Clean water: more precious and rare than gold

Water is around us: around 70 per cent of the earth’s surface is submerged in water, but 97 per cent is seawater, which makes it difficult for human consumption, crop irrigation nor for industrial resources. Of the remaining freshwater, only one per cent is drinkable. Water is quite scarce, and as precious, if not more, than oil and gold.

Water is becoming a highly expensive commodity for investors, but also for the global population of 6.97 billion people set to soar in coming decades as emerging economies like China and India become superpowers.

Access to clean water is a no-brainer in countries like Britain, but half of all hospital beds in the world are occupied by someone suffering from a water-related illness. Among developing nations 80 per cent of diseases are traced back to unsafe water. 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.

Contaminated water is one of the deadliest disease in the word. During the Second World War, one soldier died every 8 seconds. Today, one human being dies every 6 seconds from drinking contaminated water. More people in the world own cellphones than access to a toilet.

Water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. The UN estimates that by 2025 48 nations with a combined population of 2.8 billion people will be living in regions where water access for basic needs and cooking, is impossible or nearly impossible.

“Water is the most basic and necessary commodity,” observes Summit Global Management, “and it is the only element in the world that has no substitute at any price.”

“One can substitute wheat for oats, coal for natural gas, corn oil for soybean oil and hydro- electricity for fossil-fuel generated power, but… water has no substitute regardless of price, the only element in the world of which this is true: This most fundaments of facts is another key to the inexorable and intractable demand for water that will not abate with time.”

While clean drinking water should be a basic human right, it has been mismanaged. Only 20 percent of the world’s population currently enjoys the benefits of running water while the remaining 80 per cent struggle to find it wherever they can. And as clean water becomes ever more scarce, I would expect more malpractices especially in growing economies where governments will need to service ever growing populations.



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