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The "World Water Actions" report is a participatory initiative conducted by the water community for the water community. By taking an inventory of the thousands of worldwide actions which affect the way water is managed, the report aims to raise awareness of solutions that are available to improve water resources management and anticipate emerging priorities which will serve as guidelines for future efforts.

After giving material for discussion in Stockholm and Johannesburg, the World Water Actions report presents tentative messages regarding what was done and what remains to be done to rise to the challenges facing the water community worldwide.    Read more


A shortage of clean water is one of the most serious challenges facing the world this millennium, according to the United Nations.

People in rich countries use 10 times more water than those in poor countries.

Some argue privatisation is the best way to ensure everyone gets access to clean water, but others argue that water should be provided by the state.

And what happens when more than one country lay claim to the same water? Will nations take up arms over water in the wars of the future?

Do you live in a water-scarce region? How do you think this most precious of resources should be managed? 

Read a selection of  comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinions:

This most precious and basic of resources should be managed by the state

Clive Graham Smale, Laoag City, Philippines

I live in an area which has very definite wet and dry seasons. The monsoons set in from June to September each year. We rely on artesian water which generally lasts all through the dry season during which we see no rain for up to 5 months. Each house has its own deep well but commercially piped water is available. I think that this most precious and basic of resources should be managed by the state, exclusively. It cannot be privatised and left to the voracious private sector for profit.
Clive Graham Smale, Laoag City, Philippines

The majority of countries affected by such shortages are governed by corrupt regimes that can not be trusted to run a bath. Ploughing money into their infrastructure is money down the drain.
Steve Johnson, England

Why should Africa be drought-ridden when it is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian oceans?

Harry Webb, Broadstairs, UK

I live in the South East of England and most of us are well aware of the problem of managing water resources - both flood and drought. Whether or not we can recall it, most of us have been advised at one time or another as to how to conserve water. Unfortunately, Africans in particular do not have our resources. Or do they? Why should Africa be drought-ridden when it is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian oceans? If oil companies can build huge refineries and trans-continental pipelines, then why can't they build huge desalination plants and trans-continental pipelines? Problem solved.
Harry Webb, Broadstairs, UK

There is enough water if it is equally shared. The IMF and the World Bank should give loans or grants for water development projects.
Bagira iwabo, Kigali

How we use water in Massachusetts will make no difference to people in Arizona or India

Peter Nelson, Boston, USA

Kenley Donaldson complains that we don't think of water as "one great whole". That's because it's not. How we use water in Massachusetts will make no difference to people in Arizona or India. Attempts to make suburbanites watering their lawns in developed nations feel guilty because Ethiopians suffer from drought are ludicrous.
Peter Nelson, Boston, USA

I am pretty fed up with having to answer for my way of life just to justify it. I live in a society that is peaceful, pretty well off, and resourceful. Why then am I being quizzed as to the recourses of the Third World? The West has been putting trillions into Africa which was used to enrich those in power and buy weapons. This needs to stop so that the people of the continent can then learn to help themselves!
Russ, UK

When will common sense and a spiritual dimension of life triumph over greed?

Kenley Donaldson, Casa Grande, Arizona, USA

Water is classified with adjectives such as renewable, ground or surface. This disingenuous system supports the concept that this life-giving liquid is not part of one great whole. Underwritten by the greedy developer-government complex, the balance of natural life, farming and family life is fractured. When will common sense and a spiritual dimension of life triumph over greed?
Kenley Donaldson, Casa Grande, Arizona, USA

Here in Bermuda every house has to have its own water tank. Our tank is just over 10,000 gallons. Mind you we get over 65 inches of rain water a year. This is caught on the roofs and stored in the tank below the house. If you run out, a water tanker will deliver 900 gallons for about $60 to $65 US dollars. I know that many countries have little rainfall, but if they had ways of collecting and storing it maybe this would help.
Charles Barnard, St. George's Bermuda

Until recently, we lived outside Halifax, the capitol of Nova Scotia. While we were there, we became very aware of water, its availability and the likelihood of contamination. Most homes outside the border of the city of Halifax drew their water from wells situated on their own property. It was advisable to have your water tested for contaminants, every year. From my experience of living in Australia, California and Canada, I never take clean water for granted.
Pat van der Veer, Merseyside, U.K.

Wasted water is not lost

C. Hunter, Bedford, England

People make far too much of the "water wasting" issue. Wasted water is not lost. After going down your drain, soaking into your lawn, or whatever, it rejoins the eco-system and is recycled naturally. The perceived water shortage problem is caused by the fact that the people who are short of water are not where the eco-system distributes it. That, I fear, comes with living on a planet which has no sense of altruism and doesn't care how thirsty you are.
C. Hunter, Bedford, England

To Robi Neupane from Nepal: I was one of the authors of that report. I am sure that it will be just the first of many, and that they will improve over time. And I hope that, like the first edition, they will all have a strong input from Nepal. Solving the world's water crisis within 12 years needs about 20 billion USD a year - about half of what Americans spend on pet food, or a third of what Europeans spend on ice-cream. And do we know which country spends least on its contributions to international development as a percentage of GDP? It is a big country, often in the news.
Andy Bullock, Ledbury, UK

Will the UN keep water at the top of the development agenda?

Robi Neupane, Kathmandu

The UN system has just produced a World Water Development report. It was claimed that this report is one of the most comprehensive documents on water. As a citizen of one of the poorest countries in the world, I want to know if this publication was a one off, soon-to-be forgotten piece or will the UN produce similar reports in the future and keep water at the top of the development agenda? <
Robi Neupane, Kathmandu

The human race continues to multiply and use up world resources. Although it is water now, it will be something else later. As well as education, we must do something to reduce the world population
Gerry Cuthbert, Lytham St Annes

A great emphasis should be placed on efficient water distribution and usage

Andrew Stamford, Australia

The problem with technological options is that the ecological damage caused by, for example, dam construction is considerable, most notably the three gorges dam in China. And river diversions destroy entire ecosystems, while desalination is not an effective option because of the high energy input required to produce potable water. A great emphasis should be placed on efficient water distribution and usage. The city of Windhoek in Namibia, through necessity, recycles 100% of their waste water with the minimal use of technology.
Andrew Stamford, Australia

I live in a water-scarce island, Taiwan. It's natural land form makes water it hard to collect. When there is not enough rainfall, the government has to re-allocate clean water to ride out the shortage of resources. In my opinion, the solution is to economise on the use of natural resources.
Fan Ju Chun, Taipei, Taiwan

The answer is to fix the local resource problems, not worry about how much water we use here. No-one is going to start shipping UK water to Africa anytime soon. Let's get aid to these countries, but not in cash that can be diverted. Why not just use our money on water and sanitation projects for cities and towns that need them?? No grant and corruption, positive benefits.
John Smith, UK

Can I remind people that water is never actually "used up". Have you never heard of the water cycle? Watering lawns in the U.S. does not cause drought in Africa. Please try to think it through before you blame one country for totally unconnected problems elsewhere.
Ray Gray, London, UK

India will face a huge water crisis, sooner than later, if steps are not taken

V S Narayanan, India

No, we are not doing enough. Instead of pointing fingers, we have to find solutions in each community. India has always had a lopsided situation, in that, if the monsoon is good, then the water situation is good and this lasts until the summer drought sets in. Sri Visveraya, the well known Bangalore architect, has advocated the linking of the rivers in India to combat this. The Indian government is seriously thinking about this but implementation is a long way off. India will face a huge water crisis, sooner than later, if steps are not taken.
V S Narayanan, India

There are technological solutions. Research and development are the answer. Look at Australia, surrounded by water and still dependant on rainfall.
Syd Atkinson, Newcastle, UK

Shock tactics might be the only way

Robyn, Preston, England

Having grown up in drought conditions in South Africa, I was amazed upon arriving in England to see how much waste goes on. Taps are left running unnecessarily to give just one example. I think that people in regions with an abundance of water need to be re-educated. Shock tactics might be the only way.
Robyn, Preston, England

No, we are not. In 1964, despite new reservoirs, Hong Kong's 2 year drought led to water-rationing. Freighters, bringing water, shuttled between Hong Kong and Japan for months, and people had to walk long distances, bucket-in hand to the nearest stand-pipe. Now, we get water (of sewage quality) from China. Southern California is already under pressure, never mind the Middle East.
Dennison E. Kibble, Victoria, Hong Kong

Little attention is paid to the devastation caused in the natural world by excessive water consumption

Edward Krzywdzinski, Australia

A great deal of emphasis is placed on the human aspect of any water resource problem. Yet, little attention is paid to the devastation caused in the natural world by excessive water consumption. Other living things need water to survive, and it is almost obscene to suggest that the human population is above other life. There is very little debate about overpopulation in the developing world and in the West. It is the prime reason for water shortage.
Edward Krzywdzinski, Australia

China labels the Tibetan plateau as the 'water tower', and a number of projects are planned to exploit these water resources such as the south-north water diversion project and the building of dams on upper Mekong for hydropower. But do the poor nomads in Tibet have adequate drinking water? I doubt it. Unless the world realise the threat posed by China to our scarce water resources, nothing will be done.
Tsering, Tibetan

Desalination seems to be the solution

B.A Belal, Amman, Jordan

We in the Middle East, especially in Jordan, suffer from a shortage of clean water. We depend totally on rainfall, and on the water that comes in from other countries by way of assistance. We do not have rivers or enough ground water resources. Desalination seems to be the solution.
B.A Belal, Amman, Jordan

Lack of water in the developing countries is partly a result of the selfish behaviour of the economically "better off" northern countries like the United States. Global warming, for example, leads to higher temperatures which in turn reduces access to water in the countries near the equator. The USA is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, producer of carbon dioxide per capita.
Andrej Repisky, Bratislava, Slovakia

It would cost billions of francs to provide pipe water to every village

Tah Ernest Mbuh, Bamenda, Cameroon

Water supply is still a big problem in most of our rural areas in Cameroon where most people live. In some parts, people don't realise that water is a prime necessity for good health. Some of the rural areas are fortunate to have enough streams and springs, but these in most cases provide unclean water. In others, water is scarce and women or children have to travel long distances to fetch water from rivers, streams or springs. It would cost billions of francs to provide pipe water to every village.
Tah Ernest Mbuh, Bamenda, Cameroon

China is finally doing something about its poor water distribution problem. The new dam will provide flood control and a reliable water source for centuries. The rest of the world should learn from them and the Third World should stop wasting money on corruption and military hardware and start spending it on public works.
Mark, USA

We need to get real about cutting back on our appallingly wasteful use of water

Charli, Australia

The water situation is far more serious than we'd like to admit and will take more than platitudes from a couple of meetings to fix. Firstly, we need to get real about cutting back on our appallingly wasteful use of water. Secondly, we need to educate everyone, not just the kids, about the consequences if we carry on at our current levels of consumption. Thirdly, governments must take more responsibility for the environment. The Murray River fiasco is a perfect example of government reluctance to take action in time.
Charli, Australia         Read more

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