Running Dry: The Humanitarian Impact of the Global Water Crisis

There is some mordant irony that in the last 18 months parts of the world have witnessed colossal damage and loss of life due to the excess of water, at a time when the diminishing stock of freshwater continues to affect millions of people and threaten future crises. Since the tsunami of December 2004 claimed more than a quarter-million lives and caused billions of dollars of damage, excess of water has created other natural disasters, including the 2005 hurricanes in the Caribbean, western Pacific and the United States and flooding from unprecedented rainfall across Europe. Even now, post-earthquake Pakistan is bracing itself for a season of landslides as the monsoon rains loosen and let slip the ruptured mountainsides of the Himalayas. At the same time, millions of people live without access to adequate or clean water, with little hope their situation will improve as the global water-shortage crisis escalates. Droughts caused devastating living conditions in Niger in 2005 and in parts of eight countries in eastern Africa in early 2006, affecting over 13 million people. This report focuses on the most pertinent issues surrounding the water crisis through feature essays dealing with some of the ˜macro' issues and direct field reports from the communities and people most affected by water scarcity and contamination.