India is the world’s largest groundwater extractor. The country is home to 16% of the world’s population but has only 4% of the planet’s freshwater resources. Many of its aquifers are overexploited. The solutions lie in promoting efficiency in local water management. This will only be possible if communities are involved in solutions and if they acquire knowledge and governance rights. A role model for dryland agriculture.
The degradation of the Mithi River has become an icon of water pollution, a definite and poignant image of the worst end for waste caused by human activity, especially that of the poorest neighborhoods. The micro documentary Plastic River, finalist of the We Are Water Film Festival 5, covers the best images of this indecency. Finding out the reasons for this disaster is as important as learning from the efforts made to solve it.
India is experiencing the worst wave of infections and deaths the world has seen since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The healthcare chaos overlaps poor medical coverage and the endemic problems of lack of access to water and sanitation in the marginal slums and in the neglected rural world. The solution of the pandemic in India is key for the entire world.
In all activities carried out during this hard year, we have been faced with human suffering, but we have also found hope. Hope generated by the knowledge of being understood and helped; the one generated by the enthusiasm and generosity of the institutions we collaborate with. These have redoubled their efforts despite all difficulties and deserve our admiration and gratitude. We will continue to be there, collaborating to overcome them, because we share the conviction that solidarity is a never ending asset.
The projects of the Foundation in India have helped to save and improve the crops of more than 90,000 farmers in the areas affected by droughts and the uncertainty of monsoons. They are the ones who are most affected by the climate crisis, social neglect and the yoke of monoculture. They have been provided with water, but most of all what they have received is the capacity for self-management and efficiency, the base to face a sustainable and fair future. This experience must be universal.
The fear of coronavirus infection has revealed the social scourge of stigma. Some health professionals and other groups that have been at the frontline with their work have suffered social rejection. This is an attitude that, beyond the pandemic, affects the poorest and most discriminated people, as is often the case in the world of access to water and sanitation. We must end this burden to attain the Sustainable Development Goals. Viruses, like water, know no borders, ethnicities or social classes.
Covid -19 has shot to pieces all aid programs against global childhood malnutrition. The situation of extreme vulnerability in which millions of children in the poorest regions have been left is a collateral emergency to that of the virus which has already turned into a terrible humanitarian crisis. The difficulty of access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation always goes hand in hand with abandoned and malnourished children. The international reaction has already started and aid projects are greatly increasing. Together we will succeed.
Endemic water-borne diseases kill more than 10,000 children in India each year. COVID-19 now threatens a health system that has proved powerless to cover the 1.3 billion inhabitants of the second most populated country on Earth. The lack of sanitation and hydric stress are factors that increase the risks of the pandemic.
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