OP Rana

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop

By Op Rana (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-20 06:10
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Asia is home to the half the world's population yet it has the least volume of freshwater of any other continent, except Antarctica if we discount its ice sheets.

And among all Asian countries, the situation in China is perhaps the gravest: It's home to more than 20 percent of the world's population but has only 7 percent of global water resources. Worse still, its per capita freshwater availability is one-fourth the world average.

Till the heavy downpours triggered floods and landslides, killing hundreds of people across vast stretches of South, East and even Northwest China, a large part of the country had been under the grip of drought or drought-like conditions. The blame for this unusual weather rests primarily on global warming. But the tragic developments - drought one moment, floods the next - teach us a lesson, too.

That lesson is not necessarily building huge dams and diverting water from South to North, though such measures can, in the short term, solve the problem. By far the most important lesson to be learnt is how to conserve water.

Almost half of China's more than 660 cities face, what in modern terminology, is called a water crisis. Beijing, unfortunately, sits somewhere at the top of that list.

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