What is a Water Crisis?

Did you know that only 2.5% of all the water in the world is freshwater? And that only 1% is accessible, by accessible, I mean water trapped in glaciers and snowfields. We only have real access to 0.0007% of the planet’s water, that’s all we have to feed and fuel over 6.8 billion people. The lack of clean water is a plague that affects 1.8 billion people every year.

A water crisis is when there is not enough potable water for a population, which in turn leads to drought, famine, and death. Today safe drinking water has become a luxury for people living in drought-hit regions and the African subcontinent. People can be seen walking miles and spending the entire day searching for it. Even if they get it, they have to fight with the waterborne diseases arising from it.


Economic development suffers when basic necessities are not met, and people have to struggle hard for them. Still, we people take it for granted and do not understand the importance of water conservation. Today we will be going over some of the causes, effects, and possible solutions for the water crisis.

Clean water and access to food are some of the simplest things that we can take for granted each and every day. In places like Africa, these can be some of the hardest resources to attain if you live in a rural area.

~ Marcus Samuelsson

Major Causes of Water Crisis

1. Water Pollution

Most of the sources of water in rural areas are terribly polluted due to poor sanitation and lack of waste treatment plants. Overall levels of global pollutants are having a negative effect on the drinking water that is currently clean; as time goes on, this damage will be exacerbated.

2. Groundwater over drafting

The excessive use of groundwater in our agricultural industries is leading to diminished yields and wasted water. Over 70% of our water is used to grow crops, and most of it is wasted due to leaky pipes and poor watering techniques.

3. Overuse and misuse of water

This leads to more water being wasted and squandered for pointless reasons and leads to further escalations of the crisis. One single hamburger takes 630 gallons of water to produce!

4. Disease

A large quantity of the available groundwater in the worst affected parts of the world is ridden with disease due to the lack of proper water treatment and recycling.

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5. Climate change

Climate change is changing the way water evaporates and where it rains, pushing rainfall further south in both hemispheres. Global warming has altered the rainfall pattern in India dramatically. Previously, average monsoon rainfall spanned 45 days. This number has now decreased to 22 days, with each monsoon having a smaller intensity of rain.

6. Mismanagement

Improper training and education lead to a needless waste of safe, clean water every day, as well as overuse in areas that don’t require so much water. Despite being a populous country with diverse geography and climate, India does not have a comprehensive water policy. There are no proper guidelines available for the usage of surface water and groundwater by different sectors and different states.

7. Human settlements

Construction of dams, other hydroelectric projects, and water diversion for irrigation has led to systematically destroying large river ecosystems.

8. Corruption

Simply put. Some of the people who have the power to help those people in need just don’t care.

9. Lack of institutions

Lesser developed countries have no institutions to advise on water treatment and management; this leads to mismanagement and waste

10. Lack of infrastructure

Poor regions often don’t have the funds or education to implement proper infrastructures such as waste treatment and recycling plants

11. Loss of groundwater

Due to climate change, human expansion and development are leading to loss of groundwater worldwide.

12. Groundwater exploitation

In addition to irrigation, groundwater exploitation has also resulted from rapid urbanization as well as extreme groundwater usage by soft drink companies such as Coca-Cola. India uses more groundwater than any other country in the world, and groundwater exploitation has causes accelerated drying of aquifers. The total groundwater used for irrigation has risen from 30% in the 1980s to nearly 60% today.

13. Unutilized resources

River basins, catchments, and watersheds have not been properly utilized for water and soil conservation purposes, which in turn affect the hydrology of the river basins.

14. Unfair pricing of water

Areas of extreme poverty often have to pay extortionate rates in order to purchase clean water. Those who have no money have to drink from holes in the dirt or puddles on the roadside.

Effects of Water Crisis

Below are the effects of the water crisis on us.

1. Death

All life needs water; every 90 seconds, a child dies from water-related illness and disease.

2. Disease

Waterborne disease is one of the leading causes of mortality in the world; water-related disease affects more than 1.5 billion people each year.

3. Warfare

Regional conflicts have arisen due to the loss of safe water sources.

4. Lack of irrigation

Without water, farmers can’t grow any crops, which leads to the death of nearly 1 million people every year.

5. Lack of sanitation

This leads to disease and causes countless health issues.

6. Lack of hygiene

1/3 of the world’s population lives without access to a toilet. This leads to disease and kills nearly 1 million people each year.

7. Agricultural problems

No water means no crops. Previous regions with a good amount of water have seen a decline in the groundwater, and without water, they cannot grow crops.

8. Livestock problems

The lack of water leads to the impossibility of keeping livestock, which in turn makes it even harder for people in arid regions to find food and income.

9. Malnutrition

Due to lack of water and the ability to grow crops, malnutrition sets in, increasing the chance of disease and death. 160 million children suffer from chronic malnutrition linked to water and sanitation.

10. Birth defects

Lack of nutrition during pregnancy and malnutrition causes birth defects in infants.

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11. Poor education

Most schools in the worst affected areas do not have a toilet or safe drinking water for students, which leaves students dehydrated and mentally incapable of achieving well in schools.

12. Poor healthcare

Most hospitals and clinics operate without access to safe water, leaving them unable to help people safely.

13. Societal impact

Improvements in society are halted due to a constant need to find water; 5-6 hours every day is spent looking for water on average. Collectively, women and children spend 125 million hours every day, collecting water.

Economic Effects of Water Crisis

1. Wasted time

Roughly $24 billion worth of time is wasted each year gathering water.

2. Loss of funds

Ending the water crisis would result in $32 billion in benefits by reducing health care costs and increased productivity.

3. Cost of death

Ending the water crisis would result in 18.5 billion dollars from deaths avoided.

Effects of Water Crisis on the Environment

1. Increased Salinity

It is mainly due to the poor treatment of water and sanitation. This leads to more water being unsafe to drink.

2. Nutrient pollution

Algal growth caused by excessive nutrients in groundwater is rendering more water being unsafe to drink to high levels of nitrate.

3. Loss of floodplains

Due to human expansion, it leads to the drying of riverbeds and loss of habitat.

4. Drying of riverbeds

It is primarily due to poor agricultural practices and human expansion. This leads to loss of habitat and less water access for poor regions.

5. Loss of habitat

It leads to the extinction of species that rely on water to survive in arid climates.

6. Subsidence

It is caused by the loss of groundwater and leads to landslips and sinkholes.

7. Wetlands disappearing

Since 1900, about half of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed. Wetlands support some of the most productive habitats on the planet, high concentrations of animals including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates and serve as nurseries for many of these species.

Wetlands also support the cultivation of rice, a staple food of half the world’s population. They also provide a range of ecosystem services that benefit humanity, including water filtration, storm protection, flood control and recreation.

8. Ecosystem loss

Water scarcity affects natural landscapes badly. The Aral Sea in central Asia, which was once the world’s fourth-largest freshwater lake, lost an area the size of Lake Michigan just in three decades. It is now as salty as an ocean due to the excessive pollution and the diversion of water for irrigation and power generation.

As the sea has retracted, it has left polluted land. This ecological catastrophe has not only created food shortages but resulted in a rise in infant mortality and a decrease in life expectancy for the nearby population.

Solutions to Water Crisis

1. Charities

Donating to a charity will help in a small way; charities help people in rural areas get access to waters by constructing wells, sanitation, and agricultural systems.

2. Funding

Governments could allocate more funding toward ending the water crisis; currently, the US government donates $8 billion every year, $1 Trillion is needed to solve the problem in the long term.

3. Spreading the Message

Educate people better on the causes and effects of the water crisis, as well as what they can do to help. So they, in turn, can teach others and raise awareness.

4. New Technologies

Incentivize innovation in the fields of water recycling, conservation, and consumption.

5. Improved Irrigation

Change the way we irrigate. Roughly 70% of the world’s freshwater is used to grow crops; we could improve these practices to use much less water than we currently use.

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Employing agricultural practices such as planting crops that require less water, setting up irrigation systems without leakages, and developing farm-based water conservation structures is very important. This can aid in the protection of forests and the development of horticulture.

6. Water Pricing

Research the true effects of water pricing. Experts are currently debating increasing the price of water to reduce pollution, but that would take water even further out of reach by those experiencing poverty

7. Energy-efficient Desalination Plants

We need to start finding the means to make the current desalination plants more effective. By reducing the energy required to run these plants, we will help millions of people worldwide.

8. Rainwater Harvesting

Areas with very little groundwater reserves can greatly improve the way they harvest rainwater by building larger facilities and incorporating better technologies.

9. Address Pollution

We, as a species, need to address the ever-growing challenge of pollution. Enough studies have been done now; it’s time to take action and quickly, in order to save billions of lives.

10. Population Growth Control

Until we solve the water crisis, it may be beneficial to limit the expansion of the population. This will lead to more accurate predictions of water needed for the next 100 years.

11. Climate change

Experts say that by decreasing the effects of global warming by pursuing cleaner energies, that will, in turn, help with the water crises as we find new technologies to keep water safe and use less energy to do so.

12. Transfer of technologies

More developed countries who have a higher level of technological advancement can help out greatly by sharing their advancement with developing countries.

13. Awareness

Increased awareness of citizens, particularly in urban areas, is crucial. Solving this crisis means that each citizen must be aware of the crisis and take part in proper conservation, stopping water misuse, and eliminating the usage of bottled water.

14. Water Conservation

Water conservation is absolutely necessary at the community level to reduce pressure from groundwater and to supply water for human consumption. Thus, the development of community-level water harvesting structures like water bodies is important.

15. Initiative of Statutory Bodies

Local governments can take part in water conversation by utilizing watershed development and monitoring groundwater usage by farmers. It is important to encourage farmers at the district and state levels to choose crops wisely, help to harvest water by using watersheds, and provide necessary mechanisms for the protection and conservation of water bodies/ ponds, forests, groundwater, rivers and streams.

16. Water Policy

The development of formal water policy at the center and state level is crucial. This will provide guidance to the administration and citizens for proper usage of surface water and groundwater. It is also necessary to create management strategies for interstate and trans-boundary Rivers.

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