March 22, 2014, marks the Annual UN observance of World Water Day. This year’s theme is “Water and Energy”.
Water covers 70% of the world’s surface, but only 3% is fresh water and only 1% is drinkable. However, of that mere 1%, 90% of it is contained in icebergs and glaciers, leaving only 0.1% of water as potable water.
Of that 0.1% of potable drinking water, 50% is used by industries in industrialized nations, which leaves the rest of the world with 0.05% to fight over!
The Pending Water Crisis
Currently, 880 million people do not have access to potable water and 80% of illnesses in developing nations are water related. It is estimated by The Water Project (Say which organization you got this from) that by 2050, 65% of the world will be struck with water shortages.
The UN and Water
In July 2010 the UN reached an important milestone in which water and sanitation was declared a Human Right. The right provides that:
- Individuals should have access to sufficient water (50-100 liters per person per day);
- Water must be safe, affordable and acceptable (no more than 3% of a single households income);
- Water should be physically accessible (no further than 1km and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes).
The UN’s main mechanism for freshwater and sanitation matters is UN Water. It was established in 2003 to work as an “inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater and sanitation related matters”.
UN Water’s 2014 Objectives
- “Raise awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy;
- Contribute to a policy dialogue that focuses on the broad range of issues related to the nexus of water and energy;
- Demonstrate, through case studies, to decision makers in the energy sector and the water domain that integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues can achieve greater economic and social impacts;
- Identify policy formulation and capacity development issues in which the UN system, in particular UN-Water and UN-Energy, can offer significant contributions;
- Identify key stakeholders in the water-energy nexus and actively engaging them in further developing the water-energy linkages;
Contribute as relevant to the post-2015 discussions in relation to the water-energy nexus.”
(Source:-UN Water website)
Past and Current Droughts
Droughts are today more prevalent than they were prior to the 20th century. Many attribute this to global warming, which is attributed to the greenhouse effect.
Current droughts in California and Australia are worse than ever before. This year, California’s drought is the worst they have seen in decades. In Australia, the Millennium Drought (2000-present) has been the worst and longest drought since its settlement by westerners.
Scientists predict that droughts around the world will continue to increase, and will have worse effects on surrounding populations. For more information on the growth of droughts around the world, please click here.
Your Help to Solve this Crisis
Efforts to resolve this crisis can be divided into two groups: individual efforts and community efforts.
|Individual Efforts||Community Efforts|
|Take no more than 5-minute showers (lowers your use to about 35 gallons per shower). An 8 minute shower uses 54 gallons! Cut it down 3 minutes and save 23 gallons!||Make posters and post them around your neighborhood, helping people know about the issue is half the battle.|
|Don’t fill the bathtub the whole way (a ½ tub can save you 14-18 gallons per bath).||Write letters to your government representatives expressing concern.|
|Turn off the water when brushing your teeth (Saves 8-12 gallons of water per day!).||Create petitions to lower the price of water in your community, state/province, and/or country.|
If the 4 billion people who have access to indoor plumbing limit their water consumption with these easy measures and steps we will save…. About 150 billion gallons per year!
Additionally, if industries around the world cut their water consumption by only 10%, we will have enough water to solve the water crisis in Africa!
Although making water potable and transporting it is a costly process, these are remarkable figures to keep in mind next time we take a long shower or leave on the faucet.