Water. Probably the most important resource on our planet. Every living creature on this earth needs water to survive, yet we are so wasteful with it. Shortage of water describes the phenomenon when there are no longer enough water resources to meet the demand for water. As a traveller, what kind of eco friendly travel should we choose?
In fact, “Day Zero” has already been reached in over 17 countries. This describes the point in time when running water is no longer available. The countries with water shortage include many regions in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Israel, Eritrea, Libya, Lebanon, and others. Besides these countries, there are many more water crises in the world.
How shortage of water relates to travel
Among other things, tourism also plays a major role in the ever-worsening water shortage.
In arid areas, such as Morocco, hotels are built in the middle of the desert, adorned by a large pool and a huge garden. No tourist on holiday thinks about the fact that the garden must be constantly watered. But especially in such dry regions this becomes a big problem, because not enough rain falls to cover the water demand in the long run and there is a water shortage. Of course, in our example, Morocco is located by the sea, but large machines to desalinate the sea water are far too expensive for the locals. Here you can see the water crisis in the world as a good example.
Currently, direct, and indirect water consumption in tourism is 138km³. That is 6575 litres per person per day. As there are major growth trends in tourism, travel and transport are expected to become even more water-intensive than they are at present what leads to more water shortage. According to Bread for the World, by 2050, the figure is even expected to double, rising to over 265km³.
The impact on shortage of water
But what can be done to avoid such water-intensive travel and thus shortage of water?
There are countries where consumption is extremely high – such as on the Indonesian island of Bali. Here, 65% of the water is consumed in tourism. Because long pipelines to the hotels are cost-intensive and there is often not enough pressure, wells are built directly at the hotels. Over time, the wells are drilled deeper and deeper, causing the water level to fall and more salt water to enter the groundwater, which in turn contaminates it. Sustainable solutions to the water crisis in the world is expensive.
In the holiday paradise of Goa in India, a 5-star resort uses 1785 litres of water per room per day. This is quite a lot, considering that the average population in the region must live with 14 litres of water per day. The wells of the surrounding population are also increasingly contaminated and dried up due to water shortages.
Be conscious of water consumption on travel
To counteract this problem, water resources should be managed more responsibly, and water consumption should be reduced in general to mitigate the water crisis in the world. This is easier to implement in an industrialised country like Finland or Germany than in an emerging or developing country. Therefore, every holidaymaker should act responsibly and choose destinations in dry or generally water-scarce areas with care. For this purpose, one can also inform oneself in detail about the local conditions on the internet before the trip. Water-intensive leisure activities such as golf should not be offered in countries with water scarcity.
Responsible holidaymakers should use water resources sparingly on site. This includes, among other things, not to give the towel to the laundry every day, but to let it hang out occasionally, that the problem of shortage of water is alleviated.
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