Hydrosphere

Water Scarcity

Overview

Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful. However, freshwater—the stuff we drink, bathe in, irrigate our farm fields with—is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is frozen in glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.


1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year (WWF).

Impacts

DISAPPEARING WETLANDS

About half of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1900. They provide various ecosystem services that benefit humanity such as,


  • water filtration,
  • storm protection,
  • flood control and
  • recreation.


Wetlands are some of the most productive habitats on the planet, while they support high concentrations of animals—including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates. Also, wetlands serve as nurseries for many of these species.


DAMAGED ECOSYSTEMS

When water becomes scarce, natural landscapes often lose out. The Aral Sea in central Asia was once the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake. But in only three decades, the sea has lost an area the size of Lake Michigan. It is now as salty as an ocean due to the excessive pollution and the diversion of water for irrigation and power generation. As the sea has retracted, it has left polluted land. This ecological catastrophe has created food shortages and resulted in a rise in infant mortality and a decrease in life expectancy for the nearby population. (WWF)

Water Scarcity

What are we doing?

  • PROMOTING WATER STEWARDSHIP

To benefit both people and nature, individuals supports organizations to become responsible water stewards. Internationally, groups work on projects to establish an international water stewardship standard through the Alliance for Water Stewardship (WWF).


We also support the use of water footprinting tools with the Water Footprint Network and promote other international initiatives with the United Nations’ CEO Water Mandate and the World Economic Forum.


At the local level, individuals conducts projects that measure water use and river basin impacts and demonstrate solutions for reducing these impacts.


  • PROTECTING WETLANDS


  • ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Managing water resources and protecting habitats before the worst impacts of climate change occur. This work includes promoting climate change adaptation in international conventions and supporting the preservation and restoration of wetlands.

DW (English)

Small-scale irrigation schemes to assist world's poor by DW (English)