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Of water, agroecology and the youth

Water is a resource of high demand used in agriculture and livestock, food washing, manufacturing and production industries, cleaning of structures, personal hygiene, etc. 

Water is a crucial resource for all human activities. Even though the importance of water cannot be overemphasized, it has been constantly polluted and the quality of such a valuable resource has been gradually disintegrated.

The industrial and agricultural sector, in many cases, uses the water bodies as a space for discharging waste from their activities. This waste constantly inoculates enormous quantities of chemical particles with a high load of polluting materials, such as nitrates, phosphates and pesticides. According to the report - water pollution from agriculture: a global review - agriculture along with animal husbandry represents one of the largest sectors using water resource. Two-thirds of the water used by humans is for agricultural purposes.

Wastewater is a major environmental problem. It irrationally contaminates ecosystems, drastically affects biodiversity (fauna and flora) including humans beings. The consequences of harmful policies and methods of exploration, inadequate governance, are often the main causes of decreasing the status of such a resource. This is a complex and multidimensional challenge.

According to the United Nations, more than 80 per cent of the world’s wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated. In some least-develop countries, this number exceeds 95 per cent. In the United States, for example, agricultural activities and livestock considered as the major source of contamination of rivers, streams, wetlands, lakes and groundwater.

The contamination takes place as the washed particles of fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste from farms and livestock operations enter our waterways, release certain bacteria and pathogens. Thus, these components, remaining intact with the water molecule, creating blooming algae, a toxic blue-green soup that extends over the surface of the water, creating the "eutrophication phenomenon" a term used to describe water pollution caused by excess nutrients.

Water pollution can cause many disruptions that, in the long term, will affect human health, economic growth, social services with their respective costs, and the ecosystem.  Being a challenge of global magnitude, water pollution deserves urgent attention from all social actors.

None of this will be easy. However, there are many alternatives for decisive initiatives to address such a situation.  To mention just a few options:

  • Conduct global awareness campaigns for the population (youth, rural and urban families), governments and the private sector.
  • Influencing production policies in the agricultural sector (reducing or eradicating the use of synthetic or chemical fertilizers, establish biofilter systems in dumps).
  • Provide more agro-ecological approaches. (ten elements of agroecology as reference
  • Install wastewater treatment systems in manufacturing industries, homes, sewers, and other areas. 
  • Taking into account the youth trend, (youth integrity) in decision-making policies; where there is a supportive environment for youth, they will be able to perceive adequate skills, tangible actions to mitigate the causes and consequences of such a situation. 
  • Emphasize the adoption of such actions, as they are essential for a healthy ecosystem and the protection of our resources.

 

Photo credit: Wendel Georges