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   Almost all living things on Earth need water to live, yet humans pollute and waste it recklessly. More than a fifth of the world’s population doesn’t have enough: it is likely people will go to war over water in your lifetime.

Some areas have far too much water and suffer from floods, like Bangladesh and the flood plains of the Mississippi in the United States. Other areas, like Africa and West Asia, suffer severe droughts. The problem of water availability is most serious in Africa and West Asia. If water consumption continues at its present rate, by 2025 two out of three people will not have enough water for their basic needs.

Mining and industry pollute rivers with deadly chemicals. Farmers spray crops with pesticides and fertilisers which are washed into rivers and lakes. In many parts of the world, people use rivers as open sewers and garbage dumps. Near coasts, when too much water is taken from aquifers (big underground reservoirs of fresh water), sea water seeps in and makes the water salty and undrinkable.

If you take more money out of a bank than you put in, you get an overdraft and eventually go broke. We are doing this to our aquifers all over the world. In West Asia, North Africa, China, India, Russia and the USA, we run huge annual water overdrafts. This, combined with the discharge of untreated industrial waste and sewage into water systems makes water shortage one of our most critical environmental issues.

Though everything may seem everlasting, caring should start from the youth in me
Angela Shima, Philippines

click picture to enlarge
Kevin Day, Jamaica

Worldwide, polluted water affects the health of 1.2 billion people and contributes to the death of 15 million children under five every year. For example, in Asia, one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water and one in two have no access to hygienic sanitation.

web site editor: webmaster@grida.no Last update: Feb 2000