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World Water Day: Older people's contributions can make a difference

21 Mar 2012

Teso, 63, from Ethiopia on her way to collect water for her familyThe 6th World Water Forum concluded recently in Marseille, France and generated a great deal of interest among policy makers, governments, development agencies and civil society. However, older people's concerns about current water crises, how they are affected and their potential contributions were sidelined.

22 March is also World Water Day and another opportunity to raise awareness of people around the world who do not have access to clean water. According to the latest statistics, globally, close to a billion people are forced to live without safe drinking water and around two billion are deprived of basic sanitation.

The majority of these people live in the developing world, but mainly Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. A substantial part of these numbers is made up of older people living in impoverished conditions in rural areas.

Older people's needs ignored

Water affects people's lives in many ways; beginning with access and affordability. Other issues include how poor water quality affects health and how girls are more affected as often they are burdened with walking long distances to fetch water. On another level, lack of water can break down social harmony and even cause wars between states. Clearly, it is not an easy subject to deal with. Hence, the discussions focused on various themes.

There were at least three major topics discussed in the Forum where older people's needs should have been discussed and the special role they play should have been recognised and included in future strategies.

Firstly, a strong focus was put on making the 2010 UN General Assembly resolution on the right to clean water and sanitation a reality. To transform this right into a reality at policy and ground levels, greater focus will need to be put on older people's needs and their contributions.

Solutions lie in local knowledge

Secondly, there was a lot of talk on water and health as well as water quality. However, the Forum took no note of older people being one of the most vulnerable groups in this context. This is an issue that clearly needs further advocacy in future discussions on water.

Thirdly and probably most importantly, the Forum almost unanimously agreed that the solutions to the water crisis lie in local knowledge and traditional wisdom. Yet again, older people were forgotten. It is hard to understand what kind of local knowledge exists without the active contributions of older people.

With three years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, many believe progress has been slowest on MDG seven which focuses on environmental sustainability in the face of the increasing water crisis. Older people may have a very important role to play in realising this goal. 

Contributions need to be recognised

Older people's leadership in regions where the water crisis is at its worst may play an instrumental role in designing and implementing sustainable solutions at community levels.

Older people need water as much as others do. They can also contribute to water conservation efforts as much, if not more, than others can. This needs to be recognised.

Your comments

palvashay tahir

i think water for the poor should be clean and healthy they are also human beings and this helps alot

Pradipta Nayak

Water is an essential commodity and its other name is life. Every body has the equal right to have it without any discrimination. There should not any business or com modification or bargain about it.

Dr. Dilip Markandey

The traditional methods for conservation and systematic use of potable water still need to be adopted by everyone at every time....... if you want to see the survival of future generation on this mother earth, so please always be careful, when using it..... . greetings...

dipankar mahapatra

water is essential for all .we should save it real using and noble thinking.

meer arfat jumani

water is the source of human being. if their is no water no human being, no plants, no animal etc we can say that our life is our and starts from water and from water...

BACHU SRINIDHI

THIS WEBSITE IS REALLY VERY MUCH USEFUL IT SAYS AND TRY TO ALLOW OTHERS TO THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE.

imran dehlvi

WATER BECOME A PART OF OUR LIFE WE CANT SURVIVE WITHOUT THAT HENCE WE SHOULD HAVE TO BE SAVE WATER IN EVERY OCCASION OF OUR LIFE

HEM SINGH CHAUHAN

our ancient/rishi says that water is one of the tatwa out of panchtatwas(jal,vayu,agni,aakash & prathvi)which is the life & life is never without water hence life is water & water is life.So please save water & lives will be saved

Dr. Angshumoy Bandyopadhyay

Water, particularly the potable water is one of the precious resources on this planet that needs to be strategically conserved for the survival of the living beings. Man has a social right to get safe drinking water. But the present scenario of the developing countries entails nothing but agony. It is painful yet true that the present scenario is far from that we want. In several villages of this country, girls are forced to fetch only one bucketful of potable water after walking 20 kilometers. On the other hand, huge (clean) water is being wasted due to vagaries. I do not know what is the solution. I can not see any silver line over the dark clouds. Dark days are coming .....

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Prakash Tyagi
Country: India
Job title: Director, GRAVIS

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