Of the entire social and natural crisis that we humans face, the water crisis is the one that lies at the heart of our survival and that of the planet Earth. No region will be spared from the impact of this crisis. Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing at an unsustainable rate.
Water crisis is a situation when the available potable water within a region is less than the region demands. It is the 4th Global risk in terms of impacts to the society.
The water crisis arises due to uneven distribution of water on our planet. The notion that water is plentiful and abundant on the mother earth is absolutely not true as only 3% of all the water is freshwater and consumable most of which is tackled away in frozen glaciers or unavailable for our use. As a result, around 15% of the global population lacks access to clean drinking water. In addition, the rate at which water sources are becoming contaminated with waste from humans, industries and agriculture is truly alarming. Frequent disposal of residential waste, industrial garbage etc. into the water bodies leads to serious water pollution, which may result in severe water scarcity for people who rely on water bodies for the water supply.
Global Climate Change is also the reason for global water crisis. It has disrupted the earth’s water cycle, causing shortage and droughts in some areas and floods in others. Global climate change is predicted by some to have major impacts upon the availability, spatial distribution of water supplies during the next century. In addition, settled agriculture allowed a rapid increase in human populations which demanded more and more water from nature’s account. In many parts of the world, the rivers are running dry and the groundwater is over-pumped to provide irrigation for feeding the world`s population. Surely, this is a sign of a global water crisis.
To emphasize the severity of water shortages, it is necessary to highlight some of the effects and alarming consequences of it. The biggest problem related to water crisis is that people are not able to get fresh, clean drinking water. In many parts of the world, people are forced to consume low quality water from contaminated water bodies which results in many water borne diseases. Reports said that more than 2 million people mostly children, die each year from Diarrheal diseases alone.
Water scarcity also threatens the biodiversity. Living organisms may no longer be able to get enough water and may therefore die off. Water crisis also leads to decreased food crop production as the agricultural activities could not take place without proper irrigation.
According to a research, by 2050, at least 1 in 4 people will likely live in a country affected by basic sanitation.
892 million people defecate in the open lands due unavailability of the water.
90% of all natural disasters are water-related.
At the current consumption rate, the situation will only get worse. We have no option but to depend on the available water resources and towards their management. We have to save and conserve this resource without any delay.
Due to global water crisis, United Nations realises the need of addressing this delicate and worth mentioning issue each year on World Water Day, March 22.
Aurooj Ayzaz is perusing IG in Environmental Science through cluster university