Water scarcity and stress: Leaving no one behind

27 Jan 2020 22:29:43
Dr BK Mukhopadhyay and Dr Boidurjo Mukhopadhyay
A snapshot takeaway from theWorld Health Organizations’ report on global water scenario:
·    In 2017, 5.3 billion peopleused a safely managed drinking-water service (i.e. one located on premisesand free from contamination)
·    6.8 billion people used at least a basic service. A basic service is an improved drinking-water source within a round trip of 30 minutes to collect water.
·    785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water.
·    About 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with Faeces.
·    Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 485 000 diarrheal deaths each year.
·    By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
·    In least developed countries, 22 percent of health care facilities have no water service, 21percent no sanitation service, and 22 percent no waste management service.
Water use has been increasing globally by about 1percent every year since the 1980s, contributedby population growth, socio-economic development and changing consumption patterns.
Global water demand has been set to continue rising at a similar pace until 2050, accounting for an increase of 20-30 percent above the current level of water use, with an increased demand from both industrial and domestic sectors.
About 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress, and 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity for at least a month every year.
Water stress is defined as the ratio between water withdrawals (i.e., domestic, agricultural, and industrial water uses) and available renewable water supplies.
Water scarcity means scarcity in availability (i.e. physical shortage) due to failure of institutions to ensure a regular supply or due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.
Safe drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights, they are indispensable to sustaining healthy livelihoods and fundamental in maintaining the dignity of all human beings.
International Human Rights law obliges states to work towards achieving universal access to water and sanitation for all, without discrimination, while prioritizing those most in need.
Fulfilment these requires that services be safely available, physically accessible, equitably affordable. Water availability depends upon the amount of water physically available, andalso how it is stored, managed and allocated to various users.
It therefore relates to surface water and groundwater management,alongside water recycling and reuse.
Water management for smallholder family farmers need to consider both rainfed and irrigated agriculture.
Approximately 80 percent  of the global cropland is rainfed, and 60% of the world’s food is produced on rainfed land.
The 2019 UN Water initiative called ‘Leaving No One Behind’ suggested how improvements in water resources management and access to water supply and sanitation services are essential to addressing various social and economic inequities.
Water scarcity is entwined with environmentprotection, poverty alleviation and promoting development; globally more than 2.5 billion people live in the most abysmalstandards of hygiene and sanitation. Wastage of water and absence of regularclean water supply not only to the burgeoning metropolis but to huge ruralregions also simultaneously coexists.
The mighty Colorado river, North America, seldom meets the sea. One third ofthe U S and one fifth of Spain still suffer from water stress.
Central Africa’sLake Chad, supporting the very life of 30 million plus people has already shrunkone-tenth of its former size, the negative contributory factors being climatechange, drought, poor management and over use, among others.
(To be contd)
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