Water scarcity. A global crisis.

4.3 billion people face moderate to severe water scarcity at least one month of the year.

4.3 billion people face moderate to severe water scarcity problems for at least one month of the year.

World water crisis, an overview:

  • In many regions, wells are running dry
  • Often, the water table has been polluted so water is no longer potable
  • 5 billion people face water scarcity problems at least one month per year
  • Less than 3% of the world’s water is fresh
  • North Africa, the Middle East, India, Mexico, large portions of South America, and many islands face the greatest water challenges
  • As world population continues to grow, millions more under water stress

Water scarcity multiplies risk, raising the chances of civil conflict following periods of drought, amongst other problems. The 2016 World Economic Forum’s Report warns that “failure to address climate change and water crises” could also trigger large-scale migrations.1

Lower income countries are most vulnerable as they lack good governance and do not have the resources to invest in water infrastructure.

With nearly 78% of the world’s poor living in rural areas, they are the first and hardest hit by water scarcity, suffering significant income losses. These losses prevent rural families from investing in their children. For example, “Children in Vietnam who experienced these shocks were shown to have delayed school entry, slowed progress in school, and lower height than their peers that did not experience this shock.”2

Children in rural India and Mexico were similarly harmed due to water scarcity.2 Increased water scarcity also spreads disease because of exposure to contaminated water and less water for hygiene.3 There are longer term effects as well, including causing nutritional deficits in young children which can permanently affect their learning capabilities.

Our existing water solutions are facing problems.

Wells are running dry as aquifers are being drawn down faster than they are being replenished. In other cases, the water table has been polluted and well water is no longer safe.

Harvesting rainwater is usually supplemental. Many parts of the world experience long dry seasons with little or no rain. Shifting weather patterns make it unreliable.

Desalination at scale has been a technical challenge. Traditional technology is only feasible in large, expensive installations suitable for feeding municipal water systems.

Treating contaminated water has also been a technical challenge at scale. There are numerous technologies for extracting water from humidity. However, most have only been able to achieve this on a personal or household level.

How much water does one person need?

At a subsistence level, some people have access to only 5 liters of water per day for all of their cooking, drinking, and sanitation needs.

The World Health Organization specifies 50 liters per person per day as the recommended ‘intermediate’ quantity needed to maintain health, hygiene, and for all domestic uses.6

By comparison, the average American uses 300 to 375 liters per day. Of that, 26% of indoor water is used for flushing toilets, 22% for laundry, and 19% for showering and bathing.7

Sub-Saharan African women spend 16 million
hours a day collecting drinking water.

And you think your workdays are long.

Sub-Saharan African women spend 16 million hours a day collecting drinking water.

And you think your workdays are long.

Water first. Nothing is second.

With fresh water, we grow our crops, cook our food, and nourish our bodies. Without it, we can’t survive. Even as we explore space, the first question about any planet is whether there is a presence of water.

Here on earth, many of us take water for granted. Turn on the tap, and there it is, ready to drink, cook, bathe, do the laundry, or water the lawn.

Yet there are too many places where it’s not nearly so simple. Places where it takes hours to bring home a precious jug of water from a well, where water is contaminated, and often the carrier of deadly diseases.

At Rainmaker, our purpose is to serve communities in need anywhere in the world, so that nobody goes thirsty.

Precious and limited supply.

If you research the world’s water supply, you soon come across these statistics:

  • Less than 3% of the world’s water is fresh – the rest is seawater and undrinkable in its current state.8
  • Of this 3% over 2.5% is frozen, locked up in Antarctica, the Arctic, and glaciers.8
  • People and animals rely on 0.5% of the world’s water for all of our needs.8

Uneven distribution of water resources.

Across the world, fresh water is unevenly distributed.

Most of North America, Europe, Brazil, and even parts of Africa, currently have more than enough renewable fresh water.

Other regions are desperately under-served, including North Africa, the Middle East, India, Mexico, large portions of South America, and many islands.

There are vast regions looking for solutions that will deliver potable water where it’s needed.

Freshwater availability in different regions.9

Growing populations and climate change add to global water crisis.

The world’s population is growing. Currently it’s approximately 7.5 billion, that’s projected to become 8 billion by 2023, and 9 billion by 2038. Much of this new growth will come in regions that are water stressed, specifically African countries, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Mexico.10

Currently, India’s population is growing by over 15.5 million people per year.10 Today, 7 of 10 of the fastest growing countries by percentage are in Africa.11

As the global water supply remains fixed, consumption needs increase.12


1. World Economic Forum “The Global Risks Report 2016”
2: Governance Now, “Thirsty world stares at limp economy”
3: World Health Organization, “Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene”
4: Zurich Risk Room, “Water scarcity: a growing risk to global sociopolitical stability”
5: WaterAid, “Water: At What Cost? The State of the World’s Water 2016”
6: World Health Organization, “Domestic water quantity, service level and health”

7: USGS “How much water does the average person use at home per day?”
8: Unwater.org “Facts and Trends: Water”
9: Citi GPS, “Solutions for the Global Water Crisis”
10: Worldometers, “China Population LIVE”.
11: WorldAtlas.com. “Population Growth By Country.”
12: OECD Publishing, “OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030”