Many, if not most, advertisements badger consumers into buying the products they are promoting. Even public service announcements (PSA) sponsored by consumer product manufacturers deliver a not-so-subtle message that consumers should patronize them because they are doing something good.
On the other hand, toothpaste manufacturer Colgate has launched a refined approach by relating its product with a vital issue—running a PSA on cable television on water conservation. It reminds people that the simple act of brushing teeth, if the tap is left running, can waste 10 liters of water, “more than what many people (including Filipinos) have in a month.”
Similarly, letting the shower run while you lather up wastes liters of water.
The viewer sees Colgate very briefly, just long enough to know that it sponsored the PSA.
The reminder about conserving water is very timely and urgent as the Philippines enters the dry season. In many parts of the country, piped water is still a dream, and even those that have the infrastructure for it have intermittent supplies.
United Nations organizations have warned, long before the general public became aware of climate change, that water is not an infinite natural resource, and may be gone not just because of population growth, but due to wastage and overuse. Experts have even warned that wars can erupt over access to water.
By now, Filipinos should know that lack of water is a scary possibility. Last year’s El Niño showed the effects of water shortage, as households, farms and factories scrambled to get enough for their individual needs.
La Niña, while bringing so much rain, is of little help for people who do not know or do not have the resources and facilities to harvest rain water and store it properly.
As the population continues to rise, along with government inaction on reproductive health care and inadequate family planning services, the demand for water will keep increasing while supply gets depleted.
Scarcity in 2040
Esha Dey, on his Tipping Point blog for VICE News, and using data from the nonprofit World Resources Institute (WRI), reported: “Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mongolia, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Peru, Chile and several North African countries are also at high risk for severe water scarcity by 2040.”
WRI’s Paul Reig, Andrew Maddocks and Francis Gassert, in their report, “36 Most Water-Stressed Countries,” listed some quantity risk indicators for all countries and major river basins worldwide. Filipinos will find that some, if not all, indicators are relevant to the Philippines:
Baseline water stress— The ratio of total annual water withdrawals to total available annual renewable supply;
Inter-annual variability— The variation in water supply between years;
Seasonal variability—The variation in water supply between months of the year;
Flood occurrence—The number of floods recorded from 1985 to 2011;
Drought severity—The average length of droughts multiplied by the dryness of the droughts from 1901 to 2008.
SMC to save water
Some good news amid the gloomy scenario is the announcement of corporate giant San Miguel Corporation (SMC) that it will halve by 2025 its operational water use across its businesses, which include food, fuel and aviation.
The conglomerate said it would use a variety of measures to reach its goal, such as water recycling, conservation and rainwater harvesting.
SMC, which made the announcement during the recent World Water Day, said it would also educate its employees, business partners and its host communities on water stewardship.
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