‘Rivers drying would have devastating effects’


If rivers get dried, there would be destructive consequences for human being and environment, as they support biodiversity and ecosystem, according to an official from a river organization.

“Rivers support biodiversity and ecosystems, provide water for drinking and agriculture, and lastly have played an integral role in the shaping of human history, culture and society,” Carla Littlejohn, general manager of the International River Foundation (IRF), told Anadolu Agency.

Speaking on the occasion of the World Rivers Day, which is annually celebrated on the fourth Sunday of September, Littlejohn said that water is vital for life and people need healthy rivers as well as lakes and wetlands for sustainable world.

“Rivers drying would have devastating effects for people and the environment, including reduced access to drinking water, absence of water for agriculture, loss of river transportation corridors, loss of aquatic habitat for fish and other organisms among others,” she stressed.

Like wetlands and lakes, Littlejohn said, rivers “are the planet’s circulatory system”.

Touching on the threats that rivers face, she highlighted that rivers, as a water resource, are at risk due to the climate change-related extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and storms.

“With increasing global populations and threats such as industrialization and climate change, we need to take a whole of system approach to managing our water resources,” she said, adding that rivers, waterways should become resilient.

“We need to work together to ensure that there are adequate water supplies to sustain our future society and environment,” she said, adding that water security also make contribution to the fall of poverty.

Mentioning the works of IRF, which is also a key partner of World Rivers Day, Littlejohn said that they construct leadership and strong networks for the protection, sustainable management and resilience of the world’s rivers.

Pollution is silent, pervasive threat

“Pollution from poorly managed sanitation, agriculture and industry is a pervasive, silent threat [to rivers] that we have yet to get to grip with,” said Emily Pritchard, official from a U.K.-based non-profit organization, WaterAid.

Mentioning the importance of water quality which is emerging as the new aspect in efforts to overcome water security, Pritchard said that comparing other water problems, pollution issue receives far less attention and so awareness on its impacts on health and protecting water resources such as rivers should be increased further.

Citing the UNICEF and WHO’s report that released in June, 2019, she indicated: “1.4 billion people have access to a basic water service […] 435 million people used an unimproved water service. This means they get their drinking water from an unprotected dug well or unprotected spring.”

She went on to say that some 785 million people still do not have access to a basic water service around the world.

Since its beginning in 2005, World Rivers Day highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and hopefully encourage the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.
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