The economic, social, and environmental importance of water resources cannot be overstated. Water is a vital resource, critical for healthy living conditions and sound ecosystems.
Drinking water, food production, energy supply, and industrial development are dependent on water availability. Yet, the rising demands associated with rapid population growth and economic development place increasing pressure on this fragile and finite resource.
This is already evidenced at the sectoral level by insufficient and inadequate supplies, at the national level, by competing demands between sectors, and at the international level, by conflicts – or the threat thereof – between nations sharing transboundary water resources.
The situation is expected to worsen, with a quarter of the world’s population predicted to face severe water scarcity in the next 25 years, even during years of average rainfall.
The water management challenge is, thus, enormous. The manner in which it is confronted will determine future patterns of development, macroeconomic growth potentials, and the extent of poverty burdens.
The politics of water:
If developing countries with shared river basins embrace trans-boundary cooperation, their GDP growth could rise by a percentage point
This year’s World Water Day (22nd March) provides an opportunity to highlight what in many countries has become a grim reality: The availability of fresh water is increasingly a defining strategic factor in regional and global affairs. Unless water resources are managed with extraordinary care, the consequences could be devastating.
United Nations World Water Development Report highlighted how the growing gap between supply and demand could create conflict.
The World Economic Forumhas ranked water crises as the most worrying global threat, more dangerous than terrorist attacks or financial meltdowns, and more likely to occur than the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Research by the Strategic Foresight Group has shown the importance of wise management: Countries engaged in the joint stewardship of water resources are exceedingly unlikely to go to war.
Forces behind such disputes :
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around one-sixth of the 6.1 billion people in the world lack access to improved sources of water, while 40 percent are without access to improved sanitation services. Each year, 3.4 million people, mostly children, die from water-related diseases.
A UN-backed panel, the World Commission on Water, estimated last year that investment in water will have to double to 180 billion dollars a year to meet targets. Only the private sector can muster capital on this scale.
Water in conflict:
Iraq, Syria and Turkey have fought over every cubic meter of the Tigris and Euphrates All have lost as a result.
Non-state actors control important parts of the two river basins. And water shortages have aggravated the region’s refugee crisis (itself the apotheosis of poor governance).
In southern Asia : the biggest problem is the India-Pakistan dispute over the Indus
In central Asia there are high risks of conflict between Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over the Amu Daria and Syr Daria rivers and the already depleted Aral Sea.
In Africa, the Chobe, a tributary of the Zambesi, has become a cause of tension between Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe; while there have been border incidents between Mauritania and Senegal over control of the Senegal River.
Creation of “circles of cooperation”:
This would have institutionalized collaboration among Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey on water and environmental issues.
A similar arrangement would have helped manage environmental resources shared by Jordan, Israel and Palestine.
Countries sharing rivers in Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America have recognized that national interests and regional stability can be mutually reinforcing if human needs are given priority over chauvinism.
It also entails jointly planning infrastructure projects, managing floods and droughts, developing an integrated strategy to combat climate change, ensuring the quality of water courses and holding regular summits to negotiate trade-offs between water and other public goods.
Such organizations can introduce joint strategies to manage drought, coordinate crop patterns, develop common standards to monitor river flows and implement investment plans to create livelihoods and develop water-treatment technologies.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG promises to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Part of this pledge is a commitment to expand international cooperation.
Water Cooperation Quotient: a measure of collaboration created by the Strategic Foresight Group can help countries sharing river basins and lakes monitor the intensity of their cooperation.
Out of 263 shared river basins, only a quarter benefit from properly functioning collaborative organizations.
It is crucial that such organizations be extended to cover every shared river basin in the world by the SDGs’ target year, 2030
Dividends for poor people in developing country:
When countries agree on the construction and management of critical infrastructure, there are no delays.
Costs are saved and Benefits are shared in an optimum way.
If all developing countries with shared river basins embraced trans-boundary cooperation, their GDP growth easily could rise by a percentage point.
Secured Water infrastructure:
International community should act promptly to save critical water infrastructure from acts of violence and terrorism. Many rivers, including the Tigris and the Euphrates, have been and continue to be cradles of human civilization.
The UN should consider creating special peacekeeping forces to protect them.
In particular, a robust global treaty is needed to regulate emissions into bodies of water. Today, most disagreements over water concern quantity. In the future, conflicts will increasingly be about water quality, as irrigation practices, industrialization and urbanization contribute to rising pollution levels.
Connecting the dots:
How does trans-boundary water management and benefit sharing contribute to social and economic development in the riparian countries? Comment.
TOPIC: General studies 2
Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
More power to the vaccine arsenal
Strides by India—Towards Public Health achievements
Made possible the use of safe and effective vaccines delivered through quality programmes leading to the successful list:
Small pox was eliminated in 1975
Polio in 2014
Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) in August 2015
65%: is the routine immunisation coverage though, remains low
Lack of important vaccines in the immunization schedule
Introduction of ‘four’ new vaccines—
Against Rotavirus, Rubella and Polio (injectable) and an adult vaccine against Japanese encephalitis
2011: a vaccine against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) was introduced as part of the pentavalent vaccine to contain diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Hib
Above-mentioned Vaccines: Can collectively prevent
at least one lakh infant deaths,
deaths of adults in the working age group
up to 10 lakh cases of hospitalisation each year
India’s UIP: Provide free vaccines against 13 life-threatening diseases to 27 million children annually, the largest birth cohort in the world
India Newborn Action Plan (INAP)
Launched in September 2014 with the aim of reducing preventable new-born deaths and still-births and the goal to attain single digit neonatal mortality and stillbirth rate by 2030
Current rate: 38/1,000 live births
To reach this goal, four additional vaccines are being thought of as priority vaccines for introduction in India— Priority vaccines
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine:
Bacterial pneumonias: kill more children under the age of five than any other disease
India: World’s highest number of deaths caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (bacteria most commonly associated with pneumonias)
Estimated 5-6 lakh cases of severe episodes of pneumococcal pneumonia and 95,000-1,05,000 deaths in India annually
Vaccine: available (effective and safe vaccine)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine:
Cervical cancer is one of the top three cancers affecting women in the world; Two strains of HPV-16 and -18 are responsible for almost 80 to 85 per cent of cervical cancers
Every 4th new case: Indian; 1.32 lakh new cases every year and about 75,000 deaths reported
Vaccine: Preventive vaccines are available and are given to adolescents (9-13 years)
Immunising mothers during pregnancy against vaccine-preventable diseases has the potential to improve health outcomes in mothers and their children
Should be leveraged as a key strategy to address neonatal mortality in particular (accounts for almost half of the under-five mortality); have been used to eliminate MNT
Clinical trials: Influenza vaccination during pregnancy can prevent influenza disease in pregnant women and their new-born children for the first six months of life with no indication of harm to the recipients or their children
World Health Organisation Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE)- has recommended that pregnant women having influenza vaccine receipt in countries initiating or expanding their influenza vaccine programmes be made a priority
India: Deaths were reported during the H1N1 outbreak from 2009 onwards;;Infection in pregnant women led to deaths in their third trimester
Maharashtra government has introduced seasonal flu vaccine for high-risk groups including pregnant women (includes the pandemic H1N1 strain, is a priority vaccine for use in high-risk groups in India including pregnant women)
Available: Interventions for the prevention and control of cholera (including an oral vaccine produced and licensed in India) are available
Cholera: an important cause of morbidity and mortality
7-8 lakh cases every year resulting in about 20,000-24,000 deaths; 400-500 million people are at risk
Outbreaks: after the monsoon
Vaccine:Availability of the oral vaccine (limited use)
Golden years of Immunisation in India—
The challenges faced in delivering lifesaving vaccines to the targeted beneficiaries need to be addressed from the existing knowledge and learning from the past
Inter- and intra-state variations in the coverage
Data recording and reporting is sub-optimal and disease surveillance system desires a lot for improvement
Lack of supervision and monitoring is often cited and communication for increasing immunization coverage is limited
Systematic methodological rigour is required to improve coverage with all antigens
Focus should be both on hygiene and sanitation measures and vaccination
Intervention by government is required as stringent safety regulation has made vaccine research costly
Sub-optimal investment by public sector for vaccine research
Needs better support and funding for conducting operational research to address programmatic issues and to improve coverage with all antigens in UIP of India
Need for better and regular interactions in government programme managers and professional bodies to shape the vaccination efforts in the country
Steps taken/to be strengthened:
Transparent system of taking decisions to introduce new vaccines
Being sensitive to adverse events following immunisation and with the capacity to add additional vaccines
The benefits of vaccination need to be extended beyond traditional childhood period and new approach of ‘life-course immunization’ for including larger age groups such as adolescent and elderly is being contemplated globally, with an argument that not offering the benefits of available safe and effective vaccines is an ethical issue
A number of linkages need to be explored between academia, industry and international institutions such as National Institute of Health (NIH), Gates Foundation, the GAVI Alliance, PATH, World Health Organization and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) for hosting a healthy population
Connecting the Dots:
Explore the ethical issues related to non-availability of effective and safe vaccines for the population.
Environment ministry panel recommends 10-year study on fly ash disposal-Research needed on whether fly ash disposal in mine voids leads to contamination of groundwater with heavy metals, says expert committee