October: Water

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               The prevalence of food and water scarcity is something that, according to the UN, unfortunately affects over one-fifth of the world’s population. This staggering number can feel overwhelming, as well it should, but the wonderful things is that there are people and organizations working all the time to combat this lack of basic human necessities. Before introducing some of these people, and ways for you to get involved, here’s some information about the topic at hand. Each month, we will take a look at various topics through different lenses. For the purposes of this topic, we will take a look at food and water scarcity at a regional, national, and international level. “Regional” will be defined as the southern region of the United States.

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 WATER

In terms of measuring global water supply, there are three basic categories to define a scarcity in water. Water stress occurs when annual water supplies drop below 1,700 m3 per person. Water scarcity exists when it drops below 1,000 m3, and a level below 500 m3 is categorized as absolute scarcity.

In North Georgia...

  • General Electric (GE) has employed a groundwater extraction system that, diverts and removes contaminants from residential and other well water.
  • These types of systems are extremely important wherever water can potentially come in contact with landfills. There are many toxic substances, such as cancer-causing chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, often found in landfills.
  • Without programs in place, like GE’s Corrective Action Plan, which requires monitoring of groundwater levels at all facility wells twice a year, there could be dire consequences as clean water could become contaminated. Programs like this still have their downfalls, however, as the Environmental Protection Division still does not require GE to provide this data to the public.

In the United States...

  • The US is lucky to have access to some of the safest treated water in the world – at the twist of our hand. We are extremely fortunate to not have to think about whether or not we have enough water to shower, make coffee, etc. These are things that we need to be thinking about.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at their homes. This overconsumption has started to hit areas of the US in challenging ways. Factors such as population growth effect “competition for water resources.”
  • Water and food scarcity are highly connected – agriculture alone, according to the US Department of Agriculture, accounts for 80% of the Nation’s water use.
  • The importance of clean water sources has hit home in recent years as Flint, Michigan residents have had to drink filtered water exclusively after learning that the city’s water supply had been contaminated with lead. This contamination has resulted in over a dozen state and local officials being criminally charged. The city had been working to improve the water quality and spent millions of dollars to replace pipes and fix the infrastructure.

Throughout the world...

  • It is estimated that over 700 million people do not have access to clean water and over 1.7 billion people live in river basins where “water use exceeds recharge,” according to the UN. This is a fundamental right and need for humans.
  • The Earth’s climate change is drastically changing the resources that we have access to. In this way, water and food scarcity are necessarily linked because of the necessity of water in agricultural production. The World Metoerological Organization provides a detailed look into the causes, ramification, and prevention of climate change.

The structure and fabric of our world is changing at rapid paces, and with these changes come a reduction in access to resources such as food and water.

Here’s the good news: there are hundreds of organizations in the world striving to end hunger and thirst around the world. As innovative, empathetic, and creative people, we do have the ability to make an impact on the issues we see in the world. If you want more information about the themes highlighted in this post, please use the links below for a more holistic scope of this topic. We look forward to spending the month of October learning with you about organizations doing great things to end hunger and provide water access around the world.


Emma Wright