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Awake!  |  January 2009

The Water Crisis—What Is Being Done?

The Water Crisis—What Is Being Done?

 The Water Crisis​—What Is Being Done?

The water crisis is global. It poses health risks to billions of earth’s inhabitants. What steps have been taken to bring water supply and water use back into balance?

SOUTH AFRICA: “Durban’s Poor Get Water Services Long Denied,” announces a headline in Science magazine. The article reports that poor people living there have not had an adequate supply of water for decades as a result of the now-defunct apartheid policy of previous governments. In 1994, the article says, “a quarter of a million households in the Durban area had no access to clean water or sanitation.”

To remedy the situation, in 1996 an engineer instituted a program that would supply some 50 gallons [200 L] of water daily to each household. The result? “All but 120,000 of Durban’s 3.5 million residents have access to clean water,” Science reports. Now, at the very least, water is just a short walk away​—a vast improvement over bygone days when many had to carry water for over half a mile [1 km].

Science magazine explains that to address the sanitation issue, “old ‘pit toilet’ outhouses” are being replaced with “urine-diversion (UD) double-pit toilets, which separate urine from feces to allow the latter to dry and decompose faster.” By early 2008 some 60,000 UD toilets had been installed, although it was projected at that time that it would be another two years before all homes would be equipped with a proper toilet.

 Brazil: In the city of Salvador, hundreds of children were suffering diarrheal diseases because of the lack of a sewage system and toilets. * To correct the situation, the city laid 1,200 miles [2,000 km] of sewer pipes for more than 300,000 homes. The result? The diarrhea rate fell by 22 percent citywide and by 43 percent in areas that previously had a higher prevalence.

India: In some parts of the world, there is a seasonal excess of good water; but it is not always captured so that it can be put to good use. However, in 1985 a group of Indian women in the district of Dholera, in the northwest state of Gujarat, came up with an ingenious method for saving water. They organized a group to build a retaining pond, which, when completed, was the size of a football field. They then lined the pond with heavy plastic to avoid leakage. Their initiative was successful. In fact, months after the next monsoon season ended, they still had water​—despite the fact that they had “welcomed their neighbors to drink.”

Chile: This South American country stretches for 2,650 miles [4,265 km], hugging the Pacific Coast to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east. The State controls all water rights and authorizes the building of dams and canals. The result? Now 99 percent of city dwellers and 94 percent of those who live in the country receive adequate water.

The Ultimate Solution

Each country seems to have its own method of dealing with the water crisis. In some lands where favorable winds regularly blow, windmills raise water to the surface and also serve to generate electricity. In wealthier nations, desalinization of seawater is also viewed as a viable solution. In many places huge dams retain river water and rainwater​—a measure that has proved somewhat effective, even though reservoirs in arid areas may lose about 10 percent of their water through evaporation.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, the publishers of this magazine, believe that the ultimate solution to the water crisis rests in God’s hands, not man’s. The Bible states: “To Jehovah [God] belong the earth and that which fills it, the productive land and those dwelling in it. For upon the seas he himself has solidly fixed it, and upon the rivers he keeps it firmly established.”​—Psalm 24:1, 2.

True, God gave humans the responsibility of taking care of this planet. (Genesis 1:28) However, man’s mismanagement of earth’s resources​—along with the devastating consequences that have ensued—​provides further evidence that “it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”​—Jeremiah 10:23.

What will Jehovah do to restore the elements of our earth to a perfect balance? The Bible assures us that he purposes to ‘make all things new.’ (Revelation 21:5) Imagine a world with no poverty, no droughts, and no water shortages. Imagine a world without monsoon flooding, which today sweeps away thousands of lives each year. Under the rule of his Kingdom, God will fulfill his many promises! Jehovah himself has stated: “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”​—Isaiah 55:11.

Would you like to learn more about God’s purpose to restore our earth, as outlined in his Word, the Bible? The following article will explain how you can do so.

[Footnote]

^ par. 6 Each year across the globe, some 1.6 million children die from diarrheal diseases. That is more than the number of fatalities from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.

[Blurb on page 5]

“Where there is no water, there is no life. . . . We live by the grace of water.”​—Michael Parfit, writer for National Geographic

[Blurb on page 6]

To produce one ton of grain requires 1,000 tons [1,000 cubic meters] of water

[Blurb on page 6]

“70 percent of world water use is devoted to irrigation.”​—Plan B 2.0, by Lester R. Brown

 [Graphs/​Pictures on page 7]

(For fully formatted text, see publication)

How much freshwater is available?

Total water

97.5% Salt water

2.5% Freshwater

Freshwater

99% Locked up in glaciers and icebergs or underground

1% Available to nearly seven billion humans and countless billions of other life forms

[Picture on page 7]

Installing pipes for access to clean water, Durban, South Africa

[Credit Line]

Courtesy eThekwini Water and Sanitation Programme

[Picture on page 7]

Women working on a rainwater harvesting project, Rajasthan, India, 2007

[Credit Line]

© Robert Wallis/​Panos Pictures

[Picture on page 7]

Local people working on a new water system for their village near Copán, Honduras

[Credit Line]

© Sean Sprague/​SpraguePhoto.com