by Raphaela Barros Prado
Water and climate change have been two of the biggest environmental themes discussed around the world for decades now. We know that water is a treasure and a limited resource in many places in the world. This is particularly true in Niger where the limited water that is available may be contaminated.
663 million people in the world don’t have access to clean and safe water, and every 21 seconds, a child dies of a water-related disease. According to WRI (World Resources Institute) there are 17 countries that are experiencing extremely high water stress, and many are getting worse mainly because of the human-caused climate emergency. Among the 17, a dozen of these countries are located in the Middle East and North Africa.
Last month, there was major discussion around the future of the Amazon forest in Brazil, which has been disappearing for decades because of the deforestation and is now in the news due to rampant wild fires. The Amazon forest is known as the lungs of the world, and for this reason, there are many organizations around the world dedicated to supporting reforestation and keeping the forest alive. The Amazon matters to the global climate because it is a sink of carbon, mitigating warming. If the rainforests were to die back, large amounts of greenhouse gases normally absorbed by the trees of the Amazon rainforest would have no where to go and global warming would increase.
The world climate matters to the Amazon too. It is sensitive to changes in temperature, rainfall, and atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels. The Amazon basin, most of which sits within the borders of Brazil, contains 40% of the world’s tropical forests and accounts for 10-15% of the biodiversity of Earth’s continents. Over the last century, the region has suffered a series of severe droughts. Water from frequent rainfall, is vital for this huge area. With increasing deforestation and rising temperatures, the forest’s capacity to water itself has been weakened. In 2012, scientists at the University of Leeds predicted that continued deforestation would cause rainfall in the Amazon to drop by 12% in the wet season and by 21% in the dry season by 2050. This would have an extremely negative impact on the future of the forest.
Other countries like Libya and Yemen also have significant issues with their water resources. Libya’s local water resources have never been reliable, and the added stress of regime change has cut off water for much of the country’s population, including the capital Tripoli. The country goes through frequent and severe stretches without fuel, food and water. Yemen, which suffers with constant territorial conflicts and is a waypoint for terrorists traveling through the Middle East, ends up being in a weakened position to receive aid, which would include fresh water.
There is a difference between a country that has little water but enough resources to buy all it needs and an undeveloped country that has neither. Gulf nations like Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait top the list in the ratio of available local resources per person, and thanks to their abundance of oil, they are capable of trading one precious liquid for another. They are also capable of financing desalination efforts.
The World Resources Institute released a recent post about ways that communities and countries could reduce the water stress. The first step is to increase agricultural efficiency by using seeds and irrigation techniques that require less water and invest in developing technology that improves farming, and cutting back on food loss and waste. Another way is to invest in “grey” and “green” infrastructure, improving everything from pipes and treatment plants to wetlands and watersheds or even to treat, reuse and recycle “wastewater.”
The water crisis is a complex problem with a variety of possible solutions that must be customized to the specific needs, resources, and challenges of the region in need. For example, desalination is clearly not an option in a landlocked nation like Niger, but the nation’s underground aquifers provide an endless supply of safe water. Wells Bring Hope is proud to be one of thousands of organizations around the world that are tackling the global water crisis with efficient, sustainable, and targeted solutions.
With your help we can always go further and save more lives! Let’s all do our part!