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Global Water Crisis: UNICEF

  • 22 Mar 2021
  • 8 min read

Why in News

According to a new report released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in five children worldwide reside in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability.

  • The Report was released ahead of World Water Day (22nd March).

Key Points

  • About the Report :
    • The new report is part of UNICEF’s ‘Water security for all’ initiative that identifies areas where physical water scarcity risks overlap with poor water service levels.
    • The initiative aims to mobilise resources, partnerships, innovation and global response to identified hot spots.
    • UNICEF identified 37 hot-spot countries where children faced especially distressing circumstances in terms of absolute numbers, where global resources, support and urgent action had to be mobilised.
    • Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen were especially vulnerable.
  • Findings:
    • Children in more than 80 countries live in areas with high or extremely high water vulnerability.
    • Eastern and Southern Africa has the highest proportion of children living in such areas, with more than half of children – 58% – facing difficulty accessing sufficient water every day.
    • It is followed by West and Central Africa (31%), South Asia (25%), and the Middle East (23%).
    • More than 155 million children in South Asia lived in areas with high or even extremely high water vulnerability.
  • Water Crisis in India:
    • India has 4% of the world’s freshwater which has to cater to 17% of the world’s population.
    • As per NITI Aayog report released in June 2018, India is facing the worst-ever water crisis in history. Approximately 600 million people or roughly around 45% of the population in India is facing high to severe water stress.
    • The report says that nearly 40% of the population will have absolutely no access to drinking water by 2030 and 6% of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.
  • Causes of Water Crisis in India:
    • The Central Groundwater Board’s estimates show that the groundwater table in most parts of the country has been declining every year because of over-exploitation.
      • If the groundwater continues to decline unabated, meeting the country’s agricultural and drinking water requirements will become a big challenge.
      • 85% of rural water supply, 45% of urban water supply and over 64% of irrigation now rely on groundwater.
    • Due to accumulation of sediments in the water storage area of major and medium irrigation dams that are currently in use, the total storage capacity has fallen significantly.
      • This is clearly underlined in the report ‘Compendium of Silting of Reservoirs in India’, released by the Central Water Commission in 2020.
    • Climate change is causing major changes in rainfall levels.
  • Measures Taken by the Central Government:
    • “Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain” Campaign:
      • The campaign will be implemented during the period 22nd March, 2021 to 30th November, 2021 - the pre-monsoon and monsoon period in the country.
      • The campaign is intended to nudge the State and all stakeholders to create Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable to the climatic conditions and subsoil strata to ensure storage of rainwater.
        • Rains falling in the four/five months of monsoon are the only source of water for most parts of the country.
    • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM):
      • In the Budget 2021-22, Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) has been announced under the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all statutory towns in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal- 6.
      • It complements the Jal Jeevan Mission (Rural) which envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024.
    • Ministry of Jal Shakti:
      • The Government of India established the Ministry of Jal Shakti in 2019 to consolidate interrelated functions pertaining to water management.
      • The Ministry launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan – a campaign for water conservation and water security.
  • Measures Taken by State Governments:
    • Uttar Pradesh – Jakhni Village (water village), Bundelkhand
    • Punjab – Pani Bachao Paise Kamao
    • Madhya Pradesh – Kapil Dhara Yojana
    • Gujarat – Sujalam Sufalam Yojana
    • Telangana – Mission Kakatiya Program
    • Maharashtra – Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan
    • Andhra Pradesh – Neeru Chettu Programme
    • Rajasthan – Mukhya Mantri Jal Swalambhan Abhiyan (MJSA)

World Water Day

  • About:
    • It is observed annually across the globe on 22nd March, with the purpose of highlighting the importance of water, and raising awareness about the water crisis that the world faces.
    • According to the United Nations (UN) website, the main focus of the day is to support the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
  • History:
    • The resolution to observe World Water Day was first adopted by the UN General Assembly on 22nd December 1992.
    • After which 22nd March was declared as World Water Day and is being celebrated around the world since 1993.
  • Theme of World Water Day 2021:
    • “Valuing Water” - To highlight the value of water in our daily lives.
  • A new World Water Development Report is released each year on or near World Water Day, to provide decision-makers with tools to formulate and implement sustainable water policies. This report is coordinated by UNESCO’s World Water Development Programme (WWAP) on behalf of UN-Water.


  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
  • UNICEF was created in 1946 as the International Children’s Emergency Fund (ICEF) by the UN relief Rehabilitation Administration to help children affected by World War II.
  • UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations in 1953.
    • The name was shortened to the United Nations Children’s Fund but it is still referred to as UNICEF.
  • UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.
    • It strives to establish children's rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour towards children.
  • Awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1965 for “promotion of brotherhood among the nations”.
  • Headquarters: New York City.
    • It works in over 190 countries and territories with 7 regional offices.

Source: DTE

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