Not a drop to drink

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On the face of it, Earth has plenty of water. So, why is there more and more talk about water scarcity?

99,7% is undrinkable
Of the world’s water, about 97% is saltwater. Of the remaining fresh water, most is locked up in ice caps and glaciers, or sunk in the ground where it’s hard to get. All in all, less than 0.3% of the world’s water is available to us. Not just for drinking and sanitation, of course – for agriculture, industry and energy production too. And that 0.3% is shrinking all the time, as surface and ground water sources get polluted. Also, there are just more of us, every passing second. 

One in six people lack clean water
The UN has estimated that the minimum amount of clean, fresh water for a person’s basic daily needs (drinking, cooking and cleaning), is 20-50 litres. If you live in a context where you have clean piped water and a well-functioning sewage system, this is about the amount of water your household flushes down the toilet every day. More than one in six people don’t have access to this basic minimum. Two in five lack proper sanitation facilities. Every day, 3 800 children die from diseases associated with lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation.

South Africa: one of the drylands
Water scarcity is most acute in the driest areas of the world - the drylands - home to over two billion people. Drylands include most countries in the Near East and North Africa, Mexico, Pakistan, large parts of China and India, and South Africa. In this country, 12% of the population lack access to piped or well water and 35% lack proper sanitation. This unacceptable state of affairs can be partly alleviated by improved infrastructure and stricter water use legislation.

Save gallons of clean water

Call a plumber: a dripping tap can lose up to 100 litres per day – about eight buckets of water. And toilet leak can waste up to 30 litres an hour. An ingenious way to check if your toilet is leaking: add a few drops of food dye to the cistern - if the colour seeps into the bowl, you have a leak.

Don’t flush: flushing every time you use the toilet is unnecessary and is one of the most blatantly wasteful domestic uses of potable water.

Have a shower: showering uses only about a third of the water bathing does.


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