Tapping into water conservation

The planet marked World Water Day on 22 March

The planet marked World Water Day on 22 March. According to the United Nations Development Programme, more than a billion people, or about one in six worldwide, do not have safe drinking water. More than two billion lack access to adequate sanitation. If current water-usage trends continue, two-thirds of the world’s population will not have enough clean water by 2025.

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The Water for Life Decade 2005-2015 will give a high profile to implementing water-related programmes. The first water decade, from 1981 to 1990, brought water to over a billion people and sanitation to almost 77 million. But obviously there is still a lot to do.

According to the Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies (IASPS), water resources in the Middle East are plummeting. While representing 5% of the total world population, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region contains only 0.9% of global water resources.

The number of water-scarce countries in the MENA region rose from three in 1955 (Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait) to 11 by 1990 (with the inclusion of Algeria, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen). Another seven are anticipated to join the list by 2025 (Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Oman and Syria).

In commemoration of World Water Day 2010, Al Majal Environmental & Technical Services, a 100% Omani environmental company, launched its ‘One Million Taps’ programme under its Oman Water Mandate (OWM) campaign to address the water challenges of the country, which reportedly obtains 40% of its demand for drinking from bottled water.

The ‘One Million Taps’ programme aims to educate the public and encourage the widespread use of water-saving devices, from taps to shower heads, for example. Interestingly, the campaign is being promoted as a ‘national duty’.

While the government aims to provide a safe and adequate water supply, it is the duty of every citizen to conserve water, reduce wastage and adopt measures to maximise water use, according to Al Majal.

In addition, companies have a corporate social responsibility to conserve water as part of reducing their overall environmental impact. Water conservation reduces a company’s risk, and is in line with consumer preferences, as well as maintaining overall efficiency in the supply chain. With regard to the latter, the Al Majal scheme is designed to provide a total saving of up to 30% to 50%.

At the end of the day, there is no hi-tech solution to water scarcity. As the ‘One Million Taps’ programme shows, what is needed, first and foremost, are a few fittings and a lot of common sense.

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