The developing world’s growing water crisis
Water scarcity and lack of safe water is a big issue in developing countries. Most of us take water for granted and find it hard to imagine not having access to a clean safe water supply. In developing countries, and places in the world where there have been natural disasters or conflict ,such as the Middle East, water is scarce or unsafe to drink because of contamination.
There are two different types of water scarcity: economic and physical. The first is when water is available but is time consuming to acquire or expensive to treat. The second is when water is physically difficult to find, as can be the case in arid regions.
Regions of scarcity
The Middle East and North Africa are the most water-deprived areas in the world. There are 17 countries within these regions that are below the water poverty line, and they suffer mainly due to their geographical location. The demand for water in the hottest and driest regions on Earth is greater than anywhere else – yet there are only 47 litres of water available to each person per day, often untreated. Compare this to the UK, where the average person uses around 150 litres per day, all of it treated and of the highest quality. Safe water is an essential for life, yet to so many it is out of reach.
The United Nations has stated:
“One of the most important recent milestones has been the recognition in July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly of the human right to water and sanitation. The Assembly recognized the right of every human being to have access to sufficient water for personal and domestic uses (between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day), which must be safe, acceptable and affordable;(water costs should not exceed 3 percent of household income), and physically accessible (the water source has to be within 1,000 metres of the home and collection time should not exceed 30 minutes).”
Even if there is water available in certain regions, it is not always safe to drink. Water which is contaminated will further reduce availability. Contaminations can include: metals, organic matter, parasites, viruses, bacteria, salts, and protozoa. Protozoa are parasitic diseases which are caused by free living or parasitic organisms. They feed on organic matter and cause diseases like malaria, babesiosis and toxoplasmosis.
In some developing countries, 80% of health issues are linked to waterborne diseases. Rivers which communities rely on as their main water source for drinking and cooking are contaminated with wastewater, sewage, dead animals and pollutants.
Innovations to improve water quality have helped immeasurably. These include the AQUAtap drinking water station, which uses solar power to purify contaminated groundwater and sea water. It can purify up to 20,000 litres per day without any infrastructure. Hydra Packs can be set up in emergency situations for one-time use. These small pouches are filled with electrolytes and nutrients. The user places the pack in a water source for 12 hours, and it creates a healthy drink. It doesn’t matter what the water quality is like, the Hydro Pack purifies the water safely.