By using more water than we receive, our aquifers, rivers and lakes are disappearing; more than half of the world’s wetland have disappeared. Water shortages result in pressure on the supply of food and production of goods, leading to migration and possible conflict. With an increasing population and climate change accelerating water scarcity, water could be the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century.
Global water crisis in numbers:
- 844 million people lack basic drinking water access, more than 1 of every 10 people on the planet.
- Women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours hauling water every day.
- The average woman in rural Africa walks 6 kilometers every day to haul 40 pounds of water.
- Every day, more than 800 children under age 5 die from diarrhoea attributed to poor water and sanitation.
- 2.3 billion people live without access to basic sanitation.
- 892 million people practice open defecation.
- 90 percent of all natural disasters are water-related.
Water connects every aspect of life, the majority of the people which live in isolated rural areas spend hours every day walking to collect water for their families. Not only does walking for water keep children out of school or take up time that parents could be using to earn money, but the water often carries diseases that can make everyone sick.
Access to safe water and sanitation can quickly turn problems into potential, resulting in empowering people with time for school and work, and contributing to improved health for women, children, and families around the world.
Access to clean water means education, income and health, especially for women and kids.
While water isn’t the most popular topic among humanitarians and NGOs, it is undoubtably an increasing, distressing concern. According to the CDC, 780 million people worldwide do not have access to a clean water source, and an estimated 2.5 billion do not have access to improved sanitation. These stats gravely contribute to 3.4 million people who die each year from waterborne diseases, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, as reported by the World Health Organization (Oosterveen).
With 3.575 million people dying each year from water-related disease, our current water crisis is one of epic proportions. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by those suffering from illness brought on by limited access to safe drinking water, poor hygiene and sanitation.
How are women and girls affected by lack of clean water?
Women and girls bear the greatest burden because in the developing world they are most likely to be responsible for hauling water to their homes. They spend an estimated 200 million hours collecting water every day. The average African woman walks 6 kilometers to haul 40 pounds of water each day. This daily grind saps her energy for other activities and robs her of the opportunity to spend this time with her family, or pursue school and income activities to improve their lives.
Girls who attend school until adolescence are more likely to drop out when they start menstruating unless their school has clean water, latrines, sanitary supplies, and hygiene training. Helping young women to manage menstrual health is not just about providing appropriate facilities, but also includes addressing social norms.
At childbirth, lack of sanitation, clean water, and proper hygiene contribute to high rates of disease and death among mothers and newborns in the developing world. World Vision is accelerating its push to bring clean water, latrines, and hand-washing facilities to more health clinics to assure safer deliveries.
What are the benefits of water, sanitation, and hygiene for children and families?
An investment in clean water, combined with basic sanitation and hygiene education, is one of the most effective ways to improve lives and fight extreme poverty. The benefits include:
- Families become healthier: Water, sanitation, and hygiene programs work together to powerfully prevent the spread of most illnesses, and are one of the most effective ways to reduce child deaths.
- Children are better nourished: Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene help kids grow taller, smarter, and stronger. They get more nutrition from the food they eat because they are not sick. Families are able to use water to irrigate gardens for more nutritious food year-round.
- Children can attend and excel in school: When children don’t have to walk long distances to get water, they have more time to attend school and more energy to learn. This is especially important for girls, who most often collect water for the family.
- Family income improves: Families spend less money on healthcare and are better able pay for things like school supplies and fees. Water also is used for income-generating activities like making soap, bricks, and shea butter, as well as watering livestock and gardens.
How to help?
The global water crisis demands different solutions. Providing water and building wells is one approach we see from organisations like charitywater. Bringing clean water to people looks different in each country. Water sources, terrain, and population all play a part in determining what technology is required to serve people well, but there’s a solution to everything
A different approach is offering small loans called “WaterCredits” like the ones from water.org. Their solutions focus on empowerment through access to affordable financing. For millions around the world, access to funds stands between them and safe water in their home. Their solutions focus on breaking down this financial barrier and bringing hope and opportunity to those in need.
Companies like Dutch elemental water makers offer desalination powered by renewable energy. This involves the challenge to couple a constant reverse osmosis process to fluctuating solar, wind or wave energy. To enjoy independent clean water at any location, they have a solar powered reverse osmosis solution assisted by batteries that works everywhere. Combined state-of-the-art solar panels and battery technology allows efficient reverse osmosis, while minimising battery size. The batteries used require no maintenance, are suitable for warm climates and enjoy a long lifetime. This plug & play off-grid solution is containerised to be quickly commissioned in a matter of days. The solar panels are placed on top of the container. The high-efficiency solar powered reverse osmosis is equipped with remote monitoring for control and designed for simple operation. All components are purpose-built to survive corrosive environments and ensure a long lifetime. Find out more in their video
Another company, the Finnish solar water solutions is offering a similar product. Their reverse osmosis “watermakers” can run as the main water source or parallel to your existing system. Their modularity means they scale to your needs. Water produced with their system has been certified as excellent quality drinking water according to the World Health Organization (WHO) standards. They use modern thin-film composite RO (Reverse Osmosis) membranes, which remove all impurities, bacteria, viruses and other contaminants from the feed water, leaving only high-quality water as the end product. Activated Carbon filter and the UV treatment at the end of the purification process give the drinking water a good taste and ensure its 100% disinfection. The International Water Association (IWA) has declared that water treated by RO (Reverse Osmosis) method is pure, clean and healthy.
Use the same innovative technology in your own home to enjoy your tap water safely
Reverse osmosis technology is part of many home water filtration systems which are available on the market today. To ensure that your system is always running on peak performance and optimal efficiency the filters have to be changed regularly. The lifetime of a filter depends on two variables, the inlet water quality and your consumption. One of the only purifiers that track this data online is the Osmo from Osmosys, this ensures best water quality with the smallest environmental impact. Check out more here.