Water footprint and public health in Nepal

Type Journal Article - Health Prospect
Title Water footprint and public health in Nepal
Volume 10
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 22-24
URL http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/HPROSPECT/article/download/5642/4641
The literal meaning of footprint is an outline or pockmark left by a foot on a surface also called footmark. In this paper footprint is considered in terms of requirements of an individual to live and to keep the ecosystem sustainable in the Earth. The well known ecological footprint concept was developed by Wackernagel and Rees (1996). They define it, how much biologically productive area is required to produce the resources required by the human population and to absorb humanity's carbon dioxide emission in terms of Global Hectare (GHa) per person. The average ecological footprint per person has been calculated at 2.1 GHa, which however varies from country to country. For instance, the average GHa ranges from 0.1, the lowest in Afghanistan to 11.9, the highest in the United Arab Emirates. Nepal’s ecological foot print is estimated to be 1.01 GHa (Ewing et at. 2010, Chapagain et.al 2008). The ecological footprint has two subsets, viz. carbon footprint and water footprint. The carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon (CO2) emitted individually per annum. A carbon footprint is usually expressed as a CO2 equivalent (in kilograms or tonnes) in order to make the global warming effects of different greenhouse gases comparative and addable. The emission per capita varies from country to country and it has gone up to 20.4 tonnes per capita. The sustainable CO2 emission quota per capita global inhabitants is 2 tonnes per annum and Nepal has very low emission of 0.11tonnes per annum. The water footprint, another subset of ecological footprint, is an indicator that accounts both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. Hence, water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. People use lots of water directly for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing and indirectly even more for producing things such as foods, paper, cotton clothes, etc. Indirect use can include virtual water embedded in tradable goods and commodities, such as cereals, sugar or cotton. A cup of coffee may use 140 litres of water while a lunch of a person may take about 2,400 litres and a pair of blue jean may consume 11,000 litres. It is quite clear that all the substances we buy or consume have water cost in the form of virtual water. The water footprint concept was introduced in 2002 by Hoekstra.This paper intends to describe water footprint with respect to Nepal and its public health implication.

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