Safe, drinkable water is something that most people in the developed world take for granted. You just turn on the tap, and you get an infinite supply of clean water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, watering the garden, doing the laundry, and frolicking about in in the summer. If you don’t like tap water, you can buy a case of bottled water in the big box store for 20 cents a bottle. However, not everyone is so lucky. Water scarcity is a serious threat, and many people in developing countries lack access to safe water — with severe consequences.
Here are some water facts about the world water crisis you may not know.
1. We Are Definitely Facing an Unprecedented Water Crisis
It might seem like we have a virtually limitless supply of water — three-quarters of our planet’s surface is covered in literal oceans of the stuff. However very little of it is actually safe for humans to use. Nearly 97% of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable. Another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers (and we want it to stay there). That leaves just 1% for all of the things humans need water for — drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning, growing crops, raising animals, manufacturing and thousands of other uses.
Worldwide water use has been steadily increasing since the 1980s, but the actual amount of water we have on Earth stays the same. That’s a problem.
2. Nearly a Billion People Lack Access to Safe Water
Globally, 844 million people lack access to safe water, and 2.3 billion live without access to proper sanitation. Without action, the problem will only get worse. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to face water scarcity by 2025.
3. Water Scarcity Hits Developing Countries Hardest
Water scarcity is a worldwide issue but hits developing nations hardest. In some countries in Africa, Asia, and Oceania, less than half the population has access to clean water. Unicef estimates that $260 is lost every year due to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation in developing countries.
4. The Water Crisis Affects Women and Girls the Most
In most developing countries, women and children bear the primary responsibility for collecting water. To get enough for their families to survive, many women and girls spend six to eight hours collecting water a day. Globally, 200 million work hours are consumed every day collecting water. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, fetching water costs women 40 billion hours a year.
That time could be used more productively. It’s time that women could spend caring for family members or working to earn an income and break out of poverty. It’s time that young girls could spend on school or play — luxuries they must often give up to spend time just collecting the water necessary to survive.
According to UNICEF, one in five school-age girls do not attend school, compared to one in six boys. One reason for this inequality is the lack of restrooms — once girls hit puberty and start menstruating, they have no facilities to address their needs. Many are forced to stop attending school. Proper toilets and latrines could enable girls to continue their education by remaining in the school system.
5. The Water Crisis Is also a Health Crisis, Especially for Children
Water, sanitation, and hygiene-related diseases kill nearly 1 million people each year. Parasitic illnesses, such as guinea worm and trachoma, thrive in environments with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation. By some estimates, 80% of all illness in the developing world is related to unsafe water.
Children, with their still-developing immune systems, get hit the hardest by waterborne and sanitation-related illnesses — including diarrhoeal diseases and malaria. According to Water.org, a child dies from a water-related disease every 2 minutes.
These tragedies are preventable. By providing those in need with access to safe water and improved sanitation we can cut the global burden of disease significantly.
6. The Water Crisis Doesn’t Just Affect Developing Nations
So far, we’ve focused mainly on the developing world, but this problem hits closer to home than many Americans realize. Everyone remembers the Flint water crisis, which, despite the lack of media coverage, is still ongoing as of 2019. However, this sort of thing is happening all over the United States. Between 2007 and 2017, as many as 63 million Americans — nearly one-fifth of the population — were exposed to unsafe drinking water.
Sewage releases, malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems, naturally occurring chemicals and metals, industrial and agricultural runoff, water pollution, and crumbling infrastructure are some of the many sources of contamination. If certain key issues, like freshwater availability, water usage, population growth, climate change, and extreme weather events continue unchecked, 40 states anticipate water shortages within the next decade.
7. The Water Crisis Is Solvable
All of these facts may sound pretty bad, but here is the most important one — the water crisis is solvable. Lack of access to safe water isn’t a law of nature; it’s simply a matter of logistics, funding, and efficiency. Around the world, numerous individuals and organizations are working to set things right and provide equitable access to safe water and sanitation for all peoples.
That’s why Just Energy has partnered with Water.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving the water crisis, one household and one village at a time. We want to help, and, with Water.org, you can help, too.
8. The Return on Investment for Safe Water Is Incredible
The water crisis isn’t only solvable — it’s one of the most efficient and effective ways to combat poverty. Water.org estimates that for every $1 spent on improving access to safe water, they’ve created $57 worth of impact. They achieve this through their WaterCredit program. Working with local financial partners, helps people in need get small, affordable loans so that they can afford to gain access to safe water.
The cost of the loan is only a fraction of what most people were already paying for water, and once it’s paid off, their cost drops to almost nothing. Each repaid loan goes straight back into the program, allowing more families to break the cycle of poverty through safe water and improved sanitation.
9. You Can Help Solve The Water Crisis
You can make a difference, and it won’t cost you a dime. Thanks to our new partnership with Water.org, you can help solve the water crisis simply by making Just Energy your energy supplier.
All you have to do is sign up for our Basic Energy Plan or Purely Green Energy Plan, and we’ll donate to Water.org on your behalf. For each month that you’re enrolled in one of the participating plans, you give someone access to safe water for three years. With Just Energy and Water.org, you can make a difference.
Click here to learn more about Just Energy’s partnership with Water.org, and how you can help end the water crisis. Safe water and sanitation must be top priorities if we are to create a future that allows everyone to live healthy, prosperous, and dignified lives.
844 million people — about 1 in 9 — lack access to safe water; 2.3 billion — about 1 in 3 — lack access to a toilet. Water.org is dedicated to changing this, empowering families through access to affordable financing and expert resources to make household water and toilet solutions a reality.
Water.org is an international nonprofit organization that has positively transformed millions of lives around the world through access to safe water and sanitation. Founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org pioneers innovative, market-driven solutions to the global water crisis — breaking down barriers to give families hope, health and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.
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- FRESHWATER Supply Concerns Continue, and Uncertainties Complicate Planning. United States Government Accountability Office. https://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663343.pdf. Published May 2014. Accessed May 11, 2019.
- Increasing the value of $1 to increase impact. Water.org. https://water.org/our-impact/all-stories/increasing-dollars-worth-increase-our-impact/. Accessed May 11, 2019.