The stats look depressing and the future looks alarming. According to United Nations, while more than 2 billion people across the world do not have access to safe drinking water, nearly as many live in “potentially severely water-scarce areas”. And this number is expected to cross 3 billion in less than 2050. The present scenario is quite beyond control as the worldwide population and demand for safe water are growing at an unstoppable rate. Owing to a skyrocketing speed of global warming almost 20 percent of the habituated areas of the world is expected to be flooded by 2050, which will contaminate every drop of available drinking water.
No matter how scary this may read, the hope is not lost yet. Much can be done to take control of the situation and the time to act is now.
SIGMA Foundation and the Kolkata Centre of SOS Children’s Village came together to spread awareness of water conservation, among children of the SOS Village of Kolkata, to join the worldwide celebration of World Water Day on March 31, 2018.
World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year to spread awareness on water conservation. Started by the United Nations, 25 years ago, World Water Day is an initiative to lower mismanagement and misuse of water and inform about the ongoing global water crisis.
The day-long event started with a welcome note by Ms. Sohini Tarafdar, Research Officer, Water Quality and Lab-based Monitoring, SIGMA Foundation. While highlighting how the human beings are constantly exploiting the nature and harming the environment, Ms. Tarafdar also mentioned that “if we don’t take the right steps now, by 2070 the whole world will be receiving water at gunpoint, eventually leading to a third world war”.
The dignitaries then watered a plant to inaugurate the event.
Mr. Sailesh Singh, Zonal Director, SOS Children’s Village briefed the audience about how SOS has collaborated with various organizations to spread awareness on environment and water conservation. He further mentioned that SOS has also taken various initiatives to develop skills among their children to take up career related to environment. In the end, Mr. Singh lauded SIGMA for coming ahead to help the children of SOS understand the importance of saving water and protecting the nature.
Dr. M.N. Roy, Founder & President, SIGMA Foundation, delivered the Keynote. He mentioned the biggest challenge the world is facing today is the depletion of groundwater level. He urged everyone to follow simple steps to save water like rain water harvesting, reuse of water etc. Dr. Roy also said that it is important to plant more trees, especially in the urban areas and keep the environment clean, so that available water do not get contaminated. Dr. Roy showed his concern toward the damage that we are constantly doing to the environment, which he said is a major cause for climate change, further intensifying water-related disasters – like famines, floods and droughts.
Ms. Kamala Saha, Deputy Director, Child Trafficking Department, Government of West Bengal, said, that parts of Bengal are already facing severe water crisis, Darjeeling being at the top. She also mentioned how the people of hills have innovated a way to store rain water in reservoirs at their home so face this challenge of declining water level.
Other dignitaries on the dais were Ms. Dipali Sarkar, Secretary, SOS Children’s Village, Dr. Anjali Roy, Faculty at Pradeep Center for Autism Management & Honorary Consultant, SIGMA Foundation, Dr. Debasri Mukherjee, Senior Research Officer and Head of Water Unit, SIGMA Foundation.
Dr. Debasri Mukherjee presented a talk on “Overall Water Scenario”. Dr. Mukherjee mentioned that 97.5% water on earth is saline water, while the remaining meager 2.5% which forms rivers and groundwater, which can be used by living beings. A part of this water is also getting contaminated owing to environmental pollution. She further added that the availability of water is the one of the biggest crisis in today’s world, which may in turn lead to mass displacements and conflicts among human being.
Mr. Rajarshi Banerjee from Bharti Chemicals involved the children of SOS to show them how water is tested to find if it contains arsenic, acid, iron, bacteria etc.
Ms. Sohini Tarafdar and Ms. Nilanjana Mukherjee spoke on the importance of maintaining hygiene and disposing waste in proper designated places. Ms. Tarafdar showed the children simple practices of cleaning their hands and feet to prevent diseases. Ms. Mukherjee discussed about how clean drinking water, hygiene, and sanitation play an important role in maintaining good health.
Ms. Priyanka Dutta, Research Officer, SIGMA Foundation, explained how children can take lead roles in saving water at home. She urged the children to form small groups and take up responsibilities to tell people about saving water and not disposing waste on the roads.
The session concluded with a presentation by Ms. Debaleena Bhattacharya, Presenter, Doordarshan. Through simple activities she taught the children simple steps of washing hands.
The programme concluded with a drawing competition and prize distribution.
Important and Alarming Facts – Worldwide:
- More than 2 billion people lack access to safe water
- More than 4.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation services
- By 2050 at least one in four people will live in a country where the lack of fresh water is chronic or recurrent
- 40% of the world’s population is affected by water scarcity
- 80% of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment
- 90% of disasters are water-related
Important and Alarming Facts – India:
- The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water and the lack of hygiene practices
- More than 500 children under the age of five die each day from diarrhea in India alone
- 25% of India is turning into desert
- In 15 years, India may have only half the water needed for survival
- 2 out of 3 major Indian cities already deal with daily water shortage. Many urban residents pay ten times the normal amount for a can of water
- 80% of water is used to grow our food. Each person’s average water requirement is 1.1 million liters a year