Global development prioritises adequate access to safe drinking water. However, many countries, both rich and poor, are facing water scarcity in the twenty-first century as a result of population growth, excessive use, and changes in weather patterns due to global warming.
There are two types of water scarcity:
- Physical water scarcity
- Economic water scarcity
Physical Water scarcity
The result of a region’s demand outpacing the limited water resources available in that location is physical or absolute water scarcity. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), approximately 1.2 billion people live in areas of physical scarcity, with many of these people living in arid or semi-arid regions. The number of people affected by water scarcity is expected to rise as the world’s population grows and weather patterns become more unpredictable as a result of climate change.
Economic Water scarcity
Water scarcity is primarily caused by a lack of water infrastructure in general or by poor management of water resources in areas where infrastructure exists. According to FAO estimates, more than 1.6 billion people are affected by economic water scarcity. Economic water scarcity can also occur as a result of unrestricted water use by agriculture and industry at the expense of the general public.
What does it mean to have a water footprint?
Everything we consume in our daily lives, including what we eat, sell, buy, and wear, is made with water. The amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services we use is measured by our water footprint. It can be measured for any process, such as crop production, clothing production, travel fuel, or a multinational corporation.
The total amount of water needed for the production of goods and services in a country is calculated by adding all the water consumed plus the water inherent in imported products, then subtracting water exported.
India’s water footprint per capita is 980 cubic metres, which is lower than the global average of 1243 cubic metres. India accounts for about 12% of the world’s total water footprint.
Effects of Water Scarcity Across the Globe
The problem of water scarcity has gained a lot of importance due to the potential damage it can inflict.Because of the potential damage that water scarcity can cause, the issue has gained a lot of attention. According to some estimates, 1.1 billion people lack access to water worldwide, and 2.7 billion people face water scarcity for at least one month of the year.
- According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Risks Report, the water crisis is the third most important global risk in terms of impact on humanity.
- Governments will be forced to choose between agricultural, industrial, municipal, or environmental interests, with some groups gaining an advantage over others.
- Water scarcity can force people to migrate. In geopolitically fragile areas, it could lead to domestic or regional conflicts.
- According to a UN report, over 2 billion people live in countries with severe water scarcity. According to UNESCO, by 2030, between 24 and 700 million people will be displaced in arid and semi-arid regions.
- For 2.4 billion people, inadequate sanitation is also a problem. They are at risk of diseases like cholera and typhoid fever, as well as other water-borne illnesses. Each year, 2 million people, mostly children, die from diarrheal diseases.
Water Scarcity in India
In India, there is a water shortage.
India has 4% of the world’s freshwater but must feed 17% of the world’s population.
According to a report released by the NITI Aayog in June 2019, India is experiencing its worst-ever water crisis. In India, approximately 600 million people, or roughly 45 percent of the population, are experiencing moderate to severe water scarcity. According to the report, 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater, their primary source of water, by 2020. According to the report, nearly 40% of India’s population will lack access to safe drinking water by 2030, and the water crisis will cost the country 6% of its GDP by 2050.
The main causes of India’s water scarcity
According to World Bank data, India accounts for 25% of global groundwater demand. In India, irrigated agriculture consumes more than 90% of groundwater. 85 percent of the country’s drinking water is supplied by the remaining 24 billion m3. For both drinking and irrigation, approximately 80% of India’s 1.35 billion people rely on groundwater. India is a major rice exporter, which means it exports millions of litres of water each year.
Rice, wheat, and sugarcane are India’s most important crops. They are the most water-intensive plants. Rice, a major export crop, used approximately 3,500 litres of water per kilogramme of grain produced. Punjab, India’s third largest rice producer, is completely reliant on groundwater for rice production. While Punjab performs well in terms of land productivity, it lags behind states like West Bengal and Bihar in terms of water productivity, requiring two to three times more water to produce a kilogramme of rice than Bihar and West Bengal. Sugarcane is another water-intensive crop in India, but it is a popular crop among Maharashtra farmers due to the certainty of sugar mill marketing. Groundwater is the primary source of water for growing this crop, whereas states like Bihar, which are better suited to sugarcane production, produce only 4% of the country’s total sugarcane output. On the given link, you can learn everything there is to know about agriculture in India.
India’s water storage is around 209 m3 per person, far below the 1,000 m3 per person threshold for identifying water scarcity in a country. Furthermore, water availability per capita has decreased from 2,209 m3 per year in 1991 to 1545 m3 per year in 2011.
Despite the fact that the government’s Minimum Support Price (MSP) was usually announced for around 22 crops, the MSP incentive was skewed in favour of rice and wheat. As a result, even in dry states where weather conditions were not favourable, farmers preferred to grow rice and wheat, resulting in excessive groundwater extraction to grow rice and wheat.
Atal Bhujal Yojana
After receiving financial approval from the World Bank in 2018, the Indian government launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY) in December 2019 to address and contain the ever-growing problem of groundwater depletion. It was established as part of the Jal Jeevan Mission. It has to do with the use and conservation of groundwater in India.
The program’s goal was to emphasise groundwater recharge and improve groundwater resource exploitation by involving people at the local level.
water scarcity is driven by two important factors which is the increasing use of freshwater and depletion of usable freshwater resources. Furthermore, the scarcity can be of two types – physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity. Physical water scarcity is caused when a natural water resource is unable to meet the demands of a particular region. Economic water scarcity is caused by the mismanagement of sufficiently available water resource. However, there are a lot more causes of water shortage