It’s 7 in the morning. You wake up and proceed to the bathroom to brush your teeth in order to get ready for college. You twist the tap in the sink, a
It’s 7 in the morning. You wake up and proceed to the bathroom to brush your teeth in order to get ready for college. You twist the tap in the sink, and there’s no water flow. You twist the tap back and forth hastily, and soon you realize, there’s no water supply. You check all the other taps in the bathroom, but the results do not change. You step out of your hostel room and see that there is chaos outside. Students are shouting and fighting with each other to get a bucket of water from the tanker which was parked in the hostel premises. After a little enquiry, you come to know that there is a critical water shortage running in the city and that all supplies have been cut. Limited water for every area has been arranged by the municipality.
Imagine facing such a situation in real life. Yes, even thinking about it gives you chills. One can’t think of sustaining for an hour without water. Even then, plenty of water is being wasted everyday throughout the world. Wars are known to be fought over resources, and water is one essential resource that humans and animals cannot do without. Climate change, pollution and carelessness are combining to create a water crisis – and yes, that can trigger a war. Seems strange, right? A world war over water?
In 2015, NASA revealed that 21 of the world’s 37 large aquifers are severely water-stressed. With growing population, increased demand from agriculture, industries and household, researchers indicate that this crisis is only likely to worsen. Also, according to World Bank, “Water scarcity is expected to increase globally as populations boom and climate change sharpens uncertainty around the resource’s availability”.
Countries like Sub-Sahara and Northern Africa, The Middle East, and large parts of Asia, might see a 6% loss in their GDP due to less water supply. Water poses a big question on population-rich nations too. Countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh can only store about 30 days’ worth of water. According to a report, even if these countries try to increase their water efficiency, North Africa and the Middle East would still see a 6% cut in their GDP. That is the severity of this issue.
One thing that we can understand from this is that the scarcity is increasing and it is far beyond the economic issues. It is a big threat multiplier. Finally, it comes down to governance and institutions. Changes in water availability, awareness and reallocation of water supplies are the areas that governments around the world need to focus on to ensure a better world in the long run.
Furthermore, to ensure peace and survival of people and wildlife, governments need to equitably and efficiently allocate water. On the other side of the coin, if individuals and societies use water scarcity as an opportunity to consolidate political power, accuse others of stealing and jamming water resources, or continue to waste water as if it is free, the result will be a “World War III”, in the coming years. The basic reason being – “Water is not a resource that two nations can negotiate upon. If a war happens, it will be lethal.”