In 1995, former World Bank Vice-President Ismail Serageldin had famously claimed that ‘the wars of the next century will be fought over water’ – a statement that has been quoted often since.
As global population grows, there is an increasing need to balance our consolidated demand on water resources, so that every individual has enough to survive. And if the ongoing emergency at Cape Town has taught us anything, it is that the freshwater crisis is no longer restricted to far-flung countries and barren landscapes. It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s often far closer than we think.
The situation is dire; especially as increased industry proliferation is matching agricultural demands and depleting underground levels beyond repair. According to a 2012 World Bank report, at least 21 Indian cities are moving towards zero ground water level by 2020, if drastic measures aren’t taken up.
The crisis needs a comprehensive solution—one that involves not just common people, but also governments, environmental agencies, farming communities, and industries. More importantly, the solution need not always be a complex one. In fact, in most cases, it’s the smart and simple ones that have the most powerful impact, believes Sanjeev Chadha, Chairman – PepsiCo, Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
In 2009, PepsiCo became the first business to achieve ‘Positive Water Balance’ in the beverage world. The company, in 2016, saved over 21 billion litres through its two-pronged approach: firstly, by focusing on intensive water conservation and recharge efforts both within the plants and with communities around, covering better agricultural practices like direct seeding of rice & drip irrigation; community water recharging initiatives, and secondly, by reducing the consumption of water in its manufacturing facilities using innovative technologies like Zero Liquid Discharge, Membrane Bioreactors and practicing rooftop rain water harvesting.
This World Water Day, 2018, let’s all strive towards finding our own simple and smart solutions towards tackling this global crisis.