The near absence of fresh water for the human population is already beginning to impact many sectors of the world, notably with the current situation in India.
By the year 2020, most major Indian cities are projected to run dry, according to data from the World Bank. Severe water shortage had already led to a growing number of conflicts across the country, with 90 per cent of India’s territory served by inter-state rivers.
India’s supply of water also is rapidly dwindling primarily due to mismanagement of water resources, although over-pumping and pollution are also significant contributors. Climate change is expected to worsen the situation by causing erratic and unpredictable weather, which could drastically diminish the supply of water coming from rainfall and glaciers.
Unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene claim the lives of an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five each year. Lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene affects the health, security, livelihood and quality of life for children, impacting women and girls first and most. They are much more likely than men and boys to be the ones burdened with collecting drinking-water.
”With almost 884 million people living without access to safe drinking-water and approximately three times that number lacking basic sanitation we must act now as one global community to ensure water and sanitation for all,” said Ms. Clarissa Brocklehurst, UNICEF Chief of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
According to data from Water.org, statistics on the global water crisis are alarming:
- Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
- 3.575 million people die each year from water-related diseases.
- 98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.
- 43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea.
- 84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 – 14. Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease
- Approximately one in eight people lack access to safe water supplies.
- The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
- At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
- The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person.
- Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
Climate Change, Another Threat
With climate change set to have unpredictable consequences on India’s water management, according to Water.org, ,water use efficiency must increase by 20 per cent and promote basin level integrated water resources management.
Noting that efficient use of crop water can increase the gross irrigated area either by increasing the irrigated cropped area or the irrigation intensity, the organization said that the second green revolution could come from technologies developed in the private sector.
“Water related issues need to be addressed with full involvement of local people and taking into account the local conditions. Farmers should be consulted in any agricultural water management initiatives,” according to Water.org.