Drought is striking the world at record rates. Billions of people struggle to find clean water that they can access. Water shortages might seem bad now, but there could be a coming water crisis that would make the current statistics on the matter seem like a pleasant walk in the park.
More than 840,000 people die every year because they don’t have access to fresh, clean water.
For industrialized nations, getting safe water is about as simple as turning on the tap at home. Most households have several faucets that can deliver water. People bathe or shower in several gallons of fresh water daily. Yet in other parts of the world, 140 million working hours are put in by women and children to collect and carry water to their homes.
- 1 in 9 people lack any access to safe water to drink.
- In the world today, more people have a mobile phone than a toilet.
- 750 million. That’s the number of people who lack access to any clean water whatsoever.
- 82% of those who lack access to improved water live in rural areas.
- 20% of the child-related deaths that occur for kids under the age of 5 is because of a water-related disease.
- The percentage of illnesses in developing nations that can be attributed to water shortages and diseases: 80%.
- 50% of the primary schools in the developing world have no access to water whatsoever.
Sometimes the problem of a water shortage is technology. Many developing nations just don’t have the ability to tap into fresh ground water supplies so that they can get the fresh water that is needed. Instead they rely on contaminated water sources from rivers, lakes, or an oasis and may walk several miles daily just to have their water needs met. Only 10% of the world’s water sources are used for domestic needs. 70% of it goes toward irrigation and agriculture. Could a small fraction of that water be diverted to solve the water shortage issues?
How Does Drought Affect the Water Shortage Issue?
- Between 1980-2008, there were 410 registered drought events that occurred around the world.
- During that time period, more than 500,000 people died because of the effects of the drought.
- The annual economic impact of drought on the world: $2.6 billion.
- Every continent except Antarctica has experienced a period of drought somewhere on it since 1980.
- Water shortages have caused US food prices to rise by 3-4% outside of the cost of living increases.
Droughts have become long and caused extensive water shortages around the world. In 2010, a drought in Russia was considered the worst of its kind in four decades. A prolonged drought in Australia has caused wheat yields to drop to 46% of normal. This means foods become more scarce, which ultimately means that it becomes more expensive. Combine this with the shortages of water to drink and it is easy to see why people are become desperate for resources.
Is Global Warming to Blame?
- Water flows are expected to decrease by up to 80% by the year 2070 because of rising temperatures.
- The cost of adapting to the impacts of a 2°C rise in global average temperature could range from $70-$100 billion per year between 2020 and 2050.
- 148. That’s the number of nations that have water basins that cover multiple international borders.
- Up to 90% of waste water in developing countries flows untreated into rivers, lakes and highly productive coastal zones.
- 80%. That’s the percentage of the used water in the world that is not treated or collected.
- The number of international agreements that have been signed in the last 200 years regarding water rights: 450.
- 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet.
- To achieve the lifestyle that is maintained in Europe and the United States on a global basis, there would need to be 3.5 more Earths needed to support the water needs.
Water shortages are the #1 risk that the human population faces. People can live for some time without food, but water is needed virtually every day for survival. In desperation, many are turning to contaminated waters to satisfy their thirst, only to find themselves ill later on because of it. We must all manage this resource more wisely. If we do not, we could cost ourselves the very future we’re planning for today.