Water vs. drought

19 04 2009

The UN Water Report “Water in a Changing World” (available here) predicts that in the year 2030 a lack of water can be reality for 3 billion people, if nothing is done to stop the climate changes! Today that’s the case for 1,5 billion people, so we’re talking a huge increase here!

Source: https://engineering.purdue.edu/GEP/Spotlights/WaterInitiative

Some facts:

– Almost all big river systems in the world are polluted, over half of them seriously.
– About 80 % of the diseases in the developing countries are directly or indirectly caused by a lack of clean water and water closets.
– Already today there are 300 million people in China drinking polluted water.
– During the past century there was a 300 % increase of world’s population while the water consumption has increased 600 %.
– Of the foreign aid given to the developing countries only 5-6 % go to the water and sanitary sector. At least the double would be necessary.
Every dollar invested in the water and sanitary sector brings in 5-12 dollars in improved health, cleaner environment and increased productivity.
30-40% of the water gets lost on the way because of leaking water pipes.

The resources should be used more efficiently, but not only that – they should also be distributed in a more fair and more environmentally friendly manner.

Source: http://transitioniow.org/2008/02/13/uk-catches-up-with-island/

Few of the developing countries can actually afford all the investments in the water and sanitary sector that would be necessary, so many of them collaborate with private companies, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. As an example I can mention Bolivia, who in 1999 gave all the rights to the water industry to two occidental companies for a period of 40 years. The result was that the price of water increased by 200 %, and a lot of poor families had to pay a fifth of their incomes just to have running water at home. Demonstrations followed and the government was forced to break the contract.

A good solution, proved successful by several countries, thereamong Finland, could be collaboration between the state, the municipalities, the private sector and local organizations. Then water and sanitary services can be provided at a reasonable price. But this requires the business to be transparent. This is not always the case today, even in industrial countries. Corruption is common – it is not uncommon that up to a third of the money ends up in the wrong hands.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ankraut/

According to researchers every human being on earth could be provided with 50 liters of water per day, but that would require a huge change in how the water resources are divided. And the needs of the poor (especially the women) would have to be met first. The situation today is quite different. In some areas the poor pay 10-30 times more for the water than the rich, who are connected to the water system. Similarly the rich farmers pay around one fifth of the full price for irrigation while small farmers pay the full price for insufficient amounts of water. An alternative would be to water with waste water, which Israel already does. Since food production consumes 70 % of the water resources globally (up to 80-90 % in some developing countries) more efficiency in water usage is needed!

Also in the industry the efficiency in water usage should be increased. In Denmark they produce 138 dollars GDP with one cubic meter of water, in the US 20 dollars and in India only four.

Conflicts related to water are rare. A global agreement on water resources does not exist, but there are over 400 bilateral and regional agreements, which work relatively well.

Source: http://watersecretsblog.com/archives/2006/08/index.html

One of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to halve the number of people who lack clean water by the year of 2015. This would result in 90 % of the world’s population having access to clean water. This goal will probably be reached. However, the sanitary goal will not be reached. Drilling wells has been more attractive than building water closets. Around 2.4 billion people are currently without a water closet, and this situation will not improve significantly by 2015.

The water usage varies a lot between countries. In the Netherlands, the UK and Uruguay people consume around 100 liters per person and day, in Finland 150-200 liters – while the consumption in Canada and New Zealand is as much as 700 liters! The biggest water consumers (in volume) are, however, the US, China and India.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrhappy8/

So – we all realize that something needs to be done! And everyone, that means YOU, can make a difference. Save water at home in any way you can. Don’t waste it!


Sources used for this blog post:

The UN Water Report “Water in a Changing World”, published March 16, 2009

Article, “2030 kan 3 miljarder ha brist på vatten”, by U.B. Lindström, Hufvudstadsbladet, Sunday, April 19th, 2009




2 responses

4 05 2009
How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days

Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for posting. I will definitely be coming back to your posts.

23 02 2013

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