Issue of Drinking Water Scarcity in Developing Countries

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Do you expect to take another breath of life in the next 90 seconds? Most of us will confidently say yes, but for a child somewhere on earth, it will be his/her last. What evil entity can possibly take the life of an innocent child so frequently? Water. But this isn’t the kind of water that most of us in developed countries are used to, this type of water contains bacteria and viruses that cause illnesses which ultimately result in the death of many children under the age of five.

Due to water related illness and dehydration almost 1,000 children die each day, and over three million adults each year, yet, most of us in modern countries go about our everyday lives without ever knowing about this massive crisis that is becoming exponentially worse each year. We as a collaborative civilization need to appreciate the value and scarcity of our current clean water reserves, by implementing better water conservation practices. Improvised global legislative action is also required to ensure proper water sanitation as well as the mandatory development for a sustainable and efficient method to increase our clean water reserves.

According to the Safe Drinking Water Act, to be considered safe drinking water, means the water must lack any physical, chemical, biological and radiological contaminants (https://www.epa.gov/ccl/types-drinking-water-contaminants). Contaminate free water isn’t only important for biological nourishment, but is also used to cook food with, as well as hygienic purposes such as hand washing, showering etc. Clean water is a requirement in our everyday lives, yet there is still a large population of people around the world who don’t have access to sufficient amounts of this invaluable compound.

1 in 9 people don’t have safe clean water close to home (“Assessing Access to Water & Sanitation”), in other words, that’s almost two and a half times the population of the united states who lack access to this necessity for sustainable life. Water scarcity isn’t a static issue, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, by 2050, 1 in 5 developing countries will face water shortages. The numbers only look more and more bleak as more time elapses, and without a radical change to our current water practices the extinction of the human race on earth is just an impending mathematical fact.

Over time numerous civilizations have peaked and then gradually fettered out or even disappeared abruptly. In many cases, the cause of both their rise and disintegration was the same: Water. One example is the Indus Valley Civilization, located in present-day Pakistan and India, was based around the Indus River as early as 2,600 BCE. Their efficient management of water resources has led archeologists to consider it an extremely advanced civilization for its time calling it, The Bronze Age. (Civilizations, Ancient and Present, Depend on Water.”).

Even in today’s developed world, using the United States as an example, we can see that regions with increased water sources such as: rivers, lakes and oceans, result in an increase of population density. This not only proves our innate desire to be around water but the requirement of water for a thriving and successful population.

The issue isn’t a scarcity of water on earth, but rather the rapid depletion of fresh water that humans can utilize for drinking, cooking, and use for hygienic purposes. It’s no coincidence that the only known planet today with confirmed life on it, has a surface comprised of 70% water. Out of all the water on earth’s surface, 97.5% of it is salt water, which is unusable for human consumption. The remaining 2.5% is fresh water that we depend on for survival, but not all 2.5% is currently accessible to us. 1.8% out of the 3% is trapped in ice caps and glaciers, leaving us with only 0.7% accessible fresh water that is found in the ground. Out of that 0.7%, 0.5% goes to agriculture, leaving 7.6 billion humans to rely on 0.2% of earth’s fresh water supply.

Earth’s population is set on a consistent track of growth each year, by 2050 it is estimated that there will be 10 billion humans living on earth. This is a 31% increase from the current population number today, the obvious issue arises when we realize that while our population is on an exponential rise, our limited supply of fresh water is on an exponential depletion. Population increase necessarily requires increased food production. To supply one person with 2800 calories per day, one thousand cubic meters of water are needed. It is estimated that within thirty years, a fourteen percent increase in freshwater will be needed to supply the expected twenty percent growth in irrigated land. If human consumption outpaces natural restoration, the quality and quantity of remaining freshwater sources suffers, and will eventually dry up.

Because water is a contributing element to nearly every bodily function, the human body cannot survive for more than a few days without it (Curry). According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water, and more than 5 million people die every year from contaminated water or water-related diseases (Cain). Water-related diseases, have taken more children’s lives in the last ten years than the combined deaths of those lost in armed combat worldwide over the last sixty years (Curry).

These children are the future generation that we rely on to one day be the leaders, progressors and innovators of our world, yet they are being wiped out in masses due to dehydration! Not only do we have an already scarce and depleting source of fresh water around the globe, but we also have the issue of contaminated water. For those that live past the age of 5, they now face risk of disease or illness due to a pandemic of contaminated water sources globally. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces. Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 502,000 diarrheal deaths each year.

In low- and middle-income countries, 38% of health care facilities lack an improved water source, 19% do not have improved sanitation, and 35% lack water and soap for hand washing. This issue not only affects people in underdeveloped countries. The water company Niagara bottling reported a positive outbreak of E. coli contamination in their water in June of 2015, and recalled water bottles for 14 brands of water, all of which they provide water to. This goes to show that all of us around the globe is being affected by our lack of sanitized fresh water.

In most regions of the world, over 70 percent of freshwater is used for agriculture. By 2050, feeding a planet of 9 billion people will require an estimated 50 percent increase in agricultural production and a 15 percent increase in water withdrawals. Water is indispensable for farming, but many countries grow crops that are unsuitable for the local climate and soil, often because government subsidies make growing those crops profitable. The agriculture industry’s poor drainage and irrigation systems also squander precious water.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that only 20 to 50 percent of water extracted for farming actually reaches the crops. With traditional flood irrigation systems, farmers pump or manually bring water to the fields where it simply flows through the crop area. If the fields aren’t flat, water ends up pooling in the lower areas and misses the higher areas altogether. Switching to a more efficient method of irrigation could save water, for example, drip irrigation is a much more controlled method of watering, where water slowly trickles from feeder hoses to very specific areas.

An examination of water consumption data over the past century illuminates a clear trend of abuse. In the last four decades, worldwide water use has doubled to more than 1,700 liters per person per day. Water consumption essentially grows by a factor of two every twenty years. This rate is twice that of global population increases, suggesting that mere increase in population is not a sufficient explanation for the problem.

Expansion of Western and modernizing influences are at the root of this discrepancy between consumption and population growth: while societal advances such as greater accessibility to indoor plumbing are partially to blame, the growing industrial demands for water put the most pressure on water resources. Industrial consumption of water accounts for more than ninety percent of total human water use, effectively limiting. the supply available for domestic use. By 2025, industrial water use will be more than 200% greater than 1995 levels. Within industrial applications, agricultural is the largest consumer of water, totaling seventy percent of all human water use.

Some skeptics of a fresh water crisis might say, why not just drink for bottled water? Well, according to some water experts there are worries that increased sales of bottled water to the developing world will reduce pressure on governments to provide basic access to non-bottled water (Cain). There is also a concern that the world’s poorest people will have to spend a significant amount of their already low incomes to purchase bottled water (Cain). Besides, should we really pay a premium that is several hundred times more for bottled water when we can demand reliable, high-quality tap water, which costs $.50 per cubic meter in California (Cain)? Water scarcity will have the worst impact on people who live in the lower part of the socioeconomic scale.

Eighty percent of those without access to adequate water sources are the rural poor, and that lack of access perpetuates the cycle of poverty. The poor pay more than their wealthier counterparts for adequate drinking water, further exacerbating their dire economic situation. In addition, poor people are less able to cope with the negative health consequences of poor water and sanitation. Illness prevents participation in income generating activity or attendance at school, and often further frustrates any possibility of advancement.

Even minor changes, like providing adequate drinking water and sanitation at schools, improves attendance rates and reduces dropout rates. The other demographic group most affected by water scarcity is women. Nearly seventy percent of those “living in extreme poverty are women,” and women perform “80% of water-related work,” i.e., collecting and transporting. Collecting water is a very dangerous obligation: women are not only exposed to contaminated water sources, but they also face risks of injury and violence as they journey to and from collection sites. Carrying buckets of water, often miles at a time, also takes a physical toll on women’s bodies.

The global water crisis continues to get compounded each year, what we shouldn’t do is sit and wait for our own demise. Current water conservation policies rarely extend beyond reducing the frequency of watering lawns or washing cars. Only 5 of 22 nations have met the modest UN goal of spending 0.7 percent of a nation’s gross national income on overseas development assistance. And only a fraction of all international assistance is spent on water and sanitation projects. From 1999 to 2001, an average of only $3 billion annually was provided for water supply and sanitation projects (Cain). There are two things to start working on now, in order to delay and potentially reverse the effects of water scarcity.

First, we need a method of producing and conserving more fresh water. This is potentially the best solution to curbing a global dehydration crisis. By doing this we will no longer be captive to earth’s limited and diminishing fresh water supply. We know that earth has a lot of water, yet we are only using 0.7% of it, why? There is an obvious solution, process fresh water from earth’s other water supplies, specifically, ocean water. Our most viable option is to manufacture a desalination plant, this will filter out any salt and other minerals found ocean water. We already have desalination plants across the globe, but all of them are considered exorbitantly expensive, require large amounts of energy and environmentally damaging. With modern technology dramatically advancing every year, there is no reason why we cannot engineer more efficient desalination plants.

After constructing a sustainable process of fresh water supply, we then need to call on our governments to enact strict guidelines to ensure drinking water is being thoroughly sanitized. We should not have to fear about illness or death associated with drinking water that is advertised to be clean and fresh. Another milestone is to acquire good water conservation practices. We should be conscious about the way we use water in our everyday lives, ensuring that we make the best effort to not waste clean water unnecessarily.

Cite this paper

Issue of Drinking Water Scarcity in Developing Countries. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/issue-of-drinking-water-scarcity-in-developing-countries/

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