There can not be any doubt that water is a key element in our life. It is fundamental to all human activities. Water grows the food we eat, generates the energy that supports our modern economies and maintains the ecological services on which we all depend. Yet billions of people lack access to safe, clean, adequate water which, is the most basic human right. The majority of these people are living in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, the poorest in the world.
Water covers about two-thirds of the Earth's surface. If so, then why we often hear about water problems around the globe? It is because most of the available water is too salty for use. Only 2.5% of the world's water is not salty, out of which, another two-thirds is locked up in the icecaps and glaciers. Another important point is: out of whatever water is available, nearly one-fifth is in remote areas, and much of the rest arrives at the wrong time and place, as monsoons and floods.
The researches show that water crisis & global warming are the two most prominent worrying factors for the world in this new millennium. Water availability and distribution are threatened all around the world. Industrial and agriculture activities cause heavy water consumption. Precipitation patterns are changing locations and are becoming heavier, briefer and less frequent around the globe. Drought is increasing as precipitation over land is getting decreased, while evaporation is becoming more thanks to the pollution and global warming issues. Energy production is another drain, threatening to tap out an already stressed resource. Pollution is also a big threat in making the available water unsafe. Meanwhile, world population is expected to grow from six to nine billion by 2050. In addition to this, people's desire for better living standards is also not doing any good to the cause. Add it all up, and the world appears to be facing an unsustainable thirst for water.
Water scarcity has been on the agendas for some time, but it seems that despite some daunting figures, the alarm bells are just not loud enough. Organizations like world water forum discuss about the issue, a short time media hype is created; but, gradually everything settles to normal. Scientist are concerned about the crisis, but the political leaders, who only look at the next election, often fail to see the present problem being converted into crisis. At present, most of the governments are seeking to solve their water problems by turning away from reliance on rainfall and surface water, and using subterranean supplies of groundwater instead. But that is like making constant withdrawals from a bank account without depositing a penny into it.
Many people think that water may be a cause to a possible next 'world war'. Almost half the world’s population lives in 263 international river basins. However, most of these basins have no treaties to share the water. The threat of over-exploitation of the available resources may potentially lead to the subject of disputes. Even if water crisis may not cause any 'world war' as such, some think that we might witness the phenomenon of 'water refugees' as soon as in the next 15 years, due to droughts and glacier retreats. United Nations reports suggest that about 50% of the world population will live in water-stressed conditions in the next 15 years.
The polluted water has direct and unacceptable consequences: drink dirty water and you get sick. We often hear about the consequences of arsenic poisoning found in the available water in the Terai region of Nepal as well as, in several parts of India, Pakistan & Bangladesh. We know that all of the water caused diseases are completely preventable; but we don't have a strong will power and commitment to actually prevent it.
We should act right now, to prevent the present water problem turning into a crisis. As the urban areas are already over populated, I don't think our cities are ready to accept additional 'water refugees'. At last, I leave you, the readers, with an interesting but brainstorming power point slides to take a look: