Water Crisis article is sponsored by World Water Council
Having four of the world’s 25 largest rivers, Latin America is known to have a large supply of freshwater. It also has some of the world’s largest lakes around. An estimated 110,500 cubic feet per person per year is expected because of the supply naturally provided by the environment.
However, it is often a mystery to most researchers why the region suffer from water shortages.
Given the water crisis it is going through these past few years, it has affected the political and economic agendas of the countries involved.
World Water Council
According to the World Water Council, about 77 million Latin Americans do not have access to safe water while 100 million of them do not have access to sanitation. People also suffer from lack of treatment of sanitation wastes while dealing with large water pricing inequality.
So what exactly is going on in Latin American countries?
Source: Latin Times
Some of the major factors that have affected the distribution of water resources include “poor farming practices, unregulated industrialization and urban poverty.” With a major increase in the population growth, more demands must be attended to thus industrialization has devoured a lot of the water supply. With more people to feed, farming practices must be enough to feed millions of people, which may lead to unregulated distribution of pesticides. All these practices have led to contributing to water pollution.
Water pollution is the main reason why water resources become more limited than it is before. People have made water basins and other water bodies a dumping site for different kinds of wastes – garbage, effluent, industrial and mining.
What has this water shortage led to?
Latin America was known for being a global leader in clean energy because it is abundant in water.
The water shortage has affected the energy distribution in these countries. Energy usually comes from hydropower production but the water crisis has made it impossible for the people in the region to rely solely on it.
A lot of these countries like Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Chile and Bolivia have experienced power blackouts most of the time. Some governments have resorted to using fossil fuels lately.
Costa Rica invested almost $1 billion in order to use geothermal energy while Uruguay will be investing over $1.4 billion for wind energy. Other countries have imported natural gas from the US.
The water shortage has also affected the water distribution between the rich and the poor people in the region. In a study conducted by World Bank (2006), it showed that people in Latin America have the highest water bills in the developing world. Those who suffer from this are the poor ones who have to pay more than the rich ones for clean water.
These people also spend more time collecting water. Studies have also shown that they are more likely to be exposed to different water-related health problems.
In a study reported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), it stated, “People suffering the most from the water and sanitation crisis — poor people in general and poor women in particular — often lack the political voice needed to assert their claims to water.”
Different organizations have been made to fight for the people’s right to access to clean water. While there have also been an increase in private and public partnerships throughout the area in an attempt to support sustainable development. One private company, the US-based brewing company Anheuser-Busch, help water management pilot projects that would help barley-growing regions like Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina.
What can people do to improve it?
Now, if these organizations would be able to preserve their water resources, there’s still a chance that these countries will run out of freshwater. Water pollution, which has been a major factor as to why there’s a water crisis going on, should be a priority for the private institutions and governments. They must find a way to reduce the pollution at all cost.
Not only has the water crisis affected the economic and political growth of the region. It has also affected the quality of life for its people. Millions of people suffer from not being able to drink enough water or have access to proper sanitation. It is up to engineers, researchers, scientists and businessmen to come up with creative solutions to address these problems that not only affects Latin America, but also the whole world.