Water: Not just quality, but availability

Where’s the water?

Water is pretty important to us (okay that maybe
understating it!). Although it makes up 70% of the planet’s surface, only 2.5%
of the earth’s water is freshwater that we need to survive (and most of that is
locked up in the polar ice caps). So making sure we have enough freshwater is a pretty big problem
for many countries around the world – including right here in Peru.
In fact, Peru is one of the three most vulnerable countries in the
world when it comes to freshwater, with its supply largely dependent on
Andean glaciers. South America contains more than 99% of the world’s tropical
glaciers, and Peru is home to 70% of them. But due to climate change, the glaciers are melting fast.
This is an issue that will affect both urban and rural
areas, and means we need to think of smarter and more sustainable ways of using
water. At the moment, 250 litres of water are consumed per person per day in
Lima according to development charity, Progressio – far higher than most other big cities in Latin America.
Back here in Arequipa, water shortages are a big concern,
and I caught up with fellow HOOPster, Christian Collazos, to find out how the
locals feel about the issue. Christian explained that in some areas there are scheduled
water shortages from 10:00 to 13:00, and 17:00 to 20:00. Worryingly, at the
beginning of 2015, the authorities announced that there was only enough water
for 100 days as the local reservoir was close to empty following two
consecutive years of drought. Thankfully this year’s rainy season has been back
in force and we’ve seen plenty of wet days over the past couple of months!

Making Progress

Luckily, there are people working hard all around the world
to think of innovative ways to make agriculture, industry, and the general
public use water more sustainably. There are initiatives to train farmers to
use more efficient irrigation systems, and programs funding innovative new
technologies.
Some people have even called for a partnership between Peru
and Ecuador, which have their rainy seasons at different times, to share water
and help balance out fluctuations through the year. A particularly savvy idea came from the University of
Engineering and Technology of Peru who helped create a billboard that captured air humidity and turned it into drinking water! They believe this
method could be used in other areas of the world where water is scarce.
Having running water is something we take for granted in
wealthy countries. While our HOOP families may not have their own household
water supplies, we work with them to make sure they are aren’t wasteful and
understand the importance of only drinking pre-boiled water to avoid
infections. One of our future goals is to give all our families water filters
so they can make water safe without having to spend money on fuel or bottled
water.
The effort to sustain water is something that everyone
should be part of. We challenge you this World Water Day to only use the
bare necessities!

Words by Oliver Adams

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