Since water covers a vast majority of the Earth, it could be hard to imagine how it could ever be in short supply. However, only 3% of the world’s water is fresh, and the vast majority of it is inaccessible for human use. As a result, water scarcity is a pressing and important issue for much of the global population. The United Nations sees water scarcity as “scarcity in availability due to the physical shortage, or scarcity in access due to the failure of institutions to ensure a regular supply or due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.”
Around 1.1 billion people have no access to water. Inadequate sanitation is an even bigger issue. Millions of people die each year from water-borne sicknesses like cholera, typhoid fever, and diarrheal diseases. The problem is at its most acute across swaths of Africa, the Middle East, and large parts of Asia. The United Nations has estimated by 2030, half of the global population will be in areas of high water stress.
Why Is Water Scarcity Such a Big Issue?
There is a growing body of research that reaffirms the importance of water in regards to geopolitical stability. Human health and agricultural concerns are also of great importance. Leaders use access to water as a political tool or as a way to consolidate political power. Carl Bruch, the director of international programs at the Environmental Law Institute told Scientific American how instances of drought are often associated with migration and regime change.
The changing global climate has also taken a toll on hydrological systems across the globe. It has hurt the livelihoods of millions of farmers and affecting the foods they produce.
What Are Some of the Causes of Water Scarcity?
One of the largest causes of water scarcity across the world is pollution. Pollution can come in many forms, and almost always makes the water unfit for human consumption. A chemical or oil spill can permanently taint the water. Any industrial waste or fecal matter that is dumped into rivers or oceans without proper treatment pollutes the water. Pesticides and other fertilizer use by farmers can also lead to water pollution if the chemicals seep into the groundwater or in underground aquifers.
The misuse of water resources is another massive issue that leads to water scarcity. Inadequate management of resources or over zealous water usage often leads to problems in the future once the water begins to run out. Much of the Middle East has turned to desert due to the overuse of water, which has taken a particular toll on nations like Iran. According to the Guardian, the United Arab Emirates has further invested in desalination and water treatment plants in order to keep up with the demand for fresh water. With an ever-growing global population, the strain on the world’s water resources only keeps looming larger each day.
What Happens When it is a Long Lasting Drought?
Long-lasting droughts also contribute to water scarcity. With little or no rain on …