As already explored, water is a precious, fundamental, and limited resource but also it plays an important role in the world economy:
- Approximately 70% of the freshwater used by humans goes to agriculture.
- Fishing in salt and fresh water bodies is a major source of food for many parts of the world.
- For our health and to prevent dehydration, it is recommended to drink a minimum of 1,5L of water (up to 16L depending on the region of the world we are living in)
We intended to sum up the main challenges we are facing as humanity in this century, by gathering a few strong facts.
I – DIRTY WATER AND DISEASES
Fact 1: In 2015, 1.8 billion people still use an unsafe drinking water source which may be contaminated by feces. (Source)
Fact 2: Millions of people are infected with neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), many of which are water and/or hygiene-related, such as Guinea Worm Disease, Buruli Ulcer, Trachoma, and Schistosomiasis.
These diseases are most often found in places with unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, and insufficient hygiene practices. (Source)
Fact 3: The WHO estimates that in 2015, the deaths of 361,000 children under 5-years-old could have been avoided by addressing water and sanitation risk factors. (Source)
II – WATER RENEWABLE CYCLE DIMINUTION AND DEPENDENCE
Fact 4: The renewable internal freshwater resources of most countries in the world are decreasing since 1962.
So passed Brazil, the largest renewable water reserve in the world, from 74 000 m3 to 28 000m3 renewable water per year, resulting in being divided by 2,6 in 52 years. (Source)
Fact 5: The WRI estimated in 2013 that 36 countries faced “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress: these countries are mainly located in Northern Africa, Southern & Central Asia & Middle-East. (Source)
Fact 6: In 2012, the global consumption of bottled water amounted to 288 billion liters and was forecasted to reach 391 billion liters by 2017. (Source)
III – WATER POLLUTION & REDUCTION OF OCEAN SPECIES
Fact 7: A huge percentage of the available freshwater is polluted with trash and waste from the cities as well as with toxins due to industrial processes, agricultural fertilizers, pesticides, and wastewater.
Polluted water is considered to be responsible for 14 000 human deaths daily worldwide. (Source)
Fact 8: In 2015, it was estimated that there were 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. 269 000 tons of that mass are floating on the surface, while the deep sea is littered with approx. 4 billion plastic microfibers/km².
Also on average each human absorb the equivalent of a credit card (5g) of micro-plastic every week, the consequences on health are still unknown. (Source)
Reminder : if takes from 20 fo 550 years to plastic objects to biodegrade in the sea.
Fact 9: From 1950 to 2000 the phytoplankton population has been reduced by 40 %. The higher temperature of the sea surface, overfishing and acidification is in charge of this reduction. (Source)
Phytoplankton is not only a highly important part of the seafood chain by being at its base but also responsible for 50 % of the oxygen that we breathe (more than the forests)
At least one very good news: The access to improved drinking water has been mainly increasing in most of the countries in the world as you can see on this very good interactive graph made by Our World in Data.
KNOW YOUR PERSONAL WATER FOOTPRINT
You are wondering how much water is hidden behind your daily habits?
You can calculate your personal water consumption with the Water Footprint Calculator!