Water! Water! Water!

 Woman in water looking at camera

By WONNE Afronelly

Can you even imagine a world without water? If you do, you're probably thinking of the planet Mars, not the Earth.

Water access is a global crisis, as millions of people do not have access to water, and it is at the core of sustainable development. It's necessary for socio-economic development, food production, healthy ecosystems, and for basic human survival. As the planet adapts to climate change, it is the crucial link between society and the environment.

  • 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)
  • Over half of the global population or 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)
  • 297,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases due to poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)
  • 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress. (UN 2019)
  • 90 per cent of natural disasters are weather-related, including floods and droughts. (UNISDR)
  • 80 per cent of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. (UNESCO, 2017)
  • Around two-thirds of the world’s transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework. (SIWI)
  • Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of global water withdrawal. (FAO)
  • Roughly 75 per cent of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production. (UNESCO, 2014)
  • About 2 in 10 people lack sufficient access to water, with 1.1 billion people experiencing water scarcity at least once a month globally,.
  • 6 to 8 million people die as a result of disasters and water-related diseases.
  • By 2050, 2/3rd of the world's population may face water shortages.

No doubt, water is nature's most important nutrient! Rich or poor, young or old—Everyone Needs Water!! 

Many people think this necessity is abundant and in never-ending supply. Unfortunately, this is not true. Covering about 71% of the Earth's surface, water exists in all three principal states of matter - gaseous (vapor), solid (ice), and liquid (water). Much as water seems to be everywhere, it is a limited resource, with only about 3% available for human use.

Although water is at the core of sustainable development and critical for healthy ecosystems, socio-economic development, human survival, energy, and food production, a 2017 publication of the United Nations states that 785 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water.

Water is a vital aspect of life and an essential goal of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SGDs) to be achieved by 2030 as SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation).

Need For Conservation

Despite many bodies of water surrounding us (water covers about 71% of the earth's surface), there is still constant battle for depleting water sources, over-usage of our supply, and unequal distribution due to an area, poverty, and political issues. Water usage both homestead, commercial, and industrial, varies globally across each country or city hence the need for water conservation. 

With only a very small percentage (about 0.3%) of water on Earth readily available for human use, uneven distribution becomes a problem.

Woman swimming in blue water

Conservation Methods: Some simple tips to reduce your water footprint

  • Eating and buying locally produced goods to avoid water loss during transportation, cutting down in excess processed food, eating less meat and dairy, reusing, and recycling products are also ways to conserve water.
  • In the bathroom, kitchen, and outdoor areas: always check pipes, faucets, and toilets for leaks. Unknown leaks in a household can waste up to 3,000 gallons (11,000 L) of water a year.
  • Select water-efficient appliances when replacing ones that can no longer be repaired.
  • You can reduce water usage by 40% to 50% by installing low-flush toilets.
  • When hand-washing dishes, never run the water continuously.

Importance and Benefits of Water Conservation 

Fresh and clean water is a limited resource. Water conservation should be everyone's business. It is not a job reserved for city planners, farmers, or hydrologists. Water conservation builds safe and beautiful communities, helps minimize water shortage and effects of drought, preserves the environment, and makes water available for recreational purposes even in places where it is otherwise scarce.

So for those of you in places like Port Harcourt, Nigeria or cities around the world surrounded by huge bodies of water and blessed with ample rainfall, please remember young girls and women in Uganda or Mozambique the next time you feel like playing in the shower just a few minutes. They have to travel miles and miles just for a bucket of clean water!

Water is LIFE! We should all learn to measure our water footprints and use water more conservatively.

Environmentalist and journalist WONNE Afronelly reports on municipal water systems, fisheries management and environmental sustainability issues as a writer for many years in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Photos: Dave Goudreau, Guadalupe Garcia, Sergey Zhesterev