The Human Impact

Mobile technology boosts water security for the poor

 

Information technology is a powerful tool for experts working to provide secure access to water for personal use, food production and business in developing nations.

Giving poor people proper access to safe water and sanitation would save  2.5 million people a year from dying from diarrhoea and other diseases spread by a lack of hygiene, according to charity WaterAid.

The widespread availability of mobile phones has enabled the development of low-cost solutions aimed at improving water security and reducing poverty.

Three quarters of the world’s 7 billion people have access to a mobile phone, according to a World Bank report. There are 6 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, of which almost 5 billion are in developing countries.

This is where mobile networks come in — they have led to the development of communication services that aim to increase the transparency and reliability of water delivery.  For example, mobile technology has allowed service providers to monitor water supply to prevent theft and leakages, while offering more effective repairs and billing.

Climate change is wild card in water security – SEI analysts

** This post is part of AlertNet’s special report on water: The Battle for Water

We can think creatively about water management, but unknown large global threats could cause a fundamental reorganisation of life on Earth, according to a water expert with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

“A doomsday scenario would be that if the Greenland ice sheet melts, and then there’s six metres of sea-level rise — all bets are off,” said David Purkey,  a senior scientist who heads SEI’s Northern California office. “I think we’ve got bigger problems than water scarcity at that moment.”

Rain, rain everywhere and not a drop to drink

NAIROBI (AlertNet) – It’s bucketing down outside, washing away houses and people and causing total gridlock in the city’s evening rush hour.

And when you finally make it home and switch on your tap, it’s dry.

It’s infuriating.

In Nairobi, private water vendors do a booming business, selling water in 20-litre jerrycans to the poor and in 4,000-litre tankers to the rich.

City residents are the lucky ones. In rural areas, women and children walk for hours to collect water from streams and wells.

New water policies are key to tackling scarcity – SIWI analysts

Reining in “water anarchy” due to inadequate regulation is one way to avoid the threat of water scarcity and secure resources for the future, according to a water expert at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

Hakan Tropp, director of the United Nations Development Programme water governance facility at SIWI, told AlertNet in an interview that governments should respond to consumer trends in developing countries by instituting new water management policies to avoid future shortfalls.

In a separate interview, Ana Cascao, a programme manager with SIWI who specialises in hydropolitics, said that managing controversy between countries while putting in place a proper balance of water and energy use will help protect water resources from political risks.

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