Water touches almost every aspect of life. We need to survive. Fortunately, access to clean water isn’t a concern for most people in developed countries. But, unfortunately, more than 785 million people across the globe face a global water crisis, struggling to get clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing.
Considering that water covers nearly 70 percent of the planet, it seems that water should be an abundant resource. However, only three percent is fresh. Much of the earth’s water supply is trapped in glaciers and other unreachable places, making it unavailable for human consumption.
So, what exactly is a water crisis, and what causes it? How extensive is this issue, and can it be solved? Here, we will help you learn more about the water crisis and how we can help you handle the problem.
Understanding the Causes of Water Crisis
Water crisis happens when the available sources of clean water are less than the regional water demands. Both natural and human causes contribute to the water crisis. Here are the leading causes:
The land dries when there is little or no rain. Prolonged drought dries up the underground water sources, creating a water shortage. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030, 700 million people worldwide might be displaced by the effects of drought, such as water shortage.
Pollutants, including chemicals, trash, bacteria, and parasites, contaminate water. All forms of pollution—air and land—eventually make their way to the water. For example, air pollution can settle on lakes and oceans, and land pollution can seep into an underground stream, then to a river, and finally to the sea. Polluted water is the leading cause of debilitating diseases, including diarrhea.
The world population has more than doubled in the last 50 years. With its accompanying economic development and industrialization, this rapid growth has transformed water ecosystems worldwide and resulted in a massive biodiversity loss. In addition, producing commodities and energy—needed to provide shelter, food, and clothing—for a growing population also puts pressure on freshwater.
Agriculture is another major cause of the water crisis. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater is consumed by agriculture. Unfortunately, leaky irrigation systems, inefficient methods, and the cultivation of crops too thirsty for the environment in which they are grown waste 60 percent of the water used. This wasteful use of water is drying out rivers, lakes, and underground aquifers.
Many countries producing large amounts of food—including India, China, Australia, Spain, and the United States—have reached or are close to reaching their water resource limits. The agriculture industry also generates considerable freshwater pollution due to fertilizers and pesticides, affecting humans and other species.
Impact of the Water Crisis
If the water sources continue to shrink, dry, or get polluted, then the available water won’t support food production for the growing population. Therefore, water scarcity is the main threat to food production, primarily when the available water can’t support the growth of food substances.
At least one million people die every year due to water sanitation issues. Usually, a water crisis is characterized by a water shortage. And if the water is available, then the sources tend to be dirty or far away, meaning that people have to travel long distances to fetch it. Water crisis, therefore, causes several health concerns, among them water-related infections or physical injuries from fetching the water.
Female Safety Issues
Water scarcity tends to be a heavier burden on women than men because girls and women are responsible for collecting water in many parts of the world. In addition, access to sanitation facilities also places girls and women in harm’s way. So, the water crisis creates a burden among many women.
Women and many children, especially girls, are responsible for fetching water for their families. A 2018 study estimated that collectively, women and girls spend 200 million hours fetching water every day. Many women and girls have to make several trips a day to collect enough water, so the time spent can average four to six hours a day—leaving little time for school.
Lack of water can have a significant impact on the economy of a country. When people spend hours every day collecting water, there’s no time for jobs outside the home. As a result, an estimated $ 260 billion is lost every year globally due to poor sanitation and insufficient water. A lack of clean water also increases the rate of illnesses and raises water costs, reducing disposable income in households.
Most water sources lie on national boundaries, meaning that two or more countries share them with the potential to create issues around water resource management.
With more than 275 transboundary basins shared by 148 countries, conflict over access to water might arise should the water scarcity issue become more pronounced as nations scramble for the available water in the shared water sources. The possibility has led to concerns about US security, demonstrating that the water crisis can impact the entire world.
Solving the Global Water Crisis Issue
Multiple options are needed to stem global water scarcity. Unfortunately, long-range practices to address the global water crisis are complex. For example, significant policy changes to address factors contributing to the water crisis are crucial. In addition, adequately changing the trajectory of the pending water crisis requires enormous engineering, technologies, and construction projects.
While those solutions are underway, the focus of Thirst Relief International is on bringing cost-effective and sustainable technologies to deliver clean water. Thirst Relief understands the challenges of dealing with the water crisis. It evaluates each situation and designs each project to provide the most effective solution based on the communities it serves.
For example, a more immediate, effective, and affordable solution is BioSand filters (BSF). Biosand filters use the traditional sand filtering concept to get rid of pathogens and contaminants in water. We deliver these filters to impoverished populations and offer training on how to use them effectively. The filters are affordable and can last for up to 30 years, with minimum maintenance.
Everyone Can Be Part of the Water Crisis Solution
The global water crisis impacts everyone. Although you may not have to worry about access to clean water, the water crisis can affect access to food and the economy. But, working together, we can all play a role in creating a sustainable future. For example, for as little as $100, a BioSand filter can provide clean water for more than ten people for up to 30 years.
There are so many ways you can help Thirst Relief International’s mission to make clean water accessible. Whether you make a cash donation, create a fundraising event, participate in an existing fundraiser, or just share the message with friends, family, and associates, your support can serve whole communities! Clean water saves lives! It’s never been so easy to use your power to save lives. With minimum costs, we can save lives together!