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Liquid assets: Bloggers on World Water Day

(This article would not have seen the light of day without the collaboration of Paula Góes, Amira Al Hussaini and Lova Rakotomalala. Many thanks!)

It's known as the universal solvent, Adam's Ale, government juice, council pop, H2O, dihydrogen monoxide, hydrogen hydroxide, has a ton of different names in Arabic and yesterday (March 22) the world was called upon to pay it special attention.

World Water Day 2008 marked the start of the fourth year of the UN International Decade for Action on Water that began in 2005, and to mark the occasion portals like ih20.org aggregated stories and videos while bloggers weighed in with insights and commentary from various corners of the world.

GWC PSA

Madagascar blogger Malag@sy Miray posted a striking print advertisement (pictured above) from the Global WASH Campaign and noted that

A Madagascar, moins de 15% de la population disposent de l’eau courante dans leur logement et les ménages qui en ont se trouvent en majorité en zones urbaines [..] Or avec le taux de croissance démographique en vigueur actuellement à Madagascar, il serait faux de croire que ces buts seraient atteints par le seul équipement en réseau d’eau courante, sans une rapide prise en compte de la nécessité des mesures adéquats d’assainissements.

In Madagascar, less than 15% of the population currently have access to running water in her homes and most of them are located in urban areas [..] However, considering the current population growth in Madagascar, it would be wrong to believe that increasing access to running water alone will be enough to reach the goals of proividing drinkable water without also implementing an adequate filtering system.

In Brazil, dozens of bloggers rallied around the appeal by the Faça a Sua Parte [Do Your Part, pt] blog, which sought to draw international attention to the critical lack of clean, safe drinking water worldwide, and remember that in Brazil, the world's richest country in terms of freshwater availability, forty million families have no access to drinkable water. Brazilian bloggers expressed the view that the country has an important role in preserving drinking water and are doing their bit to raise awareness about the importance of managing their precious water resources. Bloggers like Denise Rangel [pt] reminded readers that individual attitudes make a big difference to the planet:

Você já imaginou o quanto de água é desperdiçada no simples ato de ensaboar as mãos com a torneira aberta? De acordo com a Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA), são gastos cerca de sete litros! Não é mais admissível que ainda haja pessoas que se recusam a mudar pequenos hábitos que, além de trazer economia para seus próprios bolsos, proporcionam um grande bem ao meio ambiente e à vida de outras pessoas. O combate ao desperdício deve ser um hábito estimulado pela família inteira. Basta fechar a torneira ao ensaboar as mãos, ao escovar os dentes ou tomar um banho mais rápido.

Have you ever imagined how much water is wasted in the simple act of lathering hands with an open tap? According to the National Water Agency (ANA), seven liters [of water] are spent! It is no longer acceptable that there are still people who refuse to change small habits that, in addition to bringing economy to their own pockets, bring a great benefit to the environment and the lives of others. The fight against waste must be a habit encouraged by the entire family. Just close the tap to lather hands, to brush your teeth or take faster showers.

Sérgio Coutinho [pt], on the other hand, expressed the view that it is necessary to stay ahead from the myth that if everyone makes a little effort the planet will be saved:

Seria interessante que o desperdício industrial de água, com centenas de litros jogados no lixo para a produção de uma só mercadoria (20 litros por frango, por exemplo) também sofresse com a regra “da parte de cada um”.

It would be interesting that the industrial waste of water, which sees hundreds of liters thrown in the trash for the production of a single commodity (20 liters per chicken, for example) would also be affected with the “everyone does their bit” rule.

In the Middle East, Tel Aviv-based Yael K was woken up (by her cats) in the middle of the night, only to find that her thoughts turned almost immediately to water:

What? Doesn’t everyone else think about this issue in the wee hours of the morning?

For those of you who don’t know, our region is in the midst of a quite severe drought that has been going on for the past 4 years. We’ve had way less rainfall and snowfall than we generally get and far far less than we need in this arid desert region. For those who don’t know, right now the mid-west in the U.S. is getting far more rainfall and snowfall than they usually get and far far more than they need –in fact, they are being seriously flooded with lots of loss of life and damage to property and so forth occurring. The U.K. also got hit with severe flooding this year.

So my 4 a.m. thoughts ran something like this: Such a shame that those poor people are being flooded and us poor people are water-deprived. They’ve gotten more water in the last 2 weeks than we’ve gotten in a full year. All that lovely water is running amok in people’s houses and then will eventually drain out to the sea and become salty and even of less use than when it is destroying property and washing out roads. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some way to move all that water from places it isn’t needed to places that it is? If our global warming trends and climate changes continue, at some point water will be worth more than oil and will go for a pretty penny. Then I fell back asleep.

Carl, in Jerusalem, recalled a post he wrote nearly a year ago considering the implications for Israel's water supply of any land-sharing arrangement with Palestine or Syria, and expressed concerns about the near future:

With warm temperatures hitting this weekend (temperatures are expected to hit 29 degrees Celsius today and 31 tomorrow), the winter rains are likely finished for the season. Unfortunately, we did not have enough rain this winter, and if the water levels run too low, the aquifers that supply our water may be irreversibly polluted. The existing desalination facilities are insufficient. We have a major problem that could potentially hit full force as soon as this summer.

The WITNESS Hub, meanwhile, presented the the other side of the argument, posting the first “chapter” of “Drying Up Palestine“, a 28-minute documentary by Rima Essa and Peter Snowdon which describes itself as “a film about what it's like to try and live with less than one raindrop out of every ten”.

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