Water crisis

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A water crisis is a condition of lack of water . It is a worrying situation that is particularly evident in arid and semi-arid areas of the world because people have settled there and are experiencing water shortages due to natural cycles, unskillful land use, population development or problematic political and technical measures.

If there is a lack of water , this can also refer to insufficient water quality . Although the Earth has large amounts of seawater , this is without desalination technology rather than drinking or industrial water use.

The pollution of ground or surface water can mean that it can no longer be used as drinking water or for irrigation of crops, thus increasing the water shortage situation.

A lowering of the groundwater level, caused for example by river straightening , groundwater abstraction , groundwater locks or changes in the climate , can lead to desertification or desertification .


Especially in rain-poor areas and megacities or agglomeration areas of the Third World , water shortages and water pollution result in health problems: a total of around 5 million people die each year from waterborne diseases , e.g. B. chronic diarrhea . According to UN investigations, around 800 million people around the world suffer from scarcity of drinking water (half of them children), and around 3.2 billion people are not provided with sufficiently safe sanitation . The world population is growing - for the year 2050 the UN is forecasting around 8.9 billion world citizens. This means that competition for access to the vital resource of water is also growing. In the coming years, the global scarcity of water supplies threatens to increase; In 2025, around 1.8 billion people may not have adequate drinking water resources.

Recognition of the world water crisis

The Middle East and North Africa are now the regions with the most pronounced water shortages. In Europe (e.g. Spain and Italy ) the first signs of a lack of drinking water are also showing. In the next 25 years, this deficiency is expected to spread to Pakistan , southern Africa (see also: Cape Town's water crisis ) and large parts of India and China . As a result, conflicts over water between and within states will increase and possibly lead to wars . Furthermore, conflicts of use between agriculture , industry and private households as well as wasteful use of water pose challenges for future water management , especially in emerging and developing countries . In 2002 the UN and World Summit in Johannesburg emphasized the importance of this topic. There, very ambitious goals (so-called Millennium Goals ) have been set for access to water and safe sanitary technology : The number of people who have no access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities is to be halved by 2015. The UN General Assembly declared the years 2005 to 2014 to be the International Decade of Action “Water - Source of Life” .

Possible solutions

The water problem is usually associated with economic weakness. This limits the ability to raise infrastructure , investments and energy costs. Therefore, it makes no sense to set up expensive and energy-intensive systems for the central supply with standard water in the best drinking water quality for all purposes and for central wastewater disposal and treatment based on the Central European model. Rather, appropriate development aid must specifically relate to technology that works with renewable energy and, as far as possible, easily available resources. One example could be solar water distillation , adapted and ecologically oriented sanitary technologies ( Ecosan ) in the wastewater sector . For the megacities it will be important to find and develop intelligent combinations of alternative supply and disposal technologies.

See also


  • Petra Dobner : Water Policy. On political theory, practice and criticism of global governance. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2010 ISBN 978-3-518-29558-8 .
  • Wilhelm Sager: River without an estuary. Climate change watermail security. Bouvier Verlag, Bonn 2008, ISBN 978-3-416-03140-0 [1] .
  • Thomas Kluge : Water. Johannesburg - and the consequences? The magazine (Wissenschaftszentrum NRW) 14 (1): 21–23 (2003).
  • Sebastian Vollmer: The global water crisis and the GATS . Cuvillier, Göttingen 2004, 1st edition. ISBN 3-86537-026-8 .
  • Eike Roth: Global environmental problems - causes and possible solutions. Friedmann Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-933431-31-X .
  • Hannah Büttner: Water Management and Resource Conflicts : an empirical study on the water crisis and water harvesting in India from the perspective of social science environmental research. Verlag für Entwicklungspolitik , Saarbrücken 2001, 324 pp. ISBN 3-88156-748-8 .
  • Eva Sternfeld: Beijing : Urban development and water management: socio-economic and ecological aspects of the water crisis and perspectives for action. TU Berlin 1997 (Berlin contributions to environment and development 15). 400 S, ISBN 3-7983-1760-7 .
  • Christian Leibundgut, Franz-Josef Kern: Water in Germany - Deficiency or Abundance? Geographische Rundschau 58 (2), pp. 12-19 (2006), ISSN  0016-7460 .
  • Thomas Chatel: Water Policy in Spain - A Critical Analysis. Geographische Rundschau 58 (2), pp. 20-29 (2006), ISSN  0016-7460 .
  • Steffen Niemann, Olivier Graefe: Water supply in Africa. Geographische Rundschau 58 (2), pp. 30-39 (2006), ISSN  0016-7460 .
  • Detlef Müller-Mahn: Water conflicts in the Middle East - a question of power. Geographische Rundschau 58 (2), pp. 40-48 (2006), ISSN  0016-7460 .

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