The global water crisis isn’t in the future — it’s now!
With over 7 billion people on the planet, and climate change unavoidable, experts now worry we’re running out of usable water. The symptoms are obvious: multiyear droughts, large-scale crop failures, several major cities — like Cape Town — on the verge of running out of water, increasing conflicts and protests over water use, fears of full-scale water wars.
These are some heartbreaking facts and stats:
— share of global demand for fresh water exceeding supply by 2030.
is spent every year on bottled water worldwide.
— increase in the number of violent conflicts over water between 1997 and 2017. In 2018, water conflicts have occurred in Ukraine, Syria, Mali, and Iran.
use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
— number of people, including 360,000 children under the age of 5, who die each year due to contaminated water and lack of adequate sanitation.
Water is at the core of sustainable socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems, and human survival itself. It is vital for reducing the global burden of disease and improving the health, welfare, and productivity of populations.
Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the climate system, human society, and the environment. Without proper water governance, there is likely to be increased competition for water and an escalation of water crises of various kinds, triggering emergencies in a range of water-dependent sectors.
The physical world of water is closely bound up with the socio-political world, with water often a key factor in managing risks such as famine, migration, epidemics, inequalities, and political instability.
Water scarcity can mean scarcity in availability due to physical shortage, or scarcity in access due to the failure of institutions to ensure a regular supply, or due to lack of adequate infrastructure.
Water scarcity already affects every continent. Water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which water services can be sustainably delivered, especially in arid regions.
Water scarcity is exacerbated as rapidly growing urban areas place heavy pressure on neighboring water resources. Climate change and bio-energy demands are also expected to amplify the already complex relationship between world development and water demand.
of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet.
in 43 countries or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of scarcity.
or almost one-quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage — where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers.
Water and Ecosystems
Ecosystems — such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands — are a critical part of the global water cycle. All freshwater ultimately depends on the continued healthy functioning of ecosystems and recognizing the water cycle as a biophysical process is essential to achieving sustainable water management.
— share of the global population living in countries where water tables are rapidly falling.
of the world’s aquifers are being over-exploited leading to serious consequences such as land subsidence and saltwater intrusion.
— share of industrial and municipal wastewater released into global water systems untreated.
in 70 countries on all continents.
— share of rivers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia affected by severe pathogen pollution. Water pollution in these regions has worsened greatly since the 1990s.
Water and Climate Change
Water is the primary medium through which we feel the effects of climate change. Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places. Higher temperatures and more extreme, less predictable, weather conditions are projected to affect availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows, and groundwater — and further deteriorate water quality. In some regions, droughts are exacerbating water scarcity and thereby negatively impacting people’s health and productivity. Changes in water availability also impact health and food security and have already proven to trigger refugee dynamics and political instability.
— share of the world’s population projected to live in water-stressed areas by 2025.
— lost natural wetland extent worldwide, including a significant loss of freshwater species, over the last 100 years.
Water and Urbanization
Urban areas are expected to absorb all of the world’s population growth over the next four decades, as well as accommodating significant rural-to-urban migration. Safe drinking water systems and adequate sanitation that effectively disposes of human waste are essential to ensure cities and towns grow sustainably. Extending these services to the millions of urbanites currently unserved plays a key role in underpinning the health and security of cities, protecting economies and ecosystems, and minimizing the risk of pandemics.
of the world’s population lives in urban areas today.
Population growth is happening fastest in urban areas of less developed regions.
billion (or 68%)
— expected number of people living in urban areas by 2050.
— number of major cities experiencing water shortages already.
Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water one can expect to live only a few days. The BIG question is: how do we keep the H2O flowing?
Multiple solutions, like better water management, improved infrastructure, as well as the introduction of modern technologies can help manage the world water crisis. Tsunami Products, Inc. is at the forefront of innovation with its atmospheric water generation technology — providing reliable, cost-effective & sustainable solutions to the world's growing water shortage.
Based on information from:
UN-Water. Coordinating the UN's work on water and sanitation.
UN DESA / Population Division: 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects.
World Health Organization (WHO).
World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (2017): Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, 2017 Update and MDG Assessment.
Business Connect: 50 Heartbreaking Facts and Stats About The Global Water Crisis.