What is the Difference between Water Stress and Water Scarcity?There is so much on the internet about water; about drinking water; about water shortages and about water stress, but what does it all mean to the average man or woman in the street? Most of us are just used to opening a tap and getting fresh drinking water, but not everyone is as fortunate.

Under-developed and developing countries know all about water shortages and water stress, especially countries that do not get much rain. In excess of 1.2 BILLION people across the globe do not have access to clean drinking water and more than one in six people are water-stressed.

Water Stress means that there is insufficient access to fresh water for drinking and other domestic purposes for a specific period of time, which could, in time, lead to a deterioration or even depletion of available water resources. More than 1.1 billion individuals in developing countries are water-stressed; in excess of 700 million of these in 43 countries, including Sub-Saharan Africa, China, and India, are seriously water-stressed.

Water Stress can occur as a result of a number of reasons, including climate change, which can cause depletion of fresh drinking water due to lakes shrinking, glaciers receding, and streams and rivers flowing slower; over-population and inefficient water management.

Water scarcity involves water shortages, water crises, and water stress and occurs when annual water supplies drop below 1,000 cubic metres per person; absolute water scarcity is when there is less than 500 cubic metres per person.

Water scarcity is both a human-made and a natural phenomenon due to uneven distribution of water, wastage, pollution and unsustainable management.

There are basically two kinds of water scarcity; economic water scarcity, which is caused too little or no infrastructure, lack of human capacity, or lack of investment in water. Basically there is water but individuals have to walk far to access it. Physical water scarcity occurs as a result of too little rain, over-committed resources, the decline of groundwater and the degradation of the environment.

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