The Future of Water
WaterAid in America CEO David Winder reviews The Future of Water, a recently released book written by Steve Maxwell, Board member of WaterAid in America, and published by the American WaterWorks Association.
Anyone with an interest in the future of water globally will find this a fascinating and thought provoking work. Drawing primarily on trends in the US but also bringing in examples from other countries, Steve clearly sets out the full extent of the water crisis we are facing (he predicts that 50% of the world’s population will live with chronic water shortage by 2050) and proposes actions to be taken from the household to the national level to address the crisis.
Many of the 26 countries where WaterAid has programs already face water scarcity and increasing competition between domestic, agricultural, industrial and energy users, not to mention recreational uses such as golf courses. Countries such as India, which has less than 5% of the world’s water but 17% of the world’s population, can learn from the lessons described in this book.
A central theme of Steve’s analysis is that in order to ensure that the nearly 900 million people in the world who don’t have access to safe water gain this right and that the needs of other users are satisfied requires radical changes and innovations at many levels. These include advanced conservation methods by industry, energy producers and the agricultural sector and greater awareness of how each citizen can take action to conserve existing water supplies.
As WaterAid often finds, small farmers can contribute significantly to water conservation at the community level by making greater use of rainwater harvesting and small check dams to recharge freshwater aquifers.
Finally Steve draws on his experience in water business to make a strong case for the development of new approaches, new technologies and systems and wiser laws and policies towards water use and conservation. Let us hope his timely advice will be heeded and that increasingly severe water shortages can be mitigated.
WaterAid uses low cost, appropriate technologies that are affordable and simple to maintain by the communities themselves.
WaterAid plans to start our first program in the Latin America and Caribbean Region in Nicaragua in the summer of 2011.
Read plans for our Nicaragua program