Water Scarcity FAQs

Here are just a few water scarcity FAQs to consider:

How much water does the planet have?

Water covers 70% of the earth, but only 3% of it is fresh water. Out of that 3% of the planet’s fresh water, about two-thirds of is stuck, frozen in glaciers, or otherwise not available for human use.1

How many people lack water?

About 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries year-round, and 733 million of those live in high and critically-stressed regions.2 Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population—4 billion people—experience a severe lack of water at least one month a year.3

What are some examples of what’s happening to the world’s water?

More than half of the earth’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900.4 Central Asia’s Aral Sea was once the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world. In the last 30 years, it has shrunk to the size of Lake Michigan, due to pollution and water diversion for irrigation. As it receded, it became saltier and exposed now-polluted land, resulting in food shortages, rises in infant deaths and decreased lifespans.5

How does water scarcity impact people?

We rely on water for everything, from drinking to growing food to sanitation. About 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation, which can lead to illnesses that impact their ability to work, learn and generally thrive as well as to deadly diarrheal diseases.6

What are some causes of water scarcity?

Pollution, agriculture, population growth are some of the main contributors.
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Pollution: Without proper sanitation measures, human waste, like fecal matter, often ends up in drinking supplies. In addition, pesticides, fertilizers and industrial waste often drains into water sources.
Agriculture: Farming utilizes 72% of the world’s accessible freshwater.7 One big problem is that leaky irrigation systems, inefficient watering and “thirsty” crops waste about 60% of this water, drying up lakes and rivers.8
Population: Worldwide, the population has more than doubled in the last 50 years. Currently, 41% of people live in water-stressed river basins.9

What is the prognosis?

If these patterns continue without interruption, they will only get worse. It’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s population may struggle with water scarcity by 2025. Wildlife and ecosystems will face even worse struggles.10

How can I help?

Learn more about water scarcity (here). Or, become a part of the solution by donating (here).

Learn more about water scarcity

1 “Water Scarcity Overview.” WWF. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity. Accessed November 19, 2021.
2 “Water Scarcity.” United Nations: UN Water. https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/scarcity/. Accessed November 19, 2021.
3 Ibid.
4 “Water Scarcity Overview.” WWF. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity. Accessed November 19, 2021.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid.
7 “Water Scarcity.” United Nations: UN Water. https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/scarcity/. Accessed November 19, 2021.
8 “Water Scarcity Overview.” WWF. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity. Accessed November 19, 2021.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid.
* Cover Photo: Tahsin Shah. “A semi-nomadic man carries water in the Cholistan Desert.” Wikimedia. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_semi-nomadic_man_carries_water_in_the_Cholistan_Desert.jpg. June 29, 2014.