Water stress is to the “ability, or lack thereof, to meet human and ecological demand for fresh water.”1
It’s been almost 30 years since the United Nations started observing World Water Day with the goal of providing worldwide access to clean water. Even though we’ve seen significant improvement, water stressed countries remain a problem in many areas around the world. Developed countries are not exempt from clean water struggles either. In fact, more than 2 million Americans lack access to indoor plumbing and running water. Another 30 million live in communities that do not have access to safe drinking water.2
How many people lack access to clean water? Several developed cities are among the BBC list of those that are likely to run out of drinking water—Cape Town, Sao Paulo, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Jakarta, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, London, Tokyo, and Miami.
It’s hard to believe that while 71% of the earth is covered with water, only 3% is fresh. Of that 3%, 68.7% is locked in ice caps, glaciers, and permanent snow. Another 30.1% is in the ground.4 The water that’s left is what is available as surface water. We can add rainwater to that, but in many areas of the world, drought season brings seasonal water challenges.
Therefore, millions around the world struggle every day to find clean water to drink, use in cooking, bathe in, and so on. Many of us wake up each morning, grab a quick drink from the faucet, shower in clean water, and have easy access to indoor plumbing. That’s not normal for many people around the globe.
What is water stress? When water isn’t available, dehydration is the first symptom of deficiency. Then a person begins to experience headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, and a rapid heartbeat. If the person doesn’t receive hydration, death will result.
For many around the world, water is available but it’s contaminated. When this water is consumed, it often breeds waterborne illnesses like diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera, Hepatitis A, and many more. Water can also be contaminated with industrial waste, which also leads to serious health problems.
In areas of water scarcity, water wells are essential to survival. They allow people to have local access to clean water, rather than having to walk miles for it. These wells need to be dug deep enough to access clean water even in the driest of months.
At GFA World, we’re committed to bringing solutions to issues of water stress.
We provide Jesus Wells to the neediest of communities in Asia and soon, Africa. These wells can serve 300 or more people with safe, clean water for 10-20 years. Each well is maintained by a local church that is responsible for repairs, cutting the grass, and ensuring the water is accessible to everyone—no matter their ethnicity, social status, race, religion, etc.
Sometimes, BioSand water filters are a better option for a family. These filters make water 98% pure and they can last up to 20 years if properly cared for. The filter uses a concrete box, diffuser plate, fine sand, coarse sand, and gravel to remove impurities from the water.
2 Mulholland, John. “Is it too much to ask for Americans to have access to clean water in 2020?” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/us-clean-water-crisis-2020-guardian-us-editor. June 23, 2020.
3 “The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-42982959. May 12, 2021.
4 How much water is there on, in, and above the earth? The USGS Water Science School. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html. Accessed December 26, 2018.