Water security around the world

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The human population globally is on the rise. Resources are in plenty but in most instances management of this resources are flawed. Technology has played a role in ensuring development to aid in food and water security through better methods of irrigation and better farming practices. The energy sector and manufacturing industries are continuously increasing due to the demand of the human population leading to increased pressure on water. This has resulted in water stress in many regions of the world. By 2050, the demand for water will have increased by 55%

Access to clean water is linked to development as it is essential for economic growth and the fight against poverty and hunger. Despite improvements in technology, we still more than 748 million people globally who do not have access to clean drinking water. Their needs to be a balance between water supply and demand to be able to ensure water security is a reality for all countries, developed or developing.

The available groundwater may not even be consumable in the near future due to climate change, the rise of the uncontrolled release of pesticides and chemicals which penetrates into our waterways eventually permeating into the groundwater. All this result to waste of water and water pollution across the globe.

All countries regardless of their economic status are grappling with this one essential resource – water. It’s not a case of developing versus developed countries. It’s a case of how countries are using this finite resource to sustain their daily lives in the energy sector, manufacturing industries, agricultural practices used to feed the nation and for domestic purposes.


Climate change is a global challenge. Unpredictable rainfall and rising temperatures lead to high evaporation and transpiration rates by vegetation and water bodies. A rise in sea level rise due to the melting of the polar ice caps is threatening groundwater in coastal regions. Cities such as Dacca, Shangai and Calcutta are experiencing contamination of groundwater with salt water.  The Pacific islands of Tuvalu and Samoa also in the dilemma. This has led to some nations importing water for their needs since the groundwater cannot be consumed. Salt water desalination is an expensive procedure and not all countries can be able to do so.

Climate change will continue to worsen the situation leading to altered hydrological cycles. This will make water a resource that is unpredictable. The frequency and intensity of floods and droughts will also increase.


In the rice fields of Maharashtra and Rajasthan, development of irrigation systems has resulted in water stresses in the country. The country mostly depends on groundwater to sustain agriculture. India has mechanised tube wells and borewells which supply water to most parts of the country. In 2000, the country had nearly 19 million tube wells compared to less than a million in 1960.

The excessive drilling of borewells has led to over exploitation of groundwater.  Water can therefore not be able to recharge at the same level as it is exploited leading to depletion of the groundwater levels.


Singapore has a water recycle system where they use up all the wastewater and also mixes it with drinking water. Nothing is left to waste. The population of the country is 5.6 million people who reside on less than 750 square kilometers of land. Recycle water provides a solution to the limited water resource and ensure the country is hydrated.

Singapore is able to collect rainwater  through a network of drains, canals, rivers, storm water, collection ponds and reservoirs. The main aim is to catch water across two-thirds of the country.

Through Singapore’s National Water Agency, the country is able to recycle water through a four-step series of barriers and membranes. Here, wastewater is made free of solids, microorganisms, and contaminants resulting in potable water supplies for use by humans and industry.


In April, South Africa may experience zero water status due to a prolonged drought the country has been facing since 2015. The Theewaterskloof Dam which was able to hold nearly half of Cape Town’s water supply at 480 million cubic metres of water is about to dry up. The urban water system has faced a lot of pressure as the population has almost doubled since 1995 from 2.4 million to 4.3 million. When Day Zero approaches, Cape Town residents will only be able to collect a daily allowance of 25 litres from 149 points around the city.


Today, most rivers in California do not reach the sea. The state has experienced drought which is worsening the gap between the state’s water use and the available water supply. Read more about California’s water crisis here.


Climate change has greatly affected this island nation. As we entered a new century, Australia experienced a drought during the first decade. This only left cities like Melbourne and Sydney with one year before they could run out of the water. This saw many households have rainwater tanks to be able to store rain, however little it fell. The country has also invested in stormwater harvesting to ensure the people do not enter a major water crisis.

When the country hit a water crisis at the peak of the drought, the country also diversified into using salt water. A desalination plant (which removes salt from seawater that is used to supply drinking water) and a pipeline to divert water from the Goulburn River in the rural north were built in Melbourne. However expensive and politically antagonistic the plant is now able to supply more than half of Melbourne’s water needs.

The country is able to also convert sewage water into drinking water which is more affordable and reduces energy costs as compared to desalination.


The Nakivubo swamp in Uganda is fed by treatment of wastewater. This is able to maintain the ecological status of the wetland which provides a water purification service for the country’s capital Kampala.

A research done indicated the Nakivubo wetland is able to function as a natural tertiary treatment system. The swamp is able to filter the effluents it receives from the sewage works and Kampala. This filtration of waste protects the Inner Murchison Bay from eutrophication and excessive loads of pathogens. When these are released or inflitrate into water systems, especially to the nearby Gaba waterworks, this would be a threat to Uganda’s public health.

According to the World Bank, 276 transboundary basins are shared by 148 countries, which account for 60% of the global freshwater flow. 300 aquifers systems are transboundary in nature, meaning 2 billion people worldwide are dependent on groundwater.

Therefore, for countries to be able to achieve water security, they need to individually improve the management of water resources and sources and the services that use water. Countries will also need to diversify their water sources in order to meet the demand of the growing population.

More people today are living in urban areas more than a few decades ago. This can be attributed to seeking better opportunities in a city life. With the current floods having hit the Capital City of Nairobi, it will be very unfortunate when we have a water crisis in the next few months as this water can be tapped and even recycled for future use.

SDG Goal 11 which focuses on Sustainable Cities and Communities delves on building and managing our urban cities. One of the goal’s target is “By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.”

Green spaces are vital, not just as a recreational area, but also aid in mitigating the effects of floods and overall the effects of climate change.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. – Stephen Hawking

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Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui is a believer in all things beautiful. A believer in spreading information in regards to environmental awareness. A believer in sharing all that is good in Kenya's natural world. A believer in speaking truth with no boundaries. Do you have a story, photo, experience or message you need to share? Send your work to nyikasilika@gmail.com.

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