Wills Point, USA – Growing scarcity of the planet’s most “precious” resource could lead to “dire consequences” worldwide — including the Western U.S. — as hot, arid regions get thirstier, a troubling new report for World Water Day on March 22 reveals.
Surging global population, urban development and rising temperatures could leave billions worldwide struggling to find enough water to drink within the next two decades, according to the report Water: An Increasingly Scarce Resource That Is Precious As Gold [http://www.gfa.org/press/WaterCrisis].
“The consequences are dire,” says the report by global humanitarian agency GFA World (www.gfa.org). “Areas could become uninhabitable; tensions over how to share and manage water resources like rivers and lakes could worsen; more political violence could erupt.”
Water shortages contributed to both the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria, the report says, noting: “Water scarcity is the ‘invisible’ hand behind many humanitarian crises.”
Citing a New York Times article, the report says 40 million people living in 7 states in the Western U.S. who rely on water from the Colorado River could face severe shortages in coming years.
In the next 20 years, demand for water is expected to surge more than 50%. “Once we’re on that train, it’s not clear where it stops,” the report quotes Jennifer Pitt, director of the Colorado River program at the National Audubon Society, as saying.
The looming water crisis could also hugely impact agricultural output, including staple crops, meaning people could struggle to find food and beverages in the stores, according to London-based financial giant Barclays.
Worst affected will be those living in the world’s hottest — and poorest — regions, including Africa and South Asia. Already, 1.1 billion people — one in every 7 people on earth — lack reasonable access to drinking water. In Africa, more than a quarter of the entire population spends several hours every day walking miles to get to a water source, the report says.
Drilling for Life
Humanitarian agencies such as GFA World are drilling thousands of deep-water wells, supplying reliable, clean drinking water for millions in remote places where children often suffer and die from waterborne parasites and diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and cholera.
“This desperate situation is especially acute in Asia, where millions of families get their drinking water from the only source available to them — often a dirty river or stagnant pond,” said GFA World founder K.P. Yohannan.
The faith-based organization has provided enough wells — called “Jesus Wells” — and simple sand-gravel filters to supply more than 38 million people with safe drinking water.
“Just as Jesus offered people ‘living water,’ we’re striving to do the same as an expression of God’s care for them,” Yohannan said.