On the road to the Namugongo Shrine in Uganda, in a place called Kireka, one cant miss the hundreds of jerry-cans lined up to get water. The beauty of the colour mix is lost on you when you realise that this is the picture of a crisis.
This area has not had piped water in the homes for about two years. People are beginning to give up hope. Two years is a long time.
But that is not a small problem for a small forgotten area in the boondocks. It is a harbinger of bigger problems to come. Tomorrow, next week, next year, we are going to have wars.
The world’s population is growing faster than the water sources are producing water.
We learnt in our SST classes in primary school that the River Nile is the life blood of Egypt. That knowledge seems to have been good only for passing exams. Not for the Egyptians though.
With their technological power and advanced zeal, they are in the position to do with the waters of the Nile whatever they want. Already, they have told the other countries along the basin not to tamper with the water.
Essentially, that means that if you want to build hydro-electric plants and your country lies in this basin, you have to first get permission from down there (Egypt). Chances are that you won’t be getting that permission.
The problem is wider. The Jordan River is gone. It is dead and buried. Israel and the Palestinians have come to some sort of agreement about the sharing of the waters but that is something that’s becoming more and more difficult to handle.
When you move over to Asia, the countries below China in the Mekong Valley are increasingly becoming beholden to their giant neighbour to the north.
The water is becoming more precious. We are sleeping, not finding new ways to manage water and the result is that foreigners in distant offices out there are thinking for us. The world is too preoccupied with oil as the main resource and forgetting about the more important issue of water.
The image from Kevin Costner’s Waterworld comes back fiercely. The movie was made many years ago but it could be prophetic.