"The third world war is at our gate, and it will be about water, if we don't do something about this crisis" of dwindling global water supplies, says Rajendra Singh, last year's recipient of "the Nobel Prize for water" for his water restoration efforts in rural India, per the BBC. In an interview with Policy Innovations, per Quartz, Singh says water scarcity is already forcing people to flee parts of the Middle East and Africa. "After forced migration comes tension, conflict, and terrorism," he says. "If we want a safe future, we need to start conserving water." That's something Singh knows a thing or two about. By using check dams and other barriers in the district of Rajasthan, Singh has helped transform an arid, semi-desert area into one with enough food and water for each resident.
The dams help water reach aquifers before it can be evaporated. "When moisture enters the soil, greenery comes up. And that greenery takes carbon from the atmosphere, puts carbon in the soil, reduces temperatures by 1-2 degrees," Singh says. "Now in my region we have no floods, no droughts." Singh adds the water conservation efforts are all community-funded: a "river parliament" makes decisions regarding water allocations with a preference for poor farmers who own the driest land. Elsewhere, corporations are "making the rules," forcing people to pay for water, Singh says. But "sustainable community-led water management has existed for thousands of years without anyone putting a price on water. So why do we need it today?" Click for the full interview. (Read more water stories.)