Can India teach Europe to deal with drought? (Google / AlertNet)

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http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/climate-conversations/can-india-teach-europe-to-deal-with-drought

Climate Conversations – Can India teach Europe to deal with drought?

By Alina Paul-Bossuet

Europe is suffering from a record breaking drought, jeopardizing food production and restricting households’ water access. European governments have announced emergency plans and aid money to help farmers.

As June 17 marks World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, does Europe need to start thinking seriously about adapting to recurrent water scarcity?  What needs to be done so that drought damages are mitigated?

Europe might take a look for inspiration at communities in the South, who face drought almost every alternate year but are using effective solutions to adapt to water scarcity.

Those include rainwater harvesting – capturing and storing rainwater for later use – and water conservation, which includes reducing run-off and increasing the capacity of soil and vegetation to retain water.

Such techniques are nothing new. During the Roman era, rainwater harvesting structures were essential and at the centre of settlements. However, in developed European countries, such practices have largely died away with the introduction of more centralized “pipeline” water. People open the tap and take the availability of water for granted.

Much of Europe’s modernized agricultural sector now neglects water conservation principles such as maintaining organic content in the soil for better water retention. But better water use and management in drought situations is becoming more important as recurrent droughts hit Europe and agriculture remains the biggest water user.

Next year, the European Union will review the Water Directive, which aims to manage use of river basins. It is also looking at pilot programs for best practices in water conservation, water harvesting, irrigation, surface runoff management and other measures aimed at increasing drought resilience.

What about looking at successful practices in the South?

LOOKING SOUTH

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.