By the River (2017 | Issue 4)

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Dr. Martin Ney

For many people, water simply flows from a tap and there’s nothing more to it. Where that water comes from and how is of little concern. But water is critical to our survival. It enables the world—and us humans—to function. The earliest civilisations developed along rivers. Their history was shaped by rivers. Their economy was driven by rivers. And their culture thrived by rivers.

It’s quite clear: we are because rivers are. The fact that rivers around the world are in a state of crisis is cause for great alarm! These life-giving ecosystems are becoming either polluted or depleted. Water scarcity is a lived reality; it is no longer a dire prediction on paper. And something needs to be done immediately. One needs to act now and continue to keep at it, for river rejuvenation is not an overnight task.

Great work has already been done to improve the state of rivers in some countries. In Germany, we cleaned the highly polluted Rhine River, and today you can swim in it! Even the salmon have returned to some stretches of the river! In India, the River Ganga is venerated as a mother; while in my country the Rhine is referred to as “Father Rhine”. As one of India’s largest development partners, Germany is pleased to contribute to the Indian government’s “Namami Gange Programme”. The ultimate goal is to bring “Mother Ganga” back to its pristine glory. Sure, it will take time and work, but we are committed to this noble cause. After all, rivers are our lifeline. And we must do all we can to save them. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations.

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