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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora