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Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Muhammad Saidam's Public Lecture

Date: 1 February 2010

Time: 5.15pm

Venue: Hatfield College

Title: Living with Water Scarcity

Coping with water under conditions of scarcity is discussed with a multi-dimensional perspective. Water scarcity is defined here as the stage where demand by various consuming sectors can't be satisfactorily met in terms of quantity and quality. Although water scarcity is mainly caused by lack of rainfall, nonetheless, it is exacerbated by population growth (natural or otherwise), and by economic development. Being the essence of life and development, water intervenes with every aspect of life and thus any one dimensional treatment will not do it justice. The right approach therefore is a multi-sectoral one in which water availability or scarcity can be assessed for positive or negative impact. Water affects all socio-economic aspects of our lives and environment. There are various options available for the different sectors to contend with water scarcity. These options are discussed on the household, community and country levels to highlight the shared responsibility concept in this connection. Real-life experiences will be presented on how water scarcity is being managed at the family level through conservation and reclamation. How a water scarce country struggles to bridge the water gap and how water should be a tool of peace rather than being a cause of dispute at the local and regional levels will also be discussed. The lecture will also underline the importance of the availability and accessibility of reliable water data in making knowledge-based decisions for water management and the right of water consumers to access pertinent data.