A Professor of Agriculture Engineering, Joshua Danso Owusu-Sekyere, has predicted that there is going to be a fierce competition among nations for freshwater if steps are not taken to manage water resources in the world.
The next World War could be fought over water if measures are not taken to address the misuse of water resources; Ghana should “get its acts in order” he warned.
Prof. Owusu-Sekyere made this prediction when he delivered his inaugural lecture titled “In the abundance of Water, the Food is Thirsty”.
The Amount of Freshwater is Diminishing Globally
Prof. Owusu-Sekyere noted that “Though the globe abounds in water resources, the amount of fresh water available to man is finite and rapidly diminishing both in quality and quantity” he noted. On the importance of water, Prof. Owusu Sekyere said “Water has been described as the most strategic resource on the globe. It is essential for every society and individual, is critical for world economic development, for social welfare, and is home to a great many forms of life upon which the well-being of all human beings depend”
Prof. Owusu-Sekyere noted that the country was well-endowed with significant freshwater resources as compared to current uses and demands in the foreseeable future. However, he said that the amount of water available changes markedly from season to season as well as from year to year. He further indicated that the distribution within the country was not uniform, with the south-western part being better watered than the coastal and northern regions.
Pressure on Water Resources
The former Vice Dean of the School of Agriculture observed that the demand on the number of water resources was now becoming a major concern due to the ever‑expanding population, intensification of agricultural and industrial activities. He pointed out that human activities, especially illegal mining known as “Galamsey” was a major contributor to poor water quality in most rivers in the country.
Agriculture is the Largest Consumer of Fresh Water
Prof. Owusu-Sekyere indicated that Agriculture was the largest consumer of fresh water and accounts for “70% of freshwater withdrawals – up to 90% and more in some developing countries”. He said for instance “Rice and wheat use more water than all other crops put together. Rice , n particular, uses about 40% of all irrigation water worldwide”. He called for the adoption of techniques that use less water for irrigation and environmentally friendly without unduly affecting yield.
In his recommendation, Prof. Owusu-Sekyere called on the government to invest to improve water management and infrastructure and a national drive to develop Rain Water harvesting systems. He recommended the prosecution of individuals whose activities pollute water bodies and further advocated that water use policies have to be publicised and enforced in the country to preserve freshwater for the future generation.