Global Crisis of Freshwater Resources

MNA Editorial Desk: While the amount of freshwater on the planet has remained impartially constant over time—continually recycled through the atmosphere and back into our cups—the population has exploded.

Every year competition for a clean, copious supply of water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sustaining life intensifies.

About 36 countries are currently facing extremely high levels of water stress, which occurs when demand for water far exceeds the renewable supply available.

Some 600 million children will be living in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040, according to a UNICEF report released on ‘World Water Day’. The poorest children will be worst affected as climate change worsens an ongoing water crisis.

The report, “Thirsting for a Future: Water and children in a changing climate”, looks at the threats to children’s lives and wellbeing caused by depleted sources of safe water, and the ways climate change will intensify these risks in the coming years.

“Water is elemental; without it, nothing can grow. But around the world, millions of children lack access to safe water – endangering their lives, undermining their health, and jeopardizing their futures. This crisis will only grow unless we take collective action now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, increased floods, droughts and melting ice affect the quality and availability of water, as well as sanitation systems.

Population growth, increased water consumption, and higher demand for water largely due to industrialization and urbanization are draining water resources worldwide.

Dependable freshwater supplies and the ability to cope with the extremes of too little or too much water are requisites for sustainable human development.

More than 3 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water, and the problem is particularly acute in developing countries, where 90 percent of wastewater is discharged into streams without treatment.

Of the more than 3 million deaths that are attributed to polluted water and poor sanitation annually, more than 2 million are children in developing countries. Furthermore, extensive loss of life and economic productivity result each year from rain- induced landslides, floods and torrents in developed and developing countries alike.

The field of water resources management will have to continue to adapt to the current and future issues facing the allocation of water. With the growing uncertainties of global climate change and the long term impacts of management actions, the decision-making will be even more difficult.

It is likely that ongoing climate change will lead to situations that have not been encountered. As a result, alternative management strategies are sought for in order to avoid setbacks in the allocation of water resources.

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