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Element Water: Water Scarcity

The scarcity of water is real. People are not getting their daily requirement of 135 L (of water) due to either physical scarcity (which is real) or due to economic scarcity (which is manufactured). The concept of social learning is used to understand the utility of stakeholder participation in the study of the scarcity of water and to differentiate between real and artificial scarcity. We also need to try to understand the different narratives to scarcity. Hopefully,  Donald Trump doesn’t say that water scarcity is an illusion, just like global warming (Dumbass).

What Is Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity involves water shortage, water stress, and water crisis.  Water shortages are mainly caused by climate change, altering weather patterns (droughts/floods), increased pollution, and increased human demand and overuse of water (WWF, 2013). Water stress is difficulty in obtaining fresh water for use during a period of time; resulting in depletion and deterioration of available water resources. A water crisis is a situation (or crisis) where the available potable water within a region is less than that region’s requirement.

The types of water scarcity are physical (absolute) water scarcity and economic water scarcity (i.e, lack of investment in infrastructure). The drivers of water scarcity are growing freshwater use and depletion of usable freshwater resources. According to Indian Standards, the average Indian uses 135 liters of Potable (fit for consumption) water per capita per day (IS1172).

Water Scarcity In The World

“Water scarcity is both a natural and a human-made phenomenon. There is enough freshwater on the planet for seven billion people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed” (UNDP, 2006).

Source: World Water Development Report 4. World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), March 2012.

As we see from the graphical representation, most of Central Africa is water stressed economically because of lack of infrastructure, while the north and south coast experience physical water scarcity because of lack of water bodies nearby (apart from the ocean). Most of the Middle-East is afflicted with physical water scarcity or is approaching physical water scarcity. South-Australia, Mexico, California, China, etc. all face physical water scarcity. Forget the 135 L, individuals in some arid locations barely get 80 L of water a day.

When we take a closer look at the western regions of India (Gujarat, Rajasthan) and the Deccan region of the South, we see the abundant presence of physical water stress/scarcity. The majority of mainland India along with the Western Ghats are water stressed even after abundant rainfall and fresh water through rivers. Why? Because they are stressed economically. Some countermeasures to the depleting rain water in India are rainwater harvesting, groundwater harvesting (soon depleting), farm ponds, catchment plans, Government-led regulation, etc.

Do stay tuned as we look at how water scarcity is affecting different parts of the world, (Kutch and India in particular). We will also cover the other elements that constitute the makeup of our environment. 

(Article was originally written by Kartikaye Madhok for the Title Manufacturing the Perception of Scarcity)

Picture Credit: Ads of the World

 

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One thought on “Element Water: Water Scarcity

  1. Good article Ashwin. This is a constant struggle for many of us. Freshwater appears to becoming the new oil of the 21st century, scarce, expensive and fought over. The majority of mainland India along with the Western Ghats are water stressed even after abundant rainfall and fresh water through rivers. Why? Because they are stressed economically. Some countermeasures to the depleting rain water in India are rainwater harvesting, groundwater harvesting (soon depleting), farm ponds, catchment plans, Government-led regulation, etc.. By 2025, the UN expects 14% of the world’s population to be encountering water scarcity. We can create transport pipeline networks spanning hundreds of miles for oil but can’t do the same for water?

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