The Water Crisis In India: Everything You Need To Know

The Water Crisis In India: Everything You Need To Know

When contemplating our world’s most precious resources, past conversations often centered around fossil fuels and the consequences once those become scarce.

However, recent times have given us an abundance of alternative energy options and new technologies either in use or on the horizon. These innovations have turned the conversation to a resource that, on a basic level, is readily abundant and covers two-thirds of the earth’s surface.

Water.

More specifically, freshwater.

Though 70% of the earth is covered in water, only 2% of it is fresh. Further complicating the issue is that 1.6% of that freshwater is contained in glaciers and polar ice caps.

Many third world and developing countries struggle with ensuring this basic tenant of our existence is both available and safe. Nowhere is this more apparent than India.

A Major Lack of Resources

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With the planets second largest population at 1.3 billion, and expectant growth to 1.7 billion by 2050, India finds itself unable to serve the vast majority of that populace with safe, clean water.

Supporting 16% of the world’s inhabitants is daunting enough, but it is even more so when recognizing that population is crammed into an area one-third the size of the United States. Then consider that India only possesses 4% of the world’s fresh water and the crisis can be more fully realized.

India may not be the only nation in this predicament, but theirs is at a stage more critical than most. Severe lack of regulation, over privatization, general neglect and rampant government corruption have led to multiple generations thirsting for more than just a few drops of hazard free water.

The situation has grown to the point that regional disputes have risen over access to rivers in the country’s interior. Those disputes take on a global scale in conflicts with Pakistan over the River Indus and River Sutley in the west and north and with China to the east with the River Brahmaputra.

Surface water isn’t the only source reaching a breaking point.

Tracing back several generations, the critical situation in India can be linked to a myriad of causes. In modern times though, the concern has moved from the surface to the ground. And it’s there where India’s freshwater is under the greatest stress.

Causes: Groundwater and A History of Indifference

Over the past 50 years, policies have allowed what amounts to a free-for-all in groundwater development and as the crisis has grown it has been met with continued neglect, mismanagement and overall indifference.

Estimates put India’s groundwater use at roughly one-quarter of the global usage with total usage surpassing that of China and the United States combined. With farmers provided electricity subsidies to help power the groundwater pumping, the water table has seen a drop of up to 4 meters in some parts of the country. This unfettered draining of groundwater sources has accelerated over the past two decades.

With the aggressive pumping, particularly in rural areas, where agriculture provides the livelihood for upwards of 600 million Indians, Mother Nature is often the difference in a good year and a devastating one. Relying on monsoon rains without proper irrigation or water management techniques has been a recipe for disaster.

Mismanagement and corruption often draw the largest headlines, but many of India’s leaders have also been slow or unwilling to adapt to newer technologies or cohesive plans to address the issues.

The response can at best be described as irresponsible. Consider China, a country with roughly 50 million more people, uses a quarter less freshwater.

Growing Demand, Declining Health

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Not only is India the world’s second most populated country, but it has a fast growing middle class that is raising the demands on clean, safe water. Then consider close to half of the country practises open defecation and you have a dichotomy of two very different populations desperately pulling at the same limited resource.

One group wanting to grow and flourish and the other wanting to survive.

A few numbers from the World Bank highlight the plight the country is facing:

  • 163 Million Indians lack access to safe drinking water
  • 210 Million Indians lack access to improved sanitation
  • 21% of communicable diseases are linked to unsafe water
  • 500 children under the age of five die from diarrhea each day in India

More than half of the rivers in India are highly polluted with numerous others at levels considered unsafe by modern standards. The waters of the Yamuna, Ganga and Sabarmati flow the dirtiest with a deadly mix of pollutants both hazardous and organic.

Aside from commonplace industrial pollution and waste, India’s rivers are open use across much of the country. From dumping human waste as previously noted to bathing to washing clothes, the human element contributes to the epidemic of health related concerns.

Adding to the human toll is the reliance on seasonal rains, which are often sporadic in some years and over abundant in others. Rain totals can vary greatly and do not always arrive in the places they are needed most. The drought and flooding that results from this inconsistent cycle often leads to crop failures and farmer suicides.

Much of the above affects rural citizens where poverty is rampant, but even more developed urban areas face their own challenges.

Even with a robustly growing middle class, when combining rural and urban populations, over half of India still lives at or below the poverty level. Furthermore, no city in India can provide clean, consumable tap water full-time.

Should the crisis continue unabated, the scarcity of water will have a negative impact on the industrial health of the country.

Recent drops in manufacturing jobs can be tied to companies being unable to access clean water. Along with the inability to properly cultivate agriculture areas and the water crisis quickly becomes an economic one.

Look to the Future

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It may seem a foregone conclusion that the water will soon enough dry up and along with it India as a whole. That need not be the case.

There are even bright spots in the current environment. The Rivers Narmada and Chamabal run clean with water fit for consumption. Several projects are currently underway that aim to move water to areas that need it the most.

But it will take a long-term commitment of the Indian government not previously shown and the heavy assistance of outside resources.

Common sense practices and training will also aid in reducing the damage done to groundwater sources. Teaching farmers updated irrigation techniques, such as drip irrigation, and utilizing more rainwater harvesting are small, effective steps in stemming the loss of freshwater sources.

Much of India will also need modern sanitation policies that both conserve and wisely utilize water sources. Recognizing physical and economic growth directly ties to the amount of safe, usable water is another step in right direction.

Conclusion

Yes, all of these changes take the long view, but a crisis of this magnitude will not be solved with lip service and short sided solutions.

However daunting, the goals are not unattainable. India is still a developing society, and there is time to reverse the crisis that has been decades in the making.

Given the right commitment and dedication, India can soon enough have safe, clean water.

Simple Ways To Help The People Next Door…And Around The World

Simple Ways To Help The People Next Door…And Around The World

In recent decades, major advancements in technology have enabled people to be in constant contact with one another, communicating across the globe in seconds. We can watch world news happening in real-time, answer a question instantly, or share an exciting event with our families and friends with just the click of a button.

When a disaster strikes another country, we are instantly aware of it, with social media updates flooding our timelines. When someone is in need, we know about it quickly. We are connected to each other in unique ways never before possible.

Technology offers amazing opportunities to solve some of humanity’s most critical issues, and yet dependence on it hasn’t had such a positive result. Instead, we’ve become more isolated and disconnected at both the local and global level.

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backward.” – Aldous Huxley

Societies are becoming more divided, governments are looking inward for their own solutions, and we’re losing our sense of charitable duty toward each other. We have forgotten what it means to be loving, kind, and generous. In all the social media updates, we’ve forgotten how to be humans who care about each other.

But despite finding ourselves in an environment of ever-increasing apathy and self-centeredness, there are actually a multitude of ways to generate a positive impact through practicing altruism, showing compassion, and most importantly, by taking real action.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Step #1: Look Around

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Before you come up with an elaborate plan to achieve world harmony, take a look at the community you live in and formulate ways that you can make a positive contribution. Before you try to change the world, look at your own neighborhood.

A small effort can quickly grow into a remarkable movement, and by starting at the local level, you’ll establish relationships along the way with like-minded fellow citizens that also want to give something back.

Consider the case of Ryan Hreljac, creator of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, which raises money to drill wells for impoverished communities lacking adequate sources of drinking water. Ryan began his effort to help others as a young student in elementary school by raising $2,000 to build a single well in Uganda. Sixteen years later, he now runs a widely recognized non-profit that works to provide access to clean water in communities across the African continent and elsewhere.

Ryan’s work and the success of his foundation prove that one person, with one idea and the right kind of dedication, can start a movement at the local level that ultimately has a global impact and improves the daily lives of thousands of people.

“I think the important thing when I was a kid was that I recognized that I could try to do something small and get engaged. And even though I didn’t have all the answers and didn’t come from a position of affluence or knowledge …I had the optimism to do something small and that ended up making a big difference.” – Ryan Hreljac (Source)

One of the easiest, most obvious ways to make an immediate difference is through volunteering. Nearly every community has a need for volunteers of all different types. Hospitals usually have opportunities for students to help deliver mail and gifts to patient rooms, pass out trays at mealtimes, or help with tasks like changing sheets and blankets.

Non-profit community centers like homeless shelters or women’s homes need people to contribute with housekeeping, serving food to their residents and helping new occupants adjust and integrate into the facility.

Ministries frequently work side-by-side with shelter groups and your local faith-based organization can assist in finding out exactly what needs your community has and how you can best volunteer.  Beyond that, local police and fire departments need citizen enforcers and volunteer firefighters to keep the peace while public schools and libraries frequently struggle to stay within their budgets and will often take all the help they can get.

Step #2 – Start Raising Funds For The Needy

Fundraising is another great way to help the community and promote global citizenship.  Money can be raised in all kinds of ways and for many different causes and reasons.

For example, you might encourage students to start a local scholarship fund for their peers by collecting donations outside of grocery stores or other businesses. Starting an annual drive for coats, shoes, or general clothing is an excellent way to help others in need and some communities have even started a collection for outdated eyeglasses or loose change.

Donation drives place unwanted items into the hands of people that need them and actually have a positive impact on the environment by keeping those donated items from out of the garbage and the local landfill.

Step #3 – Be A Mentor

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You can use the skills from your experience, education, or job to find ways to teach and mentor within the community. Career professionals might establish community workshops for teaching things like CPR, public safety, literacy, or computer skills.

Teachers and college professors might offer classes for English speakers to learn another language or to teach English to non-native speakers.  Even if you don’t have a degree or special training, you might still be a great communicator that could mentor at-risk children in afterschool programs or participate in parenting or family support groups.

Step #4 – Help Promote Wellness 

The need for public service is driven by the concept of the common good, or what is in the best interest of everyone involved. In recent years, neighborhoods and communities nationwide have struggled with the health and wellness of their populations and the trend has been moving too fast in the wrong direction.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle has immediate and long-term benefits to society and significantly impacts the viability of the population as a whole.

As of 2016, The American Heart Association reports that “childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.” (Source)

What are some simple ways you can help? Try inviting neighbors to participate in group activities that get you more active. Donate your time teaching yoga, strength training, or even martial arts if you’re already embracing a healthy lifestyle.

Consider starting a nutrition education program or neighborhood farming cooperative to help people learn about how to grow and build a diet full of nourishing foods.

Finally, working with city council boards or non-profit entities to provide mobile services like immunization clinics or veterinary care brings access to much-needed services directly to people without the means or transportation to access them. Lack of healthcare, nutrition, and physical exercise are major social problems in modern society and implementing measures to combat them will make a huge and potentially lifelong difference in your local community.

Step #4: Look Globally

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At the worldwide level, it can be difficult to devise ways of making a positive contribution and improving global society but it is possible to find ways of reaching out to both individuals and whole communities.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

People all over the world need someone to talk to. You can start out simply by finding a pen pal that you can converse with via traditional mail, e-mail, or even social media.  Plenty of young people lack access to modern technology and offering them a friendly ear and a means to learn about the world outside of their own can be incredibly rewarding on both sides.

Beyond that, finding ways to communicate online with people on the other side of the world exposes you to different cultures, new information, and charitable causes, helping you develop a more open-minded and global perspective.

Step #5: Connect With Organizations Making A Difference

Fundraising at the national or international scale might seem daunting and like a task better suited for large charities and non-government organizations. The truth is that our modern world of constant connectedness gives individuals the same power to raise awareness campaigns as entities like the Red Cross and United Nations.

Web platforms for crowdsourcing funds (like Kickstarter or GoFundMe) give one person the ability to set a goal and start a movement that anyone can then contribute to. Social media services (like Facebook and Twitter) offer a means to get the word out on a global scale.

These technologies put the fundraising power that was previously reserved for large organizations into the hands of ordinary people who can then accomplish something extraordinary.

If you’re more interested in getting up from the computer to make a more hands-on positive impact, volunteering to work for government groups like The Peace Corps that focus primarily on social and economic development outside the United States would be great for someone that feels passionately about class inequality and equal access to opportunity.

Likewise, if you’re on a mission to minimize the negative impacts of climate change, organizations like Greenpeace or The Nature Conservancy are excellent non-profit volunteer groups.

Finally, if poor access to healthcare and lack of medicine in other parts of the world drives your desire to give back, consider supporting charitable professional associations like Doctors without Borders (a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Joining a humanitarian or peacekeeping organization can be an extremely fulfilling way of participating in important international efforts while exercising responsible global citizenship.

Conclusion

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Regardless of how you choose to engage in activism, participation in local and national elections by exercising your right to vote is, by far, the most effective way to shift national and international policy and each individual has a civil obligation to participate in the democratic process.

As of the 2016 American election, just over half of eligible Americans participated in voting and the United States ranks twenty-eighth on the list of thirty-five member nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Source) We, as local residents, as national citizens, or as global humanity, don’t deserve positive change if we aren’t also willing to embrace the democratic process alongside social activism and participate in electing the right leaders for effective social evolution.

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for the injury.” – John Stuart Mill

The Global Sanitation Crisis Is A Huge Problem. The WASH Initiative Can Solve It

The Global Sanitation Crisis Is A Huge Problem. The WASH Initiative Can Solve It

As global crisis that affects over two billion people, water sanitation has turned into the first and primary concern of many of the world’s leading organizations. In fact, the CDC considers water sanitation an essential problem that needs to be solved by the end of this century.

Today, there are about 2.4 billion people without the right kind of sanitation in their regional infrastructure. Clean water, basic toilets, black water disposal, and many things other countries take for granted for survival simply aren’t available in many countries.

Then add the 663 million, and counting, that simply have no access to any water source.

When you stand back and look at the entire problem you get a feel for how massive it is. Something needs to be done in order to solve this problem.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Facts Behind The Crisis

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Let’s look at some statistics to better understand this problem.

  • According to WHO (the World Health Organization) and UNICEF, the region with the highest amount of poor water sanitation is Sub-Saharan Africa, followed closely by Southern and Eastern Asia.
  • Girls are most likely to suffer not only the debilitating ravages of diseases, but the societal consequences of having poor sanitation in their rural settings.  Compared to their male counterparts, one in five girls do not attend school, primarily because they are most likely responsible for collecting water for their family.  In Sub Saharan Africa, 72% of the water collected is done by women.Plus, the arcane and hazardous toilet and latrine installations in schools often prevent girls from further advancing their education, in particular during menstruation.
  • Over eight hundred thousand children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea and related causes each year. In 2012, a study showed that 2,200 children die every single day as a result of diarrheal diseases.
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDS for short) are a direct result of water and hygiene related issues. Bacteria, parasites and viruses run amok in rural regions. Mosquitos, carrying Zika, malaria, and other diseases swarm around sitting water.Guinea Worm Disease (an extremely painful parasitical infection), buruli ulcer, schistosomiasis and hundreds more diseases affect the poor countries at an alarming rate. Less water and sanitation also means less sewage flow, leading to stagnant water and pools, particularly in tropical and subtropical climates. These pools then become breeding grounds for viruses and parasites foreign to that area.
  • Basic sanitation and clean affordable water can end up saving over 17 thousand people a week.
  • By the year 2025, due to overpopulation, 2/3 of the world will face water shortages. To make matters even worse, the other 1/3 will have to deal will a growing strain on their sanitation installations. Drinkable water will become a scarce commodity.
  • Women and girls are more likely to experience violent sexual assaults while either getting water or venturing outside to use the communal defecation pit.
  • Only 3% of the world’s water is drinkable, despite the fact that 75% of the planet is covered by it. Out of that tiny percent, only 1% is actually accessible to humans. The majority of the world’s safe drinkable water tucked away in remote regions.

Solutions To The Global Sanitation Problem

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Global water sanitation is a staggering and serious problem that has become a pivotal concern for many world organizations, and it’s not going away anytime soon. It’s estimated that it will take generations to actually solve the problem. Nonetheless, there are numerous actions and strategies being taken in order to mitigate its advance.

Some governments are taking highly specific approaches that work within their unique circumstances.

As says Tim Brewer notes:

Ethiopia has made a concerted effort to reduce open defecation rates over the past five years,” Wateraid’s policy analyst on monitoring and accountability. “The government came up with a plan of action to get everyone in the country to stop practicing open defecation, and made sure that donors contributing to the sanitation sector also followed the same plan. This hasn’t been the case in Eritrea, where there has been conflict.

Unfortunately, in many cases, one of the most endemic problems is the lack of governmental and regional acknowledgment of the problem. Local governments often turn a blind eye to the dilemma (in many countries, 90% of the investment for any sort of solution comes from the private sector and charity). Unfortunately, there are inherent problems built into the financial and political pillars of most rural countries that fail to prioritize water sanitation in national budgets.

Most governments fail on multiple aspects of the crisis:

  • Water tariffs from formal providers are set so low that they do not cover the operational cost, let alone maintenance and expansion.
  • Long term investment in the sector is non-existent in many regions.
  • There is a chronic lack of human skill and know-how affecting the sector.

In other words, the heavy lifting in most parts is being conducted by private organizations and charities, which is important but not the long term solution. It’s estimated that in order to have a large scale impact on the problem, a great deal of financial aid should be directed to a systemic global reeducation campaign. Knowledge is a key part of solving this crisis.

Another key aspect most organizations and individuals agree on is that the water crisis is in itself an opportunity. It should be viewed not as an insurmountable dilemma but as a chance to help rural and poor communities to grow. Financial investment, manmade infrastructures, and pioneering innovations are critical to tackling the problem.

The United Nations has made it their goal to reach a ambitious and unambiguous target by the year 2030: Every man, woman and child, should have access to a safe water supply and able to go to the toilet in a clean space.

Their main concern is that by the year 2030, there will be an additional 1.5 billion people in the world, and over 60% will be in developing and rural countries. In order to reach their lofty goal, the United Nations and affiliated organizations will have to create a yearly $47 billion financial package.

The UN predicts that in order to actually meet their deadline, the next 5 years will be pivotal. They will have to generate national and international leadership, shining a light on the problem and building the necessary alliances between the private and public sector. It is their belief that the solution lies not only in developing a practical financial mechanism, but also in bridging the educational gap that most politicians seem to have.

What Is WASH?

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Millions of children in the developing world go to schools which have no drinking water or clean latrines – basic things that many of us take for granted. Every child has the right to be in a school that offers safe water, healthy sanitation and hygiene education. – Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the launch of the WASH program.

WASH is a collective term used for the three core issues at stake in many rural communities worldwide: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. These three fundamental issues have to be improved in order to conquer the global sanitation crisis.

With UNICEF’s leadership, and in many cases example, many organizations are meeting head on the colossal problem affecting the poor. The WASH initiative values the idea of dedicated target strikes on different areas while promoting sustainable goals for a region.

How does WASH play out specifically?

WATER:

The first leg of UNICEF’s initiative deals with providing access to protected wells and piping – of gifting communities with safe underground water sources.

SANITATION:

It is fundamental to have facilities that separate human waste from human contact. In many cases, communal latrines or open defecation is the norm, with ineffective separation of fecal matters and lack of a waste disposal units contaminating the ecosystem and general health of the village.

HYGIENE:

In many parts of the world, there is little thought given to common hygiene practices. A lack of soap, safe water or adequate washing facilities cause diseases to spread quickly. UNICEF’s wants to help change this mindset in many communities, with educational awareness being key to fighting pandemics.

UNICEF’s Results:

So far, the results from WASH have been positive:

  • More than 7.6 million people have received improved access to drinking water.
  • 3.1 million have benefited from improved agricultural water management.
  • Hundreds of sanitation stations have been implemented in rural countries.
  • Thanks to the USAID’s assistance, WASH has managed to collect over 499 million dollars for their endeavors.

Conclusion

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Though the global sanitation crisis isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, positive steps are being taken to address it. As more communities are educated on the importance of proper sanitation, we should expect to see continued improvements. Additionally, as infrastructure is built in these communities, some of the long term problems should slowly disappear.

Manoj Bhargava said:

People with water-borne diseases occupy more than 50% of hospital beds across the world. Does the answer lie in building more hospitals? Really, what is needed is to give them clean water.

We wholeheartedly agree.

The Water Scarcity Problem That’s Destroying Countries

The Water Scarcity Problem That’s Destroying Countries

Clean water. It’s something almost all of us take for granted. We turn on the tap, fill our cup, let some spill over, and then guzzle it down. It’s a privilege we fail to recognize.

There is a colossal water scarcity problem in the world. Millions of people struggle to find enough clean water to survive.

In order to move toward a solution, we need to first understand the problem. In this post, we’re going to help you understand the how, what, and why of the water scarcity problem.

The Staggering Lack Of Clean Water In The World

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Over 884 million people worldwide live without clean water.

In order to better comprehend that staggering number, that’s the equivalent of:

  • 1 in every 10 people on the planet’s surface.
  • Twice the population of the United States.
  • The whole of Europe.

And as the years fly by and overpopulation becomes an increasingly difficult problem to solve, that number continues trending upward, inflating and growing, but never going down.

Water scarcity is a harsh reality.

By the year 2018, some 1.1 billion people worldwide will lack access to any sort of water, and a total of 2.7 billion will find water scarce for at least one month of the year.

Out of those figures, 2.4 billion will have inadequate water sources and have to deal with a series of life threatening diseases. A vast majority of the world population will regularly experience outbreaks of typhoid, cholera, malaria, zika, and dozens of other water borne illnesses and parasites.

In the year 2014, two million people died from diarrheal viruses and the ensuing complications. Out of those numbers, 43 percent were pre-adolescent children, most under the age of five.

Access to basic sanitation and clean affordable water, can save over 17 thousands folks a week.

The majority of people afflicted by this problem live in desolate, isolated, poor regions. These are often rural places that in often find themselves embroiled in some sort of political challenges.

In many cases, water, not oil, is the most precious commodity for these disenfranchised citizens, with warlords and local mafias using the resource as a means of power and political pressure.

Access to clean water is of paramount importance for those without it. There are millions of people risking their lives and spending hours just for a clean gallon of water. Children go without any education, their sole responsibility trodding dozens of miles a day and fetching water.

In essence, a community without a viable source of clean water is destined for extinction. Clean water means economic growth, education, better income and healthy neighborhoods.

And the outlook isn’t any better:

By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. Although the surface of our planet is covered mainly by water, over 73 percent to be exact, only 3 percent of it is considered drinkable. And, to complicate matters, only ⅓ of that scant number is accessible to humans (the rest is tucked away in glaciers, and remote regions). Finding fresh water sources is an incredibly rare thing.

Overpopulation and consumption has put a strain on an already depleted ecosystem. Many water systems, like lakes, rivers and aquifers are drying up an alarming rate or, due to our meddling, becoming far too polluted to use.

Agriculture, above all other practices, consumes enormous amounts of water, more than any other industry. These precious resources are consumed in an ineffective manner.

Additionally, in impoverished regions, such as Africa (where thousands die from a result of having zero access to clean water) or in Pakistan (where the shortage has claimed ⅓ of its population), a different set of problems assaults the region: economic water scarcity.

In most of these districts, water treatment plants and “soluble” wells and aquifers are nothing more than open holes in dry river beds. In Tanzania, this last practice led to devastating epidemic that slashed their population by 75% in the late 2013.

What Is Economic Water Scarcity?

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In order to understand the water crisis, we need to understand the concept of economic water scarcity.

Economic water scarcity is a term that begun having a wide range appeal in mid-2007. It was defined, after a rather long and investigative essay, as a condition caused by the lack of investment in water infrastructure.

The concept first came into play after researchers and policymakers, overseen by the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka, conducted a 50 year study to determine the viability of sustaining life on Earth with the growing population problem. Their findings were less than hopeful.

One on the prime symptoms of economic water scarcity is a region’s capacity, both technological as well as human, to satisfy the area’s demand for drinkable water. It is a critical and typical manifestation of underdeveloped countries.

The main aspects of economic water scarcity are:

  • A lack of infrastructure with poor sanitation policies. The population has no other choice but to rely on rivers and lakes for their hydration.
  • Much of the water is used for agriculture and domestic chores. Evidence suggests that in many cases the water is “recycled” for different uses. Bathing, laundry, livestock, cleaning and cooking water not only comes from the same source but is oftentimes reused from one chore to another.
  • Large parts of the world, particularly in Africa, suffer from economic water scarcity. Developing the right infrastructure would lower the poverty line.
  • Terrorist groups and local warlords use their own wealth and resources to create the needed infrastructure, the major caveat being that they control the pipeline and in turn use it for their own goals – mainly recruitment.
  • Developing infrastructure in these areas not only requires funding but a complete overhaul of socio-political doctrines.

Consequences of water scarcity:

  • Using unclean water, in many areas, leads to an upswell of different disease, some of which are fatal.
  • In Africa, women spend half of their day walking and hauling up water from a clear source. The same goes for sections of India and Latin America. It is estimated that in the remotest parts of Africa, the female population spends a combined total of 40 billion hours a year walking to and from a well.
  • Communities don’t have the time to grow. Most families waste a great deal of their productive hours dealing with the problems that arise from water scarcity. Access to clean water gives families time to go to school and earn an adequate income, helping them fight off poverty.
  • It takes an enormous amount of water to grow crops, maintain livestock and ultimately feed a nation. Less water means a rise in endemic and localized famine.
  • Less water means less sewage flow and more stagnant water. These pools, particularly in tropical and subtropical environments, often become fast breeding ground for insects and parasites. One of the most far reaching and prevalent insects is the mosquito, a known carrier of West Nile Virus, malaria, zika and other infections.
  • Economies that, due to their natural landscapes could easily increase their gross income and national wealth through a busy tourist trade, have had no other choice but to closethis venue of revenue. Hotels, restaurants, shopping stores and other attractions no longer are able to maintain an adequate level of sanitation for visitors.

Countries with a high degree of water scarcity:

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All countries suffer from water scarcity in one way or another.

For example, the United States, a nation that takes for granted the gift that is drinkable tap water, is in the midst of a major water crisis. The Western States, among them California, are having to cut back on water delivery to certain areas. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the region’s water supplier, will deliver 15% less water to cities in the greater Los Angeles area starting in July 2018.

Nonetheless, the US and other first world nations have the advantage of a growing and confident economy, one that can acclimate itself to any sort of natural woe by investing heavily in infrastructure.

Others are not so lucky. 3 countries standing on the brink of complete water related collapse are:

  • Yemen: According to UPI, Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, is expected to be the first major city in the world to experience full water scarcity, a direct result of the many turmoils and local military brews of the area.
  • Libya: Another war torn country that’s facing a full sanitary cataclysm, the constant regime changes and wild political upheavals are taxing the nation’s capacity to create a viable water policy.
  • Jordan: The country of Jordan finds itself in one of the driest geographical latitudes in the planet. Its only source of water is the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. Transforming saltwater to fresh is a financial hurdle that’s hurting their weak economy.

Conclusion

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The United Nations considers water scarcity to be one of the most detrimental and crippling crisis attacking struggling economies and communities.

The Millennium Development Goals (8 fundamental objectives established by a committee of different nations within the United Nation) established the necessity of making water scarcity a key problem to eradicate. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, following the Millennium Summit, aimed by 2015 to “halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water.”

While we may not have solved the problem of water scarcity, we’re certainly making an effort to minimize the problem in as many ways as possible.

Audrey Hepburn said, “Water is life, and clean water means health.”

She knew what she was talking about.

8 Critical Factors Behind Every Food Crisis

8 Critical Factors Behind Every Food Crisis

From the beginning of time, their have been food crises in one form or another. Ancient books such as the Bible have records of various famines devastating portions of the world.

And while it’s easy to attribute these crises to a single cause, such as war or drought, the causes are usually much deeper and much more complex.

Nelson Mandela said, “Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity, it is an act of justice.”

In order for us to achieve the kind of justice envisioned by Mandela, it’s essential that we first understand the underlying causes of food crises. Only after we have understood can we then begin creating meaningful solutions.

With that in mind, here are 8 primary factors behind almost every global food crisis. While not all 8 of these will be present at a time, you will almost always find several of these at work.

Factor #1 – Poverty

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One of the greatest factors in every food crisis is stark and abject poverty. This isn’t surprising. With enough money, anyone can ensure they have enough food. But with many developing nations sitting well below the poverty line, the population simply can’t afford the food they so desperately need.

Additionally, poverty has a distinct effect on food output. In Africa, for example, many farmers can’t afford proper irrigation and fertilizer. This, in turn, leads to lower yields, which then reduces the overall amount of food available to the population.

The population of the Sub-Saharan region of Africa is expected to grow at an astronomical rate, topping out at 2.4 billion by 2050. This will continue to exacerbate the poverty issue, which will then continue to drive the lack of sufficient food in the area.

Factor #2 – Drought and Desertification

Widespread droughts, leading to the desertification of particular locations also causes huge disruptions to food production. For example, leading up to and during the global food crisis of 2008, 110 countries experienced significant droughts. This caused even the most well-irrigated, fertile areas to become arid deserts, making it impossible to grow crops.

As Mark Hughes noted:

Australia is normally the second largest exporter of grain, after the U.S. The continent, though, is experiencing an ongoing drought that has been described as the worst in a century. Grain yields have shrunk and many silos remain empty. Australia’s drought is a major factor in global wheat stocks being at their lowest since 1979. In fact, many wheat and rice farmers are switching to crops that demand less water, such as wine grapes.

Additionally, farmers often let animals over-graze on their land, reducing the amount of vegetation and increasing desertification. If the soil becomes dry enough, it is ruined and unable to support any crops at all.

Finally, as populations grow, deforestation occurs at an increased rate, which then leads to less vegetation and more desertification.

Factor #3 – Political Pressure

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In the past, the International Monetary Fund has pressured small farmers, particularly in impoverished African countries, to abandon agricultural farming in favor of industrial work. The money generated from this practice would be used to pay off debt and import food.

While it may sound like a working strategy, it has created catastrophic results.

As Eric Holt-Giménez noted:

The urban population increased seven-fold, swelling from 18% to 33% of the population. Millions of poor and unemployed workers have swelled the cities—with two-thirds of them living in slums. The manufacturing and industrial sector did not “take off” in African countries; the percent of the GDP coming from industry was 30% in 1961 and 32% in 2000. In the countryside, as plantations for agro-exports expanded, food production plummeted and poverty grew. Though the rural population, density increased by 180% as more farmers were crowded onto smaller plots.

Factor #4 – Increased Consumption of Meat and Dairy

Many countries have begun adopting a more Western diet, which includes eating significantly more meat and dairy. To make this happen, farmers have been forced to raise more cattle, and more cattle means more grain being consumed.

The problem, however, is that this causes a significant deficiency in terms of calories consumed versus calories available. A cow consumes approximately 700 calories worth of grain to produce a piece of meat containing only 100 calories. When this happens on a massive scale, an enormous shortage of food is the end result. The longer this deficit continues, the greater the imbalance will become.

Factor #5 – Increased Oil and Transportation Costs

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When the price of oil goes up, the energy cost for planting and transporting foods goes through the roof. When food costs more to grow, it then costs more to sell. These rising costs then make it more difficult for the local population to purchase crops as well as for farmers to export their crops to industrialized nations.

Additionally, increased oil costs has led many countries to invest heavily in the development of agro-fuels. More agro-fuels always means less food available.

As Esther Vivas helpfully puts it:

The increase in the price of oil, which doubled in 2007 and 2008 and caused a big rise in the price of fertilizers and transport related to the food system, has resulted in increasing investment in the production of alternative fuels such as those of plant origin. Governments in the United States, the European Union, Brazil and others have subsidized production of agro-fuels in response to the scarcity of oil and global warming. But this green fuel production comes into direct competition with the production of food. To give just one example, in 2007 in the United States 20% of the total cereal harvest was used to produce ethanol and it is calculated in the next decade that this figure will reach 33%. We can imagine the situation in the countries of the South.

Factor #6 – Falling World Aid

At the peak of the 2007-2008 food crisis, food aid was at it’s lowest point since 1961. This is one of the oddities about the national food market. When cereal prices are low, countries look to sell their food through international aid. However, when food prices are high, they prefer to sell them on the open market for increased profits.

In other words, during food crises, when food is scarcest and at it’s highest prices, it isn’t available for international aid. When the bottom falls out of world aid, food crises grow in magnitude.

Factor #7 – International Conflicts

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International conflicts are a particularly visible factor behind many food crises. During conflicts, it’s common for one country to restrict exports to another country, which then reduces the amount of food available to the general population.

Or, even worse, dictators will intentionally isolate their countries, refusing foreign aid that is desperately needed. Aid workers may be blocked from entering the country, making it difficult for the citizens to receive needed help. If foreign aid does come, they seize it for themselves, depriving the population of desperately needed sustenance.

Factor #8 – Disease

If a country experiences a particularly violent outbreak of a disease, it can completely disrupt the overall food supply. For example, the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa has killed farmers, which in turn pushes families deep into poverty.

When a population is undernourished, drugs become less effective and can at times create intense hunger pains. These two factors combined create a vicious cycle of death, poverty, and hunger.

Additionally, certain highly contagious diseases can restrict the amount of aid available to a country. For example, during the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, aid workers were restricted from traveling to the region due to fear of spreading the disease.

Perfect Storms

Most food crises aren’t the result of a single factor. Rather, they are caused by a perfect storm of events that coalesce into a deadly storm.

For example, in 2011, Somalia was devastated by a drought that caused widespread crop failure. The food crisis was made even worse by a non-functioning government as well as a national conflict. All these forces combined to make it difficult for aid workers to reach those who so desperately needed help.

The result was that approximately 260,000 people died.

Because the problems are almost always complex and multi-layered, the solutions must be equally multi-faceted. Simple solutions typically exacerbate the problem at the expense of the local population.

The best solutions are those that involve numerous parties working together to create a tangible, workable solution.

There will always be food crises to one degree or another. But as we grow in our understanding of what causes them, we can also grow in our ability to bring them to an end.