Almost 900 million people across the world, or one in eight people, do not have access to safe drinking water. At the same time, global water consumption is growing at twice the rate of population growth. At current estimates, 2025 will see at least 3 billion people finding it difficult, or even impossible to meet their basic daily water needs. With water deficit comes millions of deaths as people turn to contaminated water sources. Diarrhoea, hepatitis, cholera, and typhoid are all preventable diseases, yet run rampant in communities with water issues. However, it is easy for communities to store, purify, and save water. Here is a look at the global water deficit, and solutions to water problems.
Understanding global water deficits
Just because you can turn your tap on and fill up a glass to drink, doesn’t mean that it’s the same world over. Despite abundant rainfall, Bangladesh is struggling with pollution in most of its rivers and streams thanks mostly to its overpopulation and related sanitation issues. Sudan saw the first war over water in the Darfur region. In Haiti, water is often a matter of life and death. In Somalia, only 29% of the population has access to clean water. Climate change has led to many conflicts that have displaced over 2.7 million people and left over 300, 000 dead.
Achieving sustainable water: solutions
1. Drip Irrigation
In many regions where water is a scarce and valuable resource, drip irrigation can save the day. It involves releasing water slowly only to plant roots instead of drenching them. The drawback is the cost involved in converting conventional systems.
2. Water Conservation
Water conservation is necessary in order to ensure better and efficient use of our limited water resources. Just by educating people about saving water and preventing leaks and wasting water, we can save millions of gallons of water every day.
3. Water Treaties
With depleting water resources and growing demand, the conflicts over sharing them will only increase. Water treaties play an important role in preventing these issues from escalating. They make sure that there is no hue and cry over sharing water.
4. Water Recycling
Water recycling is the process by which wastewater is treated to be reused. Such water can be used for many purposes except drinking. Water recycling saves both energy and resources and helps in making sure every drop is used properly.
5. Rainwater harvesting
This is the process by which rainwater is collected in tanks and cisterns to be used directly. Sadly, it can’t be used in places with low rainfall. Special precautions must be taken if the water is used for drinking purposes.
6. Water Purification
Water sources are often contaminated and their water’s definitely not safe to drink. Purifying them is essential to provide more people access to clean water. In places where boiling or chemical agents are not preferred, clay filters can be used.
Removing salts, usually, sodium chloride, from water is called desalination. This is an essential process which can be used to make a larger volume of water available to human beings. But it’s costly, energy-intensive and set-up costs is really high.
A few figures will put into perspective the world’s water crisis. A quick shower uses between 15-30 gallons of water, while a human being needs a daily 5 gallons to survive. At the same time, most of the Earth’s water is undrinkable, and only 3 percent of the global fresh water is drinkable. Of this, 97% is trapped in glaciers. This clearly shows the need for intensive community participation. Donate to NGO campaigns of fundraising like Save the Children, which is engaged in providing clean water to communities, and through a WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) program, reducing the onset of preventable diseases like dysentery and diarrhoea.