In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the right of human beings to water and sanitation. But, while in some countries this liquid is abundant, in other territories it is lacking, which has caused at least 2 billion people in the world to suffer from water shortages, according to figures from the international organization.
Clean water is a source of energy for all living things. But, when we hear that countries such as China, India or several nations in Africa have difficulties for their inhabitants to access potable water sources, the question that arises then is, how to guarantee this human right, as suggested by the Organization of The United Nations?
Water is essential for socio-economic development, energy, food production, ecosystems and for the survival of human beings. It is one of the most important links between us and the environment. But that connection, which for some does not go beyond supplying a physiological need, is fractured by the little awareness that one has of a resource that will not be unlimited for long.
Possible wars for water are already being announced in the future and we see that governments like Brazil are seeking solutions to the problem of access to this water resource by transferring the responsibility that the State has to assume to private companies. According to Alexander Turra, professor at the University of São Paulo and member of the Nature Conservation Specialists Network (RECN), of the Boticário Group Foundation, “the war for water already exists, but not with weapons. It exists through geopolitical discussions, between countries that are connected through tributaries of rivers, so this war already exists. That is why we need to manage this phenomenon holistically and comprehensively ”.
Unfortunately, we can no longer consider water to be an unlimited good. But, according to Turra, “it is not only access to water that many people do not have. They also do not have access to food, shelter, peace, health and dignity in general. Water is one more element in this drama experienced by millions of excluded and marginalized people on the planet. What we have to do is find a way to stop this exclusion so that we can lead these people to a decent life. “
While some countries may still claim to have inexhaustible sources of water, others, on the other hand, have to manufacture it from their own waste.
The water that comes from human excrement
A few years ago, we saw Bill Gates drink a glass of water that, five minutes earlier, was human excrement. This happened in Senegal and was part of one of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation projects to improve sanitary conditions in developing countries.
The call Janicki Omniprocessor It is the magic machine that manages to convert human excrement into drinking water.
According to the philanthropist, in countries where there are no adequate sewage systems, people are forced to use latrines that are not properly drained. And others simply defecate in the open. This causes the water to become contaminated with waste and cause fatal diseases.
With the system developed in Senegal, many countries could manage human waste in a smarter and greener way. And, if the invention that was tested in the African nation can disgust many, another solution that has also generated the same reaction is the recycling of water.
The technique, which has been little exploited, knows how to take advantage of this resource. Take, for example, the water we use when we wash dishes or when we shower. What happens to that liquid once it completely disappears from our home?
For many, the subsequent process is completely unknown. In several countries there are technologies that can make dirty water drinkable for human consumption. According to the Ecoembes organization, “the water purification treatment is used to eliminate bacteria and dirt that may be harmful to people, animals and plants.”
But no matter how much solids are removed, particles are removed, and water is sterilized for reuse, the proposal continues to disgust many people.
Water from excreta or from its own recycling are some of the many proposals that exist to provide a solution to countries where there are extreme droughts or precarious sanitary systems.
On the other hand, in other places where the water resource abounds, the problems for its consumption are drawn differently.
The world’s largest water factory is under constant threat
With 333,420 hectares, the Sumapaz páramo in Colombia is the most extensive source of water on the planet. And it is thanks to what happens there.
The páramo is a unique mountain ecosystem found in few countries. It is a strategic place in high altitude areas for water retention and water regulation throughout the year. During periods of drought or strong summers, the water is deposited on the soil of the páramo that acts as a water cushion in which the liquid drips to the lowlands, forming rivers, streams, aqueducts or streams.
This natural water factory has vegetation that can only be found there, such as the frailejón, a plant that grows just one centimeter per year and that adapts to low temperatures and solar radiation. The leaves of the Espeletia they have villi that absorb the water in the mist and store it. The journey continues inside its trunk, which takes it underground to join with the water deposited by other plants of the moor, such as moss.
The journey of each drop of water that falls from the frailejón to the water sources could be quite a spectacle if the human eye had access to it.
But, this unique event that the ecosystem offers has become vulnerable for different reasons. One of them is the use of chemicals for growing potatoes or vegetables. Another threat is the prickly broom, an invasive plant that grows very fast and was introduced to the Sumapaz páramo from Europe. Extractivism and mining also threaten water production in other páramos of the country.
The Colombian water factory constantly suffers from these damages caused by man or by nature itself. For now, the South American country can take advantage of the benefits of this ecosystem, but threats continue to advance, some silently, and could affect the water supply that is born there in the medium term.