What is the importance of World Water Day in your opinion?
Ms. Savira and Ms. Tawardi indicate that water is a very important factor in the interior. Therefore, this day is very important to them. They indicate “that the rainfall pattern in recent years has changed. Years ago, we had a lot of rain and less sun, now it rains less, and we have more sun. We do have access to clean water every day, but some people do not. These people usually live further from the river, making them dependent on rainwater. Even the school will not have enough clean water.”
Mrs. Sallons; “Let us not limit it to 1 day but let us continue to cherish water every day, to give an example, there is a worldwide shortage of good drinking water, but Suriname has an abundance. We must cherish and protect this. Worldwide there is only 3% of freshwater sources available to humans, in Suriname we have a lot, and we must continue to protect that”.
For Mrs. Ormskirk, World Water Day means that, in Suriname we can also make the water problem known to a wider audience. “I have known for decades that the Surinamese territory is potentially and effectively sensitive to flooding. Especially in residential or agricultural areas, too much (or too short) of water can cause a lot of misery. Therefor I believe that this is a special day on which various parties can contribute to transfer knowledge at global, regional, and local level. On this day not only cooperation but also development aid is important. Furthermore, it is also important to increase the awareness of every inhabitant of Surinamese, so that we are all prepared for possible related to water, related disasters” said Mrs. Ormskirk.
The planet's freshwater ecosystems are in crisis: Research shows populations of controlled freshwater species have declined by 84 percent and nearly a third of wetland ecosystems have been lost since 1970 because of human activities affecting habitats and reducing water quality.
Is the true value of water known and can these essential resources be better protected?
According to Mrs. Ormskirk: “Water is life, without water there is no life! Good drinking water has a positive effect on health care in Suriname. Thanks to water I can remove waste products from my body. Water has an important role in body temperature and transports nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in my body. But water is also important in other functions such as transportation and agriculture. Transportation via waterways enables boys and girls in Suriname to go to school and develop. And as far as agriculture is concerned, I am thinking of irrigation for the cultivation of vitamin-rich vegetables and the creation of a regular income.”
Furthermore, Mrs. Ormskirk adds that Suriname can improve the use of essential water resources among other:
- Increase and improve water quality of surface water I the interior.
- Enable catchment of Purification of water by stimulating natural systems.
- The increase of awareness about the value of water awareness is very important to ensure proper use. The story about water in Suriname must be written down convincingly and shared widely with each person in Suriname. For example, we could narrate the water story from an active perspective, so that people can start positive initiatives. For example:
- Set up a digital water communication network that not only provides information, but also for suggestions, advice, and questions about water (in collaboration with other water agencies)
- Make the community aware about flooding and water scarcity, by publishing more articles, videos, and photos.
Mrs. Sallons added that, “The human body is 70% water, without water we cannot survive, so we have to protect our resources very well. If we look at the contamination, we can say that we can’t drink it if it’s polluted. If we pollute our essential resources, it means our health will suffer. That's why I say that water is very important to humans.”
“To tackle this water crisis, we must save water, but we also have to restore the groundwater replenishment so that the drinking water supply can be maintained. We must purify surface water so that it can be used as drinking water. Rainwater can be collected and used and used, for example, for agriculture,” said Mrs. Ormskirk.
The people of Kwamalasamutu are very dependent on the rivers for good water. “When the essential water resources are endangered and the day comes when there is no good water for the village for our personal needs, all village leaders should meet with the village people about water on how to get clean water and then village leaders should talk further with water organizations such as the Suriname Water Company (SWM),” Ms. Savira and Ms. Tawardi emphasize.
Mrs. Sallons indicates that: “We must be very frugal with our available precious water. Suriname still has many freshwater sources. We must continue to protect these by preserving as much as possible and not contaminate or spill it. Other countries must contend with less good drinking water, while we still have good drinking water. We must continue to protect this against misuse and pollution, use it sparingly and improve water management)”.
At the end Ms. Savira and Ms. Tawardi want to let people know that, “we residents of the interior, do not want dirty water, because we drink that water and use it for cooking. That is why we don’t want gold miners polluting the river with all the chemicals. We also want to request to the visitors from the city to properly dispose of all waste at the designated landfill sites.”
More floods and severe droughts are predicted. In other countries changes in water availability will also impact health and food security and have already proven to trigger refugee dynamics and political instability .
To adapt to the negative consequences of climate change in Suriname, we need to know how the weather is changing, what patterns and extreme weather conditions we need to prepare for or adapt to.
Within the first cycle of the Global Climate Change Suriname Adaptation Project (2016- 2019), (GCCA+ Project Phase1) it was considered most appropriate to use the hybrid hydrological model for Suriname through practical training of water managers. With this important achievement and completion of the Strategic Policy Document for Integrated Water Management in Suriname, we are well on the way to securing our water resources for a future of changed climate conditions. In addition to achieving this goal, other targets were also achieved that contributed to our water management.
o Installation of Hydrological and Meteorological stations. Instruments to collect climate and weather data, to support an improved functional network of climate.
o The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology trained 30 Technicians from the University of Suriname, MDS and WLA, in installation, use and maintenance of these instruments.
o Situational Analysis of integrated water Resource Management in Suriname as part of a comprehensive report
o Climate data Rescue of almost 70 years
o Hydro modeling for surface water management in 4 mayor rivers (Nickerie, Saramacca, Coppename and the Suriname river)
o 20 students trained in Hydrogeology and modeling to understand the principles and practical applications of groundwater occurrence and behavior.
o Rebuilding the Suriname water Resources Information System (SWRIS) web portal and giving access to information on water resources in Suriname.
In Suriname, let us collectively reflect on this day and work to protect and restore the aquatic ecosystems that provide essential services to the people who depend on them most. There is a relationship between nature and human well-being, so we need to link nature conservation and development by providing people at all levels with the information they need to understand the true value of the benefits of nature.
Let us be frugal and value water!
 GCCA+ Project Documentation 2019: Results & Reflections towards a Climate Resilient Suriname