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Water Management: Effects on Human Health and Nutrition

  • G. JacksEmail author
  • D. S. C. Thambi
Chapter
Part of the Springer Transactions in Civil and Environmental Engineering book series (STICEE)

Abstract

India was a net importer of foods at independence 1947. The “green revolution” in the following decades changed this dramatically. Affordable fertilizers, better seeds and irrigation were major factors behind this, irrigation being the main factor. While this has improved nutrition, problems like salinization, alkalinisation and “mining” of trace elements may have effects on human health. Excess fluoride causing dental and skeletal fluorosis is common in connection to alkaline soils. Increase in yields by irrigation and increased use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers have caused mining of trace elements like zinc, important for the immune response in notably children. Increased use of groundwater in households have decreased exposure to bacterial pollution. However, locally the new wells have drawn water from groundwater with elevated arsenic. Construction of dams caused, especially in during the first decades of the “green revolution”, increased spread of vector born diseases. A better “tool box” to combat this problem has gradually been developed. Irrigation takes 75–80% of the total water use. With limited water resources there is an urgent need to save water in agriculture in South Asia by water harvesting, more efficient irrigation methods and new ways of cultivation. Rice, a major food crop, is gradually switched over to be cultivated by intermittent irrigation saving about 40% of the water.

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Water and Environmental EngineeringRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Central Ground Water Board of IndiaThiruvananthapuramIndia

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