A combination of factors is conspiring to create a crisis.
‘Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’ lamented Coleridge’s stranded sailor. A lament that may well become a reality for us all as water scarcity takes hold. According to the World Data Lab’s Water Scarcity Clock, 2.3 billion people live in water scarce areas today likely rising to around 2.7 billion people within the next ten years. With only 1% of the world’s water useable, fresh water, a global crisis is in motion. A combination of factors is conspiring to create a crisis. Increased demand for water from business, in particular food production and agriculture, and physical shortages due to drier climates are just some of the factors contributing to this growing crisis. The World Data Lab states that ‘Globally, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population growth, and is still increasing in all sectors’.
Weather patterns are becoming more extreme
There is no doubt that weather patterns are becoming more extreme. The increase in droughts and floods seen over the last decade look set to become more common. As populations grow and land use changes, the pressure on water resources is growing and the current rate is unsustainable.
In 2018, Cape Town nearly ran out of drinking water due to drought, and according to recent BBC coverage London is ranked 9th on a list of global cities likely to run out of water by 2040. The Greater London Authority estimates water supply problems from 2025 and the water waste rate is high – 25%! A recent report entitled ‘Running out or Flooded out?’ says Londoners are estimated to use on average 149 litres of water per person per day, 5% higher than the national average. Conserving water must become a municipal priority; If London is to prevent water restrictions going forward.
Our overwhelming message is one of collaboration. Governments need to work together to ensure water is a source of peace and that everyone has access to it. Good water management and preservation policies need to be at the heart of urban development across the world to prevent this growing crisis. At WaterHarvest, all our programmes involve working with communities, to understand how best to utilise their water resources and how to conserve the water they do have. We have programmes in primary schools teaching children about sanitation and using water carefully, through the use of games such as snakes and ladders. In our underground water tank programmes, we emphasise how clean water should not be used for washing; it should be conserved for drinking and cooking. In our agriculture projects, we focus on water use efficiency to ensure maximum crop production.
If you would like to know more about how to support our work in conserving water in water scarce areas, we would be delighted to discuss some potential projects with you. Please email Nicola Floyd at [email protected] to discuss your involvement.
This week’s blog was written by Fiona Beukes on 18th October 2019.