The water cycle describes the continuous movement of water on Earth. Water circulates through the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land. Water from the oceans evaporates and condenses into clouds in the atmosphere. Eventually, these clouds become full of water and release some of it as rain. In very cold climates, rain water can also be released as snow and ice. This rainwater is then pooled and collected on land, eventually reaching the oceans again.
Since Earth’s water exists in a cycle, we know there is a finite amount of water available to us. Water is a valuable environmental resource because it is essential for life; up to 60% of the human body is composed of water!
Water shortages happen because not all of Earth’s water is clean enough for humans to consume. For example, most of our planet’s water is held in the ocean, which is too salty to drink. In Sub-Saharan Africa specifically, a significant portion of citizens do not have consistent access to clean drinking water. One of the most promising solutions to this issue is groundwater. When groundwater can be accessed, it provides a clean and reliable source of water, like in a well.
TIPS TO SAVE WATER
Saving water is important and easy to do.
- Take shorter showers and turn off taps when they’re not in use. Fix leaks and drips as soon as possible. This reduces the amount of water wasted.
- Invest in water-efficient household goods such as shower heads and toilets. These products are affordable, and they help you to use less water every day. They are especially helpful in areas experiencing water shortages, like South Africa.
- Use a bucket to collect rainwater. This water can be used for watering plants and cleaning around the house. In countries with high levels of rainfall, like Guinea, rainwater collection can provide large amounts of recycled water.
- Implement a drip irrigation system in your garden or farm. This system of watering plants and crops reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation, reducing the amounts of water used and wasted. Countries such as Burkina Faso with vast pieces of agricultural land benefit the most from this system, because it increases crop yield while also saving water.
If people worldwide work together, these quick, everyday fixes can save millions of gallons of water per year, reducing future water shortages.