Water is a precious natural resource most of us take for granted. But not everyone is blessed enough to get water by turning on a faucet. One of the indelible images in my mind is of women carrying pots of water on their head for long distances. Ideally no one should have to go through such hardship for the sake of drinking water. Few years ago as I was thinking about this problem I had a dream. It started with water as the main area of concern and expanded to include trees and connectivity, as in connecting remote places by road. I called it the WTC (Water, Trees, Connectivity) plan.
WTC Main objectives: Provide easy access to drinking water for majority of the population, combat deforestation by planting seeds and saplings, connect towns and villages by building proper roads.
Main benefits: Clean, drinking water reduces the risk of water borne illnesses and infections and it’s a basic human need. Trees help in keeping air cleaner, reduce climate change effect in addition to providing edible parts like fruits, leaves and shoots. Also act as first line of barrier for floods. With well connected roads smaller towns and villages become more accessible cutting down on travel time.
How to implement the plan: The basic premise of the solution is nations are built by citizens and solutions are more effective when the citizens are active participants with Government just setting up the rules and providing the necessary support and oversight. Three types of projects
1) Canal building to channel water from places where it is abundant to places where it is in dearth (within a State to start with)
2) Planting seeds and sapling for trees that are tough and do not suck up too much water from the soil (would probably rule out eucalyptus and almond trees)
3) Construction of roads
How to get human and financial resources for the project? Every fit male (and female if they wish to volunteer) in the age group 21-50 could help in one of the following ways:
1) Work fulltime in any of the 3 types of project
2) If holding a fulltime job, employer provides one week / year for this volunteering effort
3) If not able to volunteer, donate one week’s pay/year up to a maximum of Rs. 10,000/person that would be tax deductible and go directly to this effort
4) Donations from non-residents and non-citizens for WTC which would be tax deductible.
The more I thought the more appealing the idea became. Some of the additional benefits I visualized were farming becoming more viable due to water availability, decongestion of cities due to employment opportunities provided by the projects, increase in sale of equipment, plants and seeds needed for the projects, increased opportunities to service those working in the projects by providing food, tea/coffee and shelter and more than anything else chance for citizens of different castes, religion, social and economic groups to interact and work together in building something with their own hands. The idea seems simple and doable. Would be worthwhile to start on a small scale in specific places to see how it works and what potential problems one could run into. Challenge would be when scaling it into a nationwide project. That would involve city planners, architects, civil contractors in addition to subject matter experts relating to areas like water conservation, channeling, forestry, accounting etc.
Not knowing how and who to present it the idea remained in the back of mind. Lethargy also meant I kept postponing putting the idea on paper. The dream lives on, hopefully gets implemented in whatever form it is that helps people. While technology has brought a positive change in many people’s lives its impact has been felt only by a small % of the population. IMHO any solution that involves and helps a big % of population and prevents people moving just for the sake of employment is a better solution.