What is Water Stress?

What is water stress? Water stress indicates that the demand for safe and accessible water exceeds the supply.1 Factors like increasing population, urbanization and agriculture strongly affect the strain on water sources.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 663 million people worldwide do not have safe and accessible drinking water, meaning that unclean water regularly exposes 8% of the world to disease, dehydration and even death due to their water source.1 The WHO also estimates that by 2025, over 50% of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas.2 This issue of water overuse is not new; it is also not going away. These water crisis statistics are concerning, so groups such as WHO, the United Nations and more research this issue and provide water-usage guidelines.

In some cities, the water supply is so limited that they are at risk of running out of water. Over the last two decades, Cape Town, South Africa, has experienced an extreme water crisis. The city mandated a water usage limit for all citizens due to drought and limited water supply. Cape Town has not run out of water yet, but the city remains in crisis.

Now, what can we do to help in the water crisis?

Water stress can be relieved on individual, communal and governmental levels. Singapore is an example of governmental efforts to alleviate water stress.

Singapore’s government is serious about reducing water stress in their city-state. Since the 1960s, Singapore’s government shifted $300 million into water navigation, water contaminant solutions and sustainable water structures. The Singapore government also moved dense populations into public housing and established legislation for factories and industries dumping waste into the river.

“When the costs of the rivers cleaning programme are compared with the benefits, it is clear that it was an excellent investment. The river cleaning programme had numerous direct and indirect benefits, since it unleashed many development-related activities which transformed the face of Singapore and enhanced its image as a model city in terms of urban planning and development. Most important, however, was that the population achieved better quality of life.”3

Reported by Cecilia Tortajada from the Third World Centre for Water Management

Combatting water stress can be expensive and time-consuming, but it is worthwhile.

Would you like to make a personal impact on water stress? Consider giving an impoverished family a simple BioSand water filter. For only $30, GFA World can manufacture and distribute one of these effective filters to a water-compromised family in Asia or Africa and provide them with clean, safe water for years to come.

Learn more about water stress

1 “Water Stress: A Global Problem That’s Getting Worse.” Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/water-stress-global-problem-thats-getting-worse. April 22, 2021.
2 “Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH).” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/health-topics/water-sanitation-and-hygiene-wash. Accessed January 2022.
3 Tortajada, Cecilia. “Clean-up Of The Singapore River: Before and After.” Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/gia/article/clean-up-of-the-singapore-river-before-and-after. April 4, 2012.