Dominica joins the rest of the international community in the observance of world water day today.
The chosen theme for the observance of the day this year is “Water and Food Security” a very significant area of focus as the growing world population demands more food and more water.
This year the intention is to focus the world’s attention to the importance of water in the production of food to feed the more than seven billion people living on the planet today.
Food security exists when all people at all times have access to sufficient safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy lifestyle.
Here in Dominica we are still blessed with an abundance of rainfall, ground water and fertile lands all of which are important factors necessary for the production of food to sustain life in the nature island.
Food security remains a top priority for the Government of Dominica as well as the preservation of our water and other natural resources.
Government has taken steps over the years to build capacity among our local farming community by providing better access to agricultural lands and other resources necessary for food production.
However global phenomenons such as climate change pose a serious threat to our natural environment and our ability to feed ourselves.
Scientists predict that by the year 2100, projected global warming of 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius coupled with related changes in rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency in extreme weather events such as droughts, hurricanes and floods are likely to seriously threaten food security and fresh water supply.
One cannot forget the drought conditions experienced here in 2010 as well as the increased intensity in hurricanes and storms.
While tropical storm Ophelia, for example, inflicted millions of dollars in infrastructural damage last year the impact on Agriculture could also be similarly equated.
These conditions mentioned above should prompt an urgent response on the part of all of us to ensure that we better understand the impending impact of global warming and climate change and what we can do to mitigate against it.
Developing countries like Dominica have a unique role to play in formulating a sound and well informed response to the threat of climate change and the impending threat to food security and access to fresh water.
It is therefore imperative that our entire world population seeks to adopt new scientific methods leading to increased agricultural yields while exploiting fewer resources.
Issues related to food security continue to attract the attention of world leaders and policy makers as the demands of their populations continue to rapidly increase. However it is sometimes taken for granted that water remains the most vital ingredient in the production of food.
Why is water so important to food security you may ask?
Water is used by plants and animals in large quantities to produce all of the food that we consume every day.
Did you know that it takes one thousand times more water to feed a person than it takes to satisfy their thirst? While the average person drinks about 2.5 liters of water a day, producing just 2.2lbs of beef (1 kilo) requires 15,000 liters of water.
Did you know that it takes 13 litres of water to produce one tomato, over 650 litres of water to produce one kilo of wheat which is used to make bread, or that it takes 200 litres of water to produce one litre of milk?
Everything that we eat needs water to grow.
Agriculture accounts for seventy percent of our total water use. It is therefore prudent that we ensure that we always have access to water to ensure food security.
As the world population continues to grow at a rapid pace, the demand for freshwater for food production will continue to increase, putting a strain on this invaluable resource. Each and every person can address this critical issue by learning what steps they can take to help preserve our freshwater resources, including:
- Learn how much water is used to make the foods we eat every day and consume less water-intensive products.
- Be mindful of food waste – 30% of all food produced worldwide is never consumed.
- Encourage food producers to use less water in their food.
Government continues to invest millions of dollars to provide potable water to all communities around Dominica. The ongoing west coast water supply project as well as the development of several new water systems in areas such as Penville, Shawford, Bense, Grand Fond and the Canefield to St. Joseph water supply projects will provide dedicated supplies of water to a number of rural communities around the island.
The management and staff of DOWASCO must also be highly commended for their committed efforts at managing Dominica’s water resources over the years and ensuring most Dominican’s have access to potable water which surpassed World Health Organization Standards.
Since water is so important to our survival as a human race we must all play our part in ensuring that future generations will enjoy the benefits related to water security, that we sometimes take for granted today.
There are simple steps that we can all take to ensure water security through conservation.
Try to use less water in the home for cooking bathing and cleaning.
Do not abuse stand pipes and fire hydrants.
Close running pipes whether public or private if the water is not being put to proper use.
Protect our water catchment areas and avoid contaminating them.
Let us all make a commitment today to play our part in ensuring that fresh water remains available in sufficient quantities for a world which will always benefit from sustainable food security.
Hon. Reginald Austrie -Minister for Lands, Housing, Settlements and Water Resource Management