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5 Impacts of the Water Crisis You Probably Haven’t Thought About​

The water crisis creates ripples affecting more than just thirst.

So, you’ve learned about the water crisis—that an estimated two billion people don’t have access to clean water. Now, you see things differently when you go to the sink and fill up your glass with an unlimited amount of refreshing H2O, given the effects of the water shortage.

The issue is more pressing, but it’s still distant. It’d be a bummer if you couldn’t get the water you wanted right then, but that’s as far as your thinking goes until you learn more about this worldwide problem.

If only it were that simple. Of course, getting in your eight glasses of water each day is a crucial part of life. But how far do the impacts of not being able to get this life-giving liquid reach? The answer: further than many imagine.


If you want to broaden your understanding of the water crisis, keep reading to learn more about the effects of water shortage.

The Water Crisis Affects the Safety of Women and Children

When people do not have access to clean water nearby, trips to collect water are necessary. People often take these trips multiple times a week, and they are usually far away.

According to the United States Agency for International Development, trips for water are about 3.5 miles long on average. Typically, women and children are given this task.

So, what does any of this have to do with safety? Long walks away from home expose the women and children taking these trips to significantly more risk than they would otherwise encounter. Risks include harassment and even physical and sexual violence.

“Every step a girl takes to collect water is a step away from learning, play, and safety,” says Cecilia Sharp, UNICEF’s Director of WASH and CEED.

Fun Fact: A lot of acronyms often come up when discussing water scarcity. Here are explanations for the ones used above:

  • UNICEF stands for the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund.
  • WASH stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
  • CEED stands for Climate, Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction

The Water Crisis Affects Health

One of the more obvious impacts of a lack of water is its effect on health. Of course, water is essential for life. It’s only possible to survive without it for about three days.

Additionally, those who don’t have clean water available often end up substituting for contaminated water riddled with diseases. Some of the many diseases dirty water can contain include typhoid, cholera, and polio.

To put it in perspective, here’s a dire statistic: an estimated one million people die from these diseases every single year.

The Water Crisis Affects Nutrition

In the case of water scarcity, one thing leads to another. Polluted water can also give diseases to livestock. When animals get sick and die, people are left without adequate food, on top of a lack of adequate water.

Moreover, dirty water can also negatively affect crops, stunting plant growth and even causing them to die.

Nutritious food is yet another necessity for life impacted by a shortage of clean water.

The Water Crisis Affects Education

The more you think about it, the more complex the issue of water scarcity gets. We can clearly see its impact on safety, health, and nutrition. However, this still only scratches the surface of the problem’s effects.

Contaminated water even seeps into education. Remember how we talked about children often being the ones tasked with logging long miles to collect water? Well, they usually have to miss school to do so.

Furthermore, this issue disproportionately affects females. According to WHO (the World Health Organization), women and girls collect water for 7 out of 10 households. As far as children go, girls under 15 collect water for 7% of households, while boys under 15 collect water for 4% of households. 

The Water Crisis Affects Work Opportunities

Naturally, those who miss many school days or eventually drop out will have fewer employment opportunities. Of course, going to work is hard if you’re sick from drinking contaminated water, too. So, there is an apparent connection between water scarcity and work.

However, the issue is even broader. The World Economic Forum says three in four jobs (throughout the whole world!) depend on water. For example, farming, fishing, and forestry industries couldn’t exist without water.  

The effects of water shortage are far reaching.

As you can see, water scarcity is a multifaceted issue that changes everything — not just your ability to get a drink from the sink whenever you want. It impacts individuals, entire communities and even economic systems throughout the world.

Though the issue is looming, it is not without hope. WorldServe International is devoted to solving the water crisis, one well at a time.

We can’t do it alone! Follow us on social media to see how we’re contributing to solving this monumental issue and consider joining the cause.

Which of these insights surprised you the most?

Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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