March 22 marks the annual UN World Water Day, highlighting the importance of freshwater for over 2 billion people without access to safe water and urging action to tackle the global water crisis. This year’s theme is water and climate change (worldwaterday.org)—how effective management of our global water use can mitigate the impacts of climate change for all. 

At DT Global, we recognize that water underpins nearly every aspect of development, driving economic growth through agriculture and industry, supporting healthy ecosystems, and enabling health systems to treat and reduce disease. In light of the global impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), water, and its role in warding off disease (e.g., through handwashing with soap), has never been more important! Yet climate change is dramatically impacting the availability of water resources, for all uses. While the world focuses its efforts on increased hygiene, which requires both more water and a more efficient use of water, we acknowledge that not everyone has enough. And that populations with less access to water and sanitation are the most vulnerable.

Water scarcity already affects four out of ten people. By 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year, creating unprecedented competition for water.In India, more than 330 million people are affected by drought (that is the size of the entire US population). In 2018, Cape Town, South Africa narrowly avoided Day Zero (the day when water supplies would run out). Cities around the world, including megacities (10 million inhabitants and up) are confronted with water scarce futures. 

Fighting Water Scarcity—Can We Make a Difference? 

How do we combat water scarcity? When we set about to answer this question for World Water Day 2020, we uncovered several surprises:

  1. Less than 1 percent of the Earth's water is fit for consumption.
  2. Agriculture (i.e., the food you ate for dinner last night) consumes over 70% of the world’s freshwater.
  3. Producing one cotton t-shirt requires 2,700 liters (713 gallons) of water.
  4. According to the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security, by 2030 humanity’s “annual global water requirements” will exceed “current sustainable water supplies” by 40%.[1]
  5. For decades the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States, one of the world’s largest aquifers, has tapped at rates thousands of times greater than it is being restored. At present consumption rates, the aquifer will run dry in 15-50 years. Moreover, it would take 6,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.

Next, we asked ourselves how much water we each consume.

On this World Water Day, DT Global understands that awareness of water scarcity in our daily lives is critical, especially in times that call on us to simultaneously use more (WASH YOUR HANDS! WASH YOUR HANDS! WASH YOUR HANDS!) and use less (recycle! conserve! preserve!).

In an effort to increase awareness of water usage, DT Global is launching a 20-liter challenge for our staff and friends: On March 22, World Water Day 2020, we challenge our staff and friends throughout the global community to use a combined 20-liters of water for: basic sanitation, personal hygiene (excluding hand washing, a critical practice in avoiding COVID-19!), food hygiene, dishwashing, and drinking. We’ve compiled guidance, below, on how much water we typically use for sanitation, food and personal hygiene, dishwashing, and drinking—and tips on how to save water. As a bonus bathing challenge, we invite you to limit your consumption of water for bathing to 20-liters for the day. 

Water is a global resource and a fundamental building block of health and economic growth—even more so with the increasing impact of climate change. But it’s a resource that not everyone has equal access to. Reducing our collective use of water is a global imperative—and everyone has a role to play. 

Follow the challenge on LinkedIn and Twitter, as we’ll post guidance and tips throughout this week! The challenge itself begins and ends on March 22, 2020. Join us!

#WeAreDTGlobal, #WorldWaterDay, #WWD2020, #20literchallenge, and #ActNow


[1] https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Special%20Report_ICA%20Global%20Water%20Security.pdf