Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures because of climate change. Although 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.
In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress – 10 of which are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on alternative sources. Increasing drought and desertification is already worsening these trends. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will be affected by recurring water shortages.
This is particularly important for the Arab region, the world’s most water insecure region and hosting 14 of the world’s 20 most water-stressed countries. The average person has access to only about 12% the renewable water levels of an average global citizen. Meanwhile, more than half of all water originates from outside the region itself, making the Arab region the most dependent on external sources. Water insecurity has also grown due to the escalation of conflicts in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. In Syria, for example, 70 percent of the Syrian population is without regular access to safe drinking water because of water cuts and destruction of basic infrastructure.
Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires that we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. More international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries.
Goals in action
In Syria's rural areas, long-abandoned Roman wells have become more than a relic of a bygone civilization. MORE >
In Syria's rural areas, long-abandoned Roman wells have become more than a relic of a bygone civilization.MORE >