Topic: Water Access
Water is necessary for human survival and, as recognized by the UN in 2010, a basic human right. However, according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2017 report, 2.1 billion people do not have access to potable water. This means, as of 2017, 28% of the world was denied of their fundamental right to clean (let alone affordable and close) water. Not only is water crucial from an agricultural standpoint in order to ensure a stable, self-sufficient food supply, but also for sanitation purposes, as contaminated water stunts the reduction of poverty and disease, being a leading cause of child mortality. According to the WHO/UNICEF JMP 2017 report, in 2017, 4.5 billion people lacked safe sanitation, meaning 59% of the world did not have access to basic sanitation. Of these 4.5 billion people, 1.8 billion were estimated to drink water possibly contaminated with feces. In addition, in dry, desert regions, the overuse of groundwater is exacerbated by the overgrowing of plants & inefficient technologies used in agriculture. The ineffective treatment of wastewater from both houses and industry also leads to limited water re-use, which leads to less access to clean water. All of these factors that lead to inadequate water access, driving emigration which can cause conflict and unrest.
As a nation, Qatar has relied heavily on desalination plants, which supply about 50% of potable water in the country. In addition to that, Qatar has initiated the Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project in 2012, starting the construction of five giant water reservoirs with a total storage capacity of 14.384 billion liters, which means that, altogether, the five reservoirs can store up to 7 days worth of drinkable water. These water reservoirs will also link the desalination facilities in north and south Qatar. As Qatar has one of the highest household water consumption rates in the world, Qatar has also put into place legislation to reduce water waste, such as in 2008 to reduce outdoor hose usage. Qatar has also formed a department for water conservation & efficiency within KAHRAMAA (Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation) due to the fact that Qatari household water waste remains extreme.
In order to combat excessive water loss and increase water access, desalination plants should be constructed, especially in ocean coastal nations in drier areas with less natural freshwater bodies. These desalination plants should utilize renewable energy sources and energy-conserving processes such as reverse-osmosis in order to conserve energy when purifying groundwater. However, the waste from these desalination plants must be efficiently dealt with to reduce pollution and the salinification of other natural bodies of water. Water storage should also be increased in order to limit the hardships brought about by natural disasters such as droughts. Agriculturally, technologies such as drip irrigation should be implemented in order to conserve water, and if possible, heat-tolerant crops and crops that require less water should be grown more frequently. Planning should be implemented to reduce water waste both in the industry and households. Educating the general public about their domestic water consumption will help decrease the excess use of water in these households. Further investments in technologies to harvest water, distribute water, and reduce water loss and water waste in the industry, household, and agricultural field should be made in order to make water access more widespread and efficient across the many climates throughout the world.
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Doha Debates. “How Definitions Drive Debates: What We Mean by ‘Water Scarcity.’” Doha Debates, September 5, 2019, https://dohadebates.com/2019/08/30/definition-4/.
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“Water.” United Nations, United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/water/.
- Andrew Mojares