Monday, July 21, 2014

Millennium Development Goals and India

Millennium Development Goals and India
The Millennium Declaration, made during the UN Millennium Summit on 8 September  2000,  was  signed  by  189  countries,  including  147  Heads  of  State  and  Government,  and  included eight (8) Goals called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These summarize  the  key  development  goals  embraced  by  the  main  international  conferences  and  world  summits during the 1990s, and are declarations of solidarity and determination of the world  leaders to rid the world of poverty and improve the lot of humanity. MDGs and rela ted targets  and  indicators  provide  a  framework  for  planning  policy  interventions  and  benchmarks  to  monitor progress in human development and poverty reduction.
Eighteen  (18)  targets  were  set  as  quantitative  benchmarks  for  attaining  the  8  MDGs. India’s  MDG  framework  is  as  per  the  UNDG’s  2003  framework for monitoring of the 8 MDGs. Out of the 18 targets, 12 targets (Target 1 to 11 and  Target  18)  are  relevant  to  India.

MDGs and Targets
TARGET 1:  Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the  proportion of  people  whose  income  is  less  than  one  dollar  a  day (Percentage of Population below the National Poverty Line  is  considered for India for statistical tracking)
TARGET 2: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of  people who suffer from hunger
TARGET 3: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys  and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of  primary schooling
TARGET 4 : Eliminate gender disparity in primary and  secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of  education no later than 2015
TARGET 5 : Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015,  the Under- Five Morality Rate
TARGET 6 : Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and  2015, the maternal mortality ratio
TARGET 7 : Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the  spread of HIV/AIDS
TARGET 8: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the  incidence of malaria and other major disease
TARGET 9: Integrate the principal of sustainable development  into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of  environmental resources.
TARGET 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without  sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitatio
TARGET 11 : By 2020, to have achieved a significant  improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers
TARGET 18 : In cooperation with the private sector, make  available the benefits of new technologies, especially  information and communications
MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Target 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the  proportion of people whose income is less than  one dollar a day
Faster decline in poverty…
As per the poverty estimates of 2011-12, India has already achieved the target against the target
Target 2: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
Malnutrition continues to be a major hurdle…
All-India  trend  of  the  proportion  of  underweight  (severe  and  moderate)  children  below  3  years of age  shows India is going slow in eliminating the effect of malnourishment.
MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
Target 3: Ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary education
Universal primary education has already been achieved…
the  country  is  now  well  set  to  achieve  cent  percent  primary  education  for  children  in  the  primary  schooling age of 6-10 years ahead of 2015.
India is likely to attain 100% Youth literacy (Literacy rate of 15-24 year olds) by 2015.
MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005,  and in all levels of education no later than 2015
Gender parity has already achieved in primary education and the disparity in secondary education is set to disappear shortly…
MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality
Target 5: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the Under-five Mortality Rate
Child survival prospect looks up…
Given  to  reduce  U5MR  to  42  per  thousand  live  births  by  2015,  India  tends  to  reach  50  by  2015  as  per  the  historical  trend,  missing  the  target  by  8  percentage  points.  However, considering the sharper decline in the recent years, the target is likely to be met.
As per the historical trend IMR is likely to miss the 2015 target, however, the faster decline in recent years indicates to narrowing the gap between the target and the likely achievement in 2015. As  per  the  historical trend,  India  is  expected  cover  about  89%  children  in  the  age  group  12 -23  months  for  immunisation against measles by 2015 and thus likely to fall short of universal immunisation by  about 11 percentage points.
MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health
Target 6: Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the Maternal Mortality Ratio
Bridge the gaps in ensuring safer motherhood…
At the historical pace of decrease, India tends to reach MMR of 139 per 100,000 live births by 2015, against the target of 109.
With the existing rate of increase in deliveries by skilled personnel, the achievement for 2015 is likely to be 62% only, which is far short of the targeted universal coverage.
MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
Target 7: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
Trend reversal in prevalence of HIV/AIDS continues…
Target 8: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
Sustaining the reversing trends in Prevalence of Malaria and TB is needed…
MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Target  9:  Integrate  the  Principles  of  Sustainable  Development  into  Country  Policies  and  Programmes and Reverse the loss of Environmental Resources
There  is  an  increase  in  forest  cover  by  about  1128  sq.  km between  2007  and  2011.  The network of protected areas in India, presently covers about 5.02 percent of the country’s total land area.
As per Census 2011, 67.4% households are using solid fuels for cooking.
Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the Proportion of People without Sustainable Access to Safe Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation
Earlier achievement of safe drinking water to all…
The  target  of  halving  the  proportion  of  households  without  access  to  safe  drinking  water  sources from its 1990 level to be reached by 2015,   has  already been attained by 2007-08, much before the target timeline. The prevailing trend over  time  suggests  attainability  of  almost  cent  percent  coverage  of  safe  drinking  water  by  2015,  including both rural and urban sectors.
Improved Sanitation facility still eludes half the households…
It  is  expected  that  at  the  historical  rate  of  decline,  India  may  achieve  to  reduce  the  proportion of households without any sanitation, missing the target  by about 5 percentage points.
MDG 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Target 18: In co-operation with the Private Sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially Information and Communication
Overall Teledensity (Number of Telephones per 100 population) shows a slight dip recently, after the substantial progress made in the past…

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and the effects of such changes

Changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and the effects of such changes

"Water is essential to life and is central to society's welfare and to sustainable economic growth. Plants, animals, natural and managed ecosystems, and human settlements are sensitive to variations in the storage, fluxes, and quality of water at the land surface – notably storage in soil moisture and groundwater, snow, and surface water in lakes, wetlands, and reservoirs, and precipitation, runoff, and evaporative fluxes to and from the land surface, respectively. These, in turn, are sensitive to climate change." Source: U.S. Climate Change Science Program, 2008
Human efforts to alter the hydrological cycle date back to ancient times. Prayer, dances, human and animal sacrifices, and other rituals have been tried to bring rain. Cloud seeding is a more scientific, but still uncertain, attempt to induce precipitation. Although it is questionable whether any of these intentional efforts have significantly altered precipitation patterns, the balance of evidence now suggests that humans are influencing the global climate and, thereby, altering the hydrological cycle, however inadvertently.
The most recent scientific assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that, since the late 19th century, anthropogenically induced emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) that trap heat in the atmosphere in the manner of a greenhouse have contributed to an increase in global mean surface air temperatures of about 0.3 to 0.6oC. Moreover, based on the IPCC’s mid-range scenario of future greenhouse gas emissions and aerosols and their best estimate of climate sensitivity, a further increase of 2oC is expected by the year 2100.
The vast majority of the Earth's water resources are salt water, with only 2.5% being fresh water. Approximately 70% of the fresh water available on the planet is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland leaving the remaining 30% (equal to only 0.7% of total water resources worldwide) available for consumption. From this remaining 0.7%, roughly 87% is allocated to agricultural purposes (IPCC 2007).

These statistics are particularly illustrative of the drastic problem of water scarcity facing the world. Water scarcity is defined as per capita supplies less than 1700 m3/year (IPCC 2007).
There are four main factors aggravating water scarcity according to the IPCC:
·         Population growth: in the last century, world population has tripled. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and, although there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water.
·         Increased urbanization will focus on the demand for water among a more concentrated population.
·         High level of consumption: as the world becomes more developed, the amount of domestic water used by each person is expected to rise significantly.
·         Climate change will shrink the resources of freshwater.

The Hydrological Cycle

The hydrological cycle begins with evaporation from the surface of the ocean or land, continues as the atmosphere redistributes the water vapor to locations where it forms clouds, and then returns to the surface as precipitation. The cycle ends when the precipitation is either absorbed into the ground or runs off to the ocean, beginning the process over again.

Key changes to the hydrological cycle (associated with an increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting changes in climate) include:
  • Changes in the seasonal distribution and amount of precipitation.
  • An increase in precipitation intensity under most situations.
  • Changes in the balance between snow and rain.
  • Increased evapotranspiration and a reduction in soil moisture.
  • Changes in vegetation cover resulting from changes in temperature and precipitation.
  • Consequent changes in management of land resources.
  • Accelerated melting glacial ice.
  • Increases in fire risk in many areas.
  • Increased coastal inundation and wetland loss from sea level rise.

·         Effects of CO2 on plant physiology, leading to reduced transpiration and increased water use efficiency.
Climate Change Impact on Water Resources
Water Availability
1.1 Surface Water
Climate change has the potential to substantially alter river flow regimes and thereby surface water availability. Globally there has been a discernible and contrasting change in the pattern of runoff: the regions lying in the higher latitudes have been experiencing an increase, while parts of west Africa, southern Europe, and southern Latin America have had a decrease.
1.2 Groundwater
Groundwater is an important source of water in many parts of the world, and for centuries it has been considered a reliable source of water supply for the human society. However, the overexploitation of this resource has cast serious aspersions on its sustainable use especially because a majority of the groundwater resources are non-renewable on meaningful time scales. Climate change effects- reduced precipitation and increased evapotranspiration- will reduce recharge and possibly increase groundwater withdrawal rates. More importantly because of variations in the volume of snowmelt and distribution of rainfall, the timing of recharge will be affected: typically with a shift in seasonal mean and annual groundwater levels. The FAO (2011) describes some obvious climate-related impacts in general terms, listed hereafter:
·         If flooding increases, aquifer recharge will increase, except in continental outcrop areas.
·         If drought frequency, duration and severity increase, the cycle time will lengthen and abstraction will require better balance, with less in sequences of wet years and more in dry years.
·         If snowmelt increases, aquifer recharge rates should increase, but this is dependent on permafrost behavior and recharge patterns, which largely remains unknown.
2. Sea-Level Rise
Increase in sea-level has serious implications for both human security (increased flood-risks, degraded groundwater quality, etc.) and ecosystems (impact on mangrove forests and coral reefs, etc.), especially so in coastal regions. Coastal cities in developing regions are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise because of high population densities and often inadequate urban planning and the added burden due to urban migration.
There has always been a steady increase in the global sea-level, but because of accelerated glacier melting in Greenland and the Antarctic, the rise has been quite rapid in the last decade and is projected to rise at a greater rate in the twenty-first century.
The World Bank (2013) reports that as much as 100 cm sea-level rise may occur if emission increases continue and raise the global average temperature to 4C by 2100 and higher levels thereafter.
3. Floods and Droughts
Floods and droughts cause significant damages every year and are responsible for a large fraction of water-related disasters. While droughts are a creeping disaster, in which the effects are felt over a longer duration of time, flooding phenomenon is usually more rapid in nature especially in urban areas because of the imperious nature of the ground surface. The IPCC (2012) projects that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will increase in the twenty-first century over many areas of the globe. The increase will be more intense in the high latitudes and tropical regions and in winter in the northern midlatitudes. Additionally the maximum daily temperatures are projected to increase globally, while extremes in low temperatures will reduce.
3.1 Floods
Although the risk of flooding is a global concern, coastal and deltaic regions are particularly vulnerable because of the high numbers of exposed people. Climatic change exacerbates the risk of flooding through extreme precipitation events, higher peak river flows, accelerated glacial melt, increased intensity of the most extreme tropical cyclones, and sea-level rise. These changes are already being experienced in many parts of the world today and are expected to further increase the frequency and magnitude of flood events in the future. Among the flooding events, there are wide range of flooding events that can be influenced by climate change, which include flash floods, inland river floods, extreme precipitation causing landslides, and coastal river flooding, combined with the effects of sea-level rise and storm surge-induced coastal flooding.
In addition to floods and landslides, the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet are projected to be exposed to an increasing risk of glacial lake outbursts.
3.2 Droughts
Drought is multifaceted and is broadly categorized into three major types. A meteorological drought is defined by a prolonged period of low or insufficient precipitation, an agricultural drought is defined by soil moisture deficit, and a hydrological drought is characterized by flow reductions in rivers, and from reservoirs, with reduced groundwater levels. A fourth type, socioeconomic drought, is also sometimes considered especially in policy development and associates the supply and demand of economic goods with elements of meteorological, hydrological and agricultural drought. Socioeconomic drought occurs when the demand for any economic good is not met because of shortage of water caused by elements of weather.
Hegerl et al. (2007) point out to the strong possibility that anthropogenic activities have contributed to the increase in the droughts observed towards the end of the twentieth century. Global trends of drought correspond well with trends of precipitation and temperature, which are consistent with expected responses to anthropogenic forcing.
Water Quality
1.       Surface Water Quality
Changes in surface water quality have implications on human and ecological health. While groundwater is relatively free of organic and other contamination, surface water is more prone to pollution. The IPCC (2007) suggests that two main drivers of climate change- higher water temperature and variations in runoff- are likely to produce adverse changes in water quality affecting human health, ecosystems, and water use. Higher surface water temperatures will promote algal blooms and increase microbial content, while more intense rainfall will lead to an increase in suspended solids (turbidity) in lakes and reservoirs due to increased soil erosion and contaminant transport (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, and organics). These effects will especially be a source of major concern in water bodies where water levels are expected to reduce.
2.      Groundwater Quality
Climate change, coupled with anthropogenic influence, will impact groundwater quality through the influence of recharge, discharge, and land use on groundwater systems. The coastal regions, in particular, are vulnerable to degraded groundwater quality due to climate change impacts, which affect recharge (sea-level rise, changes in precipitation patterns and timings, and evapotranspiration), and increased groundwater pumping, which will result in aggravated salinity intrusion in many coastal regions. Decreased groundwater levels caused due to reduced recharge of groundwater may lead to an increased rate of pumping to meet demands. This is more likely to further degrade groundwater quality by disturbing the balance of the freashwater/saline water boundary, resulting in saline water intrusion in not only coastal basins but inland aquifers as well. Nutrient transport rates, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), beneath agricultural lands may also be sensitive to climate change.
Introduction to glaciers and ice caps
Glaciers  and  ice  caps  are  among  the  most  fascinating elements  of  nature,  an  important  freshwater  resource but  also  a  potential  cause  of  serious  natural  hazards. Because they are close to the melting point and react strongly to climate change, glaciers are important indicators of global climate.
Glaciers and ice caps form around the world where snow deposited during the cold/humid season does not entirely melt during warm/dry times. This seasonal snow  gradually  becomes  denser  and  transforms  into  perennial firn (rounded, well-bonded snow that is older than  one year) and finally, after the air passages connecting  the  grains  are  closed  off,  into  ice.  The  ice  from  such  accumulation  areas  then  flows  under  the  influence  of  its own weight and the local slopes down to lower altitudes, where it melts again (ablation areas). Accumulation and ablation areas are separated by an equilibrium line, where the balance between gain and loss in the ice mass is exactly zero.
Glaciers, landscapes and the water cycle
Glaciers are among the best natural indicators of climate change. Their  development  can  be  observed  by  everybody  –  and  the  physical process, the melting of ice under the influence  of warmer temperatures, can intuitively be understood.  The impacts of accelerated atmospheric warming are thus changing the public perception of glaciers: they are increasingly recognized as a warning signal for the state of the climate system.
Continued  atmospheric  warming  will  inevitably  lead  to the deglaciation of many currently glacierized landscapes,  especially  in  low-latitude  mountain  chains.  In many places, lakes have already started to form. Such lakes may replace some of the lost landscape attractiveness, but their beauty may come at a dangerous price.  On slopes, vegetation and soils take decades and even centuries or sometimes millennia to follow the retreating ice and cover the newly exposed terrain. As a consequence, the zones of bare rock and loose debris will expand. Vegetation (especially forests) and ice both have a stabilizing effect on steeply inclined surfaces. During the expected long  transitional  period  between  glacier  vanishing  and  forest immigration, erosion (including large debris  flows) and instability (including large rock falls and  landslides) on slopes unprotected by ice or forest will  increase substantially. 
The  perennial  ice  of  glaciers  is  an  important  part  of  the  water  cycle  in  cold  regions.  It  represents  a  storage  component  with  strong  effects  on  river  discharge  and  fresh  water  supply.  Such effects indeed make high mountain chains ‘water towers’ for many large areas and human habitats. Climatic change will lead to pronounced changes in this system.  At  time  scales  of  tens  and  hundreds  of  millennia, the growth and decay of continental ice  sheets, large ice caps and glaciers during periodical  ice ages profoundly affect the global water cycle.  Within  annual  cycles  of  temperature  and  precipitation,  glacial  meltwater  feeds  rivers  during  the  warm/dry season. In the Andes of Peru, the Argentinean Pampas or the Ganzhou Corridor of China,  this  contribution  to  river  flow  is  the  predominant  source  of  freshwater  for  large  regions  surrounding  the  corresponding  mountain  areas.  Meltwater from glacierized mountain chains with rugged topography is also intensively used for hydropower generation.
The shrinking and even vanishing of mountain glaciers  in  scenarios  of  atmospheric  temperature  rise  is  likely  to  cause  both  small  and  large  meltwater  streams to dry out during hot and dry summers. This drying out may become more frequent at mid-latitudes, where human populations are often dense and the need for fresh water is growing. Earlier snowmelt  and  perhaps  also  reduced  snow  cover  from  wintertime could result in severe consequences for both ecosystems and related human needs: decreasing river  flow, warmer water temperatures, critical conditions  for fish and other aquatic forms of life, lower groundwater levels, less soil humidity, drier vegetation, more  frequent forest fires, stronger needs for irrigation water, and rising demands for energy (such as air conditioning) coupled with reduced hydropower generation  and less river cooling for nuclear power plants. These consequences are all likely to be interconnected and related to growing conflicts of interest.
Perhaps the most critical regions will be those where large populations depend on water from glaciers during the dry season, such as in China and other parts of Asia, including India, together forming the Himalaya-Hindu Kush region, or in the South American Andes. But it will also affect mountain ranges which are densely populated and highly developed, such as the European Alps and the regions in the vicinity of its rivers. Glacier changes, as important  and pronounced parts of climate-induced changes in  mountain landscapes, are not only the clearest indication of climate change – they also have the potential  of having a strong impact on the seasonal availability  of  fresh  water  for  large,  densely  populated  regions  and, hence, on the fundamental basis of ecosystem  stability and economic development.

Climate Change and Water Resources: Edited by Dr. Sangam Srestha, Prof. Mukand S. Babel, Dr. Vishnu Prasad Pandey