The News International
Published Date: Mar 24, 2021
Distributive justice in water management underscored
Islamabad: Distributive justice in water management is direly needed to address water shortages, especially in the South Asian region. Without a comprehensive understanding of real and multidimensional value of water, safeguarding this critical resource for the benefit of everyone would not be a possibility.
This was crux of the thoughts shared by experts from water, environment and agriculture sectors during an online regional dialogue on ‘Valuing water for achieving sustainable development goal 6 (Water and Sanitation),’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here.
Former Nepalese minister of water resources Dr Dipak Gyawali said from transboundary to a village level, the conflicts on water issues would always be there due to its being precious and irreplaceable natural resource.
“We often confine to surface water (blue water) while talking of water conservation. Brown water (underground water) and white water (clouds and glaciers) are equally important and should be conserved,” he said.
Dr Gyawali said the policies pertaining water needed to be pluralised while taking aboard all voices. “The point that we need to consider while dealing with the water issues is that there cannot be a complete consensus on any solution and therefore, we need to reach at certain compromises for the collective betterment,” he said.
While linking water issues with Covid-19 pandemic time challenges, Vanita Suneja, Regional Advocacy Manager, WaterAid South Asia, opined that the messaging, especially about hands hygiene to contain the spread of virus has reminded us the access to water and entailing inequality.
She added further that it is quite ironic that despite higher emphasis on value of water during the pandemic and messaging around it, there is no visible increase in the public funding on water, especially in South Asian countries. She said that including all stakeholders in decision-making pertaining water issues is imperative for effective water management.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, highlighted the multidimensionality of water usage and said that water has become even important amidst Covid-19 for health (hand washing), food security (agriculture), and livelihoods (energy).
He suggested that Dr Gyawali take a lead in updating quarter century old, “South Asia water manifesto”; a document that water experts in South Asia prepared in 1997 for just distribution of water across the region.
“It is our collective responsibility to pass on this precious resource to our future generations,” he said.
Vice-Chancellor of the Sindh Agriculture University Dr Fateh Mari opined that water efficiency was quite low in the country and we need to focus on improving water usage by overcoming several challenges ranging from governance to cultural.
“The climate change has rendered effective water management as a more urgent issue, and we need to respond it through behavioral change and therefore, from academia to civil society, a broader engagement is need of the hour to achieve it,” he said.
Aamer Hayat Bhandara, a progressive farmer who is using modern technology for water-efficient farming, said affordability was a major challenge for most of the farmers to adapt to modern agricultural techniques.
He said techniques such as drip irrigation could play vital role in efficient water use.
“We need to bring these techniques within access to all farmers by reducing their cost,” he said.