Water scarcity, either because clean water is unavailable or because the water that is available is undrinkable, is becoming an increasingly apparent problem in countries around the world. As of 2018, more than 2 billion people around the world are experiencing water stress. What are the keys to ensuring availability of clean water so that everyone has enough to drink in the years to come?
1. Improve Global Sanitation Facilities
More than 2 billion people don’t have access to basic sanitation facilities like toilets or latrines with more than 1/3 of these individuals choosing to defecate in the open or in open bodies of water. This contributes to more than 432,000 deaths from diarrhea every year due to diseases transmitted in human waste. Improving global sanitation facilities will prevent drinking water contamination, providing more clean water to local residents.
2. Provide Affordable Home Treatment Equipment
Household water treatment could provide clean, drinkable water for more than 900 million people. The problem is making it affordable for families who may be living in poverty. If we can come up with free or affordable home-based water treatment, it could go a long way toward fixing the planet’s water scarcity problem.
3. Invest in Low-Cost Solutions
Water purification solutions don’t have to be expensive. Instead, invest in low-cost solutions like chlorine or iodine tablets that can be provided for little or no cost to those that need them. While it won’t remove dirt and debris from the water, these tablets can make it safe to drink by killing any bacteria or viruses.
4. Adapting to Drought Conditions
Droughts already affect more people worldwide than any other natural disaster. Climate change means that droughts are going to become more common and more devastating in the coming years, which will make it harder to get clean, drinkable water. Organizations supporting clean water, as well as those affected by these changes, will need to adapt to drought conditions in the next decade.
5. Encourage Water Conservation
If we don’t start conserving clean drinking water, we are going to run out. Communities here at home and overseas can start doing their part by encouraging water conservation. Everything from shutting off the faucet when you brush your teeth, to replacing thirsty exotic plants in your yard with native alternatives that don’t need a watering can help save water for the future.
6. Improve Water Reuse
Most of the water we use can be captured and recycled for various uses. Reusing water is one of the only sustainable sources of freshwater. If we continue to utilize ground and surface water it will eventually run out. Instead, we can capture greywater, wastewater and even storm runoff, and clean it so it’s drinkable or usable.
7. Realize That It’s Not Just an Overseas Problem
A lack of clean drinking water isn’t just an issue in undeveloped countries or overseas. There are some cities in the United States, like Flint, Michigan, that don’t have clean drinking water. Water scarcity might not be affecting developed countries yet but it is only a matter of time before it will become a problem in our own back yards.
8. Educate on Hygiene
Hundreds of thousands of people die from diarrheal diseases every year, due to a lack of clean drinking water. Handwashing with soap and water could reduce these deaths by up to 50% according to the CDC.
9. Recognize The Link Between Water and Poverty
Studies have shown that access to safe water in developing countries reduces poverty in the affected areas. Women often carry the heaviest burden, spending several hours every day collecting water for the home, neglecting work and education. By recognizing this link, organizations that are trying to make changes in the world can improve the quality of life for everyone involved.
10. Support Organizations That Are Making Changes
Looking at all these problems as a single person might be intimidating but there are ways you can help too. Start by supporting an organization that is trying to improve access to clean water for everyone. Most of these organizations are non-profit so they are reliant on your donations of time or money to make the world a better place.
Increasing availability of clean water is so important. Consider these important keys to take steps to make it happen.