2022 too short, too far: How India struggled for water safety

Down To Earth recaps the primary environment, health and developmental news from 2022

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 02 January 2023
2020 too short, too far: How India struggled for water safety in 2022
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

The world’s water balance went for a toss several decades ago due to overexploitation and climate change. 

Cities across the world are staring at Cape Town-like ‘Day Zero’ conditions where municipal water reserves are just a few hours from running out, while places along rivers and oceans are threatened by rising water-levels. 

Then there are villages in developing countries like India that still don’t have access to clean water for drinking or sanitation. In such cases, efforts are underway to effectively reuse wastewater but gaps remain. 

Here are some of stories by Down To Earth from 2022 tracking water conservation efforts around the world and the situation water-starved areas:  

Ardana, a Haryana village located some 140 kilometres from Delhi, is facing acute water crisis. The reason: Cultivation of water-guzzling crops. 

Read more: How paddy affects: Groundwater table in this Karnal village is now at 1,000 feet

In Marathwada, alternating flood and drought events have destroyed crops and given rise to shortage of water. But economic losses due to these disasters are only part of the problem. Here’s how the social dynamics have changed because of low availability of water in the area:

Read more: Water, Marathwada women’s woe: No brides for farmers as families look for city matches 

People residing in countries with low human development index need to consume more water than those in places with high human development index. There is a scientific reason for this.

Read more: More water is used by the bodies of those who live in nations with low development indices: Study 

‘River run-off’ — water that comes into a river water system from sources such as rainfall, melting snow and groundwater — will increase significantly in the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins by mid-century. This may have severe consequences downstream, although will ensure higher water availability in some areas for a limited period. 

Read more: Ganga, Brahmaputra, Indus water levels to rise by 2050: New IPCC report


Water for drinking and sanitation is one of the major challenges in rural India. Central and state governments try to bridge this gap through schemes but it is often the residents who have to step in and find solutions that are tailored for their situation. 

Here are stories of some Indian villages where community efforts paid off in circumventing water shortage and reusing wastewater:

Read more: 

A student from Canada has received the prestigious 2022 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her research on how to treat and prevent harmful algae blooms. The scientist began work on the project after her fisherman father couldn't work anymore due to the problem. 

Read more: Canadian student wins 2022 Stockholm Junior Water Prize

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