Impact on water insecurity

Water security is when people (the entire population of a country) has sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptably clean water. Most people in developed countries have water security whereas some developing countries do not have the infrastructure to provide clean water and supply it to their entire population.

There are several impacts of water insecurity. Some of these impacts are linked in a cycle of poverty.

  • Disruption of education. Water insecurity means that many girls living in some rural areas of developing countries can spend hours walking to collect water rather than attending school.
  • Waterborne disease. Drinking or using dirty water puts people at risk of waterborne diseases and illnesses, such as diarrhoea, malaria and schistosomiasis. Schistosomiasis is a parasitic worm that enters the body through the skin coming into contact with water that contains untreated sewage. It has been reported in 78 countries and 90% of people receiving treatment for it live in Africa.
  • Food production. Water insecurity can lead to lower levels of food production. Irrigation can increase crop yields by as much as 400%. Places that do not have enough water to irrigate crops have less food to eat.
  • Industrial output. Industry needs water for all stages of production. Water is used as a raw material, a coolant, a method of transport, and in some cases a source of energy. Areas that experience water insecurity are unable to operate factories and make products. This leaves them relying on imports, which may be expensive.
  • Conflicts. Water is a source of conflict in some parts of the world. Seizing dams is a powerful way of controlling water and electricity supplies.
The Mosul dam in Iraq
The Mosul dam in Iraq