March 22nd is World Water Day. When you go to the water cooler this week, remember that not everyone has access to clean drinking water yet. The UN General Assembly recognized access to water and sanitation as a human right in 2010. Almost a decade later, today, 844 million people worldwide still lack access to safe drinking water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In low- and middle-income countries, 38 percent of healthcare facilities don’t have an improved water source, 19 percent don’t have improved sanitation, and 35 percent lack water and soap for handwashing. In India alone, approximately 200,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water based on a report by The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog).
Clean drinking water and sanitation are critical for public health. They are also a basic foundation for social and economic progress. We have two more decades to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 6: water for all by 2030. This may seem like a long time, but getting clean water to every part of the world is not an easy task. And, the challenges will even increase.
Half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025 per WHO data. The affected areas will extend to regions that have not dealt with water stress before. For example, the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment concluded that one-third of the ice in the Himalayas and Hindu Kush mountains will be lost by the end of the century due to climate change. The rivers that originate in these mountains are the water source for nearly 2 billion people, according to the report, which was compiled based on collective knowledge by more than 300 experts.
Technology can help tackle our global water crisis and reach sustainable development goals. The new generation of intelligent technology can monitor, analyze and predict water usage. Tech can even identify sources of water waste. For example, the pipe and water storage solution company Vectus Industries is using mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to alleviate water wastage in India. The company identified leaky water pipes as the main water waste culprit. Vectus built a mobile app that helps plumbers access vital information about pipes and other joints, including the best way to fix and prevent leaks in irrigation systems and water pipes. With less water spilled, more is available for people and agriculture. Technology can also help improve water storage and transport, which are vital to bringing clean water to towns and healthcare facilities.
Another way to use technology to protect our water resources is by monitoring the quantity and quality of our water and the level of pollution with drones. Using drones has become common for industrial purposes, such as for the planning and surveying of construction projects. However, they can also be applied for environmental research and protection. The Race for Water Foundation, a charity organization dedicated to water preservation, has been using drones to survey plastic waste in the ocean and raise public awareness on the impacts of water pollution on the ecosystem and humans.
These are just two ideas of how technology can facilitate bringing water to all by 2030. When you drink your next glass of water, take a moment to think about ways technology can address the global water crisis and how water preservation can become part of our daily life.