Why is the world today confronted with a crisis of availability of and access to freshwater resources?

Why is the world today confronted with a crisis of availability of and access to freshwater resources? (Answer in 150 words) 10


The global demand for freshwater far exceeds the current supply, especially in regions with large populations. As per the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2022 report, approximately 2 billion individuals worldwide currently lack access to safe drinking water.


Causes of the Freshwater Availability and Access Crisis:

  • Impact of Climate Change: Altered weather patterns globally have led to droughts in some areas and floods in others, contributing to reduced water availability. For instance, intensifying tropical cyclones have raised sea levels and caused saline intrusion in coastal regions, further depleting freshwater resources.
  • Rapid Population Growth: With the global population currently at 7.5 billion and projected to increase by 2.3 billion by 2050, the demand for water is intensifying, creating more water-stressed conditions. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2023 highlights that approximately 80% of those facing water stress reside in Asia.
  • Overexploitation of Groundwater: Swift urbanization and industrial expansion have led to the overexploitation of groundwater, resulting in its depletion and the intrusion of seawater into coastal areas, compromising the quality of available groundwater. As an illustration, if the current rate of groundwater depletion persists, India’s per capita water availability will plummet to only 22% of its current level by 2050.
  • Deforestation: The clearing of forests reduces water infiltration, heightens erosion, and elevates sediment levels and turbidity, thereby deteriorating water quality and escalating the costs of water treatment. Over the past five decades, 17% of the Amazon rainforests have been lost, pushing the ecosystem to an irreversible tipping point.
  • Water Pollution: Pollution renders water unsuitable for various purposes, reducing the accessibility of freshwater. In Delhi, for instance, approximately 76% of the pollution load in the Yamuna River is attributed to the city, transforming the river into a ‘sewage drain.’

Challenges in Agriculture:

  • Monoculture Farming: The focus on input-intensive crops like wheat, rice, and sugarcane has led to the adoption of monoculture practices, exerting pressure on water resources.
  • Inadequate Agro-Ecological Planning: Inappropriate crop selection in water-scarce regions, such as promoting water-intensive crops like sugarcane and rice, further exacerbates the scarcity issue.
  • Virtual Water Export: Disproportionate emphasis on water-intensive crops, including rice, wheat, and sugarcane, despite water scarcity, has contributed to the export of virtual water.


Enhancing sustainable water management through the upgrading of water infrastructure, adoption of solar desalination, and implementation of smart irrigation systems. Implementing effective pollution control measures and enhancing sewage treatment practices. Promoting the adoption of rainwater harvesting and the recycling of wastewater to alleviate water scarcity and mitigate pressures on groundwater. Introducing the AWARe (Action on Water Adaptation or Resilience) initiative at COP27 to facilitate inclusive collaboration in tackling water-related challenges and devising climate change adaptation strategies.

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