The humanitarian water challenge
Water scarcity is identified as one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Of the world’s population of 7.4 billion, 780 million people, which means one out of ten, do not have access to basic drinking water, according to the United Nations, due to very serious pollution, salt and very long distances. In 2030, 47% of world population will be living in areas of high water stress. In low- and middle-income countries, 38% of health care facilities lack any water source, 19% do not have improved sanitation and 35% lack water and soap for handwashing.
Limited or no access to safe water causes many diseases, high mortality and deep structural poverty. This suffering is also a cause of many conflicts, which often turn violent.
Percentage of Population Without Reasonable Access to Safe Drinking Water
Lack of safe drinking water is often an underlying cause in civil wars, mass migration and environmental decay. Lack of water for animal husbandry and growing plant food causes severe strife among different groups, aggravating ethnic and other social tensions.
Water scarcity is an often overlooked cause of many serious and seemingly insoluble political problems with grave consequences. Most refugees and migrants stem from the war in Syria and the civil wars in the Horn of Africa and the Sahara region. Water scarcity, often resulting in food insecurity, is a strong underlying factor in the violent conflicts in these countries.
Poverty, unemployment, violent suppression, civil war, desertification and climate change cause massive disasters and mass migration. Developing small-scale and affordable solutions for healthy drinking water and irrigation water tackles many urgent social and political problems.
Enabling breakthrough innovations for small-scale and affordable water supply
As most of the world’s water is too salty or too polluted, affordable desalination and purification technology is crucial. But available technologies are expensive and often require much energy, which is costly and very polluting if fossil fuels are used. Hence, we need ground-breaking technologies for small-scale and affordable water desalination and purification, facilitated by tailor-made local governance arrangements to ensure equitable, sustainable and effective application.
The innovative and cutting-edge combination of technologies supported and developed by the HHCW provides great prospects to develop into affordable solutions to provide freshwater to people in regions with limited access to clean water, but with availability of brackish/saline and polluted ground or surface water. As such, our innovations also contribute to addressing slow-onset disasters, such as drought and salinization, by increasing the resilience and self-sufficiency of individual households and farmers in terms of their water and food security.
Our organization strives to make these breakthroughs happen and to make them widely used. See our innovation portfolio for more information about the products we are working on.