Jacob Gitman on Fixing the Water Crisis in the Developing World
How Permanent Access to Clean Drinking Water Could Save Millions of Lives
According to the U.S. Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 790 million people
(11% of the global population) lack access to clean water. The current unavailability of this natural resource is the result of two prominent issues, the first being
drought. As a consequence of drought, local populations are subject not only to chronic dehydration, but also large-scale crop failure. Needless to say, famine and widespread malnutrition often accompany drought.
The second issue is contaminated drinking water. Due to drinking contaminated water, local populations are subject to ingesting parasites, toxic compounds, and many varied types of waterborne bacteria, resulting in poisonings and outbreaks of fatal disease. It is a sad fact that water insecurity disproportionately affects the inhabitants of the developing world, most especially in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, and specifically those in rural areas.
This is a tragedy many millions of times over and a bona fide global crisis. Although progress is being made to make clean water more available to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, it is slow and oftentimes hindered by economic and geopolitical realities. So, what can be done to speed things up?
What can be done to clear away the obstacles standing between 790 million people and clean drinking water? In order to better answer these questions, Jacob Gitman, a prominent scientist from Miami, Florida, takes a closer look at the two core components of water insecurity and methods to help solve the issue.
Taking into account that 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, it may seem inconceivable that humanity could have a water crisis of any kind. However, most of that is the saltwater of the oceans, and without the aid of tremendously expensive and wasteful desalination plants, it is totally undrinkable.
Only 2.5 percent of the water on this planet is freshwater. Even then, fresh water must be properly treated before it is fit for human consumption. In the rural areas of the developing world, the infrastructure required to purify water is often not in place, and local populations are left to drink from contaminated water sources such as wells, lakes, or rivers.
Of course, when confronted with the choice of drinking unclean water or drinking no water at all, human beings will always choose the former. What inevitably follows is illness, disease, and death.
Some diseases commonly linked to drinking contaminated water are Typhoid Fever, Guinea Worm, Cholera, and Dysentery. The statistics relating to the infection and mortality rates of these diseases in the developing world are staggeringly high.
Yet, there are practical, real-world solutions to the problem of contaminated water that exist presently, both on a micro and macro scale. In the short-term, many makeshift micro solutions exist to purify unclean water. These include the use of chlorine drops, iodine tablets or crystals, ultraviolet light, basic filters such as the Cleanwater bag kit, or simple boiling. Where employed, these measures have proven astoundingly successful at preventing disease and reducing death rates.
Unfortunately, distribution in global conflict zones and at the sites of natural disasters is a major difficulty, and ultimately, these techniques are meant to be temporary solutions. Of course, the long-term, macro solution to the problem of contaminated drinking water in the developing world is the installation of permanent water treatment plants and proper sanitation networks that can reach every human being. However, financing and coordinating construction of this kind of major infrastructure everywhere on Earth continues to prove an elusive challenge.
Simply defined, a drought is an extended period of unusually dry weather with no rain or precipitation of any kind. Droughts can wreak havoc on ecosystems and communities, causing, among other things, a shortage of drinking water, widespread crop failure, food insecurity and famine, and, if one lasts long enough (some droughts have been known to last for years and even decades) complete desertification of entire regions. Once again, lamentably, droughts and their associated problems disproportionately affect people in the developing world.
Until recently, there have been very few tools at human disposal for combating drought, conservation and the recycling of water chief among them. These methods are effective in retaining existing water stockpiles but do nothing to actually stop the damaging natural phenomena. But what about the creation of new water? What about using technology and human ingenuity to proactively end a drought? Enter Rain on Request, an environmental technology firm specializing in exactly that.
By erecting a field of special towers that facilitate chemical-free ionization of the surrounding atmosphere, Rain on Request can induce targeted rainfalls within an area as large as 15 kilometers. These towers are easily installed and removed and cause no harm to the surrounding environment.
Unlike cloud seeding or other weather control systems, the Rain on Request method does not require existing clouds in order to function properly; these towers can be introduced into any conditions, even the worst drought-stricken areas, and create rain.
The potential value of this technology in relieving human suffering is game-changing. In short, by creating water raining down from the sky where there once was none,land becomes fertile again, crops revert to their normal cycle, and more water can be purified for human consumption. The creation of Rain on Request is a panacea that will make many of these previously mentioned tragedies obsolete.
Through a combination of using existing water purification techniques and deploying cutting-edge rain inducing technologies on a large scale, millions of lives can be saved in the developing world. In addition to that, a good deal of poverty can be alleviated, and quality of life standards can be raised for the planet’s most destitute and at-risk populations.
Solving the great problem of water insecurity in the developing world is within our grasp. It is hard to imagine a more worthwhile endeavor.
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