WORLD

This Is What The Global Water Crisis Looks Like

More than 800 million people live without access to a safe water supply.

16/08/2017 3:46 PM AEST | Updated 16/08/2017 3:46 PM AEST

The world is currently experiencing a water crisis, where nearly 800 million people live without safe water and a further 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation. The social, health and economic impacts of numbers as large as these affect entire communities all over the globe.

Mustafah Abdulaziz illustrates this in a photo series called 'Water Stories', where he's worked since 2011 to take photos that highlight the effects lack of water can have on people and environments. The images, taken in Brazil, China, India, Pakistan and Nigeria, highlight the challenges that humans face, as we all work towards achieving coexistence with the environment around us.

Abdualaziz said in a statement, "Water is one of the great challenges of our time. Across the planet we are seeing our fundamental relationship with water called into question... Our future depends on our understanding; water hangs in the balance."

Here are some of the images in the series.

NIGERIA

Nigeria has both the highest population and the largest economy in Africa. Of its 192 million people, around 60 million live without safe access to water and over 100 million without adequate sanitation. This contributes significantly to the poverty cycle, as isolated communities in regional areas are unable to access state-run assistance facilitated from the larger centres and capital cities.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
The water pump in Osukputu, Benue, Nigeria -- women and children gather at a hand pump which serves the community of 800 people with clean, safe water.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
During the Hamattan, a relatively cold season characterised by dry winds and clouds of dust, the Benue River becomes almost completely dry.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Sarah Mikor, 35, and her family are farmers, and she also has a side business, making homemade beer, which she sells for a small profit.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
WaterAid has worked in Osukputu since 2013 to improve access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Reports show that children are no longer falling sick from water related diseases and school enrolment has increased.

PAKISTAN

The unstable political situation in Pakistan and the growing urbanisation of the country has prevented over 16 million of the nation's people accessing water. People who live in the Thar Desert for example, live a semi-nomadic lifestyle where they migrate every three years in search of a fresh water supply. Women also have a major role in collecting water for their families and communities on a daily basis.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Women pull water from a well in the Thar Desert, where temperatures hover between 48°C and 50°C on summer days.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Children pause during their journey to collect water, huddling together against the wind in southern Sindh. Floods gripped the country in 2010 and 2011, leaving behind only barren land. Agriculture in the region was devastated.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Without access to a clean water supply, people often resort to open sources for all their basic needs such as drinking and washing. Women and children are seen here bathing in an open steam, but this water is always a health risk; in many cases, it proves deadly.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
By the end of 2013, WaterAid and local partners had overseen the construction of hand pumps and toilets in communities in Thatta, and several large-scale and small-scale rainwater harvesting ponds in Tharparkar.

BRAZIL

Brazil holds 12 percent of the world's fresh water and it's home to the world's largest river,the Amazon. Brazil has always been a country that has a vast amount of water resources, but, is now experiencing serious drought. Due to the country's bad resource management, Brazil now has enforced water rations.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
São Paulo suffered two of the driest seasons on record, back-to-back in 2014 and 2015, leaving the five reservoirs in the Cantareira system, which supply the majority of the city's water, just 12% full.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
The results of badly planned and poorly managed development, combined with unsustainable farming practices are clearly visible across the vast landscape of Matto Grosso State. To minimise the impacts on vital water resources, WWF is working with local authorities, businesses and communities to combine sustainable economic activity with environmental protection.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
The river is central to life in Cáceres, and Claudio and his family visit regularly to swim and play. But a few miles away, the main sewage pipe pumps directly into the water, depleting fish stocks and impacting livelihoods of local fishermen. Cáceres treats only 10% of its sewage - 30% is below the national average.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Agriculture is expanding rapidly in Brazil. In the state of Mato Grosso, home to the Pantal wetland and its headwaters, vast areas of forest have been cleared. Vital vegetation has been removed around water sources to make way for cattle farming and staple crops for export such as soy and sugar cane

CHINA

China's industry is rapidly expanding, and as it does, extra pressure will be put on the country's natural environment as well as the environments of other countries. The Yangtze River basin, which supports a third of China's population and half of their wild animals, fish and plants is a prime example of how measures of sustainability need to be implemented in the country to ensure the natural environment, the animals and humans that exist within it are protected.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Hydropower projects have had a huge impacts on the Yangtze river. The Three Gorges dam, which stands 185 metres high and 3,035metres wide, was designed to control floods, generate power and aid navigation, but has upset the natural flow of the river.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Although poems and stories about Lake Hong's purity are enshrined in Chinese cultural history, it has been damaged by unsustainable fishing practices. Over the past 14 years, WWF, its partners, local communities and government have helped to restore the lake, demonstrating how sustainable fishing methods can result in health fish, reduced pollution and clean water.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Large ships dominate the landscape of China's second-largest freshwater lake. The ships are used to transport sand and other industrial goods such as fertiliser.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Wang's whole family has lived on boats on Lake Hong for generations. Since work began to restore the lake wetland reserve in 2002, Wang and his family have seen it transformed from being dirty and polluted through unsustainable fishing practices to the cleaner lake it is today.

INDIA
India has a population of 1.3 billion people and more than 300 million of these are living in poverty. While India has met the United Nations' 2015 Millennium Development Goal to halve the amount of people who live without safe drinking water, a massive 76 million still don't have access to a safe and regular water supply.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Polluted water flows through an irrigation channel used to feed the crops in the agricultural belt surrounding Kanpur's industrial heartland.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
In Goswami Nagar slum, the main occupation is trading old garments. Before WaterAid started work here, there was solid human waste and waste-water everywhere. A lack of toilets caused the whole community to practice open defecation, and all four hand pumps were contaminated.

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
Water from the nearby sewage works, polluted with chemicals from tanneries, glue factories and poorly treated human waste, flows through Jana village on the banks of the Ganges

Mustafah Abdulaziz/ WWF - UK
The Rakhi Mandi slum is located on a landfill site next to a busy railway line. Residents of informal settlements like this often lack the legal right to build permanent structures such as toilets, even if they have the means and ability to do so.

Abdulaziz plans to work on the 'Water Stories' project for the next 15 years to demonstrate the dynamic challenges and changes water can have on our globe.

A selection of Abdulaziz's images will be on display at the Royal Botanical Garden in Sydney between August 15 and September 5. The exhibition will then move to Brisbane from September 14 to September 26.

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