India's current droughtRecent efforts to stem corruption and promote economic growth have caused many to proclaim that India has a bright future ahead. However, India’s current drought poses a grave threat to their future. From 2001 to 2011, India’s annual per capita water availability decreased by 15 percent and most estimates have projected it to fall by almost 30 percent by 2050. In addition, India’s ever-growing population is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2050, making the already difficult task of providing clean water throughout the country that much harder. Needless to say, India has a major challenge on its hands that could define the future of the country.

What Has Caused These Issues?

While there are many reasons for India’s current drought, most experts point to a few main culprits. One of the biggest is India’s changing climate. As India has experienced progressively warmer summers, it has seen reduced snow cover throughout the Himalayan mountain region. This has resulted in decreased water runoff and increased water shortages over time.

Secondly, India has seen its water supply decrease as a result of poor agricultural practices by farmers. Considering that agriculture accounts for 90 percent of India’s water consumption, these practices, including improper use of pesticides and indiscriminate use of groundwater, have resulted in substandard water availability for the millions of Indians across the country.

Lastly, the country has been plagued by water pollution due to improper sewage systems and the dumping of waste in lakes and wetlands. This waste often finds its way into groundwater and contaminates it, resulting in drinking water that is unsafe to drink.

Improvements in Sanitation

While water scarcity in India is by no means a simple issue, there are many promising solutions to the problem, some of which are already being implemented throughout the country. One of the biggest areas of focus for many NGO’s working in India is on improving sanitation practices. Nonprofits such as and WaterIsLife have both done great work in recent years with to improve sanitation. has focused its work on providing people with the opportunity to use clean bathroom facilities, which has reduced open defecation. WaterisLife has helped install many wastewater treatment plants, which have helped treat dirty water and make it drinkable.

Rainwater Catchment Systems

India can also continue the good work that has been done by installing water catchment systems around the country. These systems can help recycle water and are a sustainable solution to the water scarcity issues that currently plague the country. Charity: Water, a non-profit based in New York City, has already played a major role in the installation of such systems around the country, which has helped make water more accessible for thousands of Indian citizens.

Looking into the Future

India is not the only country currently facing a drought. Many countries around the world, especially those located in warm or desert climates, are going through similar issues. However, swift action must be taken lessen the effects of the drought. Such action will require heavy contribution from both Indian citizens and the Indian government, along with NGO’s from around the world.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Pixabay

The Drinkable Book
In the age of tablets and e-books, there is one book everyone should have a hard copy of.

It doesn’t matter where you live or who you are, millions of people die each year from drinking contaminated water. That’s why the humanitarian organization WaterIsLife has partnered up with the advertising agency DDB to develop The Drinkable Book.

The Drinkable Book looks normal on the outside and is just a few inches thick with about 20 printed pages, but on the inside the book contains the gift of fresh water.

The book not only contains step-by-step instructions on how to purify drinking water, including simple things like washing hands and not leaving trash near a water source, but its pages are also filters to help purify water around the world.

“One of WaterisLife’s biggest challenges (beyond providing clean water) is teaching proper sanitation/hygiene, so this was a perfect opportunity to not only introduce the new filters, but also to do it in a way that meaningfully addresses both problems,” said Brian Gartside, the senior designer of The Drinkable Book in an interview with Slate.

Each page of The Drinkable Book is coated in bacteria-killing silver nanoparticles and can be torn out and used as a water filter. The pages kill the bacteria that cause cholera, E.coli and typhoid, among other diseases and can last up to a month each time they are used.

“A lot of water issues aren’t just because people don’t have the right technology, but also because they aren’t informed why they need to treat water to begin with,” says Theresa Dankovich, the chemist who developed the filter paper.

To use the book, you rip one of the pages in half and slide it into the filter box — which doubles as a cover for the book — and pour contaminated water through. After a few minutes, the bacteria in the water is reduced by 99.9%  and is comparable U.S. tap water.

“Our main goal is to reduce the spread of diarrheal diseases, which result from drinking water that’s been contaminated with things like E. coli and cholera and typhoid,” Dankovich says in the interview. “And we think we can help prevent some of these illnesses from even happening.”

Trying to prevent diseases caused by contaminated water truly aids in the fight against global poverty. Helping those people without access to a clean water source fight contaminants and battle disease means the people who would have previously been ill have a chance to live.

This chance could mean they have the opportunity to work, to open a new business, to expand to new markets or even visit other countries, and have more resources to make life better for themselves and the place they grew up in.

WaterIsLife printed an initial run of 100 copies in English and Swahili to be sent to Kenya and distributed among the impoverished people there, but the brand also plans to distribute The Drinkable Book around the world.

– Cara Morgan

Sources: HuffPost, NPR, Slate, TheGistOfWater
Photo: Design Boom