Water scarcity in the world

Water scarcity in the world and how we can make ourselves resilient are our themes for today.

What impact is the drought having on your home? Are you no longer able to enjoy a decent shower, and is the profitability of your business and future growth being affected?

Is it disillusioning investor and stakeholder confidence?

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 8th April, 2021.

Reservoir gardening are increasingly important in a water-scarce world.

Water scarcity in the world is a serious problem, but how is it impacting you in your own home? Are you reluctant to wash your hands regularly and becoming worried about being affected by other people's bugs, or passing on your own, for that matter?

It is a disease issue too; you are more vulnerable to being infected by the nasty viruses doing the rounds, for example.

There are many businesses in agriculture, food processing and manufacturing that are utterly dependent on water. Scarcity is having a huge impact on these organisations.

With demand exceeding supply there has to be a change in our thinking before we run out, as was about to happen in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2018; can you imagine a city of 4 million people with no water when they turned the taps on, nothing to shower in and unable to flush the toilet? It came very close.

How do we make our homes and businesses more resilient in these times of water scarcity? What is your opinion on the bath vs shower debate?

Water scarcity in the world

Water scarcity in the world is seriously threatening many major cities and countries but we can make ourselves largely immune to the problem by building an inexpensive underground reservoir.

Right now in 2021 there is a mighty rattling of sabres in North Africa over who has the rights to the Nile water that comes from the Ethiopian highlands. The Grand Renaissance Dam is threatening the water supply to both Egypt and the Sudan.

"There is no need to enter into an unnecessary war. It can't start because of water."

- Ethiopia's water minister, Seleshi Bekele

This is a growing problem in North Africa that can only escalate, and in the subcontinent too, reinforcing that water scarcity in the world will only worsen, but there's plenty of rain falling on most of our rooves, if we were only to harvest and store it.

Becoming resilient in the face of these serious shortages is our theme-tune.

That unsightly brick structure, when complete, is nestled largely underground. A plentiful supply of water is an essential part of any backyard permaculture garden.

This is my water innovation. What is yours?

This complete rainwater reservoir is our solution to water scarcity.

Other cities

There are many reports in the press confirming that other major cities like Los Angeles, Mexico City and Brisbane, for example, have likewise been affected. The theme is always the same; drought, leaking infrastructure and destruction of the environment.

The rise of carbon in the atmosphere to above 400ppm for the first time in three million years has turned planet Earth into a monumental greenhouse with soaring temperatures and catastrophic climate change.

There is absolutely nothing that the individual can do about such matters.

According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation every year 43 trillion cubic metres of renewable freshwater circulates above and below ground; over 16,000 litres per person. That is more than enough. But how do you and I get our fair share?

Harvesting rainwater

But there is another thing we can do, and it is profound; we can harvest the rain that falls on our roofs in our response as individuals to water scarcity in the world; what is more it is free. The real cost comes in storing it, but that is not astronomical.  

The total water on the planet has not changed; but it is the way in which it is being distributed around the world, and the manner of that delivery that has altered dramatically.

Rain falls on the roofs of the rich and poor alike, in India, Brazil and Australia; and the rest of the world. Certainly it is more haphazard latterly, alternating between floods and droughts. Virtually all of it is lost, soaking away into the ground or ending up in storm-water drains, and causing damage.

About one eighth of the rainwater reaches large storage dams; the rest is lost.

That makes the use of even large above-ground tanks made of plastic, or better still fibreglass which lasts indefinitely, totally inadequate.

Collecting the rainwater is not intrinsically difficult. Gutters and down-pipes directing it to underground conduits is really very straightforward, and most of the infrastructure already exists.

What is needed is a totally new way of thinking about how to store that water safely, in large quantities on our own properties. Then there is no leaking infrastructure to concern us, a great reduction of flooding and it is certainly as clean or better than that which the utilities are currently supplying us with. In many areas, like Cape Town where the rain comes directly in from the ocean, with little pollutants, it is pristine.


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, your family and friends, and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books!

Here are the back issues.

  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

I foresee in the future that water is going to be directed in the main to industry and agriculture, so that our people have food on the table, and work. And the price to individual homes is going to rise dramatically, forcing us to become more resilient in the face of these challenges.

The onus is shifting from the state and utilities providing all, to we ourselves having to harvest the sunshine and rain that falls free of charge on our own roofs, courtesy of the heavens.

The cost in the face of water scarcity in the world to us as individual home owners is surprising low; with a payback time of less than ten years, and an unlimited volume to shower, flush our toilets, drink and irrigate our gardens, why are the experts so reluctant to give private reservoirs the green light?

Part of the reason is that local government in large measure finances its programmes through water and electricity tariffs. New funding for municipalities may have to be sought before they will come to the party.

Water scarcity in the world is not going to improve; if anything, the situation will worsen, and probably quite quickly. If national and local governments are tardy in stepping forward to encourage residents to harvest and store their own rainfall, then we go it alone.

The United-Nations stated in 2015 that there is in fact enough fresh water to meet the world's growing needs; but in the future not without dramatically changing the way it is used, managed and shared.

The global water crisis is one of governance, they said.

But can we rely on government to do that, or should we be making our own provision for the future?

This is our rainwater harvesting model. We use the municipal supply very occasionally; twice for a month each time in eight years at the height of two droughts. And during the annual clean-out of the reservoir for a few days only until the next storm.

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Hilton, KZN

South Africa