World Water Crisis Photo Essay

Looking beyond markets, Barbier also points to water and sanitation services that fail to cover the full price of the infrastructure and services.A better pricing scheme would involve two important components, he explains.This will only get worse with climate change and population growth, and as it does it will exacerbate food insecurity and inequality — in both rich and poor nations.

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This World Water Day, 22nd March, is about tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.

Get familiar with the issues – why are people being left behind without safe water and what can be done to reach them?

Don't forget what the people of Flint must do for clean water. Today, the Free Press features my photos and a video I made with Free Press executive video producer Brian Kaufman, to show the hardships residents have endured and the need for solutions.

Many are still using cases of bottled water to cook with, bathe in and drink. When I put the camera down at night, my life is similar to those of the people I have photographed – people who have opened their homes to me so I can tell their stories and remind the rest of the world that their experiences, their lives, matter.

For many people a clean drink of water isn’t a certainty.

Right now an estimated 1.2 billion people live in areas with chronic water scarcity, and upwards of 4 billion — two-thirds of the world’s population — experience shortages at least one month a year.We’ve built our cities, designed our infrastructure, irrigated our farms and driven our energy production assuming water is abundant and easily accessible.But today signs abound that this is no longer the case: Billions of people live in water-scarce regions, hundreds of millions lack access to adequate sanitation, groundwater stress is increasing in our most agriculturally productive areas, and our surface water in many places is often choked with pollution.Barbier takes a hundred pages explaining the gravity of the problem and how we got to where we are today.It’s good information if you’re new to understanding the water crisis.But if there’s a market where you can sell some of it, you’re more likely to use it efficiently and sell what you save.Markets used by the agricultural sector often result in water going from low-value crops to high-value crops.Secondly, and most importantly, according to Barbier, we need to charge users what water’s actually worth instead of perpetually underpricing it.One way to do this is through something called water markets, where the rights to certain amounts of water are sold or leased and move water from lower value to higher value endeavors.He could’ve dug a little deeper into how to avoid potential pitfalls when it comes to environmental concerns: Rivers don’t usually have big checkbooks, and some their “value” isn’t easily quantified.How do we make sure ecological health is protected when markets move water to the highest bidder? The movement of water from agricultural lands to cities (so-called “low-value to high-value” uses) has resulted in the “buy and dry” phenomenon in places like Colorado where agricultural communities are drying up and water transfers are fueling more urban sprawl — creating another set of problems.

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