For the past few weeks, we have been reading and viewing grim news reports on a severe water crisis affecting large parts of India. In one case trains had to be used to bring drinking water to a small city.
This news should serve as a timely reminder to us to brace and prepare ourselves for ever worsening water scarcity issues as the climate changes.
For many years our media has reported on multiple stories from across the country showing drying irrigation and drinking water sources.
There can be no doubt that a warming globe and climate change is co-related to the drying of water sources, that many local communities have been dependent upon for centuries, if not more.
The impact can already be seen with entire communities of farmers leaving their lands fallow and also with increasingly more regions getting afflicted with drinking water crises.
For a mainly mountainous country, the challenge is even more severe as we cannot simply pump water out of the ground like in the plains and the cost of any water supply infrastructure system is usually much more due to the challenging terrain.
At the same time Bhutan still has a lot of water sources and enough rainfall that can be tapped if there are proper plans, sensitization and if adequate resources are allocated.
In many areas piecemeal projects will not do and it is high time to go for bigger and longer lasting water projects.
Simple water storage and rainwater harvesting technologies also need to be adopted.
There are also needs to be more water conservation sensitization inculcated right at the grassroots level. The same household complaining of drinking water shortages will usually not think twice about leaving the tap open or watering the garden when there is water.
At the national level there needs to be a drastic increase in the annual budgets being allocated for drinking and irrigation water projects.
Currently we even lack a comprehensive national study or report on the extent, causes and solutions to the ever growing water crisis in Bhutan.
Our advantage is that we are still a relatively water rich country and so we can still mitigate this critical problem as long as there is coordinated action at the national and local levels.
The old days of one village claiming ownership of a major water source also has to be changed in favour of modern approaches and strategies of sharing and conserving the available sources.
“The wars of the twenty-first century will be fought over water.”