What are the Causes Effects and Solutions of Water Scarcity?
Water covers 70% of our planet, and it's easy to think that it will always be plentiful. But the water we drink, bathe in, irrigate our fields is freshwater and is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world's water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is stored in frozen glaciers or otherwise unsuitable for our use.
As a result, around 1.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion people experience water scarcity for at least one month of the year. Inadequate water treatment is also a problem for 2.4 billion people. Therefore, they are exposed to diseases such as cholera and typhoid and other water-borne diseases. 2 million people, mostly children, die each year from diarrheal diseases alone.
Many of the water systems that allow ecosystems to thrive and feed a growing human population have become problematic. Over the years, rivers, lakes and groundwater become dry or unusable from dirt. More than half of the world's wetlands have disappeared. Agriculture consumes much more water from other sources and wastes much of it due to inefficiencies and improper irrigation methods. Climate change is changing weather and water patterns around the world, causing famine and drought in some regions and floods in others. We have started to see this a lot in our country in recent years.
At the current rate of consumption, this situation will only get worse. By 2025, two-thirds of the world's population may face water scarcity. As a result, ecosystems around the world will suffer even more problems.
Scarcity of water can mean scarcity in availability due to physical scarcity, or shortage of access due to the inability of institutions to maintain a steady supply or lack of adequate infrastructure.
Water scarcity is already affecting every continent. Water use is growing globally at more than double the rate of population growth in the last century, and an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which water services can be provided sustainably, particularly in arid regions.
Water shortages will increase further as rapidly growing urban areas put heavy pressure on neighboring water resources. Climate change and bio-energy demands are also expected to strengthen the already complex relationship between World development and water demand.
There is no global water scarcity, but every country and region urgently needs to address the critical problems posed by water shortages. Water should be treated as a scarce resource, with a much stronger focus on managing demand. Integrated water resource management provides a broad framework for governments to align their water use patterns with the needs and demands of different users, including the environment.
Some Numerical Facts
-Of all water withdrawals, 72% is used by agriculture, 16% by municipalities, households and services, and 12% by industries. (BM-Water 2021)
-A region is said to have a "water shortage" when it draws 25% or more of its renewable freshwater resources. Five of the 11 regions have water stress values above 25% (the unit that indicates the level of drinking and utility water supplied from fresh water), two have high water stress and one have extreme water stress. (BM-Water 2021)
-2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries, of which 733 million live in high and critically water-stressed countries. (BM-Water 2021)
-3.2 billion people live in high to very water scarce agricultural areas, of which 1.2 billion – roughly one-sixth of the world's population – live in severely water-scarce agricultural areas. (FAO, 2020)
-Today, 1.42 billion people, including 450 million children, live in areas with high or extremely high water sensitivity. (UNICEF, 2021)
-Nearly 4 billion people, representing about two-thirds of the global population, experience severe water scarcity for at least one month of the year (Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2016)
-By 2030, 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity. (Global Water Institute, 2013)
-Almost half of the global population already lives in areas with potential water scarcity for at least one month a year, and this could increase to 4.8-5.7 billion by 2050. About 73% of affected people live in Asia (69% by 2050). (Burek et al., 2016)