humanity

There is a water crisis.

Because water covers 70% of our planet, we tend to think water will always be around. But, freshwater is actually quite rare. In fact, only 3% of Earth’s water is freshwater, and most of that is frozen in glaciers or otherwise unattainable.

Because of this, 1.1 billion people around the world don’t have access to fresh water, and another 2.7 billion people experience water scarcity at least one month out of each year. Unsanitary water effects 2.4 billion people—they are unprotected from water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid fever. Two million people die every year from diarrheal diseases.

Additionally, water systems that maintain thriving ecosystems and feed the human population have become strained. Lakes, rivers, and aquifers continue to dry up or become too contaminated for consumption or everyday use.

A staggering fifty percent of the world’s wetlands have vanished. Agriculture consumes, and wastes, more water than any other cause. Changing weather patterns are affecting rain and other sources of water worldwide, creating both droughts and floods.

By 2025, scientists predict that two-thirds of the world’s population could have water shortages and ecosystems around the globe will continue to disintegrate.

All this raises some important questions. What causes water scarcity? Are cities and countries running out of water? What can be done?

We’ll break it down further for you.

What Causes Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity can happen due to two things: physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity. Physical water scarcity is when natural resources don’t meet consumption demands. Economic water scarcity happens with poor management of water resources.

The United Nations Development Program has determined that economic scarcity is more often the case because regions cannot make it accessible. The improvement of water accessibility is the result many countries and governments hope for.

What Is Causing the Water Crisis?

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The growing global water crisis has many potential causes:

  • Climate change is affecting cloud patterns and depriving many global regions of rainwater.
  • Climate change is also increasing rainfall in other areas, creating flood zones that are responsible for loss of homes and ecosystems.
  • Population growth has created more water demand, and an additional 2.3 billion people are expected to inhabit the earth by 2050.
  • Groundwater is vanishing as the earth’s aquifers are drained all over the world
  • Water infrastructure is badly in need of repair, including treatment plants, pipes, and sewer systems all over the world.
  • Natural infrastructure is critical for healthy ecosystems, but humans are creating conditions of deforestation, overgrazing, and urbanization.
  • Water is being wasted through inefficiency and pollution.
  • Globally, water has a cost; costs for cleaning, transport, and dissemination.
  • Governments and corporations have no incentive to spend millions creating clean water technologies when water itself is cheaper.

Despite these obstacles, governments, businesses, universities, and private citizens are acknowledging the earth’s water challenges and starting to act. Fresh water alone will not do; public pressure and political will must be harnessed to ensure a sustainable future.

Which Countries and Cities Are Being Hit Hardest?

The water crisis is a global one, and there are multiple countries and cities facing imminent water crises.

São Paulo, Brazil is one of the 10 most populated cities in the world whose main reservoir fell below 4% capacity in 2015. When the crisis peaked, the city of over 21.7 million had less than 20 days of water supply, which led to looting and civil unrest.

The water crisis was declared over in 2016, but in January 2017, the water reserves were 15% below desired levels, creating another potential crisis.

Local officials in Bangalore have been stymied by expansive property developments following Bangalore’s meteoric rise as a tech hub. The result is that city’s water and sewage systems are being maxed out. The city’s antiquated plumbing needs an upgrade as the city loses over 50% of its drinking water to waste.

In 2014, with 20% of the world’s population residing in Beijing, the city had only 7% of the planet’s freshwater. Columbia University researchers estimate that the country’s water reserves were decimated 13% between 2000 and 2009.

Cairo, Egypt was once a great civilization, but its chief asset, the River Nile, is stressed today.

As the source of 97% of Egypt’s water, it is being polluted by untreated residential and agricultural waste. World Health Organization (WHO) data shows Egypt has high levels of water pollution related deaths. By 2025, the country will be critically short of potable water.

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Jakarta, Indonesia faces the threat of rising sea levels and direct human action, most frequently, illegally dug wells that are draining the aquifers. Now, approximately 40% of Jakarta is below sea level, according the World Bank. Even worse, the aquifers are not being refilled by the heavy rain because the overabundance of concrete and asphalt keeps open fields from absorbing rainfall.

Moscow, Russia is home to one-quarter of the earth’s fresh water reserves. But, pollution problems beginning in the industrial age of the Soviet era continue to be prevalent. The residents of Moscow are tied to being dependent on surface water for 70% of their use. Most of that water does not meet necessary clean water standards.

Istanbul, Turkey is officially in a water stress zone as the supply has fallen since 2016.Local experts predict a water scarcity as soon as 2030. Recently, populated areas like Istanbul, with its 14 million people, have experienced shortages during drier months, and the reservoir levels continue to decline.

Mexico City, Mexico water shortages are nothing new for its 21 million people. Only 20% get a few hours from their taps each week and a further 20% have running water for partial days. The city is required to import up to 40% of its water and has no recycling processes.

London, England is not a place one thinks of when discussing water crises. However, the average rainfall is only 50% of that of New York and less than the average for Paris. London draws its water from its rivers. But, London is likely to experience water supply issues as soon as 2025.

Tokyo, Japan appreciates precipitation levels like that of Seattle; but, it only falls four months each year. Water is collected during the rainy season to help provide during the drier months. Private and public buildings in Tokyo use rainwater collection systems. Tokyo’s 30+ million people depend 70% on lakes, rivers, and melted snow.

Miami, Florida, USA is one of five US states with heavy rainfall. During the draining of swamps in the early 1900s, water from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the main aquifer. Even though the problem was discovered in the 1930s, ocean water still leaks into the aquifer.

But, one of the hardest hit areas is Cape Town, South Africa. The causes of Cape Town’s water crisis are under debate. Cape Town is on the verge of approaching Day Zero when they officially run out of water. Day Zero is based on current estimates of water usage, and currently it’s estimated it will occur sometime in 2019. To push the date back as far as possible, city residents are on strict water rations.

The authorities are fighting congestion in the streets and policing fighting in the water queues. The drought is compounded by invasive species sucking up water resources, population growth, poor planning, mismanagement, and lack of development of new resources.

Data shows that 2017 and the years 2015 to 2017 were the driest in Cape Town since the early 1930s. The drought seems to show up once every 84 years. Long-term data estimate a massive drought occurs every 311 years. However, human-caused climate change could be speeding up the drought cycle.

What Is Being Done In Response?

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The 2030 Water Resources Group has collected water scarcity solution plans from studies conducted worldwide. Here are a few of the dozens of proposals being attempted around the world.

Waterless Dying Technology in Textile Processing

Taiwan, China

Textile dyeing uses significant amounts of water and generates extremely polluted water run-off that requires costly treatment before discharge into local rivers. A new dyeing technology, called DyeOx, has been implemented in Taiwan. It uses carbon dioxide rather than water to dye textiles. The process in this case study showed a clean water savings of 8.25 million cubic meters.

Balancing Supply and Demand Through Water Metering

United Kingdom

England’s southern and eastern regions have little effective rainfall. These densely populated areas, with an expanding population, could potentially impact climate change that worsens the conditions of an already water-stressed region. In 2010, Southern Water Services Ltd (SWS), started a five-year project of installing 500,000 intelligent meters. A leakage reduction program demonstrated reduced losses are possible.

Institutional Reform for Irrigation Management

Egypt

This project was set up on the two main canal and branch networks in the Nile Delta. Experts are relining irrigation canals to considerably reduce fresh water leakage. This is in conjunction with governmental reforms and accountability, training, and education of farmers on water management.

Integrated Irrigation Modernization Project

Mexico

A $700 million public and private modernization project began in 30 states in Mexico to increase competitiveness and efficacy of irrigated agriculture. The project applied a collection of improvements to irrigation infrastructure to increase productivity per unit of water.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that water scarcity is a global issue requiring the cooperation of governments, corporations, scientists, organizations, and citizens worldwide. It will take the effort of multiple agencies to begin a significant use of fresh water recycling technologies as well as policies to reduce consumption during drought conditions.

With the studies and proposals currently in place, as well as those that will be implemented in the near future, there is some hope that our planet will be able to continue to provide fresh water for all its inhabitants.

This article was initially published by Connect for Water and can be accessed here.

Climate change isn’t something people get to choose to believe or not: it’s happening. Since pre-industrial times, human-caused climate change has resulted in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions that has led to an average temperature rise of over 1 degree Celsius on Earth. The next four decades have each been successively warmer than the decade before it since 1850. We are observing a warming atmosphere and changing climatic conditions worldwide as a result of climate change, which has serious consequences for our physical environment.

In 2021, the intergovernmental panel on climate change report sounded a red alert for humanity. It stressed how human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years. This left no room for doubt. The record concentration levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are unequivocally due to human activities rooted in the burning of fossil fuels. The goal of 2015 Paris agreement aims to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius. But at the current trajectory, the world is on, we are at risk of falling significantly short of these targets. According to the World Meteorological Organization, in 2020, the global mean surface temperature was 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times. 2020 was also one of the three warmest years on record.

The impact humans have had on the climate has, and continues to, alter nature. We are inching closer and closer to ecological tipping points, many of which are irreversible. Changes in extreme weather are affecting every region of the world, making heat waves, heavy rainfall, and droughts more frequent and severe. This rise in global temperature aggravates the rate at which sea levels are rising, corals are bleaching, the ocean acidifying, biodiversity is being lost and heat waves, tropical cyclones, and fire-related events are taking place. Delicate ecosystems like small low-lying island states, semi-arid and arid areas, and arctic and tundra environments face a greater threat of climate change. However, the environment does not exist in a vacuum and neither does human society.

Everything is interconnected. Every single way in which climate change impacts our environment has a ripple effect that will manifest in the short, medium, or long term. As a threat multiplier, climate change puts us at risk of reversing the gains in growth and sustainable development made in the last few decades. This indicates that the effects of climate change are manifest throughout our social, economic, cultural, and political fabric in addition to affecting our weather patterns and physical surroundings. The way people feel the impacts of climate change and respond to it is determined by multidimensional and intersecting inequalities. If you think that the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money. (Guy McPherson)

The climate crisis disproportionately affects women and girls as they tend to rely more heavily on natural resources, public services, and infrastructure. They are restricted to and very seldom controlled. They are also less represented in decision-making in general, so climate responses are no different. These processes are influenced by the very same socio-economic and cultural norms that discriminate against women and girls in other areas. When it comes to specific climate change impacts, women and girls are particularly affected in at least five areas: food security, water availability, health, gender-based violence, and climate-induced displacement and migration. Women play a critical role in global food security. Many smallholder farmers are women whose livelihoods and food sources are at risk from climate change. In addition, male-dominated structures often govern land ownership, making it hard for women to access the fertile plots that they require to produce food for their survival and that of their families.


Also, climate change is intensifying water scarcity, which adds to women’s time burden as it is often their responsibility to collect fresh water. In addition, high temperatures and salinization of sources of drinking water have a detrimental impact on maternal and child health. Linked to this, the increased incidence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, cholera, and typhoid increases the risk of pregnant women contracting these diseases. This, combined with unequal care burdens, can disproportionately pressure women and girls to support their families. These demands on women are further intensified during disasters when the risk of sexual and gender-based violence is greatest. Child and forced marriages, as well as increased human trafficking, can occur as a harmful coping mechanism among those who suffer the most from climate change-related economic stress. These challenging economic conditions forced families out of their communities and most of the time, those displaced are women. As we can see, it is those who are least responsible that often bear the brunt of the most adverse effects of climate change. This can further deepen existing inequalities and affect the ability of women and society at large to manage and recover from the impacts of climate change. As former US President Barack Obama once said that “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it”.

Are you excited to join a global coalition of think tank networks that facilitates the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives? If yes, apply for the Virtual Global Youth Summit. The VGYS is an annual event that gathers young leaders from around the world to discuss innovative solutions to critical global challenges, make creative & bold commitments, build partnerships, and for impactful change in geopolitics, economy, sustainability, and society. It doesn’t really matter what you are studying. No IELTS, No TOEFL, No Application Fee. The applications are open and you can apply for the summit. All international applicants from all parts of the world are eligible to apply. The summit will run from 15th-16th October 2022. The summit is available online. It will be decided by the selection committee if you are selected for the program.

The Virtual Youth Summit on diplomacy and global peace is an innovative virtual program designed to educate diplomacy and international relations students about global developing stories like the war in Ukraine and its impact on global peace, just as important; to provide them with information about local resources that they can use to help a friend, classmate, family member or even themselves. Education and prevention are key elements to curbing potential future changes. Hence, The Virtual Youth Summit on Diplomacy is a FREE, in-program designed for young diplomats, government officials, diplomatic corps, security officers, university students and professors. 40-45 minutes in length to accommodate the average panel period for each topic

Be a change maker

  • Be part of the well-known think tank team
  • Interview and network with leading leadership voices in the world
  • Track your country’s negotiations live and directly
  • Support to edit and pitch your stories throughout our programs
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    Global publicity!

Our program

Day 1

  • Opening Speech (YD Team )
  • The war in Ukraine and its impact on global peace (Speaker 1)
  • The war in Ukraine and its impact on global peace (Speaker 2)
  • The Effects of Russia Ukraine War Threats on Developing Countries (Speaker 3)
  • The impacts of Russia Ukraine War Threats on Developing Countries (Speaker 4)

Break Out Session -How to prevent the war in the future? (Participants)

Day 2

  • How coherent is NATO today and in the future?
  • Consequence of Russia Ukraine war on International Trade and Economy (Speaker 1 )
  • Consequence of Russia Ukraine war on International Trade and Economy (Speaker 2 )
  • The troubling question of what Americans don’t think they need to know!
  • Possible ways to end the war in Ukraine – Diplomatic insights (Speaker 1)
  • Possible ways to End The war in Ukraine – Diplomatic insights (Speaker 2)
  • Why monitoring youth is important
  • Break out Session – Youth participation on Global Peace (Participants )
    Closing Session (YD Team )

               

The Summit will promote the talents, creativity and connectedness of young people aged 14-45, and of course, we focus on young women. This summit is just a start: a series of national, regional and global events will follow, where the concept will be contextualized to the national and regional needs of young people. Together; we will learn more here about the Global Youth Mobilization movement.

The 2022 Youth Summit will examine the multi-fold challenges faced by global community and the role of the youth in solving these problems. The Summit will engage young people globally on innovative ideas and solutions to ensure that global peace recovery and growth in the post-COVID world is not only equitable and sustainable but also inclusive along social, environmental, and economic dimensions.

The Youth Summit is an annual event hosted by the Young Diplomats to engage with youth globally on the most pressing issues facing their generation. The Youth Summit is an affiliate of the Youth-to-Youth (Y2Y) network, a multifaceted network of young professionals dedicated to engaging, inspiring, and empowering young people in global issues, which aims to inspire and empower youth within and outside their institutions.

The summit also will empower youth to explore innovative ideas to tackle wars and development challenges and provide youth with the tools to build and engage in impactful projects and promote dialogue between youth, and other key stakeholders globally

Eligibility Criteria

  • Students of diplomacy and international relations
  • Everyone from any nationality can apply.
  • The age should be between 14 to 45 years.
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  • Should be working on innovative projects that will bring positive developments and peace building.

The projects should foster equity, inclusivity, and collaboration.
The projects should adopt a human-rights approach.

Ideal candidates will…

  • Have at least 1 year of experience
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Deadline

The last date to apply for the Virtual Youth Summit is October 10, 2022

How to Submit Application?

  • Complete your application form carefully and submit it.
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The African Union declared 2019 as the Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in order to put the spotlight on the plights of those that are uprooted. During the celebration in Nigeria, the government was called upon to domesticate the Kampala Convention in Nigeria. One year later the call is yet to receive proper attention. As many are economically displaced as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many displaced persons are at the risk of sinking further into abyss and oblivion.

Nigeria is among the countries that have ratified the Kampala Convention but yet to domesticate it in our national law. Nigerian House of Representative Committee on IDPs was established in 2015 with Sani Zoro as the chair. The committee with the assistance of the UNHCR conducted stakeholder mapping an analysis of existing legislation and awareness raising activities among the general population. It also held a national assembly session on IDPs during which the UNHCR handbook for implementation on Internal Displacement was presented. Despite the progress, the process was hampered by limited fund, lack of capacity and inadequate coordination mechanism.

We have big problems. No cow, no food to eat. We only eat when our children go out in search for food and bring it to us. The government did not help us only the NGOs who distributed food items twice. Since then we did not receive anything.

Internal displacement has been a recurring phenomenon in Nigeria as a result of violent conflicts, natural disasters and in some cases developmental projects. Since the return of civil rule in 1999, the waves of displacement caused essentially by conflict, generalized violence, natural disaster and human right violation have not abated. The most worrisome trend of displacement in Nigeria is that of violent conflicts because of the impact on the lives of the displaced people and the country at large. It is estimated that around half a million people had been displaced between 1999 and 2005, when communal clashes peaked. Between 2009 and 2017, there have been other causes of displacement but no one has been as devastating as the Boko Haram induced displacement. The Boko Haram insurgency and the resulting military operation have led to over 20,000 casualties and displaced more than 3 million people.

Another ugly trend causing a new wave of displacement is the rise in banditry in the Northwest region. Many analysts have compared the damages resulting from the activities of the bandits to that of the Boko Haram. Many states such as Katsina, Zamfara have recorded new cases of displacement as communities are being ransacked by these criminal minded individuals.

The three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have the highest number of IDPs in Nigeria being the worse hit by the Boko Haram terrorist activities. Many of these IDPs are found in camps and some live in host communities putting a strain on the fragile economic base and infrastructure in those communities. Many times these communities who welcomed displaced persons arm become less hospitable as they face less food, schools and health facilities to meet the need of the increased population. The responses to the plights of IDPs in Nigeria have begun to wane as government and NGos have had to channel limited resources to others use. Added to this is the problem diversion of fund and items meant by government and humanitarian officials
While some IDPs in camps still receive some forms of intervention from government and NGOs there are many displaced persons and refugees who are currently in protracted displacement in different host communities and have become largely invisible. One of the typical examples of this category of people is that of the displaced persons in Mugulbu, Adamawa state. Many of these people have found themselves in displacement for about five years. According to the village head, when they first arrived Mugulbu, they lived in make shift huts with no toilets. The whole community was steeped in smell from open defecation putting the village at the risk of disease outbreak. Many of them could not speak the language of the community affecting the opportunities open to them for seeking means of livelihood.

Here is the excerpt of the Focus Group Discussion which Mr. Kamal Ololade was held with them:
How did you come to this place? Why did you leave your home?
IDPS (One of the participants):
You people know Boko Haram; they are the ones that sent us away. They took our herds of cattle, sheep, goats and all, and they left us running for our lives. But, we don’t have food and there is no any help from government. Some organizations usually help, but the government, no. This is how we are living here. Our children are wandering on the streets looking for food.
What are the challenges you are facing?
IDPs: Food, there is no food, no farm, no house except huts. The lack of food is our problem, but we have source of water in the community.
What are you doing to survive now?
IDPs: You see, some go to the markets searching for something to do while others go to the bushes looking for jobs from people, so that they feed their children.
Have you received any help from the government?
IDPs: Before they helped us, they brought things for us twice and now it is almost four years.
Question: But is it from the government or an organization?
IDPs: Those people with black cars. (One of them cut in) Yes, it is an organization.
Question: What and what did they bring to you?
IDPs: Kettles, pots, duvets, mats and the rest. But, that was twice four years ago.
Question: What about your women? Is there anything they do? Is there any problem with them?
IDPs: the women are also here
Question: What do you think is the solution to your problem?
IDPs: We are just waiting to see if the government help us or not.
Question: What do you want the government to do for you?
IDPs: Food. Without food what are we going to eat? You have at least 10 children and you don’t have food. You have to look for it.
Question: if everything is fine, will you like to go back to your place or continue to leave here?
IDPs: If our place becomes peaceful we would like to go back because we have farm and everything. Our living here is not enjoyable at all because we are just living like that. In this place we are about 500 with women and children.
Question:  Are there people still coming?
No, there is nobody coming now. However, we heard in Borno they used to give them food and money. We here we did not receive any money. We were given food twice by those organizations.
Question (to the women): We want to know the problems you are facing as female IDPs?
We have big problems. No cow, no food to eat. We only eat when our children go out in search for food and bring it to us. The government did not help us only the NGOs who distributed food items twice. Since then we did not receive anything.

We call for increased access to social and basic services for the displaced persons, respect for the civil and humanitarian nature of internally displaced persons camps, and the creation of a better protection environment in general.

By Kamal Ololade Ahmed
Kamal O. Ahmed is a graduate of Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Benin, Edo State Nigeria with a double major in education. After his first degree in 2012, he worked briefly as a part time lecturer in a College of Education where he taught Political Science and Public Administration as well as some education courses. He has a keen interest in writing on Political matters, defense and security with special focus on Africa and the Middle East. He has published a number of articles on both online and print media including Young Diplomat. He is currently a post graduate student at the Nigerian Defense Academy, Kaduna where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Defense and Strategic Studies.