News / Africa

Will There be Enough Water for Everyone?

An Indian ragpicker boy drinks water from a tap at an automobile yard on the outskirts of Jammu, India.An Indian ragpicker boy drinks water from a tap at an automobile yard on the outskirts of Jammu, India.
x
An Indian ragpicker boy drinks water from a tap at an automobile yard on the outskirts of Jammu, India.
An Indian ragpicker boy drinks water from a tap at an automobile yard on the outskirts of Jammu, India.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
As the global population grows, so does the need for water. The Worldwatch Institute says increased demands for food, energy and industry, along with climate change, could lead to water scarcity in some places. The warning comes on World Water Day, March 22.


Worldwatch says billions of people are already facing some kind of water scarcity or shortage. Spokesperson Supriya Kumar said that it’s only expected to get worse as the population increases.

“Over 1.2 billion are basically living in areas of physical water scarcity. And almost 1.6 billion face economic water shortage. And these are really extreme numbers. And as our population continues to grow there’s just going to be more problems. And we’re going to really have to face drastic measures in order to make sure the people have access to water.”

There are several types of water scarcity. The first is called “physical.”

“Physical water scarcity really just means that there’s not enough actual water to meet all demands. Water is not distributed evenly. Areas in the Middle East, in northern China, in northwestern India – very arid regions – where there’s just not enough water. And so there’s just not physical availability,” said Kumar.

And then there’s economic water scarcity.

“Economic water scarcity refers to just the lack of investment in water programs and water capacity. And that’s something seen in large parts of Africa, where there’s actually physical water available, but just not enough investment made to make sure that water is available and accessible to the people that live in that region,” she said.

Kumar said that action to relieve these problems can be taken on the local, national and regional levels.

“In terms of the local level,” she said, “we could put more investment into water harvesting – into better methods of reusing water that’s wasted -- treating it to be reused for agriculture or for other industries.”

On the national level, the Worldwatch Institute recommends that governments develop better water policies, which could include fewer or revised agricultural subsidies.

“For example, in India, a lot of farmers have subsidies that provide them with the use of electricity for 24 hours without any fees. And so, that leads them to pump water constantly, which is really depleting the ground water,” she said.

Worldwatch says, globally, 70 percent of what’s called “water withdrawals” is for agriculture; 19 percent for industry and 11 percent for municipal demands. Some of the countries with very high withdrawals include India, China and the United States.

Many water sources are not confined within a particular country’s borders. Rivers and lakes are often used by several nations and therefore regional agreements would be needed on water use.

Climate change – with its rising global temperatures – has a direct effect on water scarcity, said Kumar, especially when it comes to rainfall.

“The changes in the rainfall patterns seriously affect some of the sectors, especially agriculture, for example. In India, a lot of farmers are unable to prepare for what crops they’re going to grow because they’re just not sure of the amount of rainfall they’re going to receive and when they’re going to receive that rainfall. And that’s the large effect that climate change is having.”

Kumar said that uncertainty about rainfall can directly affect food security.

What’s more, the Worldwatch Institute expects that in the Mediterranean basin and the semi-arid areas of the Americas, Australia and southern Africa, there will be reductions in river runoff. It also expects aquifers – underground water saturated rock – to take much longer to recharge. In Asia, large areas of irrigated land could be adversely affected by changes in water runoff patterns.

Also, highly populated delta regions could be affected by reduced fresh water runoff, rising sea levels and greater salinity.

The Worldwatch Institute’s concerns about water scarcity can found in its online Vital Signs reports.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid