Water stress: what are we talking about?

In a world facing the growing challenges of climate change and overpopulation, access to fresh water is becoming a crucial issue for the survival of humanity and the preservation of our planet. Water stress, a reality that affects many countries, is a major challenge that we must face. According to the United Nations, around 2.3 billion people live in countries where the available water resources are not sufficient to meet needs throughout the year. And, by 2025, nearly two-thirds of the world's population will be affected by water stress. Let's discover a phenomenon that is taking up more and more space in the news.

stress hydrique

What is the definition of water stress?

Water stress is a phenomenon that occurs when the demand for water exceeds the capacity of the ecosystem to provide water in sufficient quantity and quality to meet human and environmental needs. The term water stress is therefore used to describe a critical situation.

When do we talk about water stress?

Water stress can be assessed both in terms of the quantity of water available per inhabitant and per year (in m³). It can also be evaluated as a percentage of the ratio between water needs and available water resources. These indicators make it possible to measure the pressure exerted on water resources in a given region or country and to assess their capacity to meet the water needs of the population and the ecosystem.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sets the water stress threshold at 1700 m3 per inhabitant per year. We are talking about a shortage between 1,700 m3 and 1,000 m3. The French benefit from an abundance of water with a reserve of 3265 m3 per year.

Water stress is not only a threat to hot countries. It is also true for cold countries. Indeed, freezing temperatures can result in limited access to liquid water. In these regions, frost can cause ice to form, which hampers the availability of fresh water needed for daily life. In addition, in these cold regions, precipitation often in the form of snow and ice complicates water supplies even further. In addition, the melting of snow and ice is essential to replenish water supplies. But, when temperatures remain cold for extended periods of time, melting is delayed. Thus, the availability of liquid water is limited.

What are the causes of water stress?

Water stress is mainly caused by a combination of factors such as:

  • The population growth : The increase in the world population is putting increasing pressure on water resources. Indeed, this is causing increased demand for drinking water supplies, agricultural irrigation, industry, and other uses.
  • Theurbanization : Rapid urbanization leads to a concentration of the population in urban areas. As a result, the demand for water for domestic, industrial and municipal needs is increasing dramatically. Urban areas often face problems such as overuse of water resources, contamination of water sources, and inadequate water infrastructure.
  • The climate change : The effects of climate change, such as rising temperatures, irregular rainfall, and increased extreme weather events, have a significant impact on water resources. Indeed, during more frequent and intense periods of drought, the availability of fresh water is reduced.
  • The deforestation and the degradation of ecosystems : The destruction of forests and the degradation of natural ecosystems contribute to a decrease in the ability of soils to retain water and regulate water flows. This can lead to a decrease in groundwater recharge and an increase in soil erosion, thus worsening water stress.
  • The unsustainable agricultural practices such as intensive agriculture with crop irrigation.

These elements contribute to increased pressure on freshwater resources. They threaten the sustainability of our water supply in the long term.

What are the consequences?

Water stress has devastating consequences on ecosystems and biodiversity. Rivers are drying up, natural habitats are degrading, and aquatic species are in danger. Socially, the most vulnerable communities are bearing the brunt of the effects of water stress. The lack of access to water compromises the health of individuals and increases the risk of waterborne diseases. The economic repercussions are also major. The most affected communities face daily challenges to meet their needs such as personal hygiene and the irrigation of crops. This situation is causing a deterioration in living conditions and social tensions. Access to water is becoming a question of survival and is exacerbating the inequalities already present between regions and populations.

How can water stress be prevented?

Faced with this problem, numerous initiatives are being put in place to alleviate water stress. These are all actions taken to promote sustainable water management.

Our NGO is at the forefront of these efforts in order to ensure theaccess to drinking water to people in need. We take action wherever the need arises. We are building water towers and wells to ensure an adequate water supply and to strengthen the resilience of communities in the face of water stress.

According to the UN, as many as 1.4 million lives per year can be saved through better access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

stress hydrique

Each of us also has a role to play in the preservation of water resources. Simple actions such as reducing our water consumption, reusing greywater, and adopting water-efficient gardening practices can have a significant impact.

Water stress is a major challenge that we must urgently and collectively face. By understanding the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, we can contribute to ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come. Supporting water conservation initiatives and adopting responsible practices is critical. Together, we can preserve our water resources and ensure equitable access to this vital resource for all.

Ready to contribute?

I am creating a collection

Contribute to projects that are important to you by creating an online solidarity fund with LIFE ONG.
Launching a fundraiser for an association has never been easier!

Share life around you

Share all the solidarity funds around you to create an ever greater solidarity momentum!

🤝🧡 SOLIDARITY FUNDRAISER: Create a fundraiser with your loved ones in a few clicks!
Create a collection