India is facing one of the worst crises in its history - and it’s nothing to do with the pandemic. India is currently facing one of the worst national water crises, and in fact, India is considered the epicentre of the global sanitation and water crises. Alarmingly though, India’s water crisis isn’t just a question of whether there’s fresh water in India - this is a problem caused and exacerbated by the government’s mismanagement of the whole situation. This is a massive problem that can’t be easily solved by donations of bottled water or by water pumps - instead the way that India manages water needs to be completely overhauled.
Unlike many other countries across the world, India’s water crisis is not caused by natural disasters, but rather severe water mismanagement, poor governance and general apathy about the seriousness of the crisis. At the moment, the worst affected areas in India tend to be the most rural areas - areas which won’t see a lot of media attention, but as the crisis worsens, urban areas will start to feel the pinch too. The Indian water crisis is in part caused by climate change because global warming has significantly altered the rainfall pattern in India. However, the water crisis is worsened by the complete mismanagement of the available water. Dams and other hydroelectric projects destroy the ecosystems of large rivers, while there isn’t a comprehensive water policy. There’s no proper guidance on using surface water and groundwater and paired with general mismanagement across the entire sector and country, this means there isn’t enough water for the entire population.
Although it’s projected that by 2030, over 40% of the population will not have any access to drinking water, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate and solve these problems.
Firstly, it’s highly important that more Indian citizens are aware of the importance of preserving water. Once citizens understand and are aware of the magnitude of this situation, they will be able to take part in proper water management - including water conservation, ending water misusage and eliminating the use of bottled water. Educating citizens about water conservation and water management is most important for Indians living in urban areas, since they are yet to be badly affected by the water crisis.
It’s crucial that water conservation is taken seriously - particularly at a community level. This will reduce pressure on how much groundwater is needed to be used and the water saved during water conservation will supply water for human consumption. It’s therefore important to develop community-level water harvesting structures like water bodies.
All aspects and areas of government can help manage the water crisis better - from local to state to national governments. Local governments such as gram panchayats can monitor groundwater usage by farmers and utilise watershed development, whereas at district and state levels governments have more power. At these levels, the government should encourage farmers to choose crops wisely to limit water usage, use watersheds to help harvest and conserve water and ensure the protection and conservation of springs, ponds, forests, groundwater and rivers. From a state level, the national government needs to develop a formal water policy, which will provide proper guidance for Indian citizens and for administration bodies.
One of the biggest ways India’s water management can be improved is by improving India’s agricultural practices. Agricultural practices that utilise less water need to be developed. These can include planting crops that require less water, setting up irrigation systems which do not leak and developing farm-based water conservation methods. All of these water management and water conservation practices can also aid in the protection of ecosystems, forests and horticulture too.
Add Elliot for Water onto your browser, and with every click, Elliot for Water will donate safe drinking water to the communities that really need it.
We use 60% of our profits to finance clean drinking water in India. A simple click can change lives, and we’re working to provide clean water to 1 million people by 2025!