While it’s something we might take for granted, in developing countries, environmental protection is a luxury not available to the majority of the population.
This is because such protection is preceded by the need for economic development, which allows for trade and industry – and importantly, the fighting of disease and hunger. Side by side with economic development, there is social development, improving literacy and education and then the establishment and protection of human rights.
Only then does a country focus on the first stage of environment protection – sanitation – the collection and treatment of sewage. Next comes the addressing of health issues with activities such as reducing child mortality. Improving food standards with consumer health in mind is the second stage of environmental protection.
For transitioning countries, protecting the environment is a very low priority. And it would appear much of the world still has a long way to go before can seriously consider environmental protection as an important need.
Given the above, is there anything we water professionals can do? The answer is yes.
First, we need to design systems that cost less to build and operate for every stage of economic development for less-developed nations.
Second, we need to do it with a level of urgency.
Third, we need to pull back on investing time and money in achieving fractional improvements to a developed nation’s water systems and spend the money designing systems that developing nations can afford.
Adrian Minshull is a Director of the Hydroflux Group, a team of water and wastewater treatment experts. More information about Hydroflux can be found at www.hydroflux.com.au.