In India, every year the beginning of Monsoon season started the same way. I’d wait by the window, analyzing the clouds. Were they grey in the right areas? Was the color dark enough to predict rain? Not much different from now when living in Chicago, I wait for spring and take every slight rise in temperature as a sign for the end of Winter. Or is it?
But back in India, this one year stuck with me. It was 1984 and our family had just moved from the little town in the foothills of the Himalayas to a city in the plains. The climate in the plains is significantly warmer than in the foothills. I was not used to this heat, so I was particularly eager for the Monsoon that year. One day suddenly, the gentle breeze became several degrees cooler and when I stuck my hand through the open window, I felt the first drop of rain. I could see the fumes rising from the soil as if the earth was sighing in relief. I saw my neighbors’ kids outside dancing, hands spread, faces lifted to the sky. As I ran out to join them, refreshed I wondered if this was how heaven was all the time!!
The next day, our schools were shut down because the roads were flooded. The sewer system was overflowing. Since, I couldn’t go to school, my mom instructed me to fill all the buckets when the water came through our faucets between 10am and noon. I was not new to the rationing of water and electricity. It was normal for us. But that year, my little brain couldn’t comprehend why when there was a flood outside, we still had to ration. Where did all the water go? In fact, we were lucky to even have a water connection at home. There were a few straw houses across the street from us that didn’t have faucets. The kids from those homes had to walk a mile to fetch water from the community hand operated water pump.
I didn’t understand this at the time, but this is what a water crisis looks like. Not just a lack of water, but the mismanagement of water as well. A few years later, the tap water in our home smelled foul and was brown in color. To this day, I am not sure if the water was so polluted that it corroded the pipes, or if the water pipes were of such poor quality that they added the rusty color to the water. Never the less, we had to spend two months of my father’s salary to install a water filtration system, so we could use the tap water which still only flowed for two hours a day. We were still lucky; by then the hand pump that the kids from the straw-roofed houses used had run dry. Now they had to walk three miles to get the water from a tube well.
Now I live in Chicago, and I hear that the situation in India has worsened. The water crisis is exacerbated by India’s 1.3 billion strong population. But many countries and communities around the world are feeling the impact of the water crisis regardless of their geographic location and population: California has to regularly ration water; Flint had its own water crisis with lead-laden water; and, Cape Town may run out of the water this summer. Globally:
- 844 million people – 1 in 9 – lack access to water.
- Almost 6x the population of the United States lives without a household water connection.
- Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.
- By 2050, at least quarter of the world’s population will live in countries with a “chronic or recurrent” lack of clean water.
Though all this sounds dire, communities, people, and some countries are responding. Singapore has emerged as a model city in water management. Through community engagement, they have been able to lower the per capita usage for water from 165 liters per day in 2003 to 148 liters per day in 2016. At the same time, they have invested heavily in R&D to filter and treat water. They collect every drop of water, reuse the water endlessly, and have also made significant progress in desalinating sea water. The rest of the world can learn from Singapore and implement the same or improved strategies for their communities.
At Conure, we believe the water crisis is everyone’s responsibility.
We pledge to:
- Be mindful of our water footprint.
- Bring awareness to water consumption through our products, customers, and communities.
- Donate 1% of our profits to bringing drinking water to more people.
We want to help you to fall in love with water. Drink more of it daily, know water’s cycle intimately, use it mindfully, reuse it endlessly, keep it clean, protect it willfully, and distribute it to all those in need.
- India is facing its worst water crisis in generations, Quartz India, March 15, 2017
- The Water Crisis, Water.org, A Not-for-Profit Organization.
- Enough Water to Go Around?, Nature Magazine, March 19, 2008
- Singapore Water Story, PUB Singapore’s National Water Agency