Clean water protects people from disease, yet three in 10 people lack access to it.
Widespread pollution of rivers and oceans is killing us all. Albeit violent, this affirmation holds an unquestionable truth. As many as 1,000 children die daily from preventable water sanitation-related diarrheal diseases and the global death toll for the same causes is counted by millions. Floods and water-related disasters account for 70% of all deaths related to natural disasters. Moreover, the UN estimates that by 2050, 1 in 4 people will live in a country where droughts and restricted access to clean water will cause severe freshwater shortages.
Mankind is entirely reliant on water for agriculture and hydration, as well as farming and virtually every activity. As an example, hydro power makes up 16% of total electricity generated worldwide back in 2011, and 70% of all the water abstracted from water sources is used for irrigation.
The Oshiwara River in Mumbai is heavily contaminated with solid and liquid waste coming from the city - Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Taking this into account, it is nonsensical that 80% of all wastewaters end up in the water sources the human race depends on. This means that mankind uses as dumpsters the same water sources it relies on to exist. This has proven to be catastrophic at multiple levels, but focusing on water, it has resulted on as many as 1,000 children dying daily due to preventable water-related diarrheal diseases (UN, 2016). The total amount of deaths caused by the same diseases is counted by millions, which is no surprise, considering that 1.8 billion people drink from fecally contaminated water sources.
40% of the current global population faces water scarcity and this amount is set to grow if ongoing economic measures and poor infrastructure decisions are still in place in the future.
There is no hope for a sustainable future without clean water —mainly because without clean water there is no future at all. So, in order to ensure that living sustainably in the future is a possibility, along with sparing millions of lives, a change must be made.
GLOBAL GOAL 6: ENSURE AVAILABILITY AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF WATER AND SANITATION FOR ALL
Global Goal 6 seeks to achieve universal access to clean water and the implementation of sustainable practices in water management to preserve clean water sources and restore the already damaged ones - Photo Credit: UN.org
- Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
- Achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying especial attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
- Improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.
- Substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
- Implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate.
- Protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
The general guidelines contemplated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to secure universal access to clean water and sustainable management and sanitation of it are cited below:
- Expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water-and-sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies.
- Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.
Currently, many communities depend on river basins where water use exceeds recharge and while progress has been made in providing people with access to clean water, 636 million are still without it. As ingenious as they may be, mankind should not have to rely on filtering straws and water bottles to be able to drink water that was previously so full of feces and other pollutants that it was undrinkable. Moreover, the human race has a moral responsibility towards all the other species it is damaging by releasing unrestricted amounts of hazardous chemicals into rivers and oceans.
Only 61% of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to safe drinking water. Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The need for clean water and a sustainable development mindset cannot be stressed enough. Clean water is the core of life, especially for a species as fragile as men. Even a trace of fecal matter or harmful pathogens in the water people drink can cause an epidemic. Moreover, if the same polluted water is used for irrigation in agriculture, the same pathogens spread and reach a larger amount of people.
It is of the utmost importance that mankind preserves the clean water sources it has and that it makes an effort to sanitize and restore the ones that are contaminated. This can only be done through a joint, conscious effort and through education of the people on sustainable ways to use the resources readily available to them.