Water for life

Leonardo’s Project

on-line bioethical journal

presidente onorario

ing. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid
Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation of the Arab Republic of Egypt

direttore scientifico

prof. Atef Amdy

MAHAMOUD ABU-ZEID

past Chairman Interim Board of Governors World Water Council

Presidente onorario World Water Day

Iniziative italiane di celebrazione

Signore e signori, ho l’onore ed il piacere di celebrare qui a Napoli con voi la giornata mondiale dell’acqua che si inserisce in un programma molto ambizioso promosso dalla prof.ssa Titty Pignatelli Palladino.
Ricordo che due anni fa, in qualità di presidente dell’IWRA, insieme a tanti colleghi delle associazioni internazionali impegnate nel settore dell’acqua, abbiamo chiesto alle Nazioni Unite di designare il 22 marzo come la Giornata Mondiale dell’Acqua. Sono sicuro che questo riconoscimento susciterà fra la gente, i gruppi, le associazioni una grande consapevolezza ed interesse a promuovere programmi volti ad una migliore utilizzazione delle risorse idriche disponibili ed a lavorare per un nobile obiettivo: “L’acqua per tutti”.
Le conoscenze dell’umanità sono cresciute enormemente nell’ultimo secolo. In particolare il campo in cui si sono avuti grandi avanzamenti è quello che riguarda i sistemi ed i mezzi per gestire le nostre risorse idriche sia dal punto di vista della domanda che dell’offerta, entrambi i termini dell’equazione. La domanda di acqua aumenta costantemente ed è destinata ad aumentare mentre l’offerta non soltanto è fissa nelle migliori condizioni, ma la sua disponibilità naturale è alla mercé della natura su cui non possiamo esercitare alcun controllo. Due sono le cose illimitate: il numero di generazioni di fronte alle quali ci dobbiamo sentire responsabili e la nostra creatività.
La prima ci mette di fronte ad una sfida: assicurare l’approvvigionamento alimentare e provvedere non soltanto alle generazioni presenti ma a quelle future contando sulle disponibilità finite delle risorse naturali della terra. La seconda, la nostra creatività, può inventare idee e politiche che possono contribuire a farci vincere questa sfida. La nostra responsabilità di fronte a tutte le generazioni si estende soprattutto a quelle che ora vivono in condizioni di miseria in tutti i continenti. Nel presente e nel futuro, la nostra responsabilità non si dovrà limitare ad assicurare l’approvvigionamento alimentare, ma anche a mantenere l’ambiente pulito. Oggi ci troviamo ad affrontare problemi dell’acqua che nessuna delle generazioni precedenti ha dovuto affrontare.
L’acqua è scarsa per chi vive oggi in molte parti del mondo e diventerà ancora più scarsa nella misura in cui altre 600 milioni di persone verranno al mondo prima della fine del secolo. Il conflitto fra la nostra dipendenza vitale dall’acqua e la pressione crescente che esiste sulle risorse idriche è evidente a tutti noi. Proiettandoci nel 21° secolo, ci troviamo di fronte a varie sfide.
La più importante di queste è sicuramente quella di come provvedere ai bisogni alimentari, potabili, domestici e sanitari di dieci, dodici o quindici miliardi di persone, quando non siamo stati in grado di farlo in un mondo di cinque miliardi di persone. Ad aggravare queste difficoltà c’è poi un problema di proporzioni incerte ma potenzialmente enormi: l’alterazione dell’atmosfera terrestre, la distruzione dello strato di ozono ed i cambiamenti climatici del nostro pianeta.
Dobbiamo intervenire per creare, o forse ricreare, uno stato di equilibrio privilegiato, sia che questo concetto sia proiettato in una visione del futuro o riecheggi una nostalgica idea del passato. La natura però è dinamica. La distruzione della natura da parte della natura stessa può raggiungere proporzioni maggiori di quanto si possa immaginare. Le alluvioni e le eruzioni vulcaniche con le loro tragiche conseguenze sull’atmosfera sono degli esempi significativi. Abbiamo davanti a noi vari casi in cui, guidati dall’idea di ristabilire e risanare la natura, abbiamo in realtà alterato gli equilibri in maniera così irreversibile da rendere necessaria l’innovazione. Oggi, infatti, stiamo coscientemente manipolando la biologia per economizzare acqua laddove prima si utilizzavano opere.
Il futuro non è più quello che si pensava che fosse, né quello che sarebbe potuto essere se gli esseri umani avessero utilizzato in maniera più efficiente la loro intelligenza e le loro possibilità. Ma il futuro può ancora divenire quello che con razionalità e realismo vogliamo che sia.
MAHAMOUD ABU-ZEID Chairman Interim Board of Governors World Water
Council NAZEK DARWISH Vice Rettore dell’Università di Ain-Shams Cairo Bari Mediterranean Agronomic Institute

Women & Water (23 Marzo 1995)
Ladies, Gentlemen, I am honoured to take part in the celebration of Bari Institute for the World Water Day and I would like to thank CREAS and in particular Mrs. Palladino for inviting me here . I am also pleased to see how active the non governamental organizations in Italy, especially in issues of sustainable development like water and the environment. To-day I would like to brief you in few minutes on the role of women in the water sector in developing countries with some reference to Egypt. With water resources becoming more scarcer and soils becoming less fertile the traditional role of women become h arder. Water, whether from rivers, ground water or lakes is both an essential and limited resource. Water issues should not be examined outside their ecological and economic contexts, and women, as primary users of house-hold water, and as farmers, should be involved in diagnosing what is essential in protecting and sustaining water resources.
The shortage of trained female water managers and water researchers hampers addressing important local, physical and social dimensions of water management. Targeting projects to benefit women has been an important focus, both for reducing poverty and for protecting the environment. Good natural resource management is particularly important for rural women. In the majority of the world’s households, it is the woman who generally control and manage the use of water. They determine its use in preparing food, washing clothes and in keeping the family and the household clean. It is women who traditionally collect and carry home the water in many places in the developing countries. The recognition of the crucial role that women play in water management at the household level has recently led to projects such as those in Kenya and Bangladesh.
The projects were to install a system for hand pumps. Early problems prompted the organizers to bring in a local NGO specializing in developing self-help water system and focusing on women’s participation. Both men and women were trained for the appropriate maintenance and repars and had an increased respect for, and acceptance of, women in public decision making. After 2 to 4 years from starting the projects, there was a noticeable deadline in diarrhea, skin diseases and other diseases. Women in many developing countries are becoming more involved and even solely responsible for some farming aactivities, as for example in Sub-Saharan African as men migrate to urban jobs. An increasing number of foreign supported funds in developing countries have women in development (WID) components; and about 1/3 of the world bank projects in fiscal year 1994 included genderrelated activities. In new agriculture program in Northern Africa female extension workers will be based at each extension and development center to help integrated women into all levels and each aspect of the projects extension activites.
Agenda 21, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and development in 1992, places particular emphasis on the role of women in sustainable development. The several consultations that took place after the Rio Summit identified the gender issues in ecosystem management in each of five ecosystems: coastal and wetland areas; rivers, groundwater and lakes; mountains; temperate and tropical forests; and arid and semi-arid lands. Although women have different roles to play in each of these ecosystems, the general requirements for women to be effective managers of environmental and natural resources were identified regardless of the ecosystem involved. The water-scarce, generally harsh conditions, of arid and semi-arid lands necessitate nomadic life styles. Women are often left behind as men travel with their livestock. The often prolonged absence of men is an important rationale for integrating women in all endeavors related to rain-fed agriculture, crop irrigation, and marketing schemes.
For many womenn living in rural areas, there were not enough hours to the day. Studies in Sierra Leone suggest that many women work as much as 18 hours a day, of which a large part is connected in some way with water. One of the specific complaints of the women in those studies was that life is getting harder as nearby water sources become more polluted.

Dear Abu-Zeid
Yours I invite has for me the fascination of a challenge to the utopy, in this moment oftherefore serious uncertainty, in these times of great divisions of people in ananachronistic ethnic and nationalistic scansion that upsets my lyric blood. Your universal provocazione, launch from a living frame, the NILO, me power of attorney a nearly Biblical emotion, and that pushes to offer a my engagement to me in order tocatch up your objective: the reconstructive action of the consciences and the search ofcollaboration strategies. Nil 2002, thanks to your sensibility, will not be limited tobecome a laboratory of gelosa scientific oligarchy of its knowledge, but also a atelierhumanistic able, through the art, to motivate the ability to think.
Your absolute strategywants to guide to the creativity not only the world of the adults, but also that one of thechildren, this means that your spirit has touched the borders of the genius, and that your efforts will not remain sterile words sponsored from mark multinationals. Which it is the reason for which one what trapassa not to be to the being, does notimport – Platone wrote ago years – every time has place one poetica creation. If thecreative engagement of science and the technology, from Nile 2002, will offer cues forgiving answers fundamental to the human needs or to guarantee the physical survivalof the individuals, the images of the Nile, tied to the creativity child, are equally importantbecause irripetibili expression of feeling and emotionalities, able to acquit to a highest historical and social function.
Those images of the Nile have sped up my interest and they have launch, mine through, I invite to the STATE FORESTRY CORPS, triggering a chain reaction that has found artists, poets, writers, students, all available ones to an ideological gemellaggio, in order to fight with against the disvalori, for the poetico awakening of an overwhelmed world from the spasmodic search of the immediate profit. My immediate profit, beloved ABU ZIED, are to catch up that that you already possess, the wisdom of the genius, and I will make it seeding roots of ulivo in viscere of yourearth; I will give my ideas, my dreams, that they will penetrate in the sand consolidating the plurimillenario relationship that alloy ancient Egypt to the Italian culture. And lì, beside those roots, mine and your God they will be knelt down and from the bewitched echo of an only prayer, cascades of poetry shall water the desert.
Titty Palladino.

Caro Abi-Zeid
Il tuo invito ha per me il fascino di una sfida all’utopia, in questo momento di così grave incertezza , in questi tempi di grandi divisioni di popoli in una anacronistica scansione etnica e nazionalistica che sconvolge il mio sangue lirico. La tua provocazione universale , lanciata da una cornice vivente, il NILO, mi procura un’emozione quasi biblica, e ciò mi spinge ad offrire un mio impegno per raggiungere il tuo obiettivo: l’azione ricostruttiva delle coscienze e la ricerca di strategie di collaborazione. Nil 2002 , grazie alla tua sensibilità, non si limiterà a diventare un laboratorio di oligarchia scientifica gelosa del suo sapere, ma anche un atelier umanistico capace, attraverso l’arte, di motivare l’abilità di pensare.
La tua strategia assoluta vuole guidare alla creatività non solo il mondo degli adulti, ma anche quello dei fanciulli, questo significa che la tua anima ha toccato i confini del genio, e che i tuoi sforzi non rimarranno sterili parole sponsorizzate da marchi multinazionali. Quale sia la ragione per cui una cosa trapassa dal non essere all’essere, non importa – scriveva Platone anni addietro – ogni volta ha luogo una creazione poetica. Se l’impegno creativo della scienza e della tecnologia, dal Nile 2002, offrirà spunti per dare risposte ai bisogni umani fondamentali o a garantire la sopravvivenza fisica degli individui, le immagini del Nilo, legate alla creatività fanciulla, sono altrettanto importanti perché espressione di sentimento ed emotività irripetibili, capace di assolvere ad un’altissima funzione storica e sociale.
Quelle immagini del Nilo hanno sollecitato il mio interesse e sincronicamente hanno lanciato, mio tramite, un invito al CORPO FORESTALE DELLO STATO, scatenando una reazione a catena che ha trovato artisti, poeti, scrittori, studenti, tutti disponibili ad un gemellaggio ideologico, per lottare insieme contro i disvalori, per il risveglio poetico di un mondo oppresso dalla ricerca spasmodica dell’utile immediato. Il mio utile immediato, caro ABU ZIED, è di raggiungere ciò che tu già possiedi, la saggezza del genio, e lo farò seminando radici d’ulivo nelle viscere della tua terra; regalerò le mie idee, i miei sogni, che penetreranno nella sabbia consolidando il rapporto plurimillenario che lega l’antico Egitto alla cultura italiana . E lì, accanto a quelle radici, il mio e il tuo Dio si inginocchieranno e dall’eco incantata di un’unica preghiera , cascate di poesia bagneranno il deserto.
Titty Palladino

prof. Atef Amdy

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GIORNATA MONDIALE DELL’ACQUA

Water resources in arid regions from ideas to action: The case of the Mediterranean


Introduction

Water is a key operant in our life-support systems. Without water, life would not be possible. Neither human kind, nor any eco-system can function without water.

As seen, a water perspective in today’s world is overwhelmed by two fundamental problems: the continuous growing and expanding problems of pollution, on one hand, and the water scarcity, on the other one. Basically, there is nothing of mysterious with either one: both are related to the deep involvement of water in our natural environment, including the life of flora, fauna and humans.

In fact, the two overwhelming problems are both related to water complex functions together with the integrity of the water cycle. These interrelations are reflected in some fundamental casual chains:

  • land use-including land pollution- is transferred into river response which is transferred into coastal water response;
  • water availability is finite. This means that population growth in dry climate regions will be reflected in increasing water stress, followed by the risk of environmental migration and political destabilization.

Today, there is poor and incomplete awareness among policy makers, politicians as well as general public about their genuine dependence on water cycle, the uniqueness of water and its basic functions in the natural environment and society. It is also worth noting that different groups of societal actors (engineers, ecologists, farmers and researchers) tend to differ also in their basic water perceptions. Thus the water perspectives are often quite limited and accordingly tend to hide the involvement of water in many societal planning issues related to land use. Consequences of such neglect is the arising of aggravating livelihood problems, the Mediterranean region is now facing, leaving the public to take the risks.

The most important task is to find solutions for the existing problems and to prevent problems from arising. However, for such uneasy task to be realized we need to get understood the following:

  • we have to realize the complexity of water and get away from our simplistic ways of addressing it. We have, therefore, to learn to work with systems thinking;
  • we have to realize that polluted groundwater cannot be rehabilitated; we will have to live with our polluted aquifers. What we can do is to avoid to pollute them further;
  • we have to realize the difference between high and low latitude conditions in our technical assistance and develop ideas, concepts and approaches to address galloping water scarcity and the particular environmental vulnerability in dry climate conditions;
  • we have to realize not only land use is water-dependent, which is already well-known, but that is also water-impacting (rainfall on all outdoor activities). Therefore, environmental management is the challenge of finding ways to balance water-dependent land use and water use against water-impacting land use and water use on the landscape scale.

Today there is an urgent requirement to devise strategies for the sustainable use of water resources in the region. I am of the view that the improved understanding of the scientific, technologies, economic and institutional factors underlying freshwater management and use is essential in this respect.

In the region, many fruitful conferences, one followed by another, meetings, discussions and national, regional and international consultation process concerning water resources were effectively and successfully held.

The overall problems are clear. Equally clear is that the scope of the effort required to address them may well have to go beyond the application of current conventional thinking. We will need to be bold in thinking through what sort of long-term strategies to recommend, in addition to the application of the best current practice today. The relevance of particular issues and proposed solutions are difficult to address each country’s priority issues and needs. Nevertheless, certain general principles and strategies for water policy and water sector development can be provided. Effective water policies are to be formulated and adopted in the Mediterranean countries according to the prevailing conditions in each, combined with the political will and commitment, suitable institutional frameworks, and the capacity to make them work.

The Mediterranean countries are currently experiencing rapid demographic, social, cultural, economic and ecological changes. Where will these changes lead? What will be the future of these countries? What are the actions should they care, individually and collectively to face up their growing difficulties? and what are the guiding principles for the implementation of those actions?