Water: solving the problem of plenty

There cannot be greater irony than the fact that even as we swim in the humongous abundance of water we should feel the want of it. Bhutan has one of the highest per capita availability of water in the world, yet households in parts of our country increasingly face absolute shortage of water. Lack of water for irrigation has led many rural folks to leave their land uncultivated and abandon their ancestral home in utter desperation.

This must sound bizarre, because it is.

But it isn’t really hard to sink in why there is at all scarcity of water. Perhaps we take water for granted being in a water-rich country cradled in the heart of the mighty Himalayas. We have spring and brooks and streams and rivulets myriad. Fresh and clean snow-fed rivers roil and rumble down from the mountains. There really should be water everywhere and awful lot to drink. Could it be that we are not managing our water resources prudently?

No, we aren’t. Right there is the answer!

If we managed our water resources well and advisedly, the fact that we do not even have an integrated water resources management plan should say something about our efforts to make water accessible to all.  And, without it, how do we know where to begin? Who should take the responsibility? What mechanisms have we put in place to ensure that there is no spillage or wastage? Achieving water security is important. The need will only grow.

A sensible planning needed? Of course.

As the nation seeks to achieve 75 percent rice self-sufficiency, we do not even have an irrigation master plan. Surely we cannot depend on rains from fickle monsoon. Bringing large acres of land under cultivation will require robust irrigation system. This is against the backdrop of increasingly fading arable land in the country. As we let urban sprawl gobble up our precious little cultivable land, sensible planning is really more than just necessary.

There is, indeed, water enough for us all.

Every small minute we buy will cost us dearly. Developing a pragmatic water resources management plan should be the right start. And, we no longer can wait or falter. All else will then follow and there will be enough water for all. A little civic sense would also contribute vastly towards achieving water security. If our tanks are full and flowing, turn the taps. If water gushes out from a broken pipe by the roadside, make an effort to mend it.

However slight, such small acts matter, a lot.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    To the best of my recollection there was a story posted on a past edition of Kuensel where it was mentioned about a few farmers trying out ‘quinoa’ or ‘buckwheat’ farming as an alternative to paddy. Even though ‘quinoa’ is not exactly a true cereal it’s known for less dependence on irrigation during its farming. Even the biological science about human bodies say that it’s all about water and its management. Water here is in the sense of body fluids. Still, our topic of discussion is about water sources and its management plans outside the body.

    Just is the case with water sources; Bhutan is also known for producing plenty of potatoes and this has been the cash crop for many farmers. But the target is to be 75 percent self sufficient in rice production and for that, paddy fields has to be managed for irrigation needs. And a production target for paddy shouldn’t be complete without a target set for dietary consumptions. This is also true that we have our reference points set for minimum dietary consumption needs and it’s usually expressed in ‘calorific values’ while a calorie is usually an unit of heat. In other words, a bit technical in nature, we are looking at paddy production optimised for self sufficiency for meeting body heat requirements through body fluid management dynamics.

    And we know that the topography of the country is such that we have both extreme winters and even summers getting hotter every passing year. Good news is that we have natural sources of water in plenty and human bodies need fresh and pure water to drink. To be self sufficient in food production is meaningless unless every individual maintains properly managed diet plans. When we talk paddy production in farming; it’s usually not complete without considering consumption of carbohydrates in our diets. The first one demands that we maintain a proper management plan for all our natural as well as artificial water sources outside our body as we need to continue drinking fresh and pure water for good health along with paddy farming.

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