World Water Crisis Over 1 billion people lack access to safe water Over 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation More than 2.2 million people, mostly children, die each year from water related diseases. 2 out of 3 people will be living with water shortages by 2025 There is a global water crisis. Here we briefly outline some of the reasons for the crisis around the world's most basic resource; the reasons are complex but sadly the reality is not; often it is simply a matter of life or death. Access to water… As competition for access to water resources increases, the most vulnerable have the least influence. Governments and companies responsible for the management and allocation of water are prone to conscious or unconscious bias towards the rich and powerful. Lack of infrastructure often means no safe water or adequate sanitation services are provided for poor rural and urban communities. The world's poorest people often move to cities in search of employment; this frequently means living in shanty towns. As cities in developing countries grow, water consumption needs of the urban poor are often sidelined. Poorer areas of cities are often left with no water supply or sanitation. Consequently, in many urban areas poor people are forced to pay exorbitant prices for low-quality dirty water from small-scale private vendors. Dirty water Millions of people have no choice but to drink water that could kill them. Globally water related diseases are the single largest cause of sickness and death. A major contributor to this dirty water is the lack of adequate sanitation. Despite safe sanitation being just as critical for human health as access to safe water, it has not generated anywhere near the same amount of initiatives and investment as water provision. The absence of adequate sanitation causes many problems, the most devastating of which is the creation of an environment in which debilitating and life-threatening diseases flourish; every 15 seconds a child dies from such diseases. Water is a resource Every day each person in the UK uses 150 litres of water, while at the same time, due to water shortages, some of the world's poorest people survive on the equivalent of a 90 second shower! With poorer countries in Africa and Asia suffering from poor management of water resources, the lives of poor people are most at risk. Population growth is a factor as it is taking place where current water shortages are at their worst: in the poorer regions of the world. With current population growth patterns in mind the UN predicts that two out of three people will be living with water shortages by 2025! Consuming water It is not just the growing population that is driving the demand for water; consumption is rising due to economic development and growing standards of living. From 1900-1995 global consumption of water rose six-fold; more than twice the rate of population growth. The rate of consumption is still accelerating; for instance, the expansion of the tourism industry in many developing countries means western-style hotels and complexes swallow up valuable water resources from the local community. The industrial sector consumes a huge amount of water; for example, every new car manufactured uses 39,090 gallons of water. Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of global water use. Growing standards of living add to this pressure. We now eat more beef, pork, poultry, eggs and dairy products, which in turn means a greater demand for grain to feed animals; more grain means more water is needed for irrigation. A US diet annually requires 800 kg of grain per person compared to just 200 kg for an Indian diet. The natural environment, which is the home and source of water, is often destroyed by industrial pollution and degradation. Deforestation and soil erosion are major causes of dwindling water supplies. Polluted water In addition to the effects of poor sanitation water is also polluted by industry and agriculture. The results of this combined pollution cause disease on a huge scale. The poor are usually the first to suffer from pollution as they are often forced to use water from downstream sources and do not have the access to adequate sanitation that the rich enjoy. Contaminated water spreads bacteria and parasites, for example causing diarrhoea, and carries water-based hosts, such as guinea worms. Climate changing water Climate change is also contributing to the global water crisis, increasing the number of natural disasters such as floods and droughts, both of which have a negative impact on water resources. Again the world's poorest people are the ones most likely to bear the adverse effects of these natural disasters. A planned water supply Globally there is a huge shortfall in finance and investment in the water sector, both for investment in new operations and for maintenance of existing infrastructures. This lack of investment and the absence of effective planning and management of scarce water resources are often the root causes of water shortages and inadequate sanitation. Governments lack the will, or the capacity, to develop and integrate sustainable water management policies.