Water is a natural resource that is required by every human being on the planet. Besides air, water is a commodity that all living things require for survival. A third of the earth is covered by water but only one percent of that water is fresh and drinkable. Humans require water for many uses, drinking; washing, cleaning and agriculture are some of these uses. Animals and plants too that are raised for consumption also require water for growth. Water is therefore a fundamental human need that needs to be well managed to ensure all people have access. The world population has increased tremendously over the years making water to become the most important resource for all. Many factors have contributed to water becoming a crisis in the world.
People consume a lot of water. The daily needs of human beings from washing, cooking and cleaning consume a lot of water. Water is thus needed by all human beings to fulfill their basic needs. Water had not been a source of concern in the last century since there was enough clean water for all. However, the population increase in the last century has put strain on this resource. It is projected that the world population will increase by another 40 to 50% in the net fifty years. This means that the water we have today will have to be shared by an increased number of people. This will put more strain on the available water leading more people to miss this basic commodity. The population today is already grappling with water scarcity thus it is unimaginable what a larger population will have to bear.
Industries and new towns to house the bigger population will need water. As of today, more than 80% of water is used to run factories and industries that produce goods for human consumption (Jarvis, 38). An increase in the world population would increase the number of industries and factories. This, in turn, would translate to an increase in the amount of water used to run these industries. This would eventually translate to a conflict on the water distribution leaving more people without water. Today, the factories already pose a threat to the human population since they consume a lot of water (Brown, 4). They contribute to the water conflict experienced worldwide. Urbanization leads to an increase in water consumption since all the new buildings and homes will need a lot of water to run. This, in turn, contributes to the increase in water use and leads to a water crises.
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Studies done have shown that there is more water generated as waste today than at any other time in the history of the world (Fannin, 24). This means that factories and other consumers like homes consume fresh water but only produce wastewater. Being the biggest consumers, they contribute to the deterioration of the environment with the wastewater. This is water that is contaminated and as such it cannot be consumed for domestic use or for agriculture. It becomes a crisis since more and more water is used yet only waste water is generated. The wastewater only contributes to environmental pollution and is of no good for any living thing. Most of this water is too contaminated and it kills plants and animals when it gets in contact with them. All this wastewater contributes to the overall water crisis experienced in the world.
The water crisis is mostly felt in the developing and third world countries. Studies have shown that nearly 1.1 billion people lack access to clean and safe drinking water (Fannin, 23). This is means that one in every six people has no access to clean water. At this rate, within the next fifty years, almost a quarter of the world population will lack safe drinking water. Majority of these countries lack the necessary measures to manage the water they have to meet all their needs. This leaves the largest number of marginalized people in the world without safe drinking water. These people have to walk for long distances at a time in search of safe drinking water. There are no water catchment areas and all the water from rainfall goes to waste further contributing to the water crises. Rainwater is the main source of clean water and in the absence of clear and effective mechanisms to harvest the water as it rains makes all that water to go to waste. The marginalized people form the largest population that is afflicted by the water crisis. The poor countries have no money to develop mechanisms to assist them to harvest rainwater for use later. Thus their populations continue living without this basic necessity.
Water is necessary for the production of food. Humans and animals alike rely on plants for the production of food. The water crisis means that with time there will be less water for the purpose of growing crops thus contributes to the reduction of food security (Brown, 9). Animals need plants for food too and the lack of water means that the animals that humans consume will be reduced. It is, therefore, necessary that we all take into considerations the needs of the animals as they too require water for survival. Animals contribute a lot to the human food chain and a reduction of these animal numbers will send the food chain into a crisis. Due to the increase in lifestyle diseases, more and more people are resulting to consumption of plant foods (Pierce, 12). This will strain the production of plant-based food sources since there is less water to produce the plant food. Changes in food consumption can assist in the reduction of water needed to produce food. Studies have shown that 100 liters of water are needed to produce a kilogram of potatoes while 13000 liters of water is needed to produce a kilogram of beef (Jarvis, 22)
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There are more people on the planet in need of processed products and processed food which requires water for processing. This, In turn, means that all available water has to be shared between homes and industries. This contributes to the increase in a water crisis. The 2nd World Water Forum held a crisis meeting where they stressed the need for all people to take responsibility of water. Everyone needs water to meet all their daily needs thus everyone should take responsibility to use the little water they have effectively.
The World Bank says that there are more than 80 countries across the world in dire need of interventions to assist in water security. More than 2 billion people across this countries experience water shortages to such high levels that it threatens their health and overall economies. The World Bank also states that the demand for water across the world has more than doubled in the last 21 years in some parts of the world. As such the water crisis is just but increasing meaning that more people will be in need of water in the next 21 years. This comes at a time when the world is grappling with global warming which is a large contributor to changes in the environment. This in turn has changed the rainfall patterns and reduced the water levels in rivers and the oceans.
As a community all in need of water, we should all take care of the water that we have now and seek for ways to harvest as much rainwater as possible for later use to avert a water crisis. Water treatment and recycling mechanisms are necessary for the good utilization of the water we have today. Water is predicted to become a scarce commodity likely to cause wars between countries. It may as well overtake oil as a future cause of conflict in its distribution and use.