Water: A real game changer for our sustenance

No natural resource is infinitive! One single common characteristic of all natural resources is that they are limited and deplete over time.

Hence it is necessary to always understand the natural resource’s potential; how it could be conserved, protected, re-generated, rationalized and optimized in its use.

In line with this, all extraction of resources requires attention. Although some deserve more than others due to their sensitivity and vulnerabilities related to all kinds of pressures including; population growth, climate change and other safety and sanitary issues.

Water is one of the resources with paramount importance for our existence and we should care about its availability and sustainability.

Water provides multiple services in the ecosystem ranging from; being a habitat for marine ecologies, to serving as a media for linking abiotic elements such as minerals to the biotic through plant roots to running water for human and animal use.

Additionally, it is needless to mention the use of water for navigation which is roughly responsible for the transportation of 90% of all the goods in the world.

As gross water demand multiplies due to the staggering population increase in Africa and Asia, the amount of per capita water availability is estimated to be plummeted from 9,000 and 5,100 cubic meters in (1980) to 1,600 and 2,600 cubic meters, respectively, by the end of the century.

The situation will of course have a severe consequence in the arid and humid zones, centered around the equator known as “hunger zone”.

It is also worth noting that with the likely scenario of population growth, Africa will grow five times and Asia by twice, by the year 2100, when the world population is estimated to be ten billion.

Owing to the enormous scientific and public relations work in the last three decades, egologic thinking is substantially diminishing and leaving space for ecologic thoughts.

However, given the complexness and intricacy of ecological thinking, the best we are able to understand yet, is the cause and effect relations between the different factors as opposed to the understanding of the causes to the effect.

Consequentially, this reflects the widely recognized tendencies of “water blindness” among policy planners which undermine the importance of water in conversations and dialogues for transformation of societies.

The larger part of our planet is water.  We all know that more than 75 percent of our planet is covered by water.  Based where is been found , water can be divided into Blue and Green. Blue water is described as the water in rivers, lakes, dams, wet lands and aquifers.

This is the water with which we are conventionally aware of as it appears to be very close to our everyday use.  Where as green water is water derived from rainfall which is available in the soil for plant growth through evapotranspiration.

In other words green water is the soil moisture from infiltrated rainfall available for uptake by plants.

Thus, it is wise to give a fresh look at the situation and focus on the green water which is still chemically the same (H20), but different from the ecosystem perspective as it makes the integral part of our livelihood and other ecological services.

Evidently, our thinking around the ecosystem and  analysis work undertaken to determine the degree of relationship and centralities between different factors is evolving.

Africa being , heavily relied on agriculture for maintain it’s  livelihood ,has little  option  other than  immediately embark upon a green water revolution and emancipate the hundreds of millions small holder’s farmers who have been caught into this trap and are desperate to get out of the quagmire.

The situation becomes more compelling as its being widely aggravated by the adverse impact that climate change is inducing in the already very deprived and struggling situation they were into.

If unchecked, the current challenge will hit hard the farming community and will subject millions to absolute poverty, as it will not only deprive their resource base but also asset capacities.

This in turn will adversely affect all the gains claimed since the 2000s; in fighting against poverty and lifting millions from the abject poverty.

The green water revolution is a new assessment on how people can live in the harsh environment that they are exposed to and change it while living in it.

In other words, people will acclimatize, adopt the situation and in the meantime would do everything possible to change and make it more suitable and predictable to their situation.

For instance, in the case of farmers, first and most, they have to accept scarcity of water is the new normal, rather than an accident happned intermittnly.

Subsequently, they need to adopt a new culture that will ensure  efficient use  the  available water  while they also invest on its re-charging  through working at boath back yard and catchments level.

Politicians and planners will have to get out of the water “blind box “and understand the gravity water has in maintaining a stable and prosperous societies.

They need to be compassionate enough and allocate adequate financial resources that will be used as a vital instrument for the sought behavior change by farmers and other users.

This is especially true in the absence of financial mechanisms that serve smallholder farmers for medium to long term investment demand such actions would require.

The African Green Water Fund initiative is therefore a new and timely imperative to change this dire situation. Having established a fund in Africa, managed by Africans, is the only way to establish the extended investments needs of the hundreds of millions small farmers.

African policymakers have to address the matter very seriously and make it happen. It is more than a game changer!  With this fund in place, it will not only be able to address the intensive need for water in the growing urban environment and ever challenging agriculture production but also ensure adoption to climate change and inclusiveness as a result.

Water in this definition is not one more input for livelihood, it is a strategic and the most sensitive and vulnerable factor for living.

Once again, Kigali will be hosting an expert workshop on Answering the Call for an African Water Revolution, ­which  will be held in Kigali, Rwanda on the 27th – 28th June 2018.

This will enable Africa to reiterate its commitment to address one of the most critical global issue of our time.

In alignment to citizens’ immediate and long term interest, through  developing a  functioning  design  that will  financially empower hundreds of millions who otherwise will be a victim of the  imminent calamities. 

The writer is Director General, The Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC/A).

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