Water Security is National Security

Water resources and how they are managed impact almost all aspects of society and the economy, in particular health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. Under present climate variability, water stress is already high, particularly in many developing countries, and climate change adds even more urgency for action. Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environ- mental dimensions, will be jeopardized. UN Water.Org

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Global majority faces water shortages 'within two generations'

The majority of the 9 billion people on Earth will live with severe pressure on fresh water within the space of two generations as climate change,pollution and over-use of resources take their toll, 500 scientists have warned.

The world's water systems would soon reach a tipping point that "could trigger irreversible change with potentially catastrophic consequences", more than 500 water experts warned on Friday as they called on governments to start conserving the vital resource. They said it was wrong to see fresh water as an endlessly renewable resource because, in many cases, people are pumping out water from underground sources at such a rate that it will not be restored within several lifetimes.

"These are self-inflicted wounds," said Charles Vörösmarty, a professor at the Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Centre. "We have discovered tipping points in the system. Already, there are 1 billion people relying on ground water supplies that are simply not there as renewable water supplies."

A majority of the population – about 4.5 billion people globally – already live within 50km of an "impaired" water resource – one that is running dry, or polluted. If these trends continue, millions more will see the water on which they depend running out or so filthy that it no longer supports life.

The threats are numerous. Climate change is likely to cause an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts, floods, heatwaves and storms. The run-off from agricultural fertilisers containing nitrogen has already created more than 200 large "dead zones" in seas, near to rivermouths, where fish can no longer live. Cheap technology to pump water from underground and rivers, and few restrictions on its use, has led to the over-use of scarce resources for irrigation or industrial purposes, with much of the water wasted because of poor techniques. And a rapidly rising population has increased demand beyond the capability of some water resources.

In some areas, so much water has been pumped out from underground that salt water has rushed in to fill the gap, forcing farmers to move to other areas because the salination makes their former water sources unusable.

Most of the areas where water will be scarcest soonest are in poor countries, which have little resilience to cope. Many are also in areas where there is already political instability, tension or outright conflict, and the competition for water resources will heighten these problems.

But the scientists warned that the developed world would also suffer. For instance, there are now 210 million citizens of the US living within 10 miles of an "impaired" water source, and that number is likely to rise as the effects of global warming take hold. In Europe, some water sources are running dry because of over-extraction for irrigation, much of which is carried on in an unsustainable fashion.

Pollutants are also causing severe problems in the rich world – the scientists highlighted the role of endocrine disruptors, which can cause fish to change gender, and the long-term effects of which on human populations are as yet barely known.

"There is no citizen of the world who can be complacent about this," said Janos Bogardy, director of the UN University's Institute for Environment and Human Security.

On Wednesday, UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, added his voice to concerns about water security: "We live in an increasingly water insecure world where demand often outstrips supply and where water quality often fails to meet minimum standards. Under current trends, future demands for water will not be met," he said.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Water, the Great Regional Threat

For decades, long-range forecasters have been predicting that water – and a lack of it – loomed as the biggest threat to regional security. Booming populations, food security, the occasional drought and competition among neighboring countries for dwindling resources made for a pessimistic outlook.

Much of this was pushed down the policy totem pole over the last decade as religion and long standing territorial disputes remerged to challenge Asian diplomats. However, the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand attempted to put water firmly back on the agenda.

The usually calm Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah was unusually frank in warning the summit that Asian nations needed to spend about US$380 billion on water and sanitation systems by 2020 if full water security was to be realized.

He described the undertaking as vital and warned water and competing interests "… could lead to international disputes." His comments were echoed by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who warned “there could be a fight over resources.”

More than 1,300 delegates from 40 countries across the Asia-Pacific met amid tight security and threats of protests by civil society groups arguing governments were doing too little, too late. Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi was anything but conciliatory, describing protestors as “garbage” and warning they would be arrested.

Protestors argued that water-related projects ignored public needs and were too focused on the construction of infrastructure, where billions of dollars spent on dams had enriched politicians, businessmen and contractors but done little for ordinary citizens.

The Asian Development Bank has warned that almost two-thirds of the region’s population has no access to piped clean drinking water in the home, despite the record economic growth of the past 20 years. Bad management was largely to blame.

Delegates said the answers were in resource sharing and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina noted that the water-sharing treaty between her country and neighboring India over access to the Ganges, the most sacred of rivers for Hindus, was a prime example that has worked.

She also warned that conflict could only be prevented by the “… judicious management of access to water resources.”

Nine leaders attending the conference set aside their differences and signed the Chiang Mai Declaration, which essentially reiterated a previous standing commitment to prevent water-related disasters that cause loss of life, economic and social damage.

The nine were Thailand, Brunei, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Georgia, Tajikistan and Vanuatu.

The Chiang Mai Declaration is not legally binding. “It is an expression of intention to place importance on water management and in inter-country collaboration for the managing of water resources for mutual benefit, as well as for environmental and economic integrity.”

This fell far short of the concerted and united effort needed to resolve water issues. The public conviviality among leaders – as expected on such occasions – meant long-standing diplomatic rows over control of inland river systems were never addressed.

Heated arguments between Uzbekistan and its neighbors Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which want to build two of the world's biggest hydro-electric power stations, have dominated their relationship over recent years. Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon used the conference to defend his country's right to exploit its own natural resources, including the completion of the Rogun Hydro Power Plant on the Vakhsh River, which has infuriated Uzbeks who fear their downstream agricultural industries, cotton in particular, will be ruined.

Other delegations were silent. Vietnam and Cambodia had bitterly opposed construction of the Xayaburi Dam across the mainstream of the Mekong River by a Thai construction company, which has gone ahead despite independent analysis warning of depleted fish catches.

Thai companies – Ch Karnchang Public Company, which will construct the US$3.5 billion dam and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, which will buy and sell electricity from the dam – intend to profit handsomely. And another ten dams are planned for Laos alone.

Cambodia has also released its own plans for dam construction, including the Lower Sesan Two across major tributaries of the Mekong River. Mainstream dams are also planned and observers say it was for this reason the Cambodian government had ceased its criticism of Xayaburi.

Other issues were left untouched. Singapore relies on Malaysia for much of its fresh water and has sought to resolve its long-standing differences in recent years. For others like the Philippines and Indonesia, excessive rain and flooding have a long and deadly history.

Yingluck said water was essential for economic growth and lives, however, she chose her words carefully, adding the eco system remained off-balance, causing frequent and damaging natural disasters.

As such, the Thai prime minister came across as a vocal supporter for dam construction, saying that restoring the environment and having an effective water management system in place, as a means of controlling water levels, was required.

"We have experience that the cost of investment and planning to prevent natural disasters will be lower than the cost of addressing problems and recovery again and again," she said. "Therefore, we should work together to promote water security by addressing the problems at its roots."

Thailand was initially slated to host water summit two years ago, but it was postponed amid record flooding that left more than 800 dead, shut down the country and prompted Bangkok to find some answers to its long-clogged waterways.

This included a US$12 billion water management plan, a series of floodways, dikes and water-retention areas designed to avert a repeat of the disastrous 2011 floods.

The Chiang Mai water summit did help put water and its potential to cause friction among neighbors back on the agenda – the first summit was held way back in Japan in 2007 — particularly among the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN is perhaps the fastest growing trading bloc in the world, with plans to establish a single ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015.

“With all this talk about the ASEAN community, and regional development, you can’t forget about water. No water, no development — it’s as simple as that,” said regional political analyst Ray Leos from Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh.

“You’ve got a burgeoning population, rapid urbanization, climate change, and increased agricultural demand — all these things are putting severe pressure on water supplies.”

But he also added for least developing countries, whether it’s Cambodia, Bangladesh or East Timor, agriculture and access to water remained the key for development and “a water crisis could put a monkey wrench into their plans to accelerate economic growth.” More


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Permaculture Design Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship

June 24 – July 7, 2013

Convened by Quail Springs Permaculture and True Nature Design

Lead Instructors: Warren Brush with Quail Springs and True Nature Design and Joseph Lentunyoi of the Maasai people, Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya and Nyumbani Village

Guest Instructors include:
Jeremiah Kidd, Global Permaculture Designer and Educator
Cathe’ Fish , Founder of Practical Permaculture Research Institute
Lyn Hebenstreit, Co-Founder of Global Resource Alliance
Tara Blasco, Co-Founder of Global Resource Alliance
Loren Luyendyk, Co-Founder of Surfer’s Without Borders
Alissa Sears, Global Betterment Director at Christie Communications
Jeannette Acosta, Indigenous Permaculture Designer and Educator
Daniel Parra-Hensel, Permaculture Designer and Educator
Brenton Kelly, Principle Farm Educator for Quail Springs Permaculture
Tom Cole, Principle Agricultural Advisor with Save the Children

“My learning journey at Quail Springs helped to nurture my presence of mind to be a better and more active listener – a vital trait for the international development professional. The coursework was incredibly pertinent to my work in Uganda and without a doubt made me more aware, more compassionate, and more focused in my role as a project manager and human being.” - Grant Buhr, Project Focus, Quail Springs’ PDC graduate

Permaculture is an integrated design system that provides a framework for consciously designed landscapes that provide diversity, stability, and resilience for individuals and communities. Permaculture is in 160 countries with many thousands of grassroots projects on-the-ground.

This course will assist you and your organization with integrating into your projects:

  • Increased Food Security
  • Community-Based Development
  • Waste Cycling
  • Sustainability Education
  • Clean Water and Drought Proofing
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Sustainable Vocations & Enterprise

Topics include: Integrated Design, Composting, Water Harvesting, Compost Toilets, Waste Cycling, Earthworks, Rocket Stoves, Design Priorities, Ecological Building, Aquaculture, Bio-Sand Filtration, Broad Acre Applications, Food Forestry, Bio-Engineering, Resilient Food Production, Greywater Systems, Livestock Integration, Soil building, Watershed Restoration, Integrated Pest Mgmt, Biomimicry, Appropriate Technology, Peacemaking, Conflict Resolution, Community Organizing, Drought Proofing Landscapes, Rebuilding Springs, Refugee Camp Strategies

During this specialized course we will be offering the participants direct hands-on learning experiences that include:

  • Making a simple and effective solar cooker
  • Creating a thermophyllic compost system
  • Building a BioSand water filter
  • Building a water harvesting bio swale
  • Constructing an earthen rocket stove

This course is designed for people who work with non-government organizations or government agencies, community organizers working in international development and/or social entrepreneurship, as well as volunteers and students with dedicated interest in the subject matter.


View or Download COURSE BROCHURE here

Teaching Team

Our instruction team is comprised of a diverse mix of special guest instructors led by Warren Brush and Joseph Lentunyoi.

Warren Brush is a Permaculture designer and teacher as well as a mentor and storyteller. Warren is co-founder ofQuail Springs Permaculture, Regenerative Earth Farms, Sustainable Vocations, Wilderness Youth Project, and his Permaculture design company, True Nature Design. He works in Permaculture education and sustainable systems design in North America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Australia.

Joseph Lentunyoi is from the Maasai tribe, and is co-founder of the Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya, to which he brings extensive practical knowledge of sustainable farming as well as teaching experience. Joseph is the Sustainability Director for Nyumbani Village, where over 900 children live who have been orphaned by HIV related diseases, alongside teaching and designing with permaculture techniques extensively in East Africa.


Cost includes instruction, certification, catered meals, and camping accommodations.
Cost: $1,650 (a deposit of $300 reserves your space with the full balance due by June 10)
Early Bird: $1,450 for payment in full by April 15

Early Bird – $200 discount, course payment in full by April 15, 2013
PDC Refresher – $200 discount, participants with a previous 72-hr Permaculture Design Certification
Couples – $300 discount, applies to your joint total for couples registering, paying and traveling together
Check or Money Order – $25 discount, payment by check or money order

How to Register

  1. Fill out Online Pre-Registration – Click Here
  2. Receive confirmation, orientation, program and payment details to your email address
  3. Make payment to formally reserve your space

Contact with questions: Kolmi Majumdar – email info@quailsprings.org, phone 805-886-7239