Water scarcity: A socionatural phenomenon

We all grew up hearing the scary stories about water scarcity. We saw on television documentaries how people in places like Africa had to adapt their entire lifestyle based on saving water for their crops, their animals and even their own survival.

Yes, we have been hearing warnings about the consequences that climate change would bring globally for decades, and today they are already a reality! Drought and the need to ration water are already a fact, and not only there, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, but right here in Chile.

The problem before us is so big that it not only involves the fact that we must use less and less water, it also encompasses economic, political and social spheres. For this reason, organizations such as the UN consider it a Global Challenge, that is, an issue that we must overcome regardless of where our country is on the map. country.

Access to drinking water and sanitation

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Did you know that, as of 2015, only 71% of the world's population had access to safely managed drinking water? That is equivalent to more than 2,000 million people who, according to data from the WHO, use contaminated water and/or that is more than 30 minutes from home!

In our country the situation is not so extreme, however, according to data from the Universidad de Chile, close to one million people did not have access to drinking water in rural areas until 2021. And the problem looks even worse when we add factors such as the drought we are experiencing and the social inequality surrounding access to water.

A few weeks ago the news was released that the per capita water consumption of communes such as Las Condes, Lo Barnechea and La Dehesa was considerably larger than that of communes in the western sector such as Lo Espejo, La Pintana or Maipú. Looking at these statistics, there are plenty of explanations to say that water scarcity is a socionatural and socioeconomic issue in Chile and the world.

Water scarcity worldwide

But we cannot understand the situation that our country is experiencing without first connecting with what is happening on our Earth. Water scarcity is a problem that involves all countries from a human, economic and even gender perspective.

Since always, water sources have been the center of our activities as a civilization. Surely you have heard of the founding of Egypt next to the Nile, of Rome next to Tiber and even of Santiago de Chile next to the Mapocho. Said like this, it is not so rare that a change in the flow of water is a change in our society.

If water resources are essential for our community life, then it is a right for its members! Unfortunately, some take that right as their own and forget that they must share it with others. Thus, what should be delivered equally to all is consumed only by a few, leaving vulnerable those who do not have the power to prevent it.

Effects on diet and health

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This situation shows us the great economic dilemma of water. We are all clear that as the population grows, so do its needs. This is the purpose that justifies large producers (agricultural, ranchers, forestry, etc.) to spend more water, often harming smaller producers or individuals who live nearby.

According to the FAO, in 2019, 70% of the world's water extraction was used in agriculture.It is for this reason that part of the global challenges include reducing food waste (Now do you understand why we at BEENAT constantly mention this topic?) Creating national policies and taking individual actions will encourage us as a society to make the most of every drop used in these processes.

The need to produce food and raw materials is a priority, but so must be the need for consumption and hygiene of the population. Without exaggeration, something as vital as the dignity and health of women is at stake with this issue. The UN Global Water Challenge takes them into special consideration due to their need for access to facilities where they can privately care for their menstruation and pregnancy .

According to the official site of this challenge, more than half of the population does not have a safely managed sanitation service. You can imagine the consequences that this has on the health of women, children and all those who experience this situation on a daily basis.

According to the UN, water pollution and poor access to sanitation are major obstacles to the eradication of extreme poverty and disease. Every year 1.5 million children die as a result of childhood diarrhea caused by drinking unsafe water and poor hygiene. The most terrible thing is that most of them are under 5 years of age!

Water scarcity in Chile

Blog BEENAT - Escasez hídrica un fenómeno socionatural - imagen de laguna Aculeo y PetorcaIn our country, the socioeconomic consequences of droughts and shortages are on a different line. As we already mentioned, many inhabitants of rural areas do not have access to drinking water or the sewage system. Added to that, many must tolerate the reduction of their water sources due to the extraction of it by large agricultural, livestock, forestry and other companies.

As if that were not enough, today we are going through the worst drought on record. Last March 28, the Ministry of Agriculture had to extend the water emergency decree in 231 municipalities. The situation is so urgent that the mayors of 27 communes requested a state of catastrophe in order to receive government aid.

Without going any further, as indicated by President Gabriel Boric, we cannot rule out water rationing in the Metropolitan Region , especially in the eastern sector. Today more than ever we depend on rain and if this year it does not fall enough, our way of using water will have to change.

Why leave for tomorrow what you can do today?: Solutions from home

We already know that drought is a fact, and one way to collaborate (as we always mention) is not to be part of the problem. For this reason we leave you some simple tips that we use in our homes to avoid wasting water Small details, added together, make big changes!

1.- In your bathroom: A large part of the water we use daily literally goes down the toilet. A great alternative for your pond to use less water is to put a 2 or 3 liter bottle inside it. You can fill it with the washing machine. Thus, with each flush you will be saving several liters of water!

2.- In your patio: Many of us use the water from the washing machine to water the plants in our garden. On top of that, you can also prefer synthetic grass. You'd be surprised how much water you'll save by not having to water!

3.- In your kitchen: Food care is essential when it comes to saving water.We already mentioned all the water we use worldwide to produce the food that reaches your table. Let's make sure it doesn't end up in the trash!

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From preventing spoilage to using leftovers from prepared meals, you can do it all with our reusable beeswax wrappers BEENAT ! Helping the planet and ourselves is in our hands, let's start the changes today!