Water Crisis: A Growing Problem Around the World [Explained]

Water! To survive on our planet, there is nothing more important than water. Yet, there is a global water problem that stretches from Cape Town to Miami and from rural sub-Saharan Africa to the booming megacities of Asia. Every day, millions of people are struggling to get their hands on the water they need for basic needs like drinking and cooking, as well as for personal hygiene like washing their hands, cleaning their faces, or taking a bath. Many countries around the world are also battling to access enough fresh water to grow food and raise livestock, two essential parts of our diet. On the other hand, in many parts of the world, the availability of clean and safe water is taken for granted. Yet, the water crisis is becoming an increasingly growing concern globally. And in the distant future, as some experts predict, wars and conflicts may even arise due to the scarcity of water.

The Global Water Crisis

Water Crisis! For Sure?

Water makes up about 71% of the Earth
[1] Water makes up about 71% of the Earth

But still, Water Crisis sounds ridiculous, right? After all, water makes up about 71% of this majestic blue planet. Who hasn’t heard this before? However, 97.5% of the Earth’s water is contained within the oceans as saline water, while the remaining 3.5% is fresh water. Of that fresh water, the majority takes the form of glaciers and polar ice caps: 68.7% of it, to be exact. And the remaining small amount of fresh water is available to all the animals, plants, and seven billion humans that live on land. And when we talk about Water Crisis, we refer to this groundwater, which is just 1.2 percent of the total water on Earth.

Main Causes of the Global Water Crisis

Water Crisis Around the World (Ratio of total annual water withdrawals to total available annual renewable supply)
[2] Water Crisis Around the World (Ratio of total annual water withdrawals to total available annual renewable supply)

Climate change, water pollution, overpopulation, overuse, wastage of water, poor water management, and lack of investment in water infrastructure are some of the main reasons for this crisis. According to the research, more than 30 percent of Sao Paulo’s water is lost due to leaks in aging pipes. This problem of leaky pipes extends throughout the world, and billions of gallons of water are lost daily in these pipes, especially in poor and least developed countries.

Urbanization and exponential growth in freshwater demand for households are also driving causes behind water shortages, particularly in locations with an insecure water supply. For example, in 2018, Cape Town, a port city in South Africa, had a water crisis and became the first modern city to basically run out of drinking water as a combination of catastrophic drought, overconsumption, and inadequate water resource management.

What about Water Crisis in the Future?

Collection of drinking water in coastal area of Bangladesh
[3] Collection of drinking water in the coastal area of Bangladesh

Experts predict that by the year 2035, about 40% of the world’s population will be at risk of water scarcity. And this situation will get deeper as we progress further. Because of the increasing demand from consumers, industries, and farming, the world’s limited water resources will be under even greater stress in the not-too-distant future, which will cause water to become more precious than oil.

As alternative green sources of energy become more widely available, we will be able to live without oil. But without water, we can’t survive. Though some remarkable progress has been achieved in making clean water accessible throughout the world, there are still numerous ways to make clean water available through better sanitation and hygiene practices.

Check out our other articles to learn more about pollution, climate change, and other environmental aspects, and post your suggestions in the comments section as well.


Thumbnail Image: By MrGauravBhosle - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48941463
1: Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
2: By Sampa - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64801054
3: By Balaram Mahalder - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22491613