What Causes Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity is caused by poor management of available water resources and the depletion of fresh water resources. According to the United Nations Development Programme, poor management of water resources is one of the main causes of water scarcity. Most countries have sufficient water to meet agricultural, household and industrial needs but do not have the means to make clean usable water accessible.

Other causes of water scarcity include overuse of water, pollution, population growth, decreased rainfall, increased consumption of water, global warming, food production, climate change, water quality and land use. Agriculture alone uses about 70 percent of the world’s freshwater; however, 60 percent is wasted due to inefficient application methods and leaky irrigation systems. Population growth has led to the increased use of freshwater, resulting in the depletion of freshwater resources such as groundwater.

While water scarcity affects many people around the world, it also has a negative impact on lakes, rivers, wetlands and the environment as a whole. Overuse of water harms the environment, as it leads to increased nutrient pollution, salinity, and loss of wetlands and floodplains. Wetlands are home to mammals, amphibians, birds and fish, but the few that are remaining are used for growing rice and other food crops.