Working together with water: effective collaboration protects our most precious resource
Our very existence depends upon taking in sufficient water: it is the main constituent of our bodies, accounting for around 60% of an average adult´s weight. Without water, our organs cannot function – no wonder then that the United Nations recognized access to safe drinking water as a basic human right back in 2010.
It doesn’t end there, of course. Water is also essential for energy and food production - without water, societies, industries and economies would collapse. By 2025 it is expected that half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas. Climate change, population growth and expanding urbanization will exert even more pressures on precious water supplies.
Maintaining the delicate balance of all these competing demands is one of humanity’s most crucial challenges, yet it will be critical if we are to achieve sustainable socio-economic development around the world. Of course it is not only water scarcity, but degradation of water quality that is contributing to the pressure. If we are to avoid a potential global water crisis, we must holistically manage water as the precious resource it is, and work together to tackle one of the planet´s most pressing issues.
Collaboration is key
Dynamic collaboration and eagerness to embrace innovation will be key to achieving the ultimate goal: a thriving circular economy where water is efficiently used and effectively recycled. Public and private sectors will need to work together to plan and manage mutually-beneficial investments in water infrastructure, and to support breakthrough technologies designed to enable total water solutions that can ensure a steady water supply for generations to come.
The issues are most acute – although not limited to - developing countries, where challenges often include the natural scarcity of drinking water, the siltation of river systems, as well as the contamination of wells, rivers and large dams. The statistics are horrifying: an estimated 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to clean water. 2.3 billion lack access to sanitation and 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhea. In addition, millions of women walk miles and spend hours a day collecting water for their families.
Poverty, lack of education, and poor governance certainly present major barriers to addressing such issues: yet all over the globe there are many examples of affordable water filtration and purification solutions which are providing access to safe drinking water, even if it is on a small scale. Decentralized water purification systems are increasingly being used across both municipal and residential sectors to treat water at the point of use, household by household, or at the point of entry, community by community, with many benefits.
Local, decentralized systems do not require the major capital investment needed by large scale, centralized water treatment plants and the associated piping infrastructure that comes with such systems. Additionally, decentralized systems can be carefully designed to efficiently treat available water sources -neither over-treating nor under-treating – with tailored filtration and purification technology that results in removal of specific contaminants and delivers the appropriate water quality required.
Dow Water & Process Solutions - part of DowDuPont™ Specialty Products, a division of DowDuPont™ - is a global leader in sustainable water separation and purification technologies. The business is involved in many water relief and corporate social responsibility programs, providing ultrafiltration (UF), reverse osmosis (RO) and ion exchange resins (IER) for the filtration systems installed to produce safe drinking water.
Ranging from the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children hospital in Kabul to the city of Flint in Michigan, and from Haiti’s second largest hospital to several schools in India, to St. Francis community hospital in Kenya and community water supply in partnership with Regional Water Bureau in Ethiopia, such decentralized systems have offered a lifeline to local communities, producing enough good quality water to help support more sustainable future for generations to come.
Local, decentralized systems represent small steps in a momentous, global journey – yet they show what can be done when creative chemistry, targeted technology and enterprising organizations come together to make a real difference. We already have the ingredients for success – let’s work together to turn those droplets of results into an ocean!
™: DowDuPont™ is a jointly owned trademark of The Dow Chemical Company and E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company.
Join DOW at the 3rd Annual Aid & Development Africa Summit taking place 27-28 February 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.
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