The United Nations has selected ‘sustainability’ as the theme of this year’s World Water Day, which is observed today. For Pakistan – considered to be a water scarce country where water availability (per capita) stands at less than 1,000 cubic feet – water sustainability holds crucial importance: a severe shortage of potable water is yet to be resolved, as is the wanton waste is yet to be resolved, as is the wanton waste of scarce water resources on an industrial, commercial, agriculture and household basis. It is for the latter that we suggest implementation of a simple water conservation method.
It is a common practice for gardeners (maalis) in Pakistan to use potable water – supplied for household use and consumption – for plants. Only a handful of houses a grey water or rainwater harvesting system installed to serve this purpose. Dragging metres and metres of hosepipe around the garden – often to overwater whatever happens to be growing there – is daily fare for homeowners and gardeners alike; the amount of water wasted during this laborious process is astounding.
The water, labour and cost-saving alternative is not the latest and difficult to maintain drip-feed system, but the ancient, indigenous and low-cost matka (clay pot) system of irrigation, which can be tailored to suit gardens of any size. All you need is to burki un-fired clay pots and then sink them up to their necks into the garden soil at the following intervals: four litre matkas four feet apart all round, 10 litre ones at 10 feet and so on. Once you have done so, fill each one to the brim with grey or rain water; the liquid will, slowly , seep through the clay, over a period of days, to nurture all that grows around, minimising chances of spillage or drowning the garden. Remember to the top to top up as necessary.