Water Journal : Water Journal November 2015
NOVEMBER 2015 WATER 29 Opinion Protecting the environment for the sake of the environment -- and reducing pollution -- comes well down the list of the needs of an individual. For transitioning countries, as with individuals in those countries, protecting the environment and, consequently, reducing pollution is a low priority. And when you look at the map in Figure 1 it would appear that much of the world still has a long way to go before countries or individuals can seriously consider environmental protection as an important need. Need it be so? Well, if I were struggling to feed my children, then yes, it would be well down on my list of priorities. Is this the "right" attitude? Personally I am not sure how much I would care in that situation. Given all of this, is there anything we water professionals can do? The answer is yes. First, we need to design systems that cost less to build and operate for every stage of the less-developed nation's economic development. Second, we need to do it with a level of urgency. Third, we need to pull back on investing time and money in achieving fractional improvements to a developed nation's water systems and spend the money designing systems that the less developed nations can afford. WHAT CAN OTHERS DO? Developing and transitioning governments need to make building stronger water institutions a priority. This will ensure that public funds are used wisely and not squandered on inappropriate technology. Water media and thought leaders in developing nations need to educate the public to help them understand what is possible. More importantly, the public also needs the knowledge that will enable it to ensure its leaders are made accountable if they don't deliver. We who live and work in developed countries must both assist and lead by example, especially in our transactions and through our businesses that are working with and within these developing and transitioning nations. As an example of what can be achieved, all of us in the water industry should be inspired by the activities of WaterAid, which is tackling one of the world's major health issues. Around 500,000 children are dying every year from diarrhoea caused by drinking unsafe water, and being exposed to poor sanitation. That's over 1,400 children a day. WaterAid is attacking this issue from all angles, working with local partners to help communities gain access to safe water and sanitation. It is also using its experience and research to in uence decision-makers to do more to provide these vital services, and is using practical technologies while ensuring the communities gain and maintain the skills to keep these solutions working long into the future. This approach has resulted in more than 21 million people worldwide now having access to safe water. And all of this has happened in some of the world's poorest communities. By taking a leaf out of WaterAid's book -- both lowering the stage in economic growth at which developing and transitioning nations can afford to start work on environmental protection and increasing the knowledge within these nations as to what is possible -- there is every reason to believe that, sooner rather than later, environmental protection will no longer be a luxury that most of the world's less- developed nations today cannot afford. THE AUTHOR Adrian Minshull (email: Adrian.Minshull@ hydro ux.com.au) is a Director of the Hydro ux Group. Adrian has over 30 years' experience in the Australian water and wastewater industry and has successfully completed thousands of water and wastewater projects. A large part of his career has involved designing and building environmental protection systems in developed and transitioning countries around the world. Prior to joining the Hydro ux Group, he founded AJM Environmental Services.
Water Journal September 2015
Current Feb 2016