The importance of rivers
Rivers have been very useful to men in all parts of the earth since very early times. They provide water to slake the thirst of men, to fertilize their lands and to provide a means of communication for the goods that they transport from place to place.
Early civilization began on the banks of the great rivers of the world, such as the Nile and the Indus. These rivers provided the water, the people on their banks needed for all their purposes. As people in those early days did not have the transport facilities that we have today . They had to live close to the rivers to transport their goods to places along the rivers and to draw the water that they needed.
Rivers not only provided water for their domestic needs and agricultural purposes but also enabled the people to move from place to place along their banks. Boats or rafts were used to travel from one end of a river to another. In the same way, goods were also transported. With the transport of good and the contacts of people between different parts of the same river there were also many cultural exchanges. Thus, rivers helped to spread civilization.
It is true, however, that rivers have also caused much misery and unhappiness to millions of people throughout history. They have caused floods and destroyed lives and property in all parts of the earth. For example, the Hwang Ho in China has been described as the “sorrow of China” because of the destruction that it had caused in the past.
But it should be realised that floods occur once in several years. Therefore, the damage that rivers cause is not so great as the benefits that they confer on humanity. Today,rivers continue to be used not only as a source of water for drinking and fertilizing the lands or as a means of transport but also as a source of electricity which has revolutionized society. The importance of rivers is therefore not difficult to appreciate.