Water crisis around the world is not new to us. There are several countries and areas in our planet which faces deficit of fresh water. Billions of people do not have access to water which is one of the most essential elements of life. Global warming and population growth are the main reasons behind this water crisis. Water shortage can damage public health and economic development of the region because agriculture, livestock and allied activities need plenty of water. Even water scarcity can lead to mass migration and conflict between state and nations.
Water scarcity happens when demand of fresh, drinkable and safe water becomes more than its supply. Fresh water is vital for living beings. Only 3% of total water of earth is considered as fresh water.
Water is categorized into mainly two parts salt water or saline water and fresh water. Nearly 97% of water in our earth is salt water and rest is fresh water which we get from glaciers, ponds, rivers, lakes, wetland and even ground water. Most of the world’s fresh water is used in agriculture and rest of it is used in domestic and industrial purpose. Water depletion on the other hand means reduction of total amount of usable water due to human activities and environmental change.
We had witnessed megadrought in Chile and California USA. Several parts of India face severe water scarcity and people have to walk for miles to collect drinking water. Tunisia now a days facing water shortage due to the government’s negligence on its water resources. Nearly one third of the world’s population do not have access to safe drinking water. The society is growing and the population is increasing day by day, for which the freshwater demand will grow in near future. Time has come to think seriously on water conservation techniques to tackle water scarcity in coming days.
Our existing water resources are decreasing very fast. UN Water report 2021 says 1.6 billion people in the world are facing economic water scarcity. It also highlights that freshwater use is increasing by a rate of 1 percent every year from 1980. Due to industrial revolution we had seen rapid industrialization in several countries. These industries are discharging sewage and hazardous industrial wastes into rivers.
Unsustainable water use, deforestation and other activities are responsible for drought. World’s 16 percent population stays in India but it has only 4 percent of the total fresh water of the world. Approximately half of the people have access to safe drinking water in India. 70 percent of India’s water resources are contaminated with hazardous pollutants.
Global Water Scarcity by 2050
Water scarcity happens due to local ecological condition and inadequate water infrastructure. Global crisis of water is occurring mainly due to these two reasons. Areas are facing water stress due to lack of rainfall and inadequate sanitation facilities. Presently, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia destroyed civil infrastructures which left millions of people with less or no access to safe water. Politics and governance between countries plays a big role in water security.
Geographically, if we analyze then we can see that Middle East and Northern Africa face severe water stress. That’s why Middle Eastern countries rely on desalination of abundant sea water which is a very expensive process. Countries with very low economic power face water scarcity because they lack proper infrastructure for water treatment and management like Demographic Republic of Congo. Congo receives plenty of rain but for poor economic condition they cannot create and maintain proper infrastructure for water management. Nearly two billion people globally do not have access to safe and clean drinkable water. People lack sanitation facility and do open defecation which can spread diseases like Cholera, Hepatitis, Diarrhea, Typhoid etc.
The 2018 report named United Nations World Water Development stressed on water scarcity. The report stated that by 2050 nearly 6 billion people worldwide, will suffer from fresh water scarcity. This will be because of population growth mainly in developing countries of Asia and Africa. With population growth demand of water will also increase in domestic, industrial and agricultural sector. Global water shortage can also affect cultivation of crops like wheat and rice because they need plenty of water.
Global Scenario of Water Crisis
Source : cfr.org
Water Crisis in India
Report published by NITI Ayog named “Composite Water Management Index” in 2018, reflects the fact that India is going through the worst ever water crisis. India have the worst water quality in the world. Nearly 70% of its water is contaminated. It means it will be very harmful for people if they use the contaminated water for domestic purpose. Demand of water in India will become twice than the supply in future by 2030.
Nearly, half of India face severe water scarcity. Nearly, 75% people do not have drinking water connection in their households. Situation in rural India is more pathetic because 84% of the rural people do not have drinking water facility in their houses.
Mainly ground water is used for agriculture and domestic proposes in India. People depend heavily on ground water for irrigation or drinking purpose. Due to lack of modern agriculture methods, India consumes almost double water for agriculture purpose. India is the largest producer and exporter of Rice and it needs plenty of water to cultivate Rice or paddy. It is very important for India to adopt water efficient modern technologies for irrigation. Ground water level has already declined by 60 percent in India and majority of that has been used for agriculture.
Solution and Prevention
Water recycling and reuse are very important to tackle India’s water scarcity. Farmers should adopt water saving techniques in their cultivation. Governments should collaborate with UNICEF to address, prevent and respond the issue of water shortage. UNICEF has introduced several context-specific technologies which increases access to safe drinking water. UNICEF mainly focus on below aspects to tackle water scarcity like –
- Identifying new water resources through remote sensing method.
- Improving the efficiency of water resources
- Planning for future water needs and Urban scarcity
- Using technology for climate resilience
- Behavior Modification through awareness generation
- Providing support to WASH
Government should promote awareness to use toilets and make India open defecation free. There are several success stories of government projects and schemes in different states. Rajasthan receives very little rainfall in India. Nearly 60% of this state is desert. Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan is making villages self sufficient in water through participatory water management approach. It has implemented improved water harvesting and conservation techniques in rural areas of Rajasthan. Gram Sabha is responsible for community participation and budgeting of the program.
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