Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Indonesia: when we should worry with water shortage?

by Dewa Wisana

At the end of the year 2006, people begin to mark year 2006 as “The Year of Disasters”. I do not want to list natural disasters that occur in Indonesia during 2006. It’s too heartbreaking to know that even yesterday; there is another earthquake in North Sumatra and expert said it was only the beginning of a series of another earthquake. I send my deepest condolence for my brothers and sisters in Mandailing.

In Jakarta, I start to observe frequent rain every afternoon or evening. To be simple, it’s a sign of rainy seasons definitely. Many people feel so relieve, except for Jakarta’s government since they have to prepare with yearly flood disaster (or could we called it “never-anticipated-disaster”?!). However, I notice that this year rainy seasons has come very late. There is single serious impact due to late rainy season: drought. It impacted on lack of water supply for agricultural sector and household need as well. As we may notice, there’re hectares of paddy crops had failed to harvest as well as several others hectares of land that totally unable to be cultivated because irrigation system could not support water. In household level, they started not the have sufficient water for daily needs. The wells totally dried up, even that they already digging up again up to 15 meters or even more for some cases. It is clearly seen that drought and water shortage becomes serious problem in many part of Indonesia.

Recently, I watch government television advertisement about saving water usage particularly in household level. We should appreciated this policy, although it not enough especially if we notice that demand for clean water will be still raise up as population also still continue to grow. But, are there any other policies that government should do? There are! At least, they have to start to manage environmental condition related with water sources and flows such as rivers, lakes, water fountains, and many more. On the other hand, increasing capacity of water company’s services is a necessity to fulfill household needs. However, had they notice or thinking about this? I guess not!

That is why I asked the question as in the title above: When we should worry with water shortage? If you believe with The Price of Global Warming, I urge many people and stakeholders to starts worried and take actions on this issue.

Or, would you like to wait until there’s nothing we can do except waiting and extinct?


Berly said...

I am urging reconsideration the subsidy of water. The low price of water in Indonesia encourages excess and inefficient usage.

Some of the reader will ask, "How about the poor"? The truth is the largest user of publicly supplied water is the big industry which can afford to pay more.

It has similarity with gasoline subsidy where the poor population's loss can be cover by direct subsidy. Yes the distribution of subsidy is still not perfect (ex: direct tranfer to bank account rather than standing in line, better assesment of poverty level, etc ) but if we could improve it, the budget and enviromental saving would be huge while still protecting the poor.

The other line of defense is increasing suppy of clean water by higher punishment for enviromental polluter (and some fee/bonus for people with the proof of violation as well as the police handling the case)

Anonymous said...

A serious thing but many indonesians rarely think of it seriously. I just read "Collapse" by Jared Diamond. One highlight, regarding the collapse of great civilizations is about water problem. It seems that you have to write on national newspapers warning such severe disaster may end our society :D....(it's no longer exaggerated hypotheses since we are experiencing significant problems due to climate change)