Friday, September 6, 2013

Six Innovations for Better Water Management

Here are six simple innovations to better manage water resources from the Food Think Tank. These low-cost, simple innovations are available in areas with limited access to clean water.

1. SODIS is a method of solar water purification by which untreated water is placed in transparent bottles and heated and disinfected by UV rays. Charcoal filters and biosand filters can also remove impurities and pathogens from water.

2. ECHO training development workers to construct low-cost biosand filtration systems. However, further research and funding needs to be directed toward developing similar methods for at-home water purification.

3. Building Infrastructure for Communities by giving them the means to access water for personal consumption and for agriculture. In Niger, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has constructed solar drip irrigation systems for market gardens. Their model has been replicated by other organizations, such as the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), which implemented a similar system in a women’s farming cooperative in Benin.

4. Drilled wells, although expensive to implement, are useful in helping communities access underground aquifers. Governments and nonprofits, such as The Water Project, primarily fund construction of this infrastructure, but there are also opportunities for the private sector to contribute. For example, People Water is a for-profit company, and its Drop for Drop program puts money from bottled water sales toward building and maintaining drilled wells in Haiti, India, and other developing regions.

5. Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture that do without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics in animal waste all of which contribute to water pollution, causing health problems for eaters and damaging the environment. Water runoff from land treated with chemicals also contaminates water supplies.

6. Implementing low-resource farming practices. For centuries, farmers across the world have used traditional methods that conserve water. As population demands on agriculture increase, global agricultural water consumption is expected to increase by 19 percent by 2050, indicating a need to expand on water-conserving farming methods. Both new techniques – such as solar-powered drip irrigation methods in Benin – and old – such as zai, an effective form of rainwater harvesting in Burkina Faso, should serve to inform the future of farming.

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