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Water scarcity

Water scarcity is a term used to describe a country or region where the annual renewable water supplies are below 1000 m3 per person. Seven hundred sixty-eight million people without access to improved water, 83 per cent live in rural areas, creating the appearance that water access is predominantly a problem for rural Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.

However, in urban mega slums like Karachi or Dhaka, people pay costly for access to water. So it’s not only a rural problem. Access to water defined at the personal standard of 20 litres per person per day; water scarcity’s definition translates to 2740 litres per person per day. One thing is to measure water, however totally different for people who are in need. It’s far more complicated, many places the government or authorities have hardly any influence as water is treated as an economic commodity, as it opens for bribery and criminal behaviour.


The measurement complexity of Earth systems

The complexity of the environment, planetary or more local, is a system of ecosystems, each of which is a collection of interacting, interdependent components. Humans are just one of those components. We depend on our ecosystems for the services they provide and for the quality of our lives. Yet through our increasing numbers and per capita consumption of goods and services and the natural resources that provide them, and the wastes that consumption generates, we are stressing our sensitive environment and several numbers of factors adds up. See Water footprint and water pollution.


Water Scarcity facts

  • minimum requirements 20 litres per person
  • Water scarcity defined; annual renewable water supplies are below 1000 m3 per person
  • Access to water personal standard 20 litres per person per day
  • Water scarcity’s definition translates to 2740 litres per person per day
  • 768 million people without access to clean water
  • 83 per cent live in rural areas

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