Update: 1,500 Farmers Commit Suicide in India

agriculture, india

Recently, I drafted a post on a mass-suicide event (because of drought, dropping water levels, related crop failure, and mounting farm debt) in the state of Chhattisgarh based on news reports in the Belfast Telegraph, the Daily Times, and Alternet. Update: this event was not a mass-suicide as defined in these news reports. Rather – and no better – 1,500 farmers committed suicide in 2007 in the state of Chhattisgarh.

Here is a portion of Mallika Chopra’s update:

“According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, 182,936 Indian farmers have committed suicide between 1997 -2007. It estimates 46 Indian farmers kill themselves every day – that is, roughly one suicide every 30 minutes. An estimated 16,625 farmers across India killed themselves in 2007, the last year that was reported. The numbers are horrifying, and they indicate the sense of despair that the poorest people in the world are facing today.”

And here is a post by Vandana Shiva called From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Why Are India Farmers Committing Suicide and How Can We Stop This Tragedy?

Cyprus and Water Imports from Greece, Egypt, and Lebanon

climate change, drinking water, drought, groundwater, international, water desalination, water trade

The small island country of Cyprus may soon be shipping water on tankers from Greece, Egypt and Lebanon to supplement current dwindling water supplies.

Cyprus has been facing drier than normal conditions for four consecutive years. Winter in Cyprus, November through March, usually serves to fill reservoirs for the coming season. But this winter has been practically rainless, and estimates leave reservoirs at two-months of capacity.

Cyprus typically provides water to citizens through several reservoirs and two water desalination plants. Because of the current water crisis, a third desalination plant is being constructed and emergency groundwater reserves may be rationed. Additionally, the country is contemplating the exorbitantly expensive shipment of additional water supplies.

Importing water, however, is nothing new to the country of Cyprus. As stated in this grotesquely entitled article, How to profit from the world’s water crisis, Cyprus had previously imported water from Turkey via large inflatable floating balloons holding up to five million gallons a piece. Obviously not the most efficient or cheap method for obtaining water, but neither is desalination (for now).

In the late 1990s, Aquarius Water Transportation became the first company to tow bags of fresh water for export, delivering commercial bulk quantities to the Greek Islands. In 2000, another company, Nordic Water Supply, began using 5 million gallon bags 10 times as big as the original Aquarius containers – to float water from Turkey to northern Cyprus.

– From an article in The Christian Science Monitor.


Update: (1/25/08)
Cyprus to extract water from underground reserves through bore holes.

Flood Drinking Water Contamination: Risk Factors

asia, drinking water, floods, groundwater, international

Many in the United States are acquainted with the effects of flooding. Especially after Hurricane Katrina, numerous other flooding events, and the recent past deluge on the Chehalis River of Southwest Washington. Rampant in the media during these times of floods are deaths, displacements, economic losses, and causes associated with the flooding. Less common immediately after a flood event, however, is media attention to water-borne illnesses and water contamination.

Depending on location and sanitation conditions, flood water can contaminate drinking water (surface water, groundwater, and distribution systems). Groundwater wells can be rendered useless from inundation of water laced with toxins, chemicals, animal carcasses, septic seepage, and municipal sewage. Surface water sources are impacted in similar manners. Infectious diseases can also be spread through contaminated drinking water. As indicated by the Center for Disease Control such illnesses might include:

Diseases not present in an area before a major flood event are not likely to be present after a major flood event. Cholera and Typhoid are more common in lower income countries. Additionally, people in higher income countries are sometimes able to obtain drinking water at shelters, and/or others with adequate resources may temporarily move to a nearby location with safe municipal water supplies.

Above Photo: Devastation in Bangladesh. SOS-Arsenic.net.

Prospects in countries without such available infrastructure are often dire. Bangladesh encounters flooding annually. In August 2007, floods in the region (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and India) killed over 2,000 people and displaced 20 million people with many infected by contaminated water supplies (over 100,000 in Bangladesh alone). Mozambique is enduring endured serious flooding as the Zambezi River and Save River are cresting crested the banks from torrential rains in Zimbabwe. A press release was issued by Oxfam International stating:

“Whenever a flood hits, a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities reaches dangerous levels in a matter of days, if not hours. Access to both will become farther and farther out of reach and could lead to a widespread health crisis as flood waters continue to rise,”

– Hugo Oosterkamp, Oxfam Water and Sanitation Emergency Coordinator

In all countries, time is of the essence to assist people with access to potable water. In rural locations, education is essential to provide alternative options for water treatment. Sometimes it is possible to disinfect a groundwater well that has been contaminated or, more immediately, purify water using solar radiation on top of a house and chlorinate small water supplies for personal use. For more information, see these websites on flood related water issues and well protection from contamination by flooding.

Kid Power = Well Water


Kids twirl around on a Merry Go-Round while water is pumped into a large reservoir holding tank. The PlayPump, under PlayPump International, is not cheap by any means at 14,000 dollars for one system, but is supposed to be more efficient and fun than a traditional hand-pump. Currently, there are over 700 installed and plans to install 4,000 more in rural locations in arid Africa by 2010.

Check out this blog post on Alcateia Design Group News for an interesting view on the system.

International Conference on Nonrenewable Groundwater Resources – October 2008

groundwater, international

Thanks to Water Wired for the update on the upcoming conference about global nonrenewable groundwater resources:

International Conference on Nonrenewable Ground Water Resources: Sociotechnological Aspects of Nonrenewable Ground Water Resources: Half-Empty, Half-Full, Top-Down, Bottom-Up, and Some Paths Forward

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA), in cooperation with the Institute for Water and Watersheds (IWW) at Oregon State University, UNESCO-International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and the World Bank, will present an International Conference on Nonrenewable Ground Water Resources, 13-14 October 2008, in Portland, OR.

Abstracts are currently being accepted for the conference by February 4, 2008.

For more information, please contact aquadoc@oregonstate.edu or Todd.Jarvis@oregonstate.edu at Oregon State University, if you have questions about the topics.