Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful. However, pure water, the one we drink, bath in, irrigate our farm fields with, is incredibly rare.
Firstly, we have to clarify what water scarcity means. Water scarcity is either the lack of enough water (quantity) or lack of access to safe water (quality). It is hard for most of us to imagine that clean and safe water is not something that can be taken granted. But, in the developing world, finding a reliable source of safe water is often time consuming and expensive. This is known as economic scarcity. In other areas, the lack of water is a more profound problem. There is simply not enough water. It means that the physical access to water is limited. That is known as physical scarcity.
The problem of water scarcity is a growing issue. Can we imagine life without safe water to drink? For millions of people it is a daily reality. In many countries around the world taps, wells and pipes simply don’t exist. Even where they do, they are often not affordable for the poorest people or are not designed to last. Woman and girls suffer the most. They are forced to walk long distances to collect dirty water, wasting their time and energy. This means they miss out on an education, lack the opportunity to make a living, and have little chance to change things. They are also more likely to get sick with water-related diseases.
About 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and 3% of it is actually freshwater that is fit for human consumption. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of physical scarcity and around 500 million people are reaching the same situation. Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage. At the current consumption rate, this situation will only get worse. By 2025, two-thirds of the worlds population may face water shortages. And ecosystems around the world will suffer even more.
Water scarcity is both a natural and a human-made phenomenon. There is enough freshwater on the planet for seven million people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed. However, people need water to survive. The resource is also essential for producing food and keeping us and the environment healthy.
So, what are the causes of water scarcity, what are the effects of water scarcity, and are there any solutions for water shortage?
As I see it, the main cause of water scarcity is the overuse of water. Water overuse is a huge issue that a lot of people are dealing with. It may be overused on people, animals, land, or any other number of things. It may also be used for recreational activities without any care about the effects that it may have on the world around them. Another huge problem, is the water pollution. Pollution can be anything from oil, to chemicals and to fecal matter. No matter what it is, it makes a lot of issues for the people who may need to use it. Another problem can be a distance. There are number of areas that deal with water scarcity because they just aren’t close to anywhere that has water. Drought is also considered as the cause of water scarcity. A drought is an area which is not getting enough rainfall to be able to sustain the life that is residing there.
All of these causes mentioned, can lead to the lack of access to drinking water, hunger and diseases. The lack of drinking water can result in a number of other problems. For instance, water scarcity causes starvation for both people and animals in the area. Animals may die, which will result in a lack of meat as well. Another effect are the diseases. If we do not have clean water access, we are more likely to get diseases from the water that we do have.
To overcome this problem, we all have to consider this situation and try to find solutions. The first step to be taken would be to make sure the problem is much better understood worldwide. In my opinion, changing the face of this crisis involves education to motivate new behaviours. There are plenty of opportunities that people can use in order to learn more about the world around them. By educating those who are not dealing with water scarcity, they can be in a position to help. Those who are dealing with it can get educated on how they can prevent the problem from becoming even worse in the future.
Water recycling would certainly ameliorate this situation. There are plenty of technologies that allow us to recycle rainwater and other water that can be used in our homes. Asia is a leader in developing advanced technology that cleanses waste water for other uses, including drinking.
There are many environmental innovators, who are trying to introduce new technologies that helps businesses and individuals alike cut down on their water usage without compromising their quality of life. For instance, hot climates suffer from water shortage the most. An American schoolgirl came up with a way to use solar power to purify water. She invented a way to use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in containers that expose it to ultraviolet radiation and cleanse the water, making it suitable to drink. You can find out more information about this technology on the following website <http://inhabitat.com/ingenious-14-year-old-invents-solar-powered-water-purification-system-for-the-developing-world/>.
Another great innovation is a Collector Ultra Efficient Shower. We have all gotten into a shower, turned on the tap and waited for the water temperature to be just right before we get in. The problem is, that millions of people do this every day around the world. To save this water an Australian citizen came up with an interesting device that could save liters of water every year. His device is called Collector Ultra Efficient Shower, which uses a reservoir tank to collect the water normally wasted during heating up the shower, then re-filters it back at the right temperature. As we can see, we can do a great deal to overcome this situation by showering with efficiency as well. Ideas and innovations like this can lead to a better environment. For more information about Collector Ultra Efficient Shower go to the following website <https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/471764899/cullectortm-ultra-efficient-shower>
Another solution would be to improve irrigation and agricultural practices. Farming and irrigation are often a huge culprit when it comes to water scarcity. Some 70% of the world’s freshwater is used for agriculture. Improving irrigation can help close supply and demand gaps. Because of that, we need to improve practices so that we don’t use as much water and those who are using water are using it to its fullest potential.
Probably most of us are now asking the question: And how can I help to overcome this issue of water scarcity? In my opinion, we all have to start by ourselves. Firstly, we should consider, how much of water are we using and try to think of those, who do not have enough access to water. We can either use some of the mentioned technologies, or try to find another solutions. There are organizations located all over the world as well that are trying to solve this issue of water scarcity. They are trying to bring clean water to areas that don’t have it. We can consider donating to this organizations, either with our time, with our skills, or our finances.
To sum up, everyone everywhere needs a safe and sustainable supply of water: for drinking, washing, cleaning, cooking and growing food. It´s a basic human right. Governments around the world have not done enough to ensure safe water reaches the poorest people in society. As we can see, there are lot of things that we need to consider when we are looking at water scarcity and how we can deal with it. If we start to look at this issue as a whole, and we work hard to make sure that we are able to make a difference, we are going to be in a much better place to help people all over the world in preventing this issue form getting worse.