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Water Scarcity – Definition, Causes, Issues, Examples

Last Updated : 24 Feb, 2023
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Water scarcity is the state of shortage of water, an imbalance is caused between the demand and the supply of water, and inadequate availability of potable water.

What is Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity takes place because of both natural as well as human causes. It is a situation where sufficient water is not available to meet the demands of a specific place or region. Water is not equally distributed throughout the world and much of that amount is polluted, wasted and many times not managed sustainably.

According to the United Nations, a person needs a minimum of around 50 liters of water each day; to meet the basic needs of drinking, cooking, and hygiene. But the increasing population is failing this quantity of water and hence most of the population around the planet is affected by water scarcity.

Water Scarcity


Major Causes of Water Scarcity

One of the major reasons for water scarcity is that the demand for water is almost twice that earlier to the rise of population exponentially. In several countries around the world, like China, India, Pakistan, and regions of Africa and the Middle East, the pressure on water resources has been increasing rapidly.

Some major causes of water scarcity are:

Overuse of water

The overuse of water has been increasing rapidly and on a daily basis; with people using and wasting water more than the amount needed. Overuse of water is taken place by people, land, animals, and many other things. The unnecessary use of water in the case of recreational activities, without much care, is also a reason for the scarcity of water.

Pollution of Water

Water pollution has been increasing rapidly and has become a major concern. Water pollution takes place from the pollution of any pollutants like carcasses, chemicals, oil, and also fecal matter. Water treatment and proper systematic use of water by industries and households are important to stop the pollution of water.

Population growth affects water

The population of the world is increasing rapidly and so is the demand for water. The demand for water is not being able to meet by the supply of water, which is leading to conflicts and tensions. Initiatives should be taken by the government and individuals to stop the unlimited exploitation of water and to reuse and save water, in a sustainable manner.

Climate Change Effects on water

Global warming is coming to be one of the major concerns of water scarcity. It is a condition where the average air temperature is becoming warmer and the water of rivers and lakes has been evaporating at a faster rate, which is leading to the drying up of many water bodies. So, important steps should be taken at both community and individual levels to stop water scarcity.

Factors to Reduce water scarcity

Save Water whenever possible

Limiting the use of water, use of washing machines to be reduced and taking of strict and quick showers whenever possible. Awareness of water scarcity is to be spread among family and friends wherever possible to conserve water.


Plenty of ways and opportunities are available for people to understand and learn more about the environment and world around them. Through the process of education, those who are not facing water scarcity can be in a better position to help and those dealing with the same can be prevented the problem from becoming even worse in the future.

Recycle Water

Many techniques and methods are available around to recycle rainwater and other water which is available in the home. By use of a rainwater harvesting system, using the water already used for watering plants and other household works, and recycling water wherever possible are ways to prevent water scarcity and also ways to save money as well.

Improve Practices related to farming

Farming and irrigation are two fields where water is used on a huge scale and this leads to issues of water scarcity. Improve practices so that water is wasted and those using use water to the utmost potential and also proper technology to be used; are some ways to improve practices related to farming

Less usage of Chemicals in farming

Excessive chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used to increase crop production. But this leads to soil pollution and also in turn leads to groundwater pollution and also contributes to the scarcity of potable water. It is important to reduce the use of chemicals in farming to ensure cleanliness and also to reduce problems related to water.

What are possible solutions to water scarcity?

Sustainable Water Management

Improving the existing water infrastructure with emphasis on water conservation and efficiency is some of the key components for sustainable management of water. Smart irrigational systems are an example of clean technology for water control.

Reclaimed Water

The systems of rainwater harvesting and also recycled wastewater, allow to reduce the water scarcity and also put some ease on the pressure for groundwater.

Better Sewage treatment

With proper sanitation, water is not contaminated and is safe to drink. Because of this addressing pollution, measurement, and monitoring the quality of water is very important. Improvement of sewage facilities is also important.

Education and Awareness

Education is important in solving the problems of the water crisis and coping with the problems of water scarcity in the future. So radical usage of water for consumption is important from the domestic to the community level.

FAQs on Water Scarcity

Question 1: How serious is the water crisis?


More than half of the population could be living in areas of water scarcity by early 2025. So it is a very serious concern for the population around the globe.

Question 2: What is water scarcity and what are its main causes?


Water shortage refers to the shortage of water to meet the needs and demands of the people. 

The causes of water scarcity are unequal access to water, excessive use of water among people, and over-exploitation of water.

Question 3: How can we battle the water crisis?


Some ways of dealing water crisis are:

  1. By spreading Education and awareness to prevent the water crisis.
  2. New conservation technologies
  3. Recycle wastewater

Question 4: What are the impacts and harms of water scarcity?


It limits access to water for drinking and practicing basic hygiene. With the scarcity of water, sewage systems can be a threat to contracting more diseases like cholera and other waterborne diseases. Scare water also makes the available water more expensive.

Question 5: What are the effects of water shortage on health and human development?


Water is an important aspect of sustainable development and critical for the development of socio-economic development. It is important to reduce the global burden of disease and improve the health, productivity, and welfare of the human population.

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