unit 3 of our supplemental high school text, It's All Connected
chapter 5 of our middle school text, Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions
weeks 3 and 6 of our Newspapers in Education articles
Drinking water, food, and sanitation are all basic human needs. Food and water security means that people living in an area have a dependable supply in order to survive. Consequences of food and water insecurity and poor sanitation include malnutrition, disease, and death.
A girl suffering from starvation in Nigeria.
There are 884 million people who do not have access to clean drinking water. 468 million of these people live in Asia, and 328 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa.1 Furthermore, to get water, more than 1 billion people make a 3-hour journey on foot just to collect it.
A young girl from Afghanistan gets water from a new hand-pumped well. Before the installation of the well, she and the rest of her family and neighbors got water from a nearby stream that was covered with a green film, with thousands of white worms living below the surface.
To learn more facts about drinking water, see Safe Drinking Water is Essential.
Food: With over 6 billion people on the planet, one in six of those people is hungry. See the chart below to find out which regions of the world have the largest numbers of undernourished people.
Undernourishment in 2010, by region (millions)
Check out the map below, from the World Food Programme, to see how people all over the world are affected by hunger.
Food and water insecurity exist because of natural and human-made factors. Natural factors include the amount of rainfall and natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and volcano eruptions. Man-made factors include government decisions about supporting agriculture, the amount of money spent on infrastructure to support agriculture and food distribution, and the increase in biofuel production.2 For example, using grains to make biofuel decreases the supply of grains available for human consumption and also increases the price of these grains. In South Asia, an additional 32.5 million people will fall into extreme poverty because of the higher food prices due to biofuels.3
All of this is important because lives are at stake, and also because in the future water will be a major source of conflict between regions and countries. Water supplies are often shared between countries, making it difficult to manage ownership and usage. In the years 2000-2008, 54 separate conflicts occurred around the globe, due in some part to water.4
1 http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp_report_7_10_lores.pdf, page 30
IW3P/IB/2009/03/30/000158349_20090330112537/Rendered/PDF/WPS4887.pdf page 20
week 6 of our Newspapers in Education articles
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