Monday, May 9, 2011

Where is there a water crisis?

Fundamental to understanding the international water crisis is the recognition that there is tension between the human value of water and the economic value of water that is predominant in neo-liberal ideology. The 1992 Dublin Statement suggests water should be recognized as an economic good. One decade later, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights declared water a human right in General Comment 15, stating, ‘The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses.” 

Source: WHO 2006

As a continent, Africa hosts by far the majority of the population without access to potable water. According to Figure 1 Ethiopia, Somalia, and Chad have the greatest need for improved access to drinking water but the situation persists that over 30 percent of the populations of half of Africa do not have access to improved drinking water. Across Africa, rural populations are the most vulnerable to unsafe drinking water due to their heavy dependence on water for agricultural purposes. It is not uncommon for women in rural communities to walk up to eight hours each day to retrieve water for their families; and this water may not even be safe for consumption.  Rural African communities require a solution that provides an alternative means of water collection or an inexpensive means to purify freshwater.
Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Laos and Bhutan host the greatest percentiles of populations that lack access to improved water sources in Southeast Asia. As is the case in Africa, demands for water in agriculture compromise both the amount and quality of water available for consumption. In Bhutan, as global warming is changing melting patterns and permanently melting some glaciers, dependence on annual glacial thawing poses a huge threat to health and security.

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