Map Monday: why World Water Day is needed

Human beings can’t live without a certain amount of fresh water. Fresh water is a requirement for life, and therefore it would be hard to imagine anyone disagreeing that access to clean water should be a human right. But, as with all human rights, this is not the case around the world. March 22, World Water Day, was established precisely to bring attention to the many challenges to ensuring access to clean water for all of the planet’s citizens.

From an online CBC article this morning:

About four billion people experience severe water shortages for at least one month a year, and around 1.6 billion — almost a quarter of the world’s population — have problems accessing a clean, safe water supply, according to the United Nations.

While the UN’s sustainable development goals call for water and sanitation for all by 2030, the international organization says scarcity is increasing and more than half the people on Earth will be living in water-stressed regions by 2050.

The UN’s World Water Day, held March 22 every year since 1993, aims to raise awareness about the reality that so many people are living without access to safe water.

Let’s look at some world maps that can provide an overview to some of the many issues around these challenges. [I haven’t included anything about the appalling levels of pollution in many freshwater rivers and lakes.]

[Just click on a map to zoom in on more details.]

Where the renewable fresh water sources are found. Image source:

Water scarcity. Where fresh water is sorely lacking. Image source:

Water Footprint per capita. This would include agriculture and industry as well as personal use.  Image source:

And now for a map in the form of our old friend, the cartogram. Remember the map design that distorts the size of a geographical area to represent the data?! I’ve never seen Europe look so big on a map!

Use of bottled water around the world. Image source:

I needn’t remind you that these are the same bottles that aren’t being properly recycled and end up polluting lakes, rivers, and oceans. 😦

On World Water Day, let’s all do what we can to use water responsibly.

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21 Responses to Map Monday: why World Water Day is needed

  1. bernieLynne says:

    I grew up with a cistern and drinking water that we hauled. My only extravagance to this day is my daily shower, maybe even twice if necessary/desired. We always carry water bottles for drinking and as we live with a water holding tank now we are rarely wasteful. I know that we might be the exception to the norm but if we can each do our part like don’t wash your car if it has10 specks of dirt on it.

  2. Pingback: Map Monday: why World Water Day is needed – CRAVIDO- ENLIGHTING SOLUTIONS

  3. I wish to reblog this. Will you give permission to do that?

  4. Another great post, Jane. Definitely conserving water where I can. Here in BC, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the problem because we get so much rain that I know people who don’t want to live in the province for that reason. But having travelled a bit in my youth, I remember how precious a commodity water is for many. World Water Day got some good press coverage in Canadian stations.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Debra. Yes, we’re spoiled in most parts of Canada with an abundance of fresh water. But we still should both not overuse and especially not pollute. We’re not always so good at that, especially with some industrial and agricultural practices.

  5. Dr. John Persico Jr. says:

    Jane, Great maps. Thanks. This is such an important topic. We need to keep it in the public mind.

  6. kegarland says:

    I hate to be country-centric, but what bothers me the most is that North America looks like it’s in a bit of trouble, but you’d never know it the way we continue to puff out our chest, unnecessarily.

    Anywho, thanks for another set of enlightening maps.

  7. dfolstad58 says:

    I appreciated these maps. Thinking on a monday! I think the more water you have, the more you waste, and some people in my opinion just feel entitled to do whatever they want. Looking at the western half of the USA and their dryness screams “change of behaviours essential”.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know. And some of the things they grow there with great success(almonds, for example) depend on taking an enormous amount of water from the finite-source Colorado River. David, the list of “change of behaviours essential” just keeps on getting longer and longer. Sad and scary.

  8. Europe looks pregnant in that cartogram map! – Marty

  9. A sobering post. But aren’t you and I lucky to be living in areas that have abundant rainfall?

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