News Selection – Water Scarcity
Recent news chosen to illustrate and update Tread Softly briefings on Water Scarcity.
As India’s Ganges runs out of water, a potential food shortage looms
17/9/2018: Millions of people living in the lower reaches of the Ganges basin in India may face food shortages in the next three decades if the iconic river continues to lose water due to factors including unsustainable groundwater extraction. Source: Mongabay
India, Pakistan to resume talks on Indus Waters Treaty in Lahore
27/8/2018: India and Pakistan will resume their talks on various aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty in Lahore, the first bilateral engagement since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office. Source: The Hindu
Tread Softly Comment: Water seems a sensible place to start, if there is to be a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan. Alas, the fractious state of negotiations between India and Bangladesh on this topic do not augur well. Relevant Briefing: Water Wars
Undervaluing hidden benefits of rivers undermines economies and sustainable development
26/8/2018: Despite supporting hundreds of millions of people, the benefits of the world's rivers are often overlooked - until they disappear and crises occur, concludes a new WWF report. Source: WWF
Tread Softly Comment: In focusing on the importance of sediment flow in creating the rich economies of river deltas around the world, this report (Chapter 2) will strengthen campaigns which oppose widespread dam construction. The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is singled out with the conclusion that "half of this (home to 17 million people) could be under the ocean by the end of the century" if all planned hydropower in upstream countries is built. Relevant Briefing: Causes of Water Scarcity
Five steps to avoid a global water tragedy
23/8/2018: A key solution to water scarcity proposed by many governments is to increase irrigation efficiency. Contrary to common wisdom, however, this strategy will, typically, reduce the water available for reallocation. Source: Global Water Forum
Tread Softly Comment: A group of scientists has published a controversial paper making the case that modern drip irrigation methods reduce surface run-off and groundwater recharge. It seems counter-intuitive to imagine that traditional methods involving flooding of fields could waste less water. The research invokes the evidence that new infrastructure capacity increases demand, in this case the expansion of agriculture. But does extra land for cultivation exist in the mass-irrigation countries of South and Southeast Asia? Relevant Briefing: Solutions to Water Scarcity
Laos suspends new dams as tragedy raises wider fears
13/8/2018: The July 23 dam collapse in southern Laos marked a turning point that squarely exposed the vulnerabilities of Laos’ current plans to become the “battery” of Southeast Asia. Source: Eco-Business
Tread Softly Comment: Suspension of dam construction in Laos for any significant period would deal a body blow to the country's development strategy. The government's track record of stubborn refusal to heed environmental concerns may have buckled under pressure from downstream countries. Laos had already backed into a corner at the April summit of the Mekong River Commission, at which leaders were clearly disconcerted by a comprehensively critical scientific report on the environmental impacts of dam-building programmes. Relevant Briefing: Water Wars
5 ways to fix South Asia’s Water Crisis
17/7/2018: Vanita Suneja of WaterAid reports on what is being done to prevent South Asia running out of underground water, with particular emphasis on groundwater governance, a critical factor responsible for making food sufficiency possible. Source: From Poverty to Power
Tread Softly Comment: The five "challenges" are not particularly new but this is a textbook example of articulating a complex social and environmental issue in a relatively short article, blending killer facts and political realities with creative ideas (publish expiry dates for aquifers). Relevant Briefing: Causes of Water Scarcity
Every drop matters in India
28/6/2018: As the Indian monsoon season breaks with a vengeance, alarm over recent drought conditions should not be allowed to fade. If water efficiency is the agenda for agriculture, then water recycling has to be the agenda for cities and industries.
How global warming and land-use change threaten water security worldwide
16/5/2018: The world’s water supply has been severely altered by global warming and changes to land use – such as agriculture and damming – new satellite data shows.
Cambodia's biggest dam threatens Mekong river
16/5/2018: A report commissioned by the government in Phnom Penh, but not yet published, warns that a Chinese-backed plan to build the Sambor Hydropower Dam would have a devastating impact on fisheries.
Mekong River Commission reaches out to China
5/4/2018: An interview with the head of the Mekong River Commission addresses the apparent contradiction that China is not a full member of the Commission despite the alarming impact of its plans for dam construction on downstream countries.