Water scarcity is a growing global problem. Half a billion people already experience year-round water scarcity. It is expected that over half of the world’s population, more than 4 billion people, will experience water scarcity for at least one month per year by 2025. This could lead to serious consequences, including food insecurity, economic disruption, and social conflict.
Water scarcity is caused by a combination of factors: Population growth, growing demand for industrial processes and agriculture (agriculture now accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawals); the climate crisis leading to drought, extreme weather events and changes to rainfall patterns; Poor water management such as inefficient irrigation practices, inadequate storage and distribution; Environmental degradation such as deforestation, overgrazing and other activities that alter the landscape and disrupt the natural water cycle; Pollution leading to contaminated water sources that make water unsafe to drink or use.
Engineering infrastructure and technology is fundamental to human access to clean drinking water; from collecting, cleaning and treating; to safely distributing, dealing with wastewater, and protecting natural resources from contamination, the engineering involved in getting water from source to tap has the potential to deliver better quality water, more efficiently, more affordably, more equitably and more sustainably than ever before.
How can clean water – a resource we cannot live without – be provided in a future where it’s more scarce and at higher risk of pollution?
Make sure your design is consistent with the theme of World Engineering Day 2023: Engineering innovation for a more resilient world.
This challenge have been produced by Engineers Without Borders International
This challenge primarily supports the achievement of UN SDG 6
It is estimated that even with current rates of progress, 2 billion people will still lack access to safely managed drinking water in 2030. Achieving the target of access for all would save 829,000 people annually. This is the number of people who die from diseases directly attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices. Although there is alleged to be enough freshwater globally to meet all our water demands, geography and climate means that water availability is variable around the world, putting some populations at risk of water scarcity.
The issue of water scarcity affects both populations all over the world.
Over two billion people live in countries where water supply is inadequate. Some 700 million people could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030. By 2040, roughly 1 in 4 children worldwide will be living in areas of extremely high water stress. It is projected that 685 million people living in over 570 cities are projected to see their fresh water availability drop by at least 10% by 2050, with some cities such as Amman, Melbourne and Cape Town projected to experience drops of 30-49%, and Santiago more than 50%. The city of Cape Town in South Africa experienced the reality of this in 2017-18 due to a prolonged drought and increased demand for water.
It is also an issue that disproportionately affects those experiencing poverty. According to the United Nations, low-income residents can pay up to 50 times more for a litre of water than their wealthier neighbours, and prices often increase as water becomes scarcer.
The climate crisis is exacerbating the issue. It is not only changing rainfall patterns, affecting groundwater recharge rates and increasing the risk of drought, but increased flooding and storms damage water infrastructure, and affect water quality at source – polluting it with nutrients, pathogens and sediment from runoff.
In addition, cross-border cooperative arrangements to manage water where rivers / water sources cross national boundaries are only in place in a small number of countries, and over the past 300 years, over 85 per cent of the planet’s wetlands – important natural flood protection systems – have been lost, mainly through drainage and land conversion, with many remaining wetland areas degraded.
Submissions are due by January 22nd 2023 (midnight CET)
You and your team will need to:
Create an entry and complete the submission form
Upload your 5-min video submission
This guideline has been designed to support the development of an engineering solution that demonstrates a considered response to one of the engineering challenges and also how one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are advanced through engineering.
The success of an engineering project depends on much more than just the technical feasibility of the initial concept but also consideration of human factors, environmental context, cost and economic benefits, etc., are very important to the successful implementation of any innovative and ‘technically-sound’ idea.
Below are a series of considerations we recommend you factor into your solution to ensure it is appropriate to the context where it is to be implemented. You might ask yourself these questions a few times throughout the development process – it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers right away! How can you build on your original idea, to improve it each time?
Most effective technical solution for the context
Environmental sustainability outcomes
Engagement of key stakeholders
Are there any ethical considerations – such as adverse impacts to the environment, economy, social inclusion, culture, community, resource use, that warrant consideration?
How has your team utilised digital tools, for example to develop models of your proposed solution as part of the solution. Also how the team has utilised ICT in the process of putting forward your submission.
Cost estimates and economic and non-economic benefits
Based on the International Engineering Alliance Global Graduate Attribute and Professional Competencies Profiles.
Considering the proposal presented to you, evaluate whether the submission demonstrates the following engineering competencies.
Graduate Attributes that are addressed in the solution, referencing the International Engineering Alliance Graduate Attribute and Professional Competency (GAPC) Framework
Maximum Score per Category 4
Score: 0 – Not Addressed
Score: 1 – Limited attempt to address
Score: 2 – Some success in addressing the various elements
Score: 3 – Good attempt to address the element
Score: 4 – Addressed very effectively