World Water Day is marked on March 22 every year. The day reminds us of the importance of water for the sustenance of life on earth and the need to focus our attention on the importance of water.
“Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible” is the theme of World Water Day 2022 and the global community is participating to mark the day around the same theme. The theme clearly reminds us of the role of ground water in sustaining lives and livelihood on earth. It is particularly important to a country like Nepal that is vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Can any of us imagine a day without water? None of us can. In reality, human civilization and progress is directly linked to protection and use of water sources. This is why issues related to water safety, security and sustainability should be widely discussed among people from all walks of lives. We should not limit the discussion among technical persons and professionals. Instead, the issues should be openly discussed from the grassroots level, from the policy level, from the political fraternity and from all. Every single person on the planet should participate in the discussion and must have their say so that all can make informed decisions regarding the importance of water for human civilization and human lives.
On the occasion of World Water Day today, let us remember that the entire nature and beauty of the world would not have been possible without water. It is not just an idle statement. It is a reality. And it is high time to have a collective ownership of this crystal clear reality.
See the invisible
This year’s theme calls for the need to think about invisible sources of water visibly. International Groundwater Resources Assessment Center states: “Groundwater is a vital resource that provides almost half of all drinking water worldwide, about 40% of water for irrigated agriculture and about 1/3 of water required for industry. It sustains ecosystems, maintains the base flow of rivers and prevents land subsidence and seawater intrusion.”
The Center also states that groundwater is an important part of the climate change adaptation process and is often a solution for people without access to safe water.
In a country like Nepal, the first and foremost challenge for the water sector is climate change and its adverse impact on the sector. Climate change presents both increased risks and vulnerabilities to the sustainability of the water supply.
Though groundwater is invisible, its importance is visible to all. It is felt by all. It is directly connected to the daily lives of millions of people.
In some parts of the country, people have already started feeling the impact of climate change. There are reports that many water sources are depleting in the various parts of the country over the past few years. Some water sources have reportedly gone dry over the past few years. This worrying situation demands an urgent need of paying attention to the issue of water security, safety and sustainability. Needless to say, groundwater plays a vital role in water and sanitation systems including that of sustaining agriculture activities, running industries, preserving livelihood and continuing ecosystems. Some reports even present the fact that groundwater plays a vital role in climate change adaptation as well.
This year’s theme encourages the government and policymakers to consider a framework for water resource management to preserve the groundwater. It also highlights the role of groundwater to make a difference in the lives of people suffering from water related issues.
Though groundwater is invisible, its importance is visible to all. It is felt by all. It is directly connected to the daily lives of millions of people. Let the issue of groundwater be surfaced, be discussed loudly and be connected with people’s lives. It is time to make the invisible visible.
Pragya Lamsal is a Kathmandu-based development professional with years of experience of working on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues.