Water Shortages Around the World

Over 60 percent of the entire freshwater is trapped in the Antarctic.

According to the United Nations agencies,

“The world is blessed with a good supply of freshwater. The sad thing is that this supply of freshwater is not equally distributed and there is an increase in the demand for the supply of fresh water.”

Agriculture Organization

Over 97 percent of the water supply in the world is made up of salty water, and the majority of them are oceans and seas. This does not mean that there is no supply of freshwater. According to United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ‘Annually, over 42.8 trillion cubic meters of renewable freshwater undergoes a water cycle in which waters are circulated as groundwater, rain and surface water’. This number equates to 16,216 liters of water available for each person for each day. In other words, this is more than 4 times more than the quantity of water needed in the United States for personal, industrial and domestic consumption. A person requires between 2,000 and 5,000 liters of water daily depending on the person’s general lifestyle and diet. This is needed to meet sanitary and drinking needs of the individual.

Over 60 percent of the entire freshwater is trapped in the Antarctic. Out of the remaining 40% or less, over a quarter of it is in the Latin and Central America. This quantity is over 60 times bigger than the quantity of freshwater available in North Africa and the Middle Eastern countries. In reality, there is enough water to tend to the growing need of the world’s water demands. It requires a change in the way water is managed and used to achieve this.

In a recent research carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization, it was discovered that more than 45 countries are currently going through water shortages. That is, less than a million liters of water is available for each person annually. Some of the countries that are going through this water shortage include Cyprus, Morocco and South Africa. Meanwhile, other countries like Israel, Algeria, and Qatar are said to suffer from extreme water shortage. The United Nations has also warned against over-dependence on groundwater which over a third of the world’s population is dependent on. It warned that groundwater reserves in India’s Ganges basin, California’s central valley and Southern Spain and Italy may be drained dry within the coming decades. On the other hand, countries like Russia, Peru, and Canada make use of just a percent of its renewable freshwater. While countries like Bahrain and Israel are said to have overused their supply of renewable freshwater by 8,925 percent and 261 percent respectively.

The use of freshwater doubled between 1964 and 2014 as a result of urbanization, population growth, industrialization and an increase in production. Not just that, the demand for water in major cities around the world is expected to increase by up to 50 percent in 2030. Farming is the largest area that requires water consumption. This takes up over 70 percent of freshwater, and most of it goes into irrigation, while industry and household consume 19 percent and 11 percent respectively.