Are We Headed into a Global Water Crisis? What’s Going on, and What Can Ordinary People Do About It?

Water is something many take for granted, but the United Nations reports that more than 3.5 billion people – roughly half of the planet – are currently vulnerable to water scarcity. Worse, it projects that this number will rise to more than 5 billion people by 2050. This is due to multiple factors, such as pollution and infrastructural problems as well as overconsumption. 

The Fresh Water Problem

Obviously, water is an absolutely essential component of human health. Without access to potable water, a human can only survive for around three days at best. But fresh drinking water is only the start of the problems when it comes to meeting our ongoing water challenges.

As the global children’s charity World Vision puts it, “access to clean water changes everything; it’s a stepping-stone to development.” Where clean water is plentiful, communities don’t need to compete for rights to limited water resources. Crops and livestock get enough water to flourish. Personal hygiene and household sanitation improves. These advantages, in turn, lead to a healthier population of adults who can serve as productive workers as well as children who can readily attend school.

The Causes of the Water Crisis

There are many different contributing factors to the water crisis, many of which can be addressed through better regulations and changing procedures.

Scientists, who have studied the issue most carefully, have directly tied the effects of global warming and climate change to the water crisis. In addition to engendering extended periods of drought and other long-term harmful environmental conditions, climate change is increasing both the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and other violent weather events that can destroy water supply infrastructure.

Other factors contributing to the mounting water crisis include armed conflict, forced migration, corporate greed, political disenfranchisement, and the poor handling of wastewater and water waste. The problem is also precipitated by a lack of reliable water data and a lack of cooperation among natural resource experts across national lines.

How You Can Help

Any serious attempt to address the water crisis must include sweeping changes to public policy and business regulation. However, this doesn’t mean that the average person is powerless to help.

It all begins with simple awareness. People who understand the true severity of the water problem may be motivated to prioritize healthy water stewardship in their daily lives. Something as simple as taking a shorter shower can make a real difference if it becomes a permanent habit.

Other ways to practice healthy water stewardship include installing low-flow toilets, reusing graywater, and collecting rainwater for watering gardens and lawns. Of course, it is also important to ensure that you aren’t losing water to leaking pipes or other plumbing inefficiencies. People who live by the ocean can even look into desalinizing technology that can transform seawater into freshwater.

Moreover, humbly and quietly changing your own actions will contribute, however subtly, to a gradual change of awareness in your country, making it more likely for much needed regulation changes and global action to occur.

You can also consider donating to a water charity, such as WaterAid. WaterAid is a charity that has been helping address water issues for over three decades, and their website is a wealth of information on the subject, too.