The Pyramid of Wealth
In a recent interview, Kofi Annan stated that
the greatest problem facing mankind today is the lack of fresh water
around the globe. He named this problem “water poverty,”
not only calling it the source of all other forms of poverty, but
also predicting that the future wars of the world will be fought
over access to this most essential and scarce natural resource.
For, from fresh water stems life and the means by which all life
Here in India we can already see these ‘wars’
taking place as state fights with state over the use of water in
our nation’s rivers—case in point, the recent court
cases between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the use of water from
the Cauvery River. Another example: the recent problems between
India and Pakistan over proposed dams on either side of the border—dams
that will interfere with the natural course of two of the major
rivers flowing within the two countries.
Mr. Annan also described the triangle that makes
up the ‘Pyramid of Wealth:’
The bottom corners of this triangle are water wealth and ecological
wealth, and are interconnected and dependent upon one another. You
cannot have ecological wealth without water, and you cannot have
fresh water without the ecological wealth of forests which are the
watersheds, the water basins from which all fresh water flows forth.
At the top of this triangle or pyramid is economic
wealth which is dependent on the base made by the other two. You
can not have economic wealth without a wealth of fresh water and
ecological/environmental abundance. No business or industry can
be run without an adequate supply of fresh water. No healthcare
facility or educational facility can be sustained. In addition,
without water and the forests that are its source, whatever economic
wealth there may be is eroded as money is diverted to deal with
famines from droughts, plagues and epidemics from uncontrolled floods
and waterborne diseases (malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, etc.),
and other related problems associated with deforestation and lack
of fresh water.
SAI Sanctuary Trust (SST) uses a three-pronged
approach to help strengthen and sustain this Pyramid of Wealth.
First, through acquisition and protection of forest lands and the
reclamation of degraded lands through afforestation projects, the
source of all fresh water—the forests—are preserved
and expanded. This also safeguards the habitat for various species
of wildlife since the forest is their home.
Second, through anti-poaching measures and rescue,
rehabilitation and release programs of wildlife, the health of the
forests is insured. For, you cannot have a healthy forest without
the wildlife that lives within it, protecting and expanding it through
their natural living cycles. Animals are the link between the forest
canopy above and the ground below. They are responsible not only
for pollination—necessary for the propagation of all species
of flora—but also for the spreading of seeds far and wide,
eating the fruits and seeds of the plants and dropping them/eliminating
them in their waste later on. This symbiotic relationship between
flora and fauna is essential for the survival of both, and for the
survival of humankind as well. Hence, both cornerstones of the Pyramid
of Wealth have been protected and strengthened.
Third, SST helps to raise awareness of the importance
of the forest through various means including: 1-writing articles
for and giving interviews to the local, national and international
media, 2-educational programs including talks, slide shows, and
the establishment of Nature Clubs, 3-discussions with business groups,
other service organizations and local residents to explain the connection
between water and ecological wealth with economic wealth.
Through promotion of organic/sustainable agricultural
practices, agriculturalists are made aware of the detrimental effects
that the use of chemicals and intensive monoculture farming practices
have on the environment in general. They are also introduced to
another pyramid or triangle—‘The Three Legs of Agriculture’—which
are: 1-fresh water, 2-soil fertility, and 3-biodiversity. All three
of these ‘legs’ stem, once again, from the forests.
When this information/knowledge is shared, forests are protected,
farming practices are changed and crop yields increase, and the
environment is cleaned up and preserved—all of which translates
into an increase in economic wealth individually and collectively.