situation deteriorating rapidly.
The World Bank report provides a menu of practical and non-controversial interventions which can be implemented in the current environment. Amongst its several suggestions, the report calls for community management of ground water wherein the user community is the primary custodian of the resource and is charged with implementing management measures.
Source: OneWorld South Asia, 6 Apr 2010
Three men were detained on 5 April 2010 for dumping garbage in a river that caused massive tap water pollution in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, the Environment Protection Agency quoted police. The men admitted to have dumped four tonnes of solid wastes in Baimu River, source of drinking water for Chengdu city.
Tap water supply to parts of Chengdu was turned off for hours Friday noon after the pollution incident took place. Water supply resumed at 11 p.m. the same day. The garbage was fished up by Saturday morning. Tests in the past several days indicated the water in Baimu river is safe, a spokesman with Chengdu water resources department said.
Source: Sichuan Environment Protection Agency media news, 6 Apr. 2010
Analyze the data to assess rural attitudes, access and use of drinking water in terms of water usage, demand and supply, type of water sources, time spent on water collection, sustainability of water sources, quality and mitigation of water quality problems. This was the main advice given to Binayak Das, by discussants on Solutions Exchange in India of the 2008 Arghyam Survey on Household Water and Sanitation that covered 28 districts of Karnataka covering 17,200 households. You can read more on the survey at http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/environment/cr/res30010901.doc.
Arghyam supports water-related activities in India. In their survey they gathered a large amount of data on WATSAN. And they asked advice from experts and other people working on rural WATSAN the most useful ways to analyze the data, and the way to present the output in a user-friendly way.
Further the analysis could yield information on the health condition of households and prevalence of water-borne diseases, as well as help determine how effective panchayats are in providing water, the level of people’s participation in water and sanitation service deliveryand provide success stories relating to the same. Specifically, the data can be analyzed to understand the factors that influence farmers’ willingness to take up certain practices for managing livestock waste. This is important learn in order to protect groundwater from non-point sources of pollution.
Along with understanding how farmers hand animal waste, the survey data analysis can also indicate rural attitudes towards sanitation, and household and community collection, storage and use of drinking water, all of which is important from the public health and policy points of view. This understanding respondents felt was necessary in order to address the current gaps in behaviour change communication.
See the consolidated reply at http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/environment/cr/cr-se-wes-30010901.pdf
Solution Exchange is a UN initiative for development practitioners in India. For more information please visit www.solutionexchange-un.net.in
Source: Water Community Update, No. 30, 24 Feb 2009, http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/environment/comm_update/wes-update-30-240209.pdf (PDF; Size: 150 KB)
Participants at the South Asia Sanitation and Hygiene practitioners’ workshop in Bangladesh from 29 to 31 January 2008 identified five priority messages they will push in 2008:
- Sanitation and hygiene programmes must reach the poor and this is what should guide partnerships.
- More policy focus and funds are needed for urban sanitation for the poor.
- Local government and communities are in highest need for capacity building to sustain sanitation services.
- Needs of differently-abled people must be incorporated to achieve sanitation for all.
- The issue of manual scavenging must be recognised and addressed.
The workshop jointly organised by IRC, WaterAid and BRAC brought together 53 practitioners working in South Asia, including those with specific experience in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan Bhutan and Vietnam. They work for a wide range of organisations, including partner NGOs of IRC, WaterAid and BRAC as well as WaterAid country staff. They also agreed on joint action research on priority areas such as developing golden indicators to measure outcomes and impacts, and cost-effectiveness of hygiene promotion
Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have suffered 9 billion U.S. dollars economic loss annually due to poor implementation of sanitation, about 2 percent of their combined GDP, a recent study conducted by the World Bank has said. As reported in China View the study said that Indonesia, the biggest Southeast Asia economy, had suffered the most losses of 6.3 billion U.S. dollar per year.
Overall 4.8 billion U.S. dollars were lost annually to sanitation-related diseases, of which 3.35 billion U.S. dollars lost in Indonesia, one billion U.S. dollars in the Philippines, 260 million U.S. dollars in Vietnam, and 187 million U.S. dollars in Cambodia.
See also the Source Weekly 2008 No 1 article on the Philippines.