If you live in a developed country where clean water is readily available, your biggest concern might be finding the best rates or preventing leaks and burst pipes on your premises. For billions of people, however, water scarcity and reliable filtration has a major impact on the overall cost of accessing clean water. As a result, a significant proportion of the global population has limited access to safe water.
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When calculating the cost of water, it’s important to remember that there are multiple variables to consider. The cost of bottled water may be inflated if it’s sold via private companies, for example. Similarly, the cost of water for irrigation can be cheaper than water that has been filtered for human consumption.
What Do People Spend on Water?
The cost of water varies from one country to another. Indeed, there may be a significant variation in the price of water from one region to another. Similarly, average earnings are different around the world, which means that the actual price of water must be compared in relation to an individual’s earnings.
In the UK, for example, a minimum wage earner will spend less than 0.1% of their earnings on water. In contrast, workers in Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Madagascar face water prices that equate to 54%, 108% and 45% of their daily income, respectively.
In broad terms, water is most affordable in developed nations, such as Northern America, the UK, Europe and Australia. In many African countries, parts of South America and parts of Asia, however, the price of water remains ‘expensive’ or ‘very expensive’.
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What Impact Do Water Prices Have?
High water prices prevent millions of people from accessing safe water on a regular basis. As a result, illnesses such as typhoid or cholera remain active in areas where people are forced to use unfiltered water for basic sanitation. As well as causing millions, if not billions, of deaths per year, the global water crisis also has an impact on agriculture, the survival of animal species and even the number of conflicts taking place.
Another by-product of water scarcity is economic decline. When individuals cannot access fresh water, they can’t farm, start businesses or produce goods, for example. While entrepreneurs in developed countries can compare business water suppliers to get the best rates, aspiring business owners in developing nations have a far tougher task to contend with.
Solving the Global Water Crisis
Although billions of people remain unable to access sufficient clean water, solving the global water crisis isn’t as complicated as people tend to think. In fact, research suggests that the crisis could be resolved relatively swiftly if just 1% of the GDP was allocated towards it. Of course, the subsequent human and financial gains that would flow from adequate water availability make this a viable investment.
While charities continue to work towards ensuring the global population have access to the water they need, additional action is required to bring the global water crisis to an end. By bringing about these changes, we’ll see a safer, fairer and more abundant world for everyone.