Faced with the challenges of climate change and frequent droughts, people around the world are finding innovative ways to manage water resources. One such example comes from a rural settlement in Jamaica, where local residents use large rainwater collection tanks, connected by pipes to their roofs. This water is then used to irrigate agricultural crops, using a drip irrigation system. Jamaica’s example is just one of many global efforts to combat the looming water crisis.
Water scarcity is becoming an increasingly serious worldwide problem. It has been estimated that by 2025, about two-thirds of the world’s population could experience a lack of water, including regions in South and Central Asia, and North Africa, as well as in more developed countries such as the United States, which are the most affected, according to UNEP.
In South and Central Asia, water scarcity is a consequence of droughts, intensive agricultural activity and population that puts significant pressure on water resources. While there are periods of abundant rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa, infrastructure problems and limited access to clean water are still a major challenge and in many parts, wells need to be dug. This situation shows how even in areas with natural water resources, poor infrastructure and management cause problems, with population growth also contributing to this.
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Communities around the world are turning to unconventional water sources. Methods such as mist collection, using treated wastewater and desalination – the process of removing salt from seawater to produce drinking water – are becoming increasingly popular. Countries such as the Bahamas, the Maldives and Malta already meet their water needs exclusively through desalination, as explained on the UNEP website.
However, such unconventional water sources come with certain challenges. Desalination requires significant investments in infrastructure and can have negative environmental consequences. Also, the use of wastewater requires precise technologies and policies to ensure safety and avoid potential infections.
In addition to finding new sources, more efficient management of existing water resources is also important.
As we wrote before, the World Resources Institute points out that a quarter of the world is population faces an extremely high level of water scarcity every year, despite using almost all available resources. The most vulnerable countries are those facing extreme levels of resource stress, meaning they are already using at least 80 percent of their water resources. These include Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Libya and others.
The population is growing, temperatures are getting higher and water supplies are dwindling, due to global warming and droughts. Since 1960, the water demand has more than doubled. In addition to population growth and climate change, economic growth is also boosting, thus increasing the industry and agriculture’s need for water.
Water resource management is becoming a key global challenge. Coordinated global and local solutions, innovations in technology and sustainable practices are needed to ensure the availability of water for future generations. Without these efforts, water problems will continue to worsen, which could have serious consequences for millions of people around the world.