Water - Another Global Crisis?


Each human needs about 20 litres of water a day for the basics - washing, cooking and drinking. But there are many places around the world, where people get five litres of water and less to live on. The situation is worst in Africa, especially some communities of Eastern Africa.

Why do some places have so little water and how will the availability of water change in the future? Across the world 1.6 b more people have access to clean drinking water than twenty years ago. But population growth and climate change could alter this picture. In some regions water is becoming very scarce, especially in places where consumption is already very high.

There are several rivers, for example, that don’t even reach the sea any more. The Yellow River in China and the Murray-Darling in Australia are two examples. Mud and sand have to be removed from the bottom of the rivers so that they don’t dry up. The Aral Sea in Central Asia and Lake Chad in Africa have shrunk in size because the rivers that flow into them have dried up. In Tanzania, streams are drying up because people are taking out more and more water to irrigate crops.



According to an international committee on climate change the warmer it gets the more rainfall we are going to have, simply because warmer air can hold more moisture. But the weather patterns are probably going to shift, meaning more water in regions that don’t have that much rainfall today.

Southern Europe and Northern Africa, as well as parts of Australia and South America will experience less rainfall, whereas more rain may fall in India, Bangladesh and Burma. Monsoons in these areas may become heavier, meaning that the water may run off and cannot be used.

With about 2.5 billion people more on our earth by the year 2050 we will need more drinking water as well. Those people will need more food. Because farming uses up about 70% of all the water supplies, water for cooking, washing and drinking will diminish.

Industrialized nations will be able to cope with the problem in a better way because they have the money to do so. Western Australia and some Middle Eastern countries are building desalination plants, expensive ways of getting clean water from the ocean.

Governments and societies will have to decide much more carefully what to do with water. Even in the Amazon rainforest, where water should be plentiful a combination of human settlement, deforestation and the drying of some streams have brought about a decline in the water supply.



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  • access = to get
  • according to = as shown by, as said by
  • alter = change
  • availability =something that can be used or is here
  • basics = the things you need to live and survive
  • community = people who live in the same area, like a town or neighbourhood
  • consumption =the amount that is used
  • cope = deal
  • crops = plants like wheat or rice that farmers grow and use as food
  • decline = to go down
  • deforestation = the cutting and burning down of trees in a place
  • desalination plant = a factory that turns salt water from the ocean into drinking water
  • diminish = to become smaller or less
  • especially =above all
  • experience = here: have, see
  • human settlement = people who build villages and towns
  • industrialized nation = rich nations of the world
  • irrigate = to cover dry land with water
  • moisture = small bits of water that are in the air
  • plentiful = a lot of
  • population growth = when more and more people live on Earth
  • reach = get to
  • remove = take away
  • run off =go away
  • shift = change
  • shrink- shrunk = to become smaller
  • society = people in general
  • stream = a small river
  • supplies = the amount of something that can be used
  • use up = need
  • weather pattern = the way weather happens over a period of days or weeks
  • whereas = on the other side