World Water Day is held on March 22 each year as a way to bring global attention to the world’s freshwater resources. Started by the United Nations, the theme for this year’s World Water Day is Water and Food Security. Access to clean water is not just necessary for hydration, but is needed to produce for the world’s population. The 2012 World Water Day site notes:
Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres.
In 2005, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) produced a report (Environment and Poverty Times #4) that analyzed the lack of access to safe water. The cartogram below visualizes the lack of access to safe water in terms of the number of people without an improved water source (defined as: “wells or public pipes that provide at least 20 litres per day, accessible within a few minutes walk“). At over 1 billion people, the Middle East and Asia contain the largest amount of people that don’t have access to safe water. 320 million people in Africa also don’t have access to safe water.
Even in areas with 100% access to safe water, the amount of water resources is not evenly distributed. This map that looked at Water resources in Europe in 2006 found that residents proportionally have access to a higher amount of water in Nordic countries while those countries in Western/Central Europe have less access to water.
This 2005 map looks at the growing global water stress projections for 2025. The map looked at the impact of water usage as a result of population growth using UN mid-range population projection.
GIS Water Data
More reports and documents are available from UN Water. The USGS has GIS water data that can be downloaded including spatial data for surface water, ground water, and water quality. The World Resources Institute has downloadable GIS data for Uganda and Kenya that includes information about safe water coverage.