COMMENTARY

Drought? What A Wonderful Opportunity!

We are susceptible to think of opportunities not so clearly labeled as problems, instead of clearly labeled problems as exciting opportunities.    With this mindset, in the midst of plenty, there is famine, drought, and flood are our reactions to our unpreparedness to see beyond our nose.

With some alarm, we again express the need for emergency measures to hydrate one area or another as if this emergency response of trucking water at great expenses acquit the policymakers of ineptitude and dereliction of duty. On the contrary, an island famous for wood and water contending with drought is an indictment of those charged with management of the water resources. However, blame aside, solutions are impatient of debate which cannot quench thirst or allow crops to be confidently sold in a futures market. Water harvesting from roofs to ground to roofs via tanks, pipe, and pumps will allow water which would have gone to waste to be utilized with much efficiency.

The capacity of our dams and reservoirs are severely restricted by silt. So let’s desilt them by monetizing the silt. Form a public traded company with tradeable shares backed by competent management with the government becoming a reducing shareholder in say, three years. The business of this company? To mobilize capital, talent and achieve engineering results in water storage solutions independent of the National Water Commission. Politicians have put their hands on all our institutions, meaning well of course, but invariably burdening their focus with bad governance and then the ultimate, demise. Every private company, even if the government helps with birthing it, must be armed to succeed against the culture that only knows how to “scratch one another’s back”.

The farmers are waiting for that rich pay dirt, so are road construction companies, gardeners, and florists. There are dividends to be had from desilting our dams beyond increasing their capacities for storage, boating, and inland fishing.

We can see drought as the lack of expected or the usual rainfall. That is a paralyzing view. It is far better to understand drought as opportunities to make greenhouses where the irrigation can be delivered with precision, fertilizer runoffs can be cauterized, reliability can be engineered, and markets assured of quality and quantity. In short, the Achilles heel of our ” bag o’ mouth” culture can be led not so much by example but by discipline and fidelity to processes. The spinoff of this is that with integrity restored to be more than lip service, cooperatives where people pool money and ideas will find a valued and appreciative space in the marketplace.

Lamenting about our problems and reaching for trucking solutions which invariably favor party supporters with the attendant kickbacks to party coffers is a predictable failure. So even as we confront water shortages which were never in abundance in the land of wood and water, we can do the usual and get the same, or reach for canals to lead water to farms, enter into arrangements based on water security and secure markets which can sustain and revitalize communities.

What we have lost as a country can be rationalized as due to our inability to manage our economic affairs, water management included. However, what has torn us asunder and retarded us is our loss of communities. Water harvesting is the first step in reconnecting us to ourselves and to our possibilities. Drought? What a wonderful opportunity.

Peter Peterkin Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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