Lessons from Cape Town!
As one revisits the past, s/he sees peace and prosperity, but as the world became more advanced it began to pose huge challenges to its dwellers. The world population is spreading and is expected to increase to about 10 billion by 2050. There is over exploitation of the resources. The world is suffering because of the drastic climate change.
It has become imperative on all of us to realize the aforementioned facts – the more early we do it, the better it will be for the humans.
Global Water Shortages
A recent global report observes that currently around 3.6 billion people, or nearly half the current global population, live in areas that suffer water shortages for at least one month a year. A number of studies also reveal that by 2050, that number is expected to grow to almost 6 billion. The demand for water globally has been mounting at about 1% a year and expected to increase much more dramatically in the next two decades.
Day Zero and Impact
So how many of us know about the ‘Day Zero’? Are we really worried? The world is facing the acute water crisis. It is sad to learn that the residents of Cape Town, South Africa, are bracing for ‘Day Zero’. That’s the day that the city of 4 million’s municipal water supply will be cut off for most households and businesses, an unprecedented measure aimed at preserving water after a severe drought that has emptied its reservoirs. Cape Town residents are living with restrictions of 13.2 gallons of water a day per person, or roughly enough for a brief shower and three toilet flushes. Once Day Zero will arrive, residents of the city will be forced to line up at collection points secured by the military. No person in Cape Town will be flushing potable water down a toilet any more.… No one will be showering more than twice a week now, read the recent instructions in Cape Town.
Good News from Cape Town
There is some good news from Cape Town. Residents have taken matters into their hands to avoid “Day Zero”, the date the city’s water supply was set to be turned off. A couple of light rain showers, preceded by bursts of thunder, rolled around Table Mountain and deposited a few millimeters of badly needed moisture on this water-starved city. Residents have slashed the amount of water they use in half – from 1.2 billion liters to 522 million liters per day – representing an unprecedented act of collective water conservation. The huge water-saving efforts in the South African city have now seen the day pushed back from 2018 to 2019. “Thus, provided we continue our current water savings efforts, Day Zero can be avoided completely this year,” the city government said in a statement. “It is now up to all of us. If we keep on saving, we will not have to queue for water this year.”
Day Zero Beyond Cape Town
Not only Cape Town but this crisis scene could be played out in other major cities in the country in the coming years, as demand for water continues to increase with population growth and as climate change makes already-dry regions still dryer. Not only the world is likely to witness acute shortage of water but flooding and drought risk will also rise. The researchers find that number of people at risk from floods is expected to climb to 1.6 billion in 2050 from 1.2 billion today. Current trends also suggest that around two-thirds of forests and wetlands have been lost or degraded since the beginning of the 20th century. Soil is eroding and deteriorating in quality. Since the 1990s, water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We must deeply know that water scarcity can lead to civil unrest and conflict within and between countries. What’s happening in Cape Town could happen anywhere around the world. The water is becoming an all essential and a scarce resource.
A Big Change is required
Water is a key component of our daily lives. Access to fresh water is considered to be a universal and free human right, but dwindling resources and a burgeoning population are making life tough for humans. One study finds that fourteen of the world’s 20 megacities are now experiencing water scarcity or drought conditions. With populations rising, these stresses will only see a rise. There are indications that the world will badly suffer if the issue remains unnoticed. Water and resource management has to become an order of the day. There is an immediate call for effective policies and programmes. There is an increasing responsibility for the nations to find sustainable solutions. Solely believing in the policy makers will make the situation worse. It is the citizens who alarmingly have to think deep and deep to save resources and save the future. Residents of Cape Town at least have made it possible to defer this grave situation. It makes high sense to begin planning for big changes now; otherwise the day is not far away when we too may have to face Day Zero.
Dr .Shahid Amin Trali, Assistant Professor, ITM University Gwalior.