Water Man of India champions local knowledge and community action

Feb 05, 2016

Respect, love and affection for water are key ingredients to building thriving communities, said 2015 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate Rajendra Singh when he drew crowds to a Kapuscinski Development Lecture in Stockholm this week.

On 3 February 2016 Shri Rajendra Singh, the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, returned to Stockholm for a series of lectures on water and development, sharing his knowledge and experience working with communities in rural India on water cooperation and river restoration.

He spoke about water cooperation and restoring rivers in rural India at a Water Dialogue seminar at SIWI, sharing with the audience how he and his organization have been able to revive several rivers and bringing back water, and life to thousands of villages in the area.

Later that day, Mr Singh was interviewed by Guardian environmental journalist, Karl Mathiesen at a Kapuscinski Development Lecture, Life without water: What happens when the glass is empty? at Stockholm University. An audience of students and representatives of local NGOs, Rajendra talked about his work in India and the need for support of grassroots activism and community action.

“Today we need a new water literacy. Not just reading and teaching about water problems, but the realization of the importance of water to life”, said Rajendra. He then explained that after realization comes action, and from that, we can create an atmosphere of water management.

SIWI’s Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren spoke about the global water crises, highlighting the recent World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Risk Report’ that identified water crises as the top risk for the next decade. Stockholm University post-doctoral researcher, Fernando Jaramillo also spoke about his recent study that raised the global human freshwater footprint to a higher level than was previously thought.

A panel consisting of Mr Singh, Dr Jaramillo, Dr Ana Gren from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and SIWI’s Executive Director Mr Torgny Holmgren then discussed the relationship between local level work and international agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the climate agreement.

The series Kapuscinski Development Lectures is organized jointly by the European Commission, the United Nations Development Programme and partner universities and development think-tanks.

Below you can watch the full interview.

Photo credit: Niklas Björling (photo taken at the Kapuscinski Development Lecture in Stockholm 3 February 2016)