Hydroelectric Power in Kyrgyzstan
The increasing demand for centralized electrical power has put growing pressure on the government to modernize Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric capacity. Kyrgyzstan’s government has sanctioned the expansion of its energy infrastructure to mitigate extreme poverty and improve access to fundamental necessities in rural communities. As a focal point of its export economy, hydroelectric power modules supply 76 percent of its electricity. With lowering water inflow and deteriorating infrastructure, Kyrgyzstan faces a unique problem in mitigating and expanding its hydroelectric import/export industry while balancing the rampant poverty and income inequality among rural and urban communities. The surrounding Kyrgyzstan economy relies mostly on agricultural cultivations and the cotton export industry. With the increased development of modules of hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan, the controlled water supply offers the potential for massive growth in the agricultural industry. As a renewable energy source, hydroelectric energy provides the potential to control the rate at which the water flows and of the amount used, which is crucial to energy production.

Socioeconomic Implications

Traditional agricultural methods that rural communities commonly practice create the potential for extensive economic growth through the implementation of an updated hydroelectric system. Through a controlled system, the irrigation of various crops is more efficient with a renewable energy source that has less pollution. With substantial economic implications, hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan encourages more commercial enterprises to migrate to agrarian areas where people cannot access basic public services like running water and education as easily.

With 32 percent under the poverty line, the need for a centralized hydroelectrical grid can have vast socioeconomic implications, with an improved water supply system and improved access to basic health necessities. With Kyrgyzstan’s main hydroelectric infrastructure outdated and in need of a sufficient upgrade the inconsistency attached to this older hydroelectric module creates insecurity in basic necessities. With access to basic social programs tentative on ideal weather conditions in urban communities, the expansion of clean renewable energy sources can potentially create an influx of economic prosperity and improve energy efficiency throughout the country.

A focused effort toward improving consistent energy output will allow the quality of life to improve and give the impoverished a promising start toward economic mobility with increasing hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan. Reducing toxic chemicals put into the air from traditional cooking/heating methods in rural communities can allow room for a more comprehensive hydropower infrastructure. Rural communities on average tend to use more fossil fuels with more than 60 percent using those perishables due to inconsistencies within hydroelectric distribution and no updated grid system that would make those other methods obsolete.

Government Legislation

Since its independence, Kyrgyzstan established a network of standard practice in energy distribution with a comprehensive legislative agenda. People are underutilizing the potential for an increased hydroelectric presence as a larger kinetic energy source with geographically crucial bodies of water producing 5-8 billion kW·h per year and the country only using 3 percent. A more consistent hydroelectric grid is necessary for Kyrgyzstan’s economy to boost its agricultural sector. The government introduced the National Energy Program that assists in renovating abandoned hydropower plants and initiates constructing new ones. Additionally, government sectors have committed to actively work on the cultivation of Kyrgyzstan’s massive untapped energy sector. Along with a growing private sector and updated technology to improve the essential food and health infrastructures hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan will increase the capacity of its economy.

Adam Townsend
Photo: Flickr

World Changing Celebrities
People often recognize celebrities for their music and performances but there are a variety of stars that use their fame as a platform to support charities, create foundations and change the world. Below are five world changing celebrities that are actively using their voice to fight global poverty.

Leonardo DiCaprio Protects Indigenous Rights

Along with spreading awareness and educating followers about climate change on his Instagram page, DiCaprio created the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation which focusses on protecting all of Earth’s inhabitants. It has recently partnered with Earth Alliance to address and take steps to find solutions to major threats to the planet’s life support systems.

One of his most notable works is the protection of indigenous rights. Dicaprio’s Foundation helps fund programs focused on and led by indigenous people. It helps indigenous people defend their rights, create renewable energy sources, develop sustainable livelihoods and increase the political impact of advocacy efforts. As of 2015, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation accumulated $15 million in grants to fund innovative organizations and environmental projects focused on preserving and protecting the planet.

Christy Turlington Assists with Childbirth Safety in Haiti and Uganda

Because of her personal experience with complications in childbirth, Turlington is using her voice to advocate the importance of making childbirth safe for every woman. In 2010, she worked on “No Woman, No Cry,” a documentary that told the stories of pregnant women in four different countries: Bangladesh, Guatemala, Tanzania and the United States. She expressed the need for lifesaving medical care for women giving birth in case of the occurrence of complications.

She also founded the nonprofit Every Mother Counts, an organization that focuses on the health and wellbeing of mothers all over the world. As of now, her organization has partners in countries like Guatemala, Haiti, India, Tanzania and the U.S., and has impacted more than 600,000 lives.

Matt Damon Gives Access to Safe Water

Another of the world changing celebrities is Matt Damon, who is the co-founder of Water.org, an organization focused on providing families with safe water and sanitation. The foundation hopes that less time spent searching for water will allow children to go to school and get an education, improve health and help the economy. Damon’s foundation expresses the importance of access to affordable financing through WaterCredit. WaterCredit is a pay-it-forward system that makes it possible for household water and toilet solutions by bringing repayable loans to those who need access to affordable financing. In total, Damon’s foundation has benefited more than 20 million people across 12 different countries.

The Lewis Family Improves Access to Health Care

In the 1980s, Ryan Lewis’ mother, Julie Lewis, contracted HIV due to a blood transfusion from pregnancy complications. She lived through her prognosis and decided to create the 30/30 project. The 30/30 project’s main focus is to improve access to comprehensive health care by building multiple medical facilities worldwide. The project has placed a total of 30 medical facilities in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, South Africa, Togo, India, the U.S., Rwanda, Bolivia and Puerto Rico.

The organization places medical facilities based on the needs of the area. For example, the Mbita Clinic in Kenya intends to prevent and treat major diseases, which include HIV, TB, malaria, water­borne illnesses and respiratory and heart ailments. The Mbita Clinic reduces waiting cues, prioritizes critical care needs, improves conditions for the staff and allows for service expansion due to the district’s high infant mortality rate and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. In total, the medical facilities have had 215,963 patient visits.

Bono Fights to End Extreme Poverty

In 2004, Bono co-founded the ONE organization. ONE’s goal is to end extreme poverty and preventable illnesses and diseases by 2030. ONE is a nonprofit organization with diverse groups of people. These groups come together and take action to organize, mobilize, educate and advocate for gender equality, youth employment, quality education and equal access to health services. ONE has secured over $30 billion in funding for historic health initiatives. It also helped pass the Electrify Africa Act of 2016, a U.S. legislation on energy poverty.

From actors to musicians, these five world changing celebrities put their public reputations to use by showing everyone that their voices matter and are an important key to make a difference and change the world.

– Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Aeroponics Agriculture
In Nigeria, food insecurity is widespread. Although agriculture is the second most important sector in Nigeria after the petroleum industry, farmers make up about 70 percent of the labor force, meaning the base of the Nigerian economy is rain-dependent agriculture. Over the past 20 years, many factors including poor irrigation systems, droughts and a shortage of fertile land, have induced a steep decline in food production that has failed to keep up with the country’s rising population growth. There are currently 30 million hectares of farmland that farmers can cultivate in Nigeria, and much of this land is inarable. Estimates determine that to produce enough to feed Nigeria’s population of 190 million, the country would need 78.5 million hectares of land. This threat to Nigerians’ livelihoods has led to deadly competition between farmers and cattle herders over scarce resources. In the fight for land and water, hundreds in these rival groups kill each other every year. Now, aeroponics agriculture, a new technology that grows crops vertically, could be the answer to both of these struggles in Nigeria.

The Introduction of Aeroponics to Nigeria

Samson Ogbole recently introduced aeroponics to Nigeria. He is a Nigerian farmer with a degree in biochemistry who saw the need for more sustainable options for agriculture in his country. After beginning his work with aeroponics in 2014, Ogbole now co-owns an agri-tech company, PS Nutraceuticals, that works to implement more efficient agriculture techniques. Because of its ability to conserve space, water and soil, Ogole believes aeroponics has the potential to end conflicts over land and monumentally improve food productivity in Nigeria. Another benefit of soilless farming, Ogole has said, is that it prevents the risk of harmful pathogens that naturally exist in soil affecting crops.

The Science of Growing Crops in Air

Aeroponics is a process used for growing crops in a soilless environment by suspending the roots in the air. Aeroponics systems commonly use vertical and tower systems because they allow roots to spread out while saving space. In an aeroponic farming system, plants receive nourishment from low-energy LED lighting and periodic spraying with a solution of water and other nutrients. The nutrient-water mixture dispenses using pumps or misting devices, which reduces the need for constant supervision and labor. The vertical structure lets gravity distribute the moisture to every part of the plant, from the top down.

Eco-Friendly Farming

Aeroponics is a more sustainable method of farming as well as the key to Nigeria’s land shortage problem. With traditional cultivation measures, evaporation causes the waste of a lot of waste. In aeroponics farming, the roots directly absorb almost all the water vapour by the process of osmosis, so the process uses much less water than more traditional methods. Estimates determine that aeroponics saves 90 percent of water compared to traditional farming methods. Aeroponic crops also grow in half the time it would take for them to grow in soil and yields can be approximately 30 percent larger. The main premise of aeroponics is to use the minimum amount of resources to gain the maximum crop yield. Additionally, since it takes place indoors, aeroponics makes it possible for crops to grow at any time of the year, or year-round, irrespective of climate conditions, which could be a significant game-changer for Nigeria and other countries with continuous droughts.

Aeroponics Throughout History

Development of aeroponics first began in the 1920s by botanists who used it to study plant root structure. Despite its many efficient advantages, it has had a very slow start catching on. NASA began working with aeroponics in the 1990s, conducting experiments and concluding impressive results in productivity. NASA’s use of aeroponics brought it much needed attention and shed new light on the fact that this agriculture technology could sustain humanity’s growing population if people implement it where areas need it most. The low operating costs of aeroponics agriculture are one of its biggest appeals, which has made it attractive to innovative farms all over the world. Today, people utilize aeroponics agriculture in many places as a modern technique to increase productivity, eliminate waste, conserve space and energy and adjust to climate change.

Aeroponics Around the World

Newark in New Jersey is home to the world’s largest aeroponics growing systems, Aerofarms. Since 2004, Aerofarms has led the way in battling the global hunger crisis through sustainable agriculture technology. The largest vertical farm facility in Aerofarms is 70,000 feet and produces two million pounds of food annually using 95 percent less water. Other aeroponics startups in the U.S. have cropped up in California, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Indoor urban farming has taken off in Asia. In Japan, many consider aeroponics the future of agriculture. The largest Japanese vertical farm, a 3,000-square-meter facility outside of Kyoto, produces more than 20,000 heads of lettuce per day.

In the Middle East, aeroponics is growing increasingly popular as a cost-effective option to reduce dependence on food imports. Jeddah Farm in Saudi Arabia, the first aeroponic system in the Middle East, is a highly profitable, self-sustaining indoor farm that provides produce to urban centers while minimizing carbon emissions.

In Europe, aeroponics on a grand scale is just beginning to catch on. The first vertical farm in Europe, located in Ibiza, includes storm-resistant outdoor aeroponic towers.

Aeroponics agriculture is a revolutionary food-growing technology with the potential to save millions of lives in Nigeria and other developing countries. In Nigeria, vertical farming could solve the devastating issues of infertile soil, drought-caused famine, land shortages, water scarcity and violent skirmishes over resources. As horticulturalists continue to introduce this practice in Africa and other areas with populations that suffer from malnutrition, aeroponics agriculture is bringing the world one step closer to eliminating hunger.

– Sarah Newgarden
Photo: Flickr

Water Management in SomaliaSomalia is a South African country frequently plagued by droughts and floods. The nation is currently receiving the bulk of a $45 million assistance from the United Nations’ aid meant to help Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis suffering from a major famine caused by the ongoing drought. To break this cycle of famine, an efficient and affordable water management system in Somalia is desperately needed.

Infrastructure Improvement

The majority of Somalis depend on livestock and agriculture for income. Yet, frequent floods and droughts result in a lack of basic necessities, such as food and water. One way to reduce this lack is to implement an intelligent system capable of storing water during floods to preserve it for coming droughts. Reusing greywater, which is water from sources such as sinks and bathtubs, is one efficient way of preserving and reusing water for crops. Somalia thus needs infrastructure development to control floodwater, especially in the construction of aquifers.

Most Somalis live along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers, but many depend on groundwater. Dug wells, boreholes and springs are the most common sources of water. Somalis heavily rely on groundwater, however, it does not provide enough water in times of drought. The Somalian Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) partnered with the European Union and Somaliland to improve infrastructure, water and land management. Dr. Hjordis Ogendo of the EU Chard d’Affairs said, “Water and land are critical resources for Somali economy and people’s livelihoods but are also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters.”

Floodplains and Groundwater Replenishment

Infrastructure improvements could help mitigate the cost of restoring the land and relocating those who return to destroyed homes. These improvements include through-reservoirs and flood canals that divert water away from farms and homes. Moreover, California farmers have recently begun implementing floodplains and groundwater replenishment strategies. Don Cameron of Terranova Ranch experimented with flooding his 1,000-acre land with water from a river that was high from recent rains.

Cameron was concerned about the amount of water in the reservoir during a long drought after repeatedly digging wells. The replenishment strategy enables water to soak into the ground and collect in an aquifer. As such, Cameron’s grapevines remained unharmed. This began a trend to keep a steady amount of water in the aquifer and above ground.

For Somalis, an affordable method could be as simple as storing water in aquifers to combat future droughts. Therefore, the floodplains and groundwater replenishment strategy presents one prospective Somali water management system that could improve the future outlook of drought mitigation.

Water Desalination Plants

A sophisticated and long-term solution for a water management system in Somalia includes water desalination plants. Although desalination plants are expensive, there are positive and lasting aspects of investing in a single plant. Desalination plants simply transform salt water from the ocean or sea into potable water. Israel currently receives 40 percent of its water from desalination plants. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water usage. Since more than 70 percent of Somalis work in the agriculture industry, water availability is crucial.

Future technological advances may reduce the high cost of constructing and operating desalination plants. Saudi Arabia also relies on desalination plants to desalinate seawater. As a semi-arid country, Somalia possesses an environment similar to that of Saudi Arabia. Although comparatively poor, Somalia could opt for desalination plants in the future once technological advances reduce implementation costs.

Future Outlook

With the help of funding a future water management system in Somalia, the need for external aid could be reduced and lead Somalia out of poverty conditions that result from devastating floods and droughts. Desalination plants are an expensive alternative, yet simple solutions such as the construction of aquifers to store floodwater could help millions of Somalis affected by droughts and floods. The implementation depends on the Somali government and its efforts in improving infrastructure. This includes not only managing water during floods and droughts but also reducing poverty by helping the nomadic herders and farmers making up the majority of Somalis.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

India's current droughtRecent efforts to stem corruption and promote economic growth have caused many to proclaim that India has a bright future ahead. However, India’s current drought poses a grave threat to their future. From 2001 to 2011, India’s annual per capita water availability decreased by 15 percent and most estimates have projected it to fall by almost 30 percent by 2050. In addition, India’s ever-growing population is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2050, making the already difficult task of providing clean water throughout the country that much harder. Needless to say, India has a major challenge on its hands that could define the future of the country.

What Has Caused These Issues?

While there are many reasons for India’s current drought, most experts point to a few main culprits. One of the biggest is India’s changing climate. As India has experienced progressively warmer summers, it has seen reduced snow cover throughout the Himalayan mountain region. This has resulted in decreased water runoff and increased water shortages over time.

Secondly, India has seen its water supply decrease as a result of poor agricultural practices by farmers. Considering that agriculture accounts for 90 percent of India’s water consumption, these practices, including improper use of pesticides and indiscriminate use of groundwater, have resulted in substandard water availability for the millions of Indians across the country.

Lastly, the country has been plagued by water pollution due to improper sewage systems and the dumping of waste in lakes and wetlands. This waste often finds its way into groundwater and contaminates it, resulting in drinking water that is unsafe to drink.

Improvements in Sanitation

While water scarcity in India is by no means a simple issue, there are many promising solutions to the problem, some of which are already being implemented throughout the country. One of the biggest areas of focus for many NGO’s working in India is on improving sanitation practices. Nonprofits such as Water.org and WaterIsLife have both done great work in recent years with to improve sanitation. Water.org has focused its work on providing people with the opportunity to use clean bathroom facilities, which has reduced open defecation. WaterisLife has helped install many wastewater treatment plants, which have helped treat dirty water and make it drinkable.

Rainwater Catchment Systems

India can also continue the good work that has been done by installing water catchment systems around the country. These systems can help recycle water and are a sustainable solution to the water scarcity issues that currently plague the country. Charity: Water, a non-profit based in New York City, has already played a major role in the installation of such systems around the country, which has helped make water more accessible for thousands of Indian citizens.

Looking into the Future

India is not the only country currently facing a drought. Many countries around the world, especially those located in warm or desert climates, are going through similar issues. However, swift action must be taken lessen the effects of the drought. Such action will require heavy contribution from both Indian citizens and the Indian government, along with NGO’s from around the world.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Pixabay

Cape Town water
Cape Town, South Africa has experienced a drought for the last three years, leading up to what officials are calling ‘Day Zero,’ or the day the city will turn off a large portion of its tap water and turn to rationing the remaining water among citizens. However, water shortage issues began as early as 1995 with little action from the city to remedy the situation.

Water Crisis

What happened in 1995 that caused a crisis over two decades later? The population of Cape Town began increasing and has steadily increased by over three-quarters of its previous population. Fortunately, this multiplication alone was not the cause of the water crisis; rather, it was population growth paired with little increase in water storage.

The city failed to compensate a growing population to its water usage, and while this has made a significant impact on the amount of water in Cape Town, the city has still been able to maintain reasonable water levels despite a lack of added water storage facilities.

This success is primarily due to plentiful rainfall during the monsoon seasons, which may also be why Cape Town has previously failed to increase its water storage for so many years.

Restrictions and Rations

Unfortunately, a drought began in South Africa in 2015 that severely limited the amount of water available to citizens, especially those in Cape Town.

The drought brought to light the water storage issue for Cape Town officials who began urging citizens to conserve the remaining water. They initially asked that each citizen use approximately 87 liters of water before decreasing the amount to a mere 50 liters, or just over 13 gallons, daily.  

The South African government has created a rationing system to be implemented when the water levels decrease to a low enough level. The day this occurs is the day referred to as ‘Day Zero.’ However, in the meantime, the most energy is being placed into reminding citizens to continue to reduce their water usage.

Applications and Online Services

In light of the water crisis, the University of Cape Town has developed a series of cell phone applications that will aid in water conservation. The first is a free application called ‘DropDrop.’

DropDrop allows users to track water usage in real time, helping citizens ensure that they are staying within the city’s new water restrictions. The app is especially useful in areas where regular access to the internet does not exist due to the application’s offline nature after initial download.

Among the services created for Capetonians during the water crisis is an organization, Picup. The group started with the goal of quickly shipping water to Cape Town residents, and now allows Capetonians to order bottled water and receive it to one’s home within 24 hours.

The water can be purchased in two order sizes, with the smallest being 30 liters with an affordable price tag of around 176 Rands, or approximately $13.

City Initiatives

Among the initiatives implemented to conserve water in Cape Town is the initiative started by Cape Town officials that monitors household water usage. The initiative also awards certificates and name recognition on the city website for households showing a 10 percent or higher decrease in water usage.

The city also gives daily updates on water levels for surrounding dams in order to encourage Capetonians in their conservation efforts.

Moving Forwards

Despite the outstanding circumstances Cape Town has faced over the last few years, the future looks bright. With a strong community making huge lifestyle changes to conserve water, the city’s water basins are filling back up and allowing citizens to be a part of a community survival story.

The water crisis in Cape Town has proved the city’s growing wisdom and trendsetting environmental responsibility. This growth has not only set an example for the world to follow, but it has also been the first to prove that any inescapability, even one as drastic as ‘Day Zero,’ can be overcome.  

Alexandra Ferrigno
Photo: Flickr

Most Water-Scarce Countries
Water is one of the most vital ingredients for all life, yet many people across the globe still live without the assurance of safe & clean water. Here are the five most water-scarce countries, and five groups working to help them.

Yemen

As conflict in Yemen has escalated to bombings, ground fighting and fuel shortages, 19.3 million citizens have been left without access to water. This has caused an outbreak of diseases such as cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhea, especially in the country’s capital, Sana’a. As people continue to be cut off from basic necessities by the conflict, the need for water becomes increasingly dire.

Who’s Helping: UNICEF.
In response to the crisis in Yemen, UNICEF has increased its efforts within the country’s borders. The organization has provided fuel to local water corporations in order to reestablish the water reserve. Additionally, UNICEF is also providing fuel to assist in ridding the streets of waste and creating more sanitary cities. If that were not enough, toilets and water points have also been repaired at over 300 schools. Water tanks and temporary toilets have been constructed in the most rural areas of Yemen, giving communities and numerous displaced families the vital resources they so desperately need.

Libya

As a nation consumed by the desert, water in Libya is continually scarce making it one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. The country sees very little rainfall each year and is forced to rely on an ever-dwindling supply of groundwater to both irrigate the land and nourish citizens.

As demand for water grows, groundwater supplies cannot last, especially as many coastal aquifers are infiltrated by seawater and become salinized.

Who’s Helping: The Great Man-Made River Project.
To combat this problem, the Libyan government launched The Great Man-Made River Project in 1984. This endeavor is an enormous engineering project designed to supply water from desert aquifers to more populated coastal regions. Although construction is ongoing, the project has already had a massive impact on the country as people in need can now access water. However, the life of the project is unknowable (as it depends entirely on how quickly the water is pumped) and the aquifer is a non-renewable source of water.

Jordan

It is no surprise that Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries on the planet, as it has one of the lowest levels of water availability on earth.

The nation has struggled for years to provide water to its citizens, and as the Syrian crisis has now caused an influx of refugees, there is not enough water to sustain the dramatically enlarged population. As an agrarian society, the lack of water causes all aspects of life in Jordan to come to a screeching halt.

Who’s Helping: USAID in partnership with the government of Jordan.
Since 2000, USAID has invested over $700 million towards restoring Jordan’s water supply. The initiatives put in place assist the Jordanian government in developing a more advanced water infrastructure, decreasing water loss and conserving the little water available.

Western Sahara

Situated on the northwest coast of Africa, Western Sahara is officially considered a non-self governing territory, though Morocco has laid claim to the land. The hot, dry desert land sees infrequent rainfall, and water is increasingly sparse.

Due to the fact that the land is continually plagued with sovereignty issues and Western Sahara is not an established nation, there is little infrastructure that would improve water supply.

Who’s Helping: The Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

MINURSO was established in April of 1991 with a purpose of monitoring a ceasefire with Morocco and allowing Western Sahara to choose to be integrated into Morocco or become independent. Western Sahara and Morocco have failed to come to an agreement yet, but MINURSO still persists.

The group has implemented various measures to improve water and sanitation in the area and continues to monitor the security of the region. However, as conflict between natives and Moroccans persist, safety concerns keep other organizations that can help from entering the territory.

Djibouti

Djibouti is another one of the most water-scarce countries in the world and — not unlike the other countries on this list — is an arid desert. With only 0.3 cubic kilometers of renewable water resources in the entire country, Djibouti is unable to irrigate the majority of the land or provide adequately for citizens.

Ironically, the country also suffers from severe flooding that has caused millions of dollars in damages. What little structure the country has for maintaining water supplies is destroyed by the intense floods.

Who’s Helping: World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GDFRR).
Since 2007, both the World Bank and GDFRR have helped Djibouti create and sustain a water infrastructure. A donation of $3 million was used to establish a project that manages water resources in rural areas. Additionally, the groups seek to help Djibouti better prepare for disasters by improving weather monitoring systems, updating emergency plans and establishing early warning systems for both floods and droughts.

As the most water-scarce countries on the planet continue to fight for a basic necessity, these five groups will continue to make lives better through the power of clean water.

– Sarah Dean

Photo: Flickr

Cities That Will Run Out of WaterOver 70 percent of the world’s surface area is covered in water. However, the majority of the world’s poor, who number about three billion, live in areas absent of clean water. Most of the earth’s water is saltwater, but there are still means to purify it for drinking and cooking purposes.

According to UNICEF, women may spend between 30 minutes to eight hours a day searching for water. The average walking distance for women in Africa and Asia is 6.0 km (3.7 miles) to walk and carry the water for their families. The following are all cities that will run out of water soon without proper attention.

  1. Cape Town, South Africa: There might be a large-scale shutdown of tap water this summer. Mayor Patricia de Lille laments that residents have not heeded to advice to reduce consumption. If national consumption exceeds the dam capacity, there will be a total shutdown this April. This is referred to as “Day Zero.”

    Solution: Large-scale desalination plants along the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

  2. Sao Paolo, Brazil: Brazil’s largest city was recently devastated by droughts. The Cantareira Reservoir is now a cracked and parched dirt field. This is a result of reduced rainfall and increased demand for water by the unauthorized settling of residents in nearby areas.

    Solution: Restoring degraded forests; this will prevent soil erosion, floods and allow for plants to store the water naturally and recycle it as a watershed.

  3. Bangalore, India: This city cannot ignore the water shortage any longer. The local demand far exceeds the available cubic meters of safe water. Bangalore has a reputation of possessing the most inefficient water pumping and distribution network in all of Asia.

    Solution: Repair the rampant leakage in the corroded, 100- to 200-year-old piping system, and improve the efficiency of the distribution system. Water is plentiful in Bangalore, but a modern distribution mechanism will ensure it evades being among the cities that will run out of water soon.

  4. Beijing, China: China is home to nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, but only has seven percent of the world’s freshwater. To make matters worse, what little water it has is unsafe for drinking due to pollution. Furthermore, the Chinese government has authorized the construction of oil refineries in areas where water is scarce, such as the Xinjiang province.

    Solution: Recycle more than half of its water, which would be on the same standard as developed European nations. With this development, Beijing can strive for a living standard of cleaner water instead of being among the first cities that will run out of water.

  5. Cairo, Egypt: The Nile is almost all of the country’s source of water. A city of 20 million people, and rapidly growing, does not fare well with a fixed water share. Some farmers have even been forced to irrigate using sewage water.

    Solution: Currently, the Egyptian government is urging people to move to surrounding cities whose water sources are detached from Cairo. This will reduce the water stress on the city and prevent further stress on new desalination plants exclusively for the city of Cairo.

Better planning and management of water sources are only possible once wealth increases and corruption is eradicated. Eliminating undue bureaucracy is a difficult step, so it is important to approach each of these cities’ challenges on a needs basis. It is necessary to understand that water is not only a basic human need but also a basic human right.

– Awad Bin-Jawed

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Water Solutions in Jordan Also Fuel Diplomatic Progress
Scientists and officials worldwide project that shortages of safe, potable water will be one of the biggest global problems of the 21st century. As the world population continues to expand, water shortages have the potential to drive conflict and to stress systems of regional power. In areas where peace and stability are already tenuous, anxieties about access to safe water threaten to upset these fragile balances.

The Middle East and Water Insecurity

The Middle East is a focal point for potential conflicts about water insecurity. Fortunately, nations in this generally arid region are investing in solutions to the vital problem. The Kingdom of Jordan, for example, is turning a few unconventional solutions to gain water security for its citizens.

Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project

The cornerstone of developing sustainable water solutions in Jordan is the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project. Alongside desalination and gaining access to unusually deep aquifers, the Read-Dead project, as it is commonly known, is hailed as a “perpetual” solution to water supply in Jordan. The program has the ambitious goal of connecting the landlocked Dead Sea with the Red Sea, the large body of water separating Asia from Africa.

“The national water carrier project is a mid-term solution to the country’s water crisis, but the desalination of Red Sea water under the Red-Dead project is the country’s long-term solution to water scarcity,” said Omar Salameh, from Jordan’s Water Ministry.

Continuous Supply of Water for Jordanians

Once complete, Jordanian officials will be able to resupply the Dead Sea nearly continuously from an oceanic source. Along with modern desalination methods, this achievement will unlock a nearly continuous supply of water for the arid, rapidly growing country. Despite other immediate efforts, the Red-Dead project is the capstone of a suite of sustainable water solutions in Jordan.

The project also stands to have important diplomatic results for the region. Besides the relief in tensions that can come from one nation in the region having better water security, the Red-Dead project stands to benefit other nations besides Jordan as well. Israel and the Palestinian territories border the Dead Sea also, and the Sea has been losing volume for decades. With the solidarity that can come from sharing a common resource, sustainable water solutions in Jordan could have inordinately positive impacts on regional relations as a whole.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

Climate Change and Water Scarcity
It seems nearly impossible to understate the global importance of water. In the age of climate change, water scarcity is rising at levels predicted to impede sustainable development and slow progress against poverty for years ahead. However, better preparing for climate change and water scarcity can redirect water to a source of development.

As a result of interconnected issues pertaining to climate change, the world is expected to experience a 66 percent decrease in water availability by 2050. Ultimately, climate change negatively impacts every facet of the water cycle as it creates drought, uncertain weather patterns, increased natural disasters and other phenomena. Climate change is predicted to send new areas into drought and exacerbate already vulnerable areas. The greatest losses in water availability are likely for the Middle East, East Asia and much of Africa.

Climate change’s impact on water availability impedes food production, as seventy percent of global water use is devoted to agriculture. Without enough water to meet the rising demand for food, expected to be 60 percent higher than today by 2030, this spikes food prices and worsens food scarcity. For Sub Saharan Africa, food prices are expected to rise by 77 percent by 2080 as a result of climate change, compared to a worldwide average increase of 17 percent.

Water scarcity caused by climate change also wreaks havoc on economies, especially ones that are still developing. This is largely due to the fact that water is vital to sustaining development for health, incomes, properties and agriculture. These factors have the potential to generate economic downturn. Many regions that were already water-insecure face a six percent decline in GDP by 2050 as a result of climate change and water scarcity.

Ultimately, these interconnected issues can bring about conflict between nations over resources and water allocation. Water scarcity also spurs increased waves of migration to water-abundant locations. Most conflicts are expected in places with large social inequities, especially in the developing world.

Despite the fact that all people require water security, climate change and water scarcity especially impact low-income populations. Not only are developing nations most at risk of climate change, but insufficient resources make it difficult to cope with climate stressors. Poor water availability also exacerbates improper sanitation and safety in drinking water. This disproportionately threatens health and equality for marginalized populations.

But what can be done to impede the impact of climate change on water availability? The World Bank explains that ensuring water is used most efficiently is crucial to fighting water shortages, especially in dominant sectors such as agriculture. Meaningful changes are possible by drastically investing in climate-smart equipment and infrastructure around the world. These changes work to sustainably end pollution cycles while conserving resources.

Maybe most impactfully, changes in governmental policies are crucial; these can act as insurance plans against worsening climate stressors. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim explains that “countries can enact policies now that will help them manage water sustainably for the years ahead.”

Ultimately, making use of the world of available tools redirects water back to a potential for prosperity.  Richard Damania, an economist for the World Bank, explains that “by allocating even 25 percent of water to more highly-valued uses, losses decline dramatically and for some regions may even vanish.” Instead of seeing negative growth from lessened water, some economies can predict a six percent increase in GDP if they sustainably develop water usage.

Water is a tool for lifting people out poverty and lessening the global impacts of climate change if the world makes sufficient use of proper tools. And although the drastic progress against water scarcity still needed today may be costly, the World Bank epitomizes that when it comes to water, “the costs of inaction are far higher.”

Cleo Krejci

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