Access to freshwater is a human right as it is not only essential for drinking, bathing, sanitation but also for industrial and food security purposes. According to Unicef, almost two-thirds of global population experiences severe water scarcity leading to child mortality, poor sanitation and hurting females and children.
Reasons for reduced water availability:
- Limited supply of freshwater as freshwater makes up only 1% of total global water supply.
- Skewed distribution of freshwater resources temporally and spatially. For ex. Monsoons concentrate 85% of India’s precipitation in three-month period.
- Increasing global population even as water supply remains constant.
- Climate change induced water shortage
- Low water use efficiency, particularly in agriculture.
- Export of virtual water in the form of agricultural commodities like Rice and Sugarcane.
- Over-exploitation of groundwater resources
- Contamination of water with arsenic, cadmium etc. making it unusable.
Reasons for crisis in access to freshwater:
- Lack of proper water management and governance
- Inadequate investment and poor management of water supply infrastructure
- War and conflicts
- Forced migration
- Lack of cooperation on water among states and federal units
- Lack of adequate political focus on water issues.
Thus, steps like identifying new water resources, improving efficiency of water resources, treating access to minimum quantity of water, mainstreaming use of wastewater, reducing wastage of water, promoting desalination in coastal areas, pricing of water and changing our behaviour towards water is required to improve both the access and availability of freshwater.