water-wisdom-during-a-pandemic

Context: World Water Day was observed with its broader aim to raise awareness on the importance of freshwater and advocate for its sustainable management.

More on the news:

  • This year observance of World Water Day seems of utmost importance, given the role of water in handwashing and personal hygiene practices.
    • Handwashing has become as important as physical distancing and nationwide lockdowns in breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Water is a common pool natural resource that sustains ecosystems, biodiversity, food security, economies, and society.
    • Hence, its judicious use with balancing multiple water needs is significant. 
    • In developing countries like India, a large population depends on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, fisheries and forestry for its livelihoods.

Water and Climate Change -Linkages

  • The choice of theme asWater and Climate Change’ reflects the need of policymaking  to address the impact of climate change on the water sector. 
    • Water is the primary means through which Climate change impact is felt on the individual and community levels
      • Climate change reduces predictability of water availability to individual and community.
    • Growing populations and their demand for water increases the need for energy-intensive water pumping, transportation, and treatment.
    • It contributes to the degradation of critical water-dependent carbon sinks such as peatlands. 
    • Due to climate change, water cycles experience significant change, which reflects in water availability and quality. 
    • A warmer climate causes more water to evaporate from both land and oceans; in turn, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, roughly 4% more water for every 1ºF rise in temperature.

Climate change induced Hydrological Challenges 

  • These changes are expected to lead to negative consequences in the water sector, with increased precipitation and run-off (flooding) in certain areas and less precipitation and longer and more severe scarcity of water (droughts) in other areas.
    • Hence, wet areas are expected to become wetter and dry areas drier
    • This influences almost all aspects of the economy including drinking water, sanitation, health, food production, energy generation, industrial manufacturing, and environmental sustainability and ultimately the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
  • In coastal areas when more freshwater is removed from rivers and aquifers, saltwater will move farther upstream into the river mouth and the aquifer.
    • It will put pressure on the limited freshwater available on the coast, forcing water managers to seek costly alternatives like desalination plants.

Mitigation strategies

  • The government is implementing the National Action Plan on Climate Change through eight National Missions, including the Water Mission
    • However, effective policies need the support of the stakeholders such as local governments, corporates and NGOs.
  • Water resources planning must be given due consideration while dealing with climate impacts. 
    • As tanks and ponds can store and recharge the excess rainwater to the aquifer, their rejuvenation (desilting) facilitates flood and drought management. 
  • It is also needed to revisit our rich tradition and culture of water wisdom in water resources management. 
    • More public awareness on the need for climate-resilient actions.
    • It includes protecting carbon sinks like oceans, wetlands, peatlands, and mangroves, adopting climate-smart agricultural techniques, rainwater harvesting, waste-water reuse, and judicious use of water.

National Action Plan on Climate Change  National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)

Objective

  • NAPCC is a comprehensive action plan which outlines measures on climate change related adaptation and mitigation while simultaneously advancing development. 

Salient features of NAPCC

  1.  It effectively pulls together a number of the government‘s existing national plans on water, renewable energy, energy efficiency agriculture and others and bundled with additional ones into a set of eight missions.  
  2. The Prime Minister‘s Council on Climate Change is in charge of the overall implementation of the plan. 
  3. Eight National Missions under NAPCC:

National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change

  • This Mission strives to work with the global community in research and technology development and collaboration through a variety of mechanisms and, in addition, will also have its own research agenda supported by a network of dedicated climate change related institutions and universities and a Climate Research Fund. 
  • The Mission will also encourage private sector initiatives for developing innovative technologies for adaptation and mitigation.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture

  • The aim is to make Indian agriculture more resilient to climate change by identifying new varieties of crops, especially thermal resistant ones and alternative cropping patterns. 
  • This is to be supported by integration of traditional knowledge and practical systems, information technology and biotechnology, as well as new credit and insurance mechanisms.

National Mission for a Green India

  • This Mission aims at enhancing ecosystem services such as carbon sinks.
  • It builds on the Prime Minister’s Green India campaign for afforestation of 6 million hectares and the national target of increasing land area under forest cover from 23% to 33%. It is to be implemented on degraded forest land through Joint Forest Management Committees set up under State Departments of Forests.

National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem

  •  The Plan calls for empowering local communities especially Panchayats to play a greater role in managing ecological resources. It also reaffirms the following measures mentioned in the National Environment Policy, 2006.
    • Adopting appropriate land-use planning and water-shed management practices for sustainable development of mountain ecosystems.
    • Adopting best practices for infrastructure construction in mountain regions to avoid or minimize damage to sensitive ecosystems and despoiling of landscapes
    • Encouraging cultivation of traditional varieties of crops and horticulture by promoting organic farming, enabling farmers to realize a price premium.

National Water Mission

  • The National Water Mission aims at conserving water, minimizing wastage and ensuring more equitable distribution through integrated water resource management.

National Solar Mission 

  • Great importance has been given to the National Solar Mission in the NAPCC. 
    • The objective of the mission is to increase the share of solar energy in the total energy mix of the country, while also expanding the scope of other renewable sources.
    • The mission also calls for the launch of a research and development (R&D) programme that, with the help of international cooperation, would look into creating more cost-effective, sustainable and convenient solar power systems.

National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency

  • Creation of mechanisms to help finance demand side management programmes by capturing future energy savings and enabling public-private-partnerships for this.

National Mission on Sustainable Habitat

  • The aim of the Mission is to make habitats more sustainable through a threefold approach that includes:
    • Improvements in energy efficiency of buildings in residential and commercial sector
    • Management of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
    • Promote urban public transport

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/water-wisdom-during-a-pandemic/article31528795.ece

Image Source: The Balance