Will the World’s Available Water Quench the Thirst of 7billion People? By Jide Niyi-Leigh

The word water brings to mind different thoughts. To the thirsty, a glass of cold water comes to mind, to the farmer, thick clouds and rain on his dry farm, to a surfer, a sunny day at the beach paints the perfect picture and relaxing in a bath tub or jacuzzi best explains water to some privileged few. Mentioning water in some villages in Africa only reminds most women and children of the almost unending journeys to the faraway streams along dusty roads.

Water is one natural resource that no single individual interested in his or her own continuous existence can do without. Humans are made up of 75% water; it is only natural that we are being maintained by it. Our crops, animals, and even industries depend on it. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD shows that 70% of all water taken from rivers and groundwater sources is consumed by agriculture, 20% by industry, and the remaining 10% is left for domestic consumption. It would therefore be an understatement to say that our lives revolve around it!

Water is fast becoming an issue of global concern. According to the Global Risks Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, every year, it was evaluated that the risk of a global water shortage ranked second in terms of impact consecutively for 2 years even when it was never among the top 5 risks 5 years before.

With the world population exploding to about 7billion people, coupled with the advent of technology which brought about the creation of industries, the demand for water has escalated thereby putting a huge strain on the global water resources available for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes. The other pressing challenge is that the limited available water resources are also not properly managed as waste generated from our daily activities and toxic effluent from industries are disposed there on a regular basis, leading to the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever. Diarrhea, a symptom of water borne diseases is known to kill a child every 20seconds

Several organizations both government and non-government have initiated programs such as the Millennium Development Goals, Water Supply and sanitation WATSAN, RUWATSAN programs, to tackle issues of water supply and sanitation, and truly a significant amount of progress has been made, as the number of people without access to drinking water has been halved according to UNICEF and WHO. There is however much more work to be done because, with the world’s population growing at a rate of 1.7%, feeding a planet of 9billion by 2050 will require approximately 50% more water than we’re using presently.

It would however take more than water supply and sanitation alone to solve this inevitable water crisis, it would require awareness, more concise water policies, water conservation laws, researches and innovations on alternatives to fresh water and all our joint efforts to save the world from this impending water crisis as the window we have to solve this problem is rapidly closing.

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