There are now roughly 8 billion people on the planet, up from just over 6 billion in 2000. That’s more than a 33% increase over just 20 years. Right now, the global population is growing at a rate of about 0.84% per year, or about 67 million people per year. There are a lot of alarming ramifications to this, but perhaps one of the biggest consequences of increasing population growth is the rapid loss of our natural resources. Among other things, we’re in the midst of major water shortages that affect large portions of the world. Here are just a few global water crisis facts to put the growing world water shortage into perspective.
1. 785 Million People Don’t Have Access to Clean Water
The World Health Organization reports that nearly a billion people worldwide lack access to clean water. That’s about one out of every 10 people on Earth. What’s worse, as many as a third of people on the planet lack access to safe drinking water for at least part of the year. It’s a simple thing that many of us take for granted, but it can mean the difference between life and death.
2. 2 Billion People Worldwide Lack Adequate Sanitation
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a shocking 3.6 billion people (nearly half the population of the world) lack access to safe sanitation in their own homes. And of those people, only about 1.9 billion have any access to basic sanitation services. Nearly half a billion people practice open defecation, and an estimated 670 million people lack access to even the most basic hand-washing facilities. In rural settings, only a third of people have access to basic hygiene services like soap and water in their own homes.
3. Women & Girls Spend 200 Million Hours a Day Hauling Water
The world water shortage is especially devastating to women and girls in many places. In the developing world, women and girls are often responsible for hauling water long distances between their homes and the nearest water source. It’s estimated that they spend about 200 million hours traveling per day, usually on foot. The average African woman travels about 3.7 miles per day to haul about 40 pounds of water. Not only is this devastatingly laborious, but it reduces or even eliminates the woman’s ability to pursue education, family time, and other important activities that can enrich her life.
4. Contaminated Water Is a Leading Killer in the Developing World
More than 800 children under the age of 5 die every day as a result of diarrhea from contaminated water and poor sanitation. Limited access to sanitation is one of the leading killers worldwide, but it’s seldom talked about. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals seek to achieve universal access to clean water by 2030, but there's still a lot of work to be done.
5. People Can’t Simply “Move to Where the Water Is”
If so many people live without access to clean water or are forced to travel long distances to obtain water, you might be asking the obvious question: Why don’t they just move closer to the water? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. A lot of people affected by the global water crisis are farmers and impoverished individuals who can’t afford to move to better-served locations. And in some cases, water shortages are seasonal. So while people might have access to water during one season, they might lack access the next season. Any long-term solutions must include providing access to a clean water source year-round.
6. The Problem Isn’t Water—It’s Drinkable Water
When we talk about the global water crisis, the problem is a bit more complicated than just “water.” The Earth is about 71% water, and we’re all surrounded by it. But while the Earth isn’t running out of water, the real problem is drinkable water. Ocean water is saline water, but what we need is freshwater—most of which is stored in the ground, in glaciers, and in icecaps. To a lesser extent, freshwater can also be found in rivers and lakes.
7. Clean Water Remains in Issue Even in the Developed World
It’s not just the developing world that has issues with water. Water shortages, droughts, and sanitation concerns are prominent even here in the U.S. and throughout the developed world. For instance, places like California and Nevada have recently experienced emergency-level water shortages due to insufficient rainfall and other factors. As the climate changes, so do our water concerns. And the quality of our water is also a growing concern. Here in the U.S., tap water often contains heavy minerals, contaminants, and pesticides. Water has even been tested with traces of rocket fuel chemicals.
So even if you don’t think the global water crisis affects you, it’s very important to know where your drinking water comes from and to treat water as a finite resource (i.e. don’t waste it). It’s also a good idea to invest in a high-quality shower water filter that can improve the quality of your water, so you can feel cleaner faster - good shower filters can encourage shorter shower times.
8. Half the World’s Population May Face Water Shortages By 2025
We’re on the verge of a world water shortage. Unicef reports that, as early as 2025, half the people in the world might live in areas affected by water shortages. For this reason, it has never been more important to conserve water at home. There are many ways to do this: Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Use a dishwasher instead of hand-washing. Use full loads in the washing machine and wash your clothes using cold water. Take showers instead of baths. Invest in a high-efficiency toilet. Even small steps can make an important difference.
Share These Global Water Crisis Facts
The global water crisis is real, but you can be a part of the solution. In addition to conserving water at home, you can donate to nonprofits that are fighting to prevent a world water shortage. You can also volunteer with these types of organizations. Even something as simple as raising awareness about the problem can make a huge difference.
Join AquaBliss, and share these global water crisis facts with the people in your life, and help to effect change where it’s needed most. Read more about water-related topics from the water enthusiasts at Aquabliss and check out our blog today!