Through your esteemed daily, I would like to inform that Myanmar is dangerously moving towards serious national drinking water crisis due to lack of proper management of scanty water resources further complicated by over exploitation and non-judicious use in several islands and remote rural localities as well as in the city areas. The aggressive use of ground water by the construction industry across the nation without proper monitoring and surveillance and due to lack of comprehensive legal framework in restricting indiscriminate and non-judicious water use is further jeopardizing the future water crisis; and in several localities even accelerating the process by severe depletion of the ground water table. Furthermore, due to lack of availability of soft agricultural loans and credible crop insurance options, Indonesian farmers are over applying chemical fertilizers and pesticides to secure stable crop productivity every year and as a result unfortunately damaging the delicate, highly fragile, complex local ecosystems by building pest resistance, killing farmer friendly insects and other biological organisms, inducing undesirable mutations in numerous local vertebrates and invertebrates surviving in and around agricultural fields and most unfortunately contaminating the scanty local water resources. Over application of several harmful and toxic agricultural chemicals or agro-chemicals is contaminating the highly fragile, local ecosystems being washed by rain or irrigation system accumulating in local water bodies irreversibly changing physical, chemical and biological characteristics of available surface water resources such as rivers, pools, ponds, waterfalls, ditches, drains, marshes, pens and bogs. The contaminated water in due consequence is having negative impacts on the health of humans, livestock, cattle, poultry and the wildlife.
Some of these harmful chemicals even percolate downwards and contaminate the precious ground water resources further impacting the vulnerable water resources. The cumulative impacts of such indiscriminate water use and pollution will have severe impacts on the economy of Myanmar unless steps are taken to conserve water, promote judicious use of available water resources, educate people regarding the impending national drinking water crisis and train them to act responsible for water use and take active role in sustainable use of water resources. Being located in the sub-tropics, Myanmar is blessed with abundant rainfall throughout the year and a significant amount is not utilized due to non-availability of a comprehensive water policy for the nation. Rain water harvesting can be an important approach to deal with the challenges of water crisis in the nation and strengthening the future security of potable water by storing and conserving this natural resource through proper planning and management. The traditional, sustainable, harvest system used by local farmers for several generations in the past has been replaced by modern agricultural practices for short term gains. We need to look back into those environment friendly practices for protecting the fragile local ecosystems and fresh water resources (both surface and ground water) for securing a better future for the hard working and resilient people of Myanmar. The future could be better if we decide to act in time.
Saikat Kumar Basu