The theme of World Water Day 2021 is valuing water. The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource. Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to ensure water and sanitation for all by 2030. Without a comprehensive understanding of water’s true, multidimensional value, we will be unable to safeguard this critical resource for the benefit of everyone.
According to United Nations – Today, 1 in 3 people live without safe drinking water. By 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year. Climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year. If we limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we could cut climate-induced water stress by up to 50%. Extreme weather has caused more than 90% of major disasters over the last decade. By 2040, global energy demand is projected to increase by over 25% and water demand is expected to increase by more than 50%.
According to WHO and UNICEF joint monitoring findings, four million people in Bangladesh lack access to safe water and 85 million lack improved sanitation. Water Aid Bangladesh says that over 2,000 children under five years die from diarrhea due to contaminated water annually in the country. The UN recognizes that water as a human right entitles everyone to safe, sufficient, accessible and affordable water for personal and household use for drinking, food preparation, washing clothes, sanitation and hygiene. According to the UN definition, safe water is safely managed drinking water free from contamination, accessible on the premises and available when needed. Environmental scientists are worry that out of control of unprocessed human faces and heavy metals like chromium, cadmium, lead, mercury and toxic chemicals as industrial effluents turns river water hazardous for drinking.
In general, for human progress and humane development, three conditions are important—1. Ensure healthy longevity, 2. Enlightens human and 3. Permanent increase in real income. Economist Abul Barkat in his recently published book on “In Search of a Transition from the Virus-Driven Great Disaster to a Decent Bangladesh: on the Larger Canvas of Society-Economy-State” deeply analyses the health inequalities (health outcomes, health seeking behavior, economic burden of ill health). He mentions different dimensions of health – physical health, mental health, emotional health, intellectual health, social health, spiritual health and environmental health and their interconnection. The relationship between social and environmental health sometimes affect our physical (Cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive and nervous system) and mental health (feelings, behavior, psychological challenge of life). Professor Abul Barkat estimates that out of 170 million people, 80 million people are deprived to access primary health care; every year 50% child die out of 9 lacs people; 70 million people are deprived to drink pure potable water; 50% people suffer from hypertension; 10% people are diabetes patient in Bangladesh; 14% affected from chronic kidney diseases; 18-20 lacs people suffer from hearing diseases; thyroid problem suffers 1.5 crors people; 1.7 million people suffer from cancer; 23 lac women are affected from brest cancer; 2.5 t0 3 crore people suffers ostrio arthritis and 1.5 crore people affected by COPD Asthma. The point is all diseases have a link with access pure potable water. Pure drinking water ensures healthy longevity.
Globally covid-19 has been created covid-19 stream economics — Inequalitynomics, Alienationomics, Angrynomics, Deceptionomics, Frustrationomics, Fatenomics, Fatalistonomics, Ravagenomics, Hatenomics, Hypocrisonomics, Arroganceonomics, Secretonomics, Lienomics, Insecuritynomics, Violenconomics, Mentaldepressionomics, Taxslaveronomics, pauperisationomics, Beggaronomics, Badonomics, Weaponomics, GAFAnomics(Google, Amazon, Faceboo, Apple), Onlinomics, Nuclearbomonomics, Animalkillingonomics, Naturesidonomics, Biodiversitysidonomics and Sociosidonomics. In this context, valuing water is essential to reach pure water to all communities in this world.
The UN recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”
The human right to water everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use; which includes water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes and hands and food preparation.
To ‘leave no one behind’, we must focus our efforts towards including people who have been marginalized. Water services must meet the needs of marginalized groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes. Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognize the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most. Nowadays, billions of people are still living without safe water, which means different households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories are beleaguered to survive and thrive. Context demands to ensure pure drinking water for all – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others even who faces inequity to access safe water.
Shishir Reza is an Environmental Analyst & Associate Member, Bangladesh Economic Association.