Tackling at the Root of the Malaysian Society – Food Issue (Part 2 of 3)

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Picking up where we have left from the previous article, “Tackling at the Root of the Malaysian Society – Food Issue (Part 1 of 3)” we highlighted “Is our current lifestyle leading us to these problems called water scarcity and food insecurity?” As I was digging for answers, guess what I found?

tackingfoodinsecurity_buurps1
Image from http://www.rappler.com/

Shocking Facts!

“In Malaysia, we are blessed with an abundance of rainfall and water resources. Yet, we are faced by water shortages and crises in many parts of the country. Rather it’s caused by unsustainable management of water resources that causes many people and the environment to suffer.” – Sustainable Water Use

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Shocking consumer water usage habits, an article in 2011: “A study showed that 70% of Malaysians use more than they should,’’ lamented Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui last week. More depressing news? Seventy per cent of them do not intend to change their water usage habits, said the minister. This is a sad reflection on the wasteful nature of consumers who do not practice sustainable water consumption.

If Malaysians follow the recommended water usage, they can save up to 28.2cu.m per household, or RM18.33 a month, said Chin, who added that the “recommended daily limit” for Malaysians is 165 litres per person, which means water use has to be reduced by 37%. Most people do not know how much water they are using as the water bill is only a small component of their monthly household expenses.” – Malaysia faces looming water crisis (22 March 2011)

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Warnings of local expert fallen on deaf ears: “Water activist like Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng has seen and heard it all, especially since the El Nino phenomenon of 1997/1998. Dr Chan said that since the 1997/98 El Nino, the government had promised a lot of things and had supposedly put in place many measures to mitigate if not avoid another water crisis in future. As a result, he said, Malaysians had developed a false sense of security that another El Nino would not impact them as hard as the previous one.

Hence, he added, many had not taken preventive measures to protect themselves against another prolonged drought and water shortage. Very few have bothered to invest in rainfall harvesting mechanisms, construct a shallow well or tube well or even increase their water storage volume in their water tanks. Even fewer have changed their water consumption patterns by adopting a more water-wise approach when using water.

Dam building and water treatment plant construction continue to be the main focus of the authorities but not water education and water conservation, which to Dr Chan should be done simultaneously. The Malaysian government, he said, must realize that it could not keep on supplying water as the amount of water ‘is finite but demand is forever increasing’. Consumers must be taught the value of water and how to use water wisely. We are not suggesting that all Malaysians should save water so much so it jeopardizes their health and sanitary functions.

Dr Chan lamented the inconsistency and lack of concerted efforts on the part of the government to inculcate prudent water usage among the masses. It should be continuous so that the entire nation can be reached and sensitized,” said Dr Chan who is also a professor in the Geography Department at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang. People need to be reminded all the time about the importance of water and its conservation. In fact, water conservation should be included in the school curriculum, in related subjects,” he suggested. – How To Avoid A Stressful Water Crisis.
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Dr Chan Ngai Weng, President of Water Watch Penang (WWP) speaking of water – “Without water, there is no life. No water, no food, no industry, no clothes, car or even computers because to produce all these we need water. Dr Chan is deeply concerned over the water issues in the country. A big question mark hovers over the state of water resources in Malaysia, namely the absence of a National Water Policy. While most countries prefer to opt for decentralised water management, Malaysia on the other hand opted for centralization of the water sector via SPAN (National Water Services Commission).

Also unlike many of the nations, Malaysia relies too much on building dams and treatment plants in meeting the demand for treated water. However, most rivers in Malaysia are nearing their maximum capacities and this means no more dams can be built. But population, industry, agriculture and other sectors keep growing and water demand keeps increasing. Malaysia, according to Dr Chan has reached the stage whereby we cannot keep on building dams.

We need to address water problems from the Water Demand Management side. We need to teach consumers how to save water, reduce Malaysian per capita daily water usage from the current 300 litres per person per day (LPCD) to at least 200 LPCD.” – No Water, No Life (17 June 2010)

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“Malaysians, be warned! Free water is not like any other populist handout – there are dire consequences.

Even if some Malaysians don’t care about the plight of the Orang Asli or the displacement of other indigenous peoples for dam projects, their own discomfort during any water shortages should be enough to warn them of the even worse catastrophe in the looming water crises to come.

We have been warned that future wars will be fought over this increasingly scarce resource, water.

When water tariffs are low (never mind free!), consumers have no incentive to conserve water. The evidence and statistics on the water consumption rate of Malaysians speak for themselves”.Free water: Populism gone mad (23 February 2014).

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Public resentment is uncalled for: 2013’s spate of water cuts and shortages have hurt the average Malaysian deeply. Frustrations will naturally mount whenever hundreds of thousands of people are unable to get access to water, but it’s time the general public takes steps to reduce the effect of water shortages – rather than putting the blame completely with water concessionaires, government agencies, and the energy ministry. – Is Malaysia facing a future water shortage? (11 February 2014)

We covered the area of agricultural sector in Malaysia where food insecurity had been gradually taking place – pointing out why the contribution of our agriculture sector is in decline.

When hardship strikes, we wake up from our lull, don’t you think so?

When everything is fine, warning signs from the experts are mocked at, called as over-reacting and compounded with our ‘never mind-lah‘ attitude; sad to say, “WE GOT WHAT WE ASKED FOR”.

Looking at the current situation, it seems that nobody can help us and things aren’t going to change for the better if we continue being so comfortable with our BAD HABITS.

Solutions?

Since we are in this together, let’s try keeping abreast with the current issues looming within our backyard. The world we lived in isn’t the same as what it was decades ago. I have no idea what will be left for our next generation if we continue our bad habits. We say we love them but is this what we want to leave for them? Our actions speak louder than words, don’t you think so? Think about it.

As usual we could think of migrating due to the unfriendly living environment since our ministers playing hardball with us on the threat “you tak suka, you keluar dari Malaysia!” literally translated to if you don’t like it just get out of Malaysia! but really can shipping you and your family out of Malaysia solve the problems? Things aren’t as simple as what is seems, it’s actually a global water crisis.

Anyway here are my findings on what other solutions the experts have to offer?

One, changing our mindset in tackling water scarcity and food insecurity issues.

More on how to conserve water:
10 ways to conserve water
10 Water-saving tips
How to conserve water.
10 ways to save water.

I could be wrong but I rarely come by any locally produced videos on how to conserve water, except for this one which perhaps meant to convey the message in a comical way in order to get attention from the Malaysian public. Do share with us if you come by any locally made productions on this subject at our ‘comment’ section below.

Two, revamping the current school curricular focusing on critical thinking and problem solving skills in order to stay relevant in today’s 21st century demand.

As mentioned earlier, our world today has changed drastically and we see more calamity than ever before.

Aside focusing on the Three Rs – reading, writing, arithmetic and with the recent inclusion of science subjects, should our education system be introducing subject on water education and conservation and reintroduce the food growing syllabus, gardening while exposing them to other survival skill programs?

Stories from our parents tell us that back in the 70s, they have ‘gardening’ lessons in their school syllabus. I am clueless as to why such important survival skill is taken out from the education system of the current era. Is gardening skill an ineffective teaching tool? Isn’t garden based learning a wonderful methodology to learn science in practice?

You might be thinking, “Why is gardening seen as an important survival skill” in my book? Going back to the “four basic principles on how to stay alive – protection, rescue, water and food” highlighted by Bear Grylls, if we do not teach the next generation of Malaysians to conserve water and grow their own food, who will do it for them? How will they survive in this ever changing landscape of the future?

It’s hard facts but think about it.

Another area noted as parents in today’s generation, how would you respond if really one day these skills are reintroduce to your children in school? Are you willing to allow your child to get down-and-dirty and to experience what the nature has to offer in order to learn valuable lesson of life?

And can we promote ‘edible school yards‘ to our next generation of Malaysians? After all, not only are we teaching them what is food, we empower them by teaching them the tools on how to conserve water and growing own food for a continuous sustainability.

I’ll end today’s article on how other countries undertake the challenges of the 21st century.

Coming soon part 3 of 3!

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