All of us need water. Water maintains our rivers, seas, forests and plant life as well us as human beings, and without water nothing can survive. The problem however, is that like it or not, we find ourselves in the midst of an extreme water crisis that’s impacting the lives of more than 2 billion people across the globe.
So tenuous is the situation, that the annual Global Risk Report from the World Economic Forum has consistently ranked “water crises” (since 2015) as one of the global threats with the greatest potential impact – over and above natural disasters, mass migration and cyber-attacks.
In simple terms, the facts are…
1 in 9 people, that’s approximately 844 million people, do not have access to safe water. That’s equal to twice the population of the United States.
- 100 million families are stuck in a cycle of poverty and disease because they don’t have access to safe water.
- 1 in 3 people, that is ±2,4 billion individuals, do not have access to a toilet.
- Millions of women and girls spend up to 6 hours per day collecting water.
- At least 2 billion people use a drinking water source that is contaminated with faeces.
- Contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.
- Every 60 seconds a child dies from preventable waterborne diseases.
- 1 million people are killed by a water, sanitation and hygiene-related disease each year.
- At any given time, patients suffering from diseases relating to a lack of access to clean water are occupying almost half of the world’s hospital beds.
- By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
- $260 billion is lost globally every year due to lack of basic water and sanitation.
UN Water explains the impact of the water crisis so succinctly, “Water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. It is vital for reducing the global burden of disease and improving the health, welfare and productivity of populations.
Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the climate system, human society and the environment. Without proper water governance, there is likely to be increased competition for water between sectors and an escalation of water crises of various kinds, triggering emergencies in a range of water-dependent sectors.
The physical world of water is closely bound up with the socio-political world, with water often a key factor in managing risks such as famine, migration, epidemics, inequalities and political instability.”
So what are the reasons for all of this?
Essentially the demand for water has been increasing at a rate of ±1% a year over the last few decades. Population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns are the main reasons for this increase, which will continue into the foreseeable future. Although agriculture is by far the largest consumer of water overall, industrial and domestic demand is increasing at a much faster rate. The main growth however is from developing and/or emerging economies.
Climate change contributes in a large way too, with wetter regions becoming wetter and drier regions even drier. Global changes such as urbanisation, de‐forestation and agricultural intensification only add to the challenge.
10 countries currently most affected by drought worldwide
- Ethiopia: Almost 8 million of Ethiopia’s 60 million population are at immediate risk – 1,4 million being children under five.
- Eritrea: Continual years of drought and the border war with Ethiopia have created major food shortages putting almost 1,3 million people at risk.
- Somalia: Years of poor harvests have affected food security with up to a million people threatened by starvation – most being women and children, with ± 300 000 under five.
- Sudan: An estimated 2,8 million people in the south face food insecurity every year because of drought.
- Uganda: The northern part of the country that borders South Sudan experiences a constant drought resulting in ± 500 000 people having very little food and water. Despite years of government intervention, the situation is critical.
- Afghanistan: One of the driest and most barren countries in the world, Afghanistan’s southern parts lose 60-80% of livestock whenever a drought occurs causing almost 10% of the population (2,5 million people) to be at risk.
- China: The North and South West parts of China face persistent drought that leaves millions of people on the verge of starvation. In Shanxi province, nearly 3 million people don’t have enough water and a third of the area’s wheat dries up due to lack of irrigation or rainwater.
- India: The worst drought in 100 years has severely affected approximately 130 million people living in 12 States in India.
- Iran: With only 1,1% of their land considered viable as permanent cropland, the food situation in Iran is so dire that the government notified the United Nations that they were ready to accept international aid to help meet losses of ± $1,7 billion they have already spent on the drought.
- Morocco: 70% of the country’s arable land has been affected by drought, resulting in the government launching a $633 million contingency plan.
With statistics like the above – be sure to take care and appreciate every precious little drop.
How can we resolve the global water crisis?
For over 40 years Maximpact has worked with communities, private and public organisations across the globe to help identify and provide innovative sustainable solutions for water supply, wastewater recycling and water management.
Maximpact is available to assist our clients in numerous ways including:
- Sustainable Water Resource Management training where we train municipalities, governments, non-profits and for-profit organisations on how to effectively assess, implement and monitor water management solutions. This can be done online or on-location.
- Maximpact also provides an array of technology solutions which address waste water treatment, collection and recycling.
To find out more about Maximpact and our services, click here.