Every day thousands of children spend much of their time in the polluted waters of the rivers that cross the poorest countries of the planet. Many of them dip their feet in the muddy bottom to look for precious metals that then exchange for a few coins.
The real tragedy
This is highlighted in the report of the United Nations on the Development of Water Resources in the World, entitled Water for all, water for life, published on the eve of the World Water Forum (March 16 and 23) and World Day of Water, which takes place on the next day 22.
The real tragedy of this crisis is its effect on the daily life of poor people who suffer the burden of water-related diseases, living in degraded and often dangerous environments, struggling to earn a living and to meet their basic food needs. .
The origin of the crisis must not be traced back to nature itself, but to the management of water resources, essentially caused by the use of inadequate methods.
The report of the United Nations assures that it is a problem of attitude and behavior, mostly identifiable and identifiable problems.
And while this data opens a door to hope, the inertia of the leaders and the absence of a clear awareness of the magnitude of the problem on the part of the world population, prevent corrective measures from being carried out.
Acute water shortage
Only 2.53% of the total water on the planet is sweet and the rest is salty. Approximately two thirds of the fresh water is immobilized in glaciers and sheltered by perpetual snow.
On the other hand, freshwater resources are reduced by pollution. Some two million tons of waste are dumped daily in receiving waters, including industrial and chemical waste, human waste and agricultural waste (fertilizers, pesticides and pesticide residues).
As always, the poorest populations are the most affected, with 50% of the population in developing countries exposed to contaminated water sources.
Also, the most recent estimates suggest that climate change will be responsible for around 20% of the increase in global water scarcity.
In this regard it is considered that by 2050, seven billion human beings who will live in sixty countries, will suffer serious water shortages.
The report classifies 180 countries and territories according to the quantity and quality of water available – Kuwait, Gaza, the Arab Emirates, the Bahamas and Qatar are the ones with the greatest needs because they have the least reserves of drinking water per individual.
At the other extreme are Finland, Canada, French Guiana, Iceland, Guyana, Suriname and Congo-Kinshasa, all countries with the largest reserves of drinking water per individual.
Thus, among all the objectives that the different international bodies have established in recent years – the Millennium Development Goals for 2015, adopted by the United Nations Summit in 2000, for example – many of them have placed the water problem in a preferred location.
In this regard, the March 2000 The Hague Ministerial Declaration approved a series of challenges as a basis for future action.
The first of these aims to satisfy basic human needs, since water-related ailments are one of the most common causes of illness and death among the poor in developing countries. The statistics speak for themselves.
In 2000, the mortality rate estimated only by diarrheas related to the lack of water sanitation systems was 2,213 million people. The majority of those affected by water-related mortality and morbidity are children under the age of five.
Another fact: 1,100 million people currently lack the necessary facilities to obtain water and 2,400 million do not have access to sanitation systems. The measures to be implemented to reverse this situation are not complicated or burdensome, but they require a considerable political reorientation.
The second challenge seeks to protect ecosystems, and water is an essential part of every ecosystem.
And there is no doubt that continental aquatic ecosystems present serious problems.
The flow of around 60% of the largest rivers in the world has been interrupted by some hydraulic structure.
The divergent needs of the urban environment constitute the third issue raised. According to the estimates of international organizations, 48% of the current world population lives in towns and cities.