Skip main navigation


Read how we may need to move from behaviours that take access to water for granted to ensure sustainable water security in the future.
Aerial view from the sea looking toward Cape Town
© Cardiff University

Whilst there are many ways we can reduce our water demands as individuals the challenge is to maintain this over the longer-term.

The installation of water-efficient technologies, such as low flow showers, provide long-term savings. Households that wish to be waterwise may also look to investing in domestic water recycling schemes that reuse water within the house.

Critical to maintaining savings is an appreciation amongst households that water is a scarce resource rather than an abundant commodity.

There are also design solutions at the urban planning level that can aid in reducing water demand. Reductions in the standard plot size (ervan) in Windhoek in Namibia limits the size of gardens to reduce water demand.

In many cities around the world better building design, the use of green infrastructure and a return to traditional design practices are increasing shade and reducing the need for water-thirsty air conditioning.

Nature-based solutions can also play a significant role in promoting water security, through eliminating thirsty invasive species – such as acacia, pine and eucalyptus, or by promoting soil moisture retention and groundwater recharge.

In practice, however, for sustainable water security in the future we may need to move from behaviours that take access to water for granted, to behaviours that recognise the need to conserve water and limit the overall amounts that we extract from the freshwater cycle in particular localities.

Over to you

  • What is the average per capita consumption of water in your country?
  • What factors do you think influence this?

Let us know in the comments.

Websites such as Statista and resources such as the International Water Association Network, can be useful, but you can also use search engines to try and find this information.

© Cardiff University
This article is from the free online

The Challenge of Global Water Security

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education