According to World Vision, 844 million people lack basic drinking water access. That is more than 1 of every 10 people on the planet.
Women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours hauling water every day and the average woman in rural Africa walks 6 kilometers every day to haul roughly 18 liters of water.
According to the World Health Organization, 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water.
By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas (World Health Organization).
This is important context for understanding a company's annual water withdrawal for production.
The YvesBlue Impact Assessment for Water compares a company's reported annual water use with per capita annual water use in North Africa.
While some companies can be using thousands or even millions of cubic meters of water in production per day (think mining, semiconductors, or paper-pulp manufacturing), the average person in North Africa is using only about 256 cubic meters of water per year according to UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), AQUASTAT.
Data and Operation: company's reported WaterWithdrawalTotal m3 / 256 m3 = number of people's annual water consumption in North Africa
Example: A company's annual water use of 53,328,240 m3 / 256 m3
= annual water consumption for 208, 313 people in North Africa (FAO, 2015)
The Future of Water Scarcity
More than 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress. The situation will likely worsen as populations and the demand for water grows, and as the effects of climate change intensify. (United Nations, 2018)
Water Risk in YvesBlue's Product Development Roadmap: includes place-based analytics in YvesBlue's climate and TCFD coverage.
Industries Trying to do Better:
Semiconductor manufacturing, as well as photovoltaic cell production companies, are working to reduce their water impact with Intel leading the way. Intel has committed to restoring 100% of its water use by 2025.
In general, integrated circuit and PV manufacturers should look to:
optimize ultrapure water (UPW) from municipal feed water or other sources of raw water.
Use reverse osmosis and closed-loop approaches to reduce or even replace UPW in production processes.