Water education for sustainability and food security

BC Kusre
Water is one of the most vital resources in Agriculture that plays a role in enhancing food production to meet the demand of growing population. As per the national water policy 70% of the water demand comes from the agriculture sector. Thus agriculture becomes the major component of water resources management. With the increasing population and various anthropogenic activities, the agricultural sector has to compete with other sectors thereby putting productivity of food at stake. Therefore, it has become imperative to view the water resources in a holistic manner for sustainability.
Water Resources Management
For the last half century a number of efforts have been made on water resources management decisions, but it has not  been sustainable. In our endeavour of managing the resources we have disrupted natural pathways of water and over allocated river regimes leading to drying up of our sources. On the other hand, over exploitation of ground water has lowered the natural ground water table leading to pollution (such as salinity, addition of chemicals etc) of the water resources. Most of these management decisions have been for making short term economic goals that did not include long term environmental, economic and food security concerns and also our own health . Traditionally water resources management design has been made based on historical events and is supposed to be following statistical rules like probability. We were assuming nature to be stationary and expect it to return again after a certain period of time. However, with climate change our assumptions of stationary nature are not valid and we have to understand the adaptation of change. Thus education has an important role to produce future resources for those who understand the resources, are smart in adapting to climate change and also sensitive towards the resources.
Water Education for sustainability
As per United Nations study it has been observed that we eat more water than we drink. The water footprint of one’s life has a tremendous impact on sustainability of the resources. The water sustainability issues can be reduced by reducing water footprint simultaneously improving quality of life. Water education should be designed in such a way that it can address both present and future requirements. This will help future generations to develop capacity. In this way it leads to stakeholders developing an overall capacity to contribute to a more sustainable future in terms of environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations. A study for climate change adaptation of small holder’s farmers in Ethiopia concluded that education, family size, gender, age, livestock ownership, farming experience, frequency of contact with extension agents, farm size, access to market, access  to climate information and income were the key factors determining farmers’ choice of adaptation practice. The water education can help appreciate the conflicting viewpoints and thereby formulate useful solutions.
When we talk about water education it involves multiple disciplines and no single area provides a comprehensive knowledge base to tackle the management issues and make it sustainable. For sustainable management an integrated approach has to be adopted and it can be realised by public participation only. The importance of public participation has been reported in a number of international forums. It has been reported by  different researchers that current learning processes and practices are generally not aligned with this transformative view of education. Therefore, water education should include all sectors including pre and middle school to professionals from different fields.
Extension education of water in schools
The agricultural extension education should include schools in its target participants. Awareness and sensitivities and pedagogies may be developed and refined so that dedicated and sensitive  human resources joins the agricultural profession that can aid in managing these resources sustainably. Zoller in 2015 had stated that education should be towards learning to think rather than knowing. For that purpose, the thinking process should transform from contemporary disciplinary science, technology and environmental teaching to science, technology, environment, society, economy and policy (STESEP) – education. Thus the agricultural sector that has maximum stake in the water resources and so should take initiative in creating knowledge base from school level. In most of the school level curriculum a very sorry picture of water resources has been shown that creates panic and fear. Rather, orientation of future human resources towards the beauty of the water resources, its role in caring for the growing population and its demand should be done. This approach may help in creating new human power that can visualize the future changes and thus make the water resource sustainable for future generations.
For further details contact:-  Public Relations & Media Management Cell, CAU, Imphal. Email: [email protected]