Water covers 70% of Earth’s surface. Yet only a tiny fraction of Earth’s water is the accessible freshwater we need to live, grow food, sustain the environment, and power our cities and jobs. Growing cities and populations and a changing climate are placing unprecedented pressures on water. According to the World Economic Forum, water crises are among the top risks to global economic growth. For at least 650 million people, even the water they are able to find is unsafe.
But this also offers an opportunity to provide safer water and better manage our water resources for a more resilient future.In Africa, an estimated 40 billion working hours are spent fetching water, usually by women (UN Development Programme). Better access to safer water frees up time, enhances health and offers the potential for new opportunities.
Most job creators rely heavily on water for their day to day business, if not as an actual ingredient in the products they sell. Those jobs are dependent on a steady supply of clean water, and thus have a stake in better, more sustainable water resource management. Today, almost half of the word’s 1.5 billion workers are working in water related sectors and nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery.
Some products are highlighted that explains the interlinkages between water and economic development.
- “Analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and special interventions are required to ensure that women benefit from the economic opportunities that water generates.”
- “In the past five years, more than 50% of the world’s power utility and energy companies have experienced water-related business impacts. At least two-thirds indicate that water is a substantive risk to business operations. As the world’s population reaches 9 billion, competing demand for water from other sectors is expected to grow, potentially exacerbating the issue.
- “The benefits from meeting the water supply and sanitation (WSS) targets combined equal over US$60 billion annually. The main contributor to benefits from universal coverage of WSS is the value of time savings from closer access and reduced queuing for sanitation and water supply facilities, which account for more than 70% of total benefits globally. ”
- “Improved Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) access may influence nutrition outcomes by increasing the productivity of home gardens, leading to more nutritious food intake, and enabling more time and resources for caregiving by reducing time spent fetching water and caring for sick children and time and costs associated with seeking health treatment.