Water is the source of life. This precious resource covers more than two-thirds of our planet. Still, the amount of fresh water is limited and constantly threatened by human activities and climate change. According to the UN, fresh and readily accessible water which is found in rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, and aquifers, makes up only 2.5% of all water on the planet.
In order to address key water challenges and raise awareness on the importance of water, each year on March 22nd, we celebrate World Water Day. This year, the special focus is on nature-based solutions as a response to key water challenges we face in the 21st century. Therefore, the official theme of the World Water Day 2018 is “Nature for Water”.
Key Water Challenges
We depend on fresh water in every aspect of our life. We use fresh water for drinking, sanitation, recreation, farming, energy production, and industry. Since the global population constantly grows, the demand for fresh water will also increase. By 2050, it’s predicted that the demand for fresh water could be 30% higher.
“Fresh water makes up only 2.5% of all water on the planet.”
Besides the increasing demand for fresh water, key water challenges we face in the 21st century include:
- Water scarcity and pollution which cause reduced access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services
- Water-related natural disasters (such as floods and droughts)
- Climate change which causes the movement of salt water into fresh water aquifers
- Water-borne diseases (i.e. diarrhea, one of the main cause of mortality)
- Increased food and energy production which significantly increases water withdrawal
Nature: The Answer to Water Challenges
Humans are not the only living beings who depend on water. Fresh water is an essential component of natural ecosystems as well. In order to preserve the planet for future generations and protect natural ecosystems, World Water Day highlights nature-based solutions to overcome water challenges. These include:
- Planting trees and new forests
- Reconnecting rivers to floodplains
- Restoring grasslands and natural wetlands
- Creating buffers of vegetation along watercourses
- Practicing sustainable use of water in agriculture and industry
How Sustainable Farmers Face Water Challenges?
Generally, agriculture represents the main consumer of fresh water, accounting for 70% of total water withdrawals. At the same time, irrigation is an essential component for ensuring productive crop production.
Besides in high water withdrawal, agriculture also plays a major role in water pollution. Unsustainable farm practices such as the extensive and inappropriate use of pesticides and fertilizers may lead to water contamination.
As a response to the aforementioned problems, farmers should consider nature-based solutions and sustainable farm practices, such as:
- Use water more efficiently and practice irrigation only when it’s needed
- Collect rainfall water for irrigation
- Reduce water pollution by practicing the use of pesticides and mineral fertilizers more wisely
No one can afford to be careless with water, particularly farmers. After all, water provides life to plants, humans, and the entire planet.
Image sources: Kempton Express