Water Scarcity by 2050 Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:06:56
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In the verge of all the crises faced by the ecosystem, waste, human waste in particular, will finally evolve to a higher level”to saving the world from the emerging water and food crisis. According to the World Health Organization Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater, excreta and greywater (2008), using excreta or faeces, urine, faecal sludge and septage, and grey water or waste water from the kitchen, bath amd laundry, in cultivation of food crops will alleviate the water problem that the world is facing.

Minimizing the negative impacts of excreta and grey water on surface water and groundwater making more efficient use of the nutrient resources that they contain for crop and energy production will directly contribute to environmental sustainability (WHO, n. d. , n. pag. ). Among the benefits that grey water use can give are reduction of pressure on fresh water resources, reduction of downstream pollution for the discharge of wastes, reduction of potential environmental impacts from various chemicals and there would be a recycling of water and nutrient resources (WHO, n.

d. , n. pag. ). The WHO warns, however, that before using excreta or grey water in aid of cultivation, the proper use must be learned so as not to cause negative effects on the plants where it is being applied and health hazards. The WHO suggests the they be used close to their origin for safety purposes. This kind of water conservation measure that the WHO is proposing spells the gravity of the water problem that the entire world is facing.

To illustrate further, the health synthesis, Ecosystems and the Human Well Being (Corvalan, Hales, McMichael, 2005) released by the WHO revealed that in 1950, the fresh water available per person was 16, 800 m? but in 2000, it had a huge decrease registering only 6, 800 m? available fresh water per individual. As the years add up, this available fresh water supply will continuously decrease. According to the health synthesis (2005), each person needs 20 to 50 liters of water free from harmful and chemical contaminants for drinking, cooking and hygiene and to date, over 1 billion people lack access to safe water supplies and 2.

6 billion lack adequate sanitation. With the depleting water source, the health synthesis predicted that by 2050 there would be no food security and demand for food will grow by 70 to 80 percent and water by 30 to 85 percent. The number of countries facing water scarcity or water stress will also reach from 31 in 1995 to 54 in 2050 (Corvalan, Hales, McMichael, 2005). Among the countries that were projected to be included are China and India, two countries that are sheltering the largest populations in the world (Infoplease, 2007).

Aside from food and water scarcity, the world is also likely to face a depletion of the ecosystem, drought and many other diseases caused by the need for more water and food. Based on How is Climate Affecting our Health? (WHO1, 2008), there are a lot of factors why the world is facing pressure on the ecosystem among these are population, technology and lifestyle. The continuous increase in the population worldwide cause many people to compete for the environmental resources. The more people there are, the higher is the demand for more resources.

The technology that are being introduced such as biofuels constitute also a share in the degradation of the ecosystem, in fact this has also been the subject of a research conducted by the Consultative Group on International and Agricultural Research (IWMI, 2007). According to that study, the use of biofuels could worsen water scarcity and food production because the cultivation of crops for bio-fuels would compete with the water resources. The lifestyle of the people plays also as a factor in the waning earths ecosystem.

The technology and gadgets that has been infused with everyday living has made life more complex and demands the utilization of more resources. Instead of limiting the use of resources to humans only, the benefits that the ecosystem provides are stretched to the meet the needs of the equipment that man use. like the washing machine. The use of this equipment has made laudrying and drying clothes more convenient than the conventional way, however, the use of this machine employs more water than hand washing clothes.

Crystal Davis in her article, The Multiple Dimensions of Water Scarcity (World Resources Institute Earth Trends, 2007), said that water scarcity is a multi-dimensional problem and the reason why many countries are likely to experience it at an earlier stage are the uneven geographic distribution of water and population, overexploitation of freshwater resources, which only consitute one percent of the of the earths water, and climate change. The geographical problem with the uneven water supply is the reason why most countries are facing water stress at a more advanced level than the others.

In places like the Middle East and Africa, particularly Eritea where there has been an experienced drought and food crisis since 2005 (news24, 2005), there is a higher demand for water to sustain the people there because their areas are mostly desert and land, there are only few water sources to provide for their needs as compared with countries that are surrounded by bodies of water, many of which are found in Southeast Asia. The overexploitation of freshwater resource can be attributed not only for the growing need the human race but also because of the rising pollution caused by anthropogenic sources (Corvalan, Hales, McMichael, 2005).

As indicated also in the article of Tom Damassa (World Resources Institute Earth Trends, 2006), other sources of water scarcity are the excessive use and pollution of the natural water resources in advanced countries. In the United States for example, there is a destruction of wet lands and continued strains on rivers as a result of too much use and pollution. This destruction and strain curb the goods and services that the ecosystem can provide. Aside from geographic location and pollution, a big factor for the water problem is population.

Increase in the density of the population will likely cause a higher demand for water because each individual has a need for water. In examination of the world population, it can be seen that some countries have more inhabitants than the others and this discrepancy in the population cause some countries to experience water stress earlier or at a greater level than the others. In fact, as cited earlier, there are 31 countries that are facing water stress since 1995 and the figure will go higher due to the population boom and the ecosystems deterioration.

In addition to the mentioned causes of water scarcity is the difference in the climate in every region. Some countries have a cooler climate while the others experience warmer weather. It is likely that individuals who are in tropical countries will pose a higher demand for more water to drink, cook, hygiene and cultivate plants than those in cooler places. The global warming experienced worldwide also adds up to the water problem. Global warming, according to time for change (2008), is the observed and projected rise in the average temperature of the atmosphere and oceans.

This phenomenon is caused by increased amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that cause the green house effect and the earth to warm up faster. The green house effect is a procees where some of the infrared radiation passes through the atmosphere but most of it are absorbed and re-emitted in all directions by greenhouse molecules and clouds warming the earth in the process (WHO1, 2008, p. 4). This phenomenon cause the earth to heat up, the rivers and lakes to dry and snow and glaciers to melt.

The WHO report (2008), said that the heat caused by this climate change leads to droughts and severely affects food production particularly cereal crops. The reasons for this occurrence are the change in the temperature, rainfall patterns, soil moisture and soil fertility. Plants will not survive dry and barren land thus, there is a need for the farmer to cultivate the soil and make it conducive for the plants to live. With the global warming, there is an increased demand for irrigation to sustain the plants. This demand, if not met and resolved, will definitely cause hunger for the human race, if not, death.

In response to the food and water crisis, research and studies recommend the use of alternative food sources and a change in diet especially in poor countries. In illustration, third world countries like the Philippines, will have to decrease its rice consumption or at least replace their staple food with a cheaper and more available agricultural products like corn or sweet potato. However, this change in diet may also cause health problems such as obesity (due to non-variety in the diet) or malnutrition (due to lack of food) and other diseases.

The health risks posed by the environmental challenges will most likely be battled over by the rich countries than those which are poor because of the difference in resources. In poorer countries, the inhabitants are more vulnerable to the diseases ignited by the environmental depletion because they have limited means of protecting and sustaining themselves. Their areas are dirtier or less sanitized and they hardly have enough for the treatment of their ailments. Rich countries on the other hand have a greater chance of combatting the difficulty because they have more resources and advanced technologies to combat it (WHO1, 2008).

In relation to illness, it has also been reported in the WHO website that those suffering from AIDS or HIV have agreater chance of fighting the disease if there is sufficient food and environmental resources. The food will not exactly prolong the life of the patient but it will serve as its first line of defense in fighting the illness. Good food, sufficient supply or basic needs and therapies will improve the quality of life of the patient as well as increase its immune system and help him fight the virus (WHO2, 2008).

If the infection brought by HIV or AIDS is not cured, then this will add up to the food problem. As reported by Oxfam International (2002), most of those affected with the ailment are those in the working class and if they are not cured, the infection will continue to weaken their body and will not enable them to work. This failure to work will cause less laborers to tend farms and factories, less employees in clinics and hospitals who will care for the sick and kill the civic and political leaders and those from the private sectors who are needed in responding with the crisis (Oxfam International, 2002).

Developing nations according to The Challenges of Water Scarcity by the UNEP (n. d. ), are faced with a greater difficulty in terms of the water problem as compared with developed countries because they do not have the technology and equipment to conserve water. Rich countries also have the capability to fund treatment of their industrial waste or sewage water while poor countries do not have that competence. Factory waste water in developing countries are released to to surface water causing water pollution and decrease in the available water necessary for human consumption.

With all the difficulties in population, climate, health and technology brought by the water and food shortage, developing countries by 2050 will have greater difficulty in combatting the environmental dilemma. The pressure is higher on them economically, physically and psychologically as compared to richer countries which are more equipped and more prepared. The water and food crises are not only limited to several countries, it has become a worldwide dilemma and each must do its part to fight it and avoid the alarming effects it may yield fifty years from now.


Corvalan, C. , Hales, S. , McMichael, A. ,. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being Health Synthesis [online]. [Accessed 4th April 2008]. Available from World Wide Web: Damassa, T. Water Scarcity. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 4th April 2008]. Available from World Wide Web:

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