The beautiful city of Cochabamba in Bolivia was turned upside down when protests sparked over the increase in water and sanitation costs. The chief demand of the water warriors, as they were called, was the removal of a private, foreign-led consortium that had taken over Cochabamba’s water system.
The Bolivian government handed over Cochabamba’s municipal water system to a multinational consortium of private investors, because the World Bank and the International Development Bank highlighted water privatization as a requirement for the Bolivian government in order to retain ongoing state loans. After negotiations, the Bolivian govt. signs a $2.5 billion contract with Aguas del Tunari.
The month of January 2000, was when the protests started against the privatization of their municipally run water system and Aguas del Tunari’s rate hikes, which have doubled and tripled their water bills. The peaceful protests turned violent when the government did nothing. On April 8th, the tragic murder of a 17-year-old boy, named Víctor Hugo Daza, gave the protesters one more reason to turn violent.
Martial law was imposed and Cochabamba, the 3rd largest city of Bolivia, a country in the Latin America, the land of wonders, was turned into a full fledged war, called as la guerra del agua—the Water War.
Let’s not get into the details of what happened thereafter. You can Google it, of course. Everybody has smartphones and the internet has turned into an urgent necessity for a while now.
P.S. On that note, you can read my article, ‘A Day without Internet‘.
But access to the internet is a human right. Isn’t it?
Is it a human right to have clean water?
Off course it is. According to the United Nations General Assembly, the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWAS) was recognised as a human right on 28 July 2010.
So, why is the next gold rush will be for clean water?
Water, the liquid of life, is a never-changing entity, but the availability for its consumption is decreasing in an exponential rate. It may be okay to say that this world is running out of clean water. If all the water in this planet constitutes to 100 drops of water, only 3 drops or less are available now for drinking and cleaning purposes.
It’s scary to even think that shortly, the world will be fighting over water resources. The depletion of which is a major issue. Lakes, rivers, marshes, aquifers, and atmospheric vapor make up less than one per cent of the earth’s total water, and people are already using more than half of the accessible runoff. Water demand, on the other hand, has been growing rapidly—it tripled worldwide between 1950 and 1990—and water use in many areas already exceeds nature’s ability to recharge supplies. By 2025, the demand for water around the world is expected to exceed supply by fifty-six per cent.
The groundwater depletion, though invisible, is a ghastly real truth. The underground holds nearly 60 times the volume of fresh water then it holds in the upper ground.
Meanwhile, a billion people have no access to clean water, more than 5 million deaths are due to water-borne diseases and mere percentage of people are lucky enough to have water but the future is uncertain and so is the availability of water!
The increasing gap between the advancement of our race and water demand has now created a major setback for us to look for ways to either save the available freshwater or harvest rainwater. Some positive ways to proceed to preserve or conserve the ‘Liquid of Life’ are:
1. Recycling wastewater
2. Rainwater harvesting
3. Lower the water pollution
4. Address the issues of water depletion and make policies to save water.
5. Population growth control because more mouths lead to more urine dissemination and that happens when more clean water is consumed.
So, in a nutshell, by 2025, the water crisis would hit and we all would be fighting over a glass of water. With this nightmarish ending, I remember a dialogue from an animated movie called ‘Rango’, where the protagonist, a chameleon, named Rango, visits a town where there is a shortage of water.
The mayor in that town was a tortoise, who in this dauntless voice, says,
‘Water, Mr Rango. Water. Without it, there’s nothing but dust and decay. But with water, there’s life. Look at the organisms. So desperate to live, that they’ll follow it anywhere. That’s the immutable law in the desert. You control the water and you control everything.’
Akash Rout is a jolly old fella who writes non-fiction as well as fiction. He is known for his rebellious yet subtle form of satires and humor. An aspiring stand-up comic with a science background. So, give him a break, will you!