by Jonna Mae Linghon
Ever since I was a kid, I have been resourceful. Maybe it was a trait I inherited from my grandmother. Back then, I saw her folding the used plastic bags neatly after coming home from the market. I learnt my zero waste lifestyle tips from her. I saw how much respect she had for the environment, how she managed to get by with so little. During my first year at school, I received an award as “Most Masinop” (Most “Tidy” or “Conscious”). Growing up I tried my best to live up to that character.
I have always been very conscious of the amount of plastic waste I produce. If it cannot be avoided, I try to dispose of it properly. Some items can even be sold, like cartons, paper and reusable bottles. To reduce my carbon emission, I prefer to use natural light and fresh air as it helps reduce our electric bill. However, something that is constantly lurking at the back of my mind is the Philippines' water and sanitation. In 2019, WHO reported that at least one out of ten people in the country still do not have access to high-quality water sources. It's not news that we are facing water shortage around the globe.
According to an article called “Water scarcity: a major future problem”, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that approximate half of the world's population will live in areas with permanent water scarcity by the year 2025. They claim that this is caused by a complex combination involving temperature fluctuation, human and ecological factors. The result is climate change.
In the Philippines, water sources come from rivers, streams and lakes. So why is there water shortage in the Philippines? The country's water resources are under mounting stress because of rapid population growth, increasing demand for food production, urbanization, pollution, excessive and inefficient use of water and climate change (adb.org, Philippines: Water supply and Sanitation Sector Assessment, Strategy and Road map). In addition, the situation may worsen as the country is beset by the “El Nino” phenomenon and climate change that contribute to the increase in temperature, drying up water sources.
According to an article by WHO, strategies such as the application of improved rainwater collection systems and state-of-the-art desalination technologies coupled with renewable energies can be used in the Philippines to drive sustainable development forward. (WHO, Water shortage in the Philippines threatens sustainable development and health). There certainly needs to be more education locally and globally on water in order for us to take accountability and make better well-informed decisions about how we use water. How can we survive a day without water? This is a wakeup call! Another strategy being imposed by local organizations like the Direct relief, is by helping augment water supplies into the rural villages of Pilag Alto and Pilag Abajo municipalities of Cabagan, Isabela (northern Luzon region). They provide communal water pumps to this community. Each water station will benefit at least 30 families.
We are uncertain with the outcomes of the future. But what is certain are the choices and actions we take now. Here are a few simple ways you can help conserve water and global warming:
· Be conscious & aware of your environment
· Use water & energy wisely
· Participate in planting trees or tree planting programs
· Join a water-related advocacy activities/ occasions under the banner of World Water Day (celebrated every 22nd of March)
· Be friendly, eco-friendly!