Global Water Crisis: Solutions on the Individual Level
With 1.1 billion people lacking access to clean water1 and 4 billion people experiencing water scarcity at least one month of the year,2 one might say the world is facing a global water crisis. Some experts predict the situation will only worsen as populations grow and the demand for limited water resources increases. According to an MIT study, featuring global water crisis facts, “By 2050, as many as 5 of the 9.7 billion people (or 52% of the global population) in the world may be living under at least moderately stressed water-resource conditions.”3
Even though two-thirds of the earth’s surface is covered in water, much of this water is unsuitable for human consumption.4
Of the earth’s fresh water, 30 percent lies deep underground in aquifers, but according to World Resources Institute, “It’s being extracted daily for farming, drinking and industrial processes—often at dangerously unsustainable rates.”5
Water is essential to life. Humans can’t survive without it, yet millions of people suffer from water scarcity or water that is contaminated.
In recognition of this crucial need, the United Nations has declared access to clean water a basic human right and seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” as one of its sustainable development goals.6
Some water crisis solutions are as simple as water conservation.
Water is often wasted in areas where it is plentiful, and people around the world are encouraged to do their part in being good stewards of the earth’s limited resources. Other solutions require involvement from governments, such as improving water infrastructures and water management, or from independent companies, such as with technological advancements.7
Some entities are working on such solutions.
Michael Mirilashvili and his Israel-based firm Watergen, for example, is developing technology to extract water from the atmosphere, which contains 13 billion tons of fresh water.8 Other entrepreneurs are exploring how to best transport icebergs in order to harvest the pure water within them.9 Desalination, tapping into the world’s oceans, is also a potential solution, though it comes with its own set of challenges.
These technologically advanced solutions can be expensive, however, and the global water crisis disproportionately affects developing countries.
The largest percentages of populations without access to clean water are in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.10 The people in these developing areas frequently struggle just to survive and cannot afford high-tech solutions to the water scarcity that affects their everyday lives.
Many people in these regions are forced to walk 30 minutes or more just to collect water.11 This water, frequently from surface sources such as ponds and rivers, may be contaminated and lead to a host of waterborne diseases and other health concerns. According to the United Nations, “Unclean water and poor sanitation are a leading cause of child mortality.”12
Within the broad scope of the global water crisis are millions of individual people—men, women and children—in crisis because they lack clean water.
As a result, they often suffer from improper sanitation and disease, including cholera, typhoid, diarrhea and dysentery. Every year, contaminated water leads to 485,000 diarrheal deaths alone.13 In light of the many lives personally affected by water scarcity or contamination, some organizations are addressing the crisis on a more individual level, transforming lives in the process.
GFA World is one such organization. GFA World installs Jesus Wells and distributes BioSand water filters to freely offer clean, pure water to people in need.
They serve in places such as Asia and Africa where the need for clean water is most critical. More than 38 million people—and counting—have been helped through GFA World’s clean water initiatives, which have changed lives.
One individual whose life has been changed through these initiatives is Vimal. Vimal faced a water crisis in which his village suffered from drought four months of every year.14
An agrarian village, the people depended on water for their livelihoods in addition to their survival, but there wasn’t enough water to go around. The water they did have was polluted and frequently led to disease, sometimes even death. Then a Jesus Well was installed. Dug deep below the surface, the well provides clean water year-round, even in times of drought. It has brought peace and health to the entire village.
Locally maintained, Jesus Wells can last decades and can supply approximately 300 people with clean water. In the case of Suhana’s village, where one of the first of these wells was installed, the well became a stabilizing influence in the community that improved health and enabled parents to better provide for their families.15
In some areas, there is a sufficient water supply, but it is contaminated and can lead to ill health and various diseases.
In such areas, BioSand water filters can have a tremendous impact. Keeva’s village, for example, had a well, but the water was unclean and often caused severe stomachaches, kidney problems and other health issues.16 Then she received a BioSand water filter from a local GFA missionary. A simple concrete structure, the filter removes 98 percent of biological impurities. With clean drinking water, Keeva no longer suffers from the stomachaches she had battled for so long.
1 “Water Supply & Sanitation.” World Water Council. https://www.worldwatercouncil.org/en/water-supply-sanitation. Accessed November 22, 2021.
2 Mekonnen, Mesfin M., and Arjen Y. Hoekstra.. “Four billion people facing severe water scarcity.” Science Advances. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.1500323. February 12, 2016.
3 C. Adam Schlosser, Kenneth Strzepek, Xiang Gao, Arthur Gueneau, Charles Fant, Sergey Paltsev, Bilhuda Rasheed, Tony Smith-Greico, Élodie Blanc, Henry Jacoby, and John Reilly. MIT Joint Program. “The Future of Global Water Stress: An Integrated Assessment.” MIT Joint Program. https://globalchange.mit.edu/sites/default/files/MITJPSPGC_Rpt254.pdf. January 2014.
4 “Safe Drinking Water is Essential.” Koshland Science Museum. https://www.koshland-science-museum.org/water/new/en/Overview/Why-is-Safe-Water-Essential.html. Accessed August 12, 2021.
5 Schleifer, Leah. “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis.” World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/insights/7-reasons-were-facing-global-water-crisis. August 24, 2017.
6 “Water.” United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/water. Accessed December 6, 2021. 7 Schleifer, Leah.
7 “Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis.” World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/insights/7-reasons-were-facing-global-water-crisis. August 24, 2017.
8 Lisbona, Natalie. “Finding answers to the world’s drinking crisis.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57847654. August 2, 2021.
9 Lisbona, Natalie. “Finding answers to the world’s drinking crisis.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57847654. August 2, 2021.
10 “Water Inequality.” National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/water-inequality/. October 1, 2019.
11 “Water Inequality.” National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/water-inequality/. October 1, 2019.
12 “Water.” United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/water. Accessed December 6, 2021.
13 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. June 14, 2019.
14 “Jesus Well Relieves Water Crisis.” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/news/articles/gfa-world-jesus-well-relieves-water-crisis/. March 2019.
15 “New Bride, New Village, New Well. GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/news/articles/new-bride-new-village-new-well-wfr20-03/. March 2020.
16 “Filtering Out Sickness.” GFA World. https://gospelforasia-reports.org/2020/03/filtering-out-sickness/. March 9, 2020.