A report from the United Nations warns that over two billion people are suffering from water shortages for at least one month per year, and that its effects on major cities and farming could trigger famine and displacement due to migration. Water scarcity reduces access to clean water, damages the environment, disrupts economic activities and exacerbates existing conflicts, according to the report. In addition to reducing water usage and increasing efficiency, cities need to develop their own water sources, for example, by recycling water, increasing water storage infrastructure and by encouraging responsible use of water.
Experts Warn of Impending Water Crisis in Major Cities
Water is a critical resource for all human beings, and it is the engine behind the growth of cities. However, the current global population of over 7 billion uses freshwater faster than nature can replenish it. It has resulted in widespread water scarcity and increased competition for water among countries and regions. According to a new report by the United Nations, currently, over two billion people are experiencing severe water shortages for at least one month per year.
Apart from overpopulation, climate change is another major cause of the escalating water crisis. The changing weather patterns not only destroy existing water resources, but they also make rainwater harvesting an unreliable alternative. The result of these factors is that major cities worldwide are facing the risk of water scarcity, with several already grappling with the problem. Some of the cities include Cape Town in South Africa, Chennai in India, and Sao Paulo in Brazil.
The Impacts of Water Scarcity
The potential effects of water scarcity in major cities are profound and far-reaching. The shortage can reduce people’s access to clean water, damage the environment, disrupt economic activities, exacerbate existing conflicts, and trigger famine and migration. A recent report by the World Economic Forum listed water scarcity as one of the most significant global risks facing humanity in the next decade.
Water scarcity creates significant problems for farmers and food production. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water globally, accounting for around 70% of freshwater withdrawals. Lack of water resource can reduce agricultural productivity, hence negatively affecting food production globally, and exacerbating food insecurity in the regions affected. Urban water scarcity, on the other hand, has far-reaching health impacts, since it can lead to improper sanitation, hence increasing the prevalence of water-borne diseases.
Addressing water scarcity requires both mitigation and adaptation strategies. Mitigation strategies mainly focus on reducing water use and increasing water efficiency. For example, reducing water loss and leakages, recycling water, and improving water storage infrastructure. Cities can also encourage responsible use of water by setting water quotas and imposing fines on misuses.
Adaptation requires a long-term approach to water scarcity. Apart from increasing water efficiency, cities can develop their own water sources that guarantee constant supply of clean water. The development of water source is dependent on factors such as climate and geography among others. For example, cities like Singapore, which don’t have natural water sources, developed sophisticated systems that turn sewage water into drinking water.
Water scarcity in major cities is an impending crisis that requires immediate attention from governments, communities, and various stakeholders. The global community must engage in dialogue to ensure that all the affected parts of the world and communities are well equipped to deal with this emerging crisis.
1. What is water scarcity?
Water scarcity is a scenario in which a region or country lacks adequate access to clean water that is enough to meet their basic needs, such as drinking, sanitation, and agriculture.
2. How do we address water scarcity?
Water scarcity can be addressed by increasing water efficiency, reducing water usage, developing new water resources, and developing policies and methods to encourage responsible water usage.
3. What are the effects of water scarcity?
Water scarcity can lead to food insecurity, drought, famine, conflict, and cause several health problems related to the unavailability of clean and adequate water.