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Effects of Water Scarcity on People and Ecosystems

Water scarcity has great effects on people and ecosystems. Watch Dr. Glenn Patterson explain more.
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Effects of water scarcity vary from mild and temporary to severe and long lasting. One common effect is to intensify the problems that occur when drought conditions temporarily reduce the flow of rivers. As water from rivers becomes more completely allocated or overallocated, more people become dependent on the variable flows of the river, less water is left over after people’s needs are met, and the frequency with which needs are not met rises. Increasing scarcity means that people on the margins of water availability must spend more time and more effort obtaining water for their families needs.
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This is a task that typically falls to women and girls who, in aggregate, spend about 200 million hours every day trekking to water sources and carrying heavy water vessels back to their homes, according to UNICEF. Another effect of water scarcity on people is increased competition for those limited water resources and hence increased likelihood of conflict, including armed conflict. People are not the only ones harmed when demand outstrips supply. Aquatic species, such as fish and waterfowl, also have needs for water and as flows diminish, they suffer, too. According to National Geographic, more than 20% of the 10,000 known freshwater fish species have become extinct or imperiled in recent decades.
Effects of water scarcity vary from mild and temporary to severe and long-lasting. Increasing scarcity means that people on the margins of water availability must spend more time and more effort obtaining water for their family’s needs.
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Water Scarcity: Crisis and Response

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