Inside India’s Water Crisis

Perhaps no where on Earth are the effects of climate change being felt stronger than on the people of India. At the present moment in time India is experiencing the worst water drought in the countries history and there is estimated that 330 million people – one quarter of the countries population – effected by water shortages on a daily basis.

According to the Times of India, there were 116 farmer suicides in the first 3 months of 2016 alone and there have been thousands more over the last two years. The culprit? Bank leans against their farmland and no water means the farmers can not produce crops, leaving farmers with two options. Forfeit their homes/land and leave to find a new life, completely bankrupt, or suicide. Tragically, many are choosing the later. In addition to the thousands of suicides, the lock of crops are also resulting in food shortages.

Adding to the misery of many areas, coal-fired power plants — the major source of India’s electricity — have had to suspend output because there is not enough water in nearby rivers to generate steam.Armed guards are being posted at dams to prevent desperate farmers from stealing water and over 300 million more people do not have electricity as a result.

This pattern of extreme weather, extreme heat and excessive drought has been brought on as direct result of El Niño, the climate phenomenon that heats the atmosphere from the conduction of warm ocean water on the Earth’s surface below. The summer of 2016 has not only been the hottest summer on record, but to date, 2016 has been the hottest year on record for the entire globe in general.

The country of India has been particularly hard hit this summer with temperatures regularly reaching well over 100 degrees. India has also set a new all time record this summer, with temperatures registering at 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though the same weather patterns that produced El Niño and the scorching heat wave were at first promised to produce an above average monsoon season, the latest forecasts project and intense, but short lived season. Many people who have counted on and relied on the rain for water, will have even less.

One of the odd side-effects severe drought has had on the country is an increase in marriages – specifically polygamy. In some of the more remote areas of the country, it is not uncommon for women to have to walk hours, sometimes 12 hours a day, to and from water sources. With men relying on women to stay home, collect water and take care of the family while they are at work providing income, with a severe water shortage more hands (bodies) are needed to sustain a family.

To fill this need, many have turned to polygamous relationships as a means to survive. The men will work, one wife will go to collect water and the second or third wife will cook and watch after children. As one man told Russia Today, “If I had just one wife, she’d left at 6am for water, and she’d be back as late as 6pm. So I thought one [wife] could do the house work and mind children, while the other two could carry water.

As the video above mentions above, many people in some of the hardest hit areas have had to rely on water tankers as a means of survival, but as you might imagine, the system has been corrupted. With people desperate and resources scarce, many of the tankers immorally hike up costs to get the most profit possible from the struggling people.

In dry, arid conditions it is not uncommon for people to live on 8 liters of water every 7 days and a tank of water regularly costs  900 rupees ($13) when people regularly makes less than 10$ a day.

According to The New York Times, a 2009″ report by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration based on satellite images showed a sharp decrease in groundwater levels under northern India’s irrigated fields of wheat, rice and barley. The response — drilling wells deeper as water levels fell — has made the problem worse.

Just this past year NASA released a new study stating that by 2030, nearly 2 billion people on Earth could be facing a water shortage. The conclusions was reached after gravitational censors indicated that ground water aquifers were not being naturally replenished faster than humans were consuming them – exactly what is happening to India today.

Once again, according to the same New York Times article above, one of the main problems behind India’s water shortage was the redirection of water away from natural aquifers below ground and towards major cities. Apparently, to aid in India’s construction boom the government allowed companies to remove sand, build canyons and redirect water from their original sources – headed to underground wells – and towards the cities where it could be used for construction.

Now, as we are seeing today, the underground wells have gone dry and people are suffering.

Many experts around the world call the situation in India is a warning to us all, what many areas of the world can expect to see in the future if we do not begin to address or change the way we consume water.


This article (Inside India’s Water Crisis) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article using a creative commons license with attribution to Brian Dunn and Alternative Medi4



Categories: World Events

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