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What are the Problems?  
Shortages


  • According to the World Health Organization, by 2025 the world's population will have increased by 30% and access to safe drinking water will be greatly reduced. As water experts remind us, freshwater is a finite resource — there's the same amount of water available now as there was when the earth was formed.
  • 1.2 billion people - or almost 1 out of 5 people in the world - are without access to safe drinking water and half of the world's population lacks adequate water purification systems.
  • 2.4 billion people, or 40% of the world's population, do not have access to adequate sanitation.
  • According to Peter Gleick, a co-founder of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, the average person needs a minimum of 50 L of water per day, with 5 L for drinking, 10 L for cooking, 15 L for bathing and 20 L spent on sanitation needs.
  • In 1998, 31 countries faced chronic freshwater shortages. By the year 2025, however, 48 countries are expected to face shortages, affecting nearly 3 billion people - 35% of the world's projected population. Countries in danger of running short of water in the next 25 years include Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Peru.
  • According to the UN and the World Health Organization, 80% of diseases in developing nations stem from consumption of and exposure to unsafe water, which kills more than 25,000 people each day.
  • The UN estimates that in less than 25 years, if present water consumption trends continue, 5 billion people will be living in areas where it will be impossible or difficult to meet basic water needs for sanitation, cooking and drinking.
The above stats from PBS's Water Facts Page

  • Water covers 70 percent of the planet, but only 2.5 percent of that is freshwater. And less than 1 percent--.007 percent-is readily available for human world consumption.
  • The average distance the women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is 6 km or 3.7 miles.
  • By 2050, at least one of four people will likely live in countries affected by water shortage.
  • One flush of your toilet uses as much water as the average person in the developing world uses for a whole day’s washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking.
The above stats from: Life Outreach Article

WATER IN THE FUTURE
  • Two hundred scientists in 50 countries have identified water shortage as one of the two most worrying problems for the new millennium (the other was climate change).
  • Since 1950, global water use has more than tripled.
  • On current trends, over the next 20 years humans will use 40 per cent more water than they do now.
  • The number of people living in water-stressed countries is projected to climb from the current 470 million to three billion by 2025. Most of those people live in the developing world.
  • Nearly 200 million people in Africa are facing serious water shortages. By 2025, nearly 230 million Africans will face water scarcity, and 460 million will be living in water-stressed countries.
  • Up to 50 per cent of urban water and 60 per cent of water used in agriculture is wasted through leaks and evaporation.
  • Logging and land conversion to accommodate human demand has shrunk the world’s forests by half, contributing to increased soil erosion and water scarcity.
  • Between 300 and 400 million people worldwide live close to and depend on wetlands. Wetlands act as highly efficient sewage treatment works, absorbing chemicals and filtering pollutants and sediments. Urban and industrial development has claimed half the world’s wetlands.
  • Sustainable development and poverty alleviation will only be achieved through better management of and investment in rivers and wetlands and the lands that drain into them.
The above facts from: United Nations Environment Programme

  • Lake Mead, on the border between Nevada and Arizona, is the largest man-made reservoir in the United States. It is the principal source of drinking water for the Las Vegas valley. Drought has dropped the surface of the lake 20 metres over the last five years (Maich, S, 2005, p.27).
  • The Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead, but also is tapped to provide water for much of Southern California and Arizona, has been reduced in flow-volume by 1/2 between only 2000 and 2005 (ibid).
Globalization


  • Think of it this way: who does a government have to answer to? It's citizens. Who does a transnational corporation have to answer to? It's investors. With a TNC (transnational corporation) running a city's water systems, the priority is profits - which potentially means jacking up prices, laying off workers, skimming costs by using less stringent water quality tests. And yes, this is naive, but if a government runs water systems, than its priority should be the quality of life of its citizens.
  • For an example of how the World Bank organized the takeover, by a transnational corporation, of a small city's water system, see the Cochabamba, Boliva page.
  • To gain a competitive advantage in global markets, industrialized and nonindustrialized countries feel compelled to dismantle environmental regulations, including water safeguards. Responsible management of the environment by governments through laws and regulations is frequently viewed as a liability that decreases international competitiveness. Laws restricting the bulk exports of water or the privatization of water services or the construction of hydro power dams on certain rivers are labeled by transnational corporations as "unfair barriers" to international trade and investment. In a globally competitive economic climate, transnational corporations will threaten to withdraw their investment plans in a country unless the government changes the environmental regulation in question. As a result, many environmental regulations have either been overturned or left unenforced while new ecological safeguards have been prevented from seeing the light of day (Barlow & Clarke, 2002, p. 96).

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