There is a reason that our planet is called the Blue Planet - more than 70% of earth is covered with water, but the actual amount of water that can be consumed by humans is much smaller. Only about 3% of the water on earth is actually fresh water and of that only about 1.2% is actually suitable for human consumption. Now imagine a country like India, which has about 18% of the world's population, but only 4% of the water resources! It comes as no surprise that our country is constantly stressed for water.
Where does the problem stem from?
There are several reasons why water is becoming such a scarce resource and why the conversation about how to conserve water needs to come front and centre:
- India is almost entirely dependent on the monsoons for a large part of its water supply and with the rains playing havoc at times, this can no longer be considered a reliable source.
- There is also the problem of floods, which can affect the supply of drinking water, especially in the areas near rivers.
- Perhaps one of the biggest problems has to be the depletion of the ground water - with the growing needs for irrigation, the earth is actually becoming parched.
- With more and more borewells being dug and water pumps being set up to satisfy the needs of the farms, there is a further burden on the water table.
- The over usage of chemicals in farming has affected the groundwater too, leading to further troubles for those who are working towards saving water resources.
- There are also issues related to how the existing water bodies are being treated - from industrial waste to waste being generated in homes are being dumped into them.
Why do we need to pay attention to water conservation?
Without a doubt, there is a need to talk about conservation of water, because this is one of the most precious and irreplaceable resources, which is required for our very survival. Should one wonder about the need or importance of managing and conserving water, here are just some of the reasons:
- As mentioned before, freshwater is a resource that is only 3% of the planet’s total water supply and of that, only 0.5% of that water is available for human consumption. While there is water in the seas and oceans, it is salt water and desalination can prove to be a very expensive method, which is one of the main reasons why we need to find ways to conserve water.
- In areas that are prone to droughts and water shortage, conservation of water resources become all the more important, because this might be the only way to ensure potable water as well as for irrigation and other purposes. There is also the role that water has to play in the overall balance that needs to be maintained in the environment - for natural zones to flourish and for the local wildlife to survive, maintaining the water table is essential.
- Water conservation also has a role to play in helping achieve the UN-SDG goal of sanitation - as per the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, there is a need to conserve water, so that 2.4 billion people, around the world can have access to clean water to meet their basic hygiene and sanitation related needs.
The water warriors are here !
Here are 10 NGOs that are showing us how to conserve water:
Collaborating with local communities and other partners, Shuddhi, as the name suggests, is working towards creating a better environment. Swachh Bharat and water conservation lie at the heart of their programs and through the same, they have helped clean several local water bodies. Through their sanitation and community development programs, they are also making people aware of the need to maintain and protect the water bodies.
- Environmentalist Foundation of India:
This NGO prefers to take a more holistic approach, because it considers the interlinking of everything. So, they work towards wildlife conservation as well water - their team is constantly working towards reviving sources of freshwater, such as ponds, lakes and small natural reservoirs. Although their means are rooted in science, they do use local people as volunteers. Their work has helped revive water bodies in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
- Watershed Organisation Trust:
Working in more than 9 states across India, the work of WOTR has been able to impact more than 3750 villages. Their team works towards building an awareness about the different ways to conserve water, including teaching locals about water harvesting, helping build check dams and other such structures, where water can be collected and conserved naturally. Their work is mainly in the rural communities of the country, where they also work to bring potable water to the local homes and families.
- Sustainable Alternatives for Rural Accord:
Also known as SARA, this NGO has been working towards the revival of 10 lakes in various areas of the state of Karnataka. Being filled with silt, these lakes had lost their capacity to revive itself, which meant that they couldn't help with irrigation of nearby lands. Now that these lakes are being de-silted, they are able to hold a much larger amount of water, even through the hot summers. These steps are meant to help ensure that there is water throughout the year, the groundwater is able to recharge itself and the soil retains natural moisture.
- Marathwada Gramin Vikas Sanstha:
The area of Marathwada is known for a number of reasons but some of them are harsh negatives - drought, rains out of season and farmer suicides and if you were to find a pattern here, it would be water related. The MGVS has helped build structures to harvest water on more than 9400 hectares of land and 34 Water User Groups have also been created to maintain these structures. Their efforts have led to deepening as well as widening of close to 50 local streams and smaller rivers and the water bodies that they have helped desilt have become holding areas for water that can be used for farming and more.
- Swades Foundation:
Swades is another one of the NGOs that is working to replenish and conserve water in Maharashtra. They have taken up the repair and resurrection of several small tributaries in the area and have also helped construct check dams that allows for the conservation and storage of water, which can be then used for agricultural and domestic purposes. Their aim is to ensure that every family receives 200 litres of clean water through the taps for daily usage.
- Navjyoti India Foundation:
Founded by Dr. Kiran Bedi, this foundation is dedicated to protecting the environment and finding methods to conserve water. By encouraging people in villages and rural areas to have a more sustainable style of living, they have several sets of people working on spreading education about the creating and maintaining natural water resources. They are also disseminating information on rainwater harvesting, revival of water bodies like lakes and ponds and finding ways to replenish groundwater.
- Tarun Bharat Sangh:
Working with self-reliant communities, this NGO works mainly in the state of Rajasthan, which is known for its water deficiency. The founder of this organisation is Dr. Rajendra Singh, who is also known as the Waterman of India, and he as well as his team of volunteers have helped revive 10 rivers and helped with the transformation of more than 10000 square kilometres of area that was prone to droughts. By prioritising water conservation, using native methods of harvesting water such as 'johads' and using the community as a whole, they are working towards solving the water crisis.
- Ashoka Trust For Research In Ecology And The Environment:
While this NGO is involved in several endeavours, their The Water, Land and Society program delves deep into the inequity and vulnerability of water in India. Working mainly in the Kaveri delta region, they have been working tirelessly on coming up with more ways to save water by offering a variety of solutions that are social and technological nature. So, where they have methods to monitor recycled water online, they also have volunteers working at the grassroot level, educating and informing the locals.
- Full Circle:
Bengaluru might be one of the most modern cities in the country today, but they are facing their own water crises. With pollution in most local water bodies and the quickly depleting groundwater levels, the need to get into correction mode was essential for the local people. NGOs like Full Circle has been working to clean, replenish and maintain the local water bodies. They have been trying to address the issues of encroachment and rising pollution and their ultimate aim remains to revive the local lakes into reliable water resources.
At Give Discover you will be able to find many more such NGOs that are fighting hard to find new and innovative ways of water conservation. We have one planet and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us that we endeavour and join hands to ensure that we leave it in a better shape for our future generations!