Facts of the Global Water Crisis
Updated: Jan 23
Safe water is something that most people in the developed world take for granted because it’s easily accessible and inexpensive. All most people need to do is turn on the tap, and an infinite supply of clean water—safe for drinking, bathing, cleaning, watering the garden, and doing the laundry—is at their disposal. In addition, people can purchase bottled water just about anywhere.
Many parts of the world don’t have easy or affordable access to clean, safe water. It’s a massive problem. Don’t be put off by the staggering numbers. They’re so large they’re difficult to grasp. While the numbers are essential to convey the scope of the problem, they’re only numbers, and it’s critical to remember that they represent real people who have hopes and dreams.
Solving the water crisis seems overwhelming. Although it will require significant investments and changes, great strides can be accomplished without sweeping maneuvers. But, understanding the facts is the first step in making changes.
7 Global Water Crisis Facts
Today, the lives of more than one billion people—including 450 million children— are at risk because they live in high or extremely high water vulnerability areas.
The water crisis is a health crisis, especially for children. Contaminated water kills nearly a million people each year, including more than 600,000 children under five who perish from waterborne illness in developing countries.
The water crisis has devastating effects on women and children. In most of the world’s developing countries, the primary responsibility of collecting water falls on women and children who spend many hours fetching water. In addition to the many dangers involved, the time spent on water collection interferes with schooling and employment.
Two billion people, or about one in four, lack toilet or latrine access, exposing them to a long list of severe diseases. Poor sanitation transmits cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio and exacerbates stunting.
More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.
Unsafe water and a lack of sanitation contribute to malnutrition. Regardless of how much food a malnourished child eats, if they drink contaminated water they will not get better. In addition, malnourished children are also more vulnerable to waterborne diseases like cholera.
Displacement, caused by conflict or drought, forces families to relocate, making them more vulnuerable. When families flee, they’re frequently forced to establish makeshift camps where the only water sources are polluted. In addition, the lack of toilets also drives disease outbreaks.
Worldwide Repercussions of the Water Crisis
Water scarcity is a severe threat with potentially devastating consequences. Aside from any benevolent reasons people may have to help people suffering from a lack of access to clean water, ensuring clean water accessibility is vital to everyone. The impact of a global water crisis doesn’t only affect people in developing countries; in the long term, it could have a disastrous effect on the entire world.
Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water withdrawals worldwide and plays a significant role in water pollution. Large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues, sediments, and saline from farming flow into water bodies. Diminishing water sources will make it increasingly difficult for food production to keep pace with rising demand as the global population expands.
Water and energy are intertwined. For example, the two most common forms of power—hydropower and thermoelectric—make up 98 percent of the world’s electricity generation. Unfortunately, they are also the most water-intensive power sources, making them extremely vulnerable to drought, competition over water resources, and other water shortages.
It’s projected that the demand for global electricity will grow by 70 percent by 2035, with India and China accounting for half of that growth.
Experts estimate that half of the world’s population will live in areas of high water stress by 2030. Building a thriving economy is challenging without access to clean, safe water available for farming, industry, and individual use. A lack of clean water can also affect worker productivity by causing illnesses, and higher water costs for individuals can reduce household disposable income.
Another Fact About the Global Water Crisis: It’s Solvable!
The global water crisis is solvable! While all of the facts mentioned above are concerning, perhaps the most important fact is that solutions are available. Best of all, many projects that enable people to access clean, safe water are also sustainable and don’t require excessive amounts of money.
Thirst Relief International works with local partners and trains residents to deliver cost-effective and sustainable projects that deliver clean water, safe sanitation, and employment opportunities. We work with each community we serve to develop and implement the most effective solutions for their needs.
You Can Make a Difference
The Thirst Relief team and its partners are committed to working tirelessly to ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. Your support delivers clean water solutions where it’s needed most and helps alleviate the global water crisis.
Every dollar donated helps keep children healthy and safe, lifts families from poverty, and provides employment opportunities.