We have taken water for granted for a long time. Yet a global water crisis threatens our future. The World Health Organization (WHO) even states that by 2025 half (!) of the world’s population will live in areas with permanent water scarcity. What are the causes and consequences of water scarcity? And can we still turn the tide? In this blog we’ll explain more about causes and consequences water scarcity and about what the future will bring.
The report “Thirsting for a Future” by Unicef shows that there are currently 36 countries with extreme water shortage. Recently, major cities such as São Paulo (Brazil), Chennai (India) and Cape Town (South Africa) suffered acute water shortages. Last year Cape Town barely escaped from Day Zero: the day that not a single drop would come out of the tap. “There will probably be more Days Zero in the future,” Betsy Otto of the American World Resource Institute (WRI) claims in The New York Times. The WRI states that water stress is highest in the Middle East and North Africa – with Qatar as the absolute number one. The WHO is also raising the alarm: they predict that by 2025 half of the world’s population will live in areas with permanent water scarcity.
Water scarcity is caused by a complex set of fluctuating, interacting human and ecological factors. First of all, water scarcity is due to climate change. The increasing periods of persistent heat is caused by global warming, leads to water sources drying out. In addition, the availability and quality of water is also threathend by floods, which are caused by rising sea levels due to climate change. Then there is, of course, the water wastage and water pollution on a large scale, which reduces the availability of (safe) water even more. Contrast all these problems with a growing world population and water scarcity emerges.
Watch this video to learn more about how climate change and poor government policy causes water scaricty in the Middle East.
We cannot live without water. Therefore we see that, in the areas with a high level of water stress, the population is going to use polluted water. This makes them vulnerable to deadly diseases such as cholera. But water scarcity also indirectly leads to poverty. After all, you cannot go to school or work when you (deadly) ill. Another problem that arises in areas where there is water scarcity is the threat of conflicts. In recent decades, Iran and Turkey have built hundreds of dams in the Middle East to meet their water needs. Other countries in the region, especially Iraq and Syria, paid a high price for this: drought, social turmoil and conflicts.
All this information does not really paint a bright future for water. However, the good news is that there is still much to gain in the area of seawater desalination and water-saving measures in agriculture. Also more and more technological innovations arise in the field of water-saving and water purification. The WHO states that the management of water resources will become increasingly important in the future, and we should also look at alternative water sources, such as the reuse of waste water.
We believe that in the future we will find ways to continue to meet our water needs. But we want everyone around the globe to enjoy clean and safe (drinking) water. That is why we are committed to those for whom water scarcity is already a problem today. Therefore we operate in areas where the government is not planning or able to install a safe water supply. Today we are starting the future of tomorrow: a future with clean drinking water for everyone.
Access to clean water and sanitation is the sixth point on the list of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) that were drawn up by the United Nations in 2015. Do you want to know more about how we realize clean drinking water in developing countries?