Waldeaux | When Are We Going To Take Global Water Shortage Seriously?

When Are We Going To Take Global Water Shortage Seriously?

Hopefully everyone reading this will be as heartily sick as I am of seeing images of starving children on our TV and computer screens. To see small children with distended stomachs and death in their eyes is one of the most distressing things anyone can see. As a young teen, I can remember feeling distressed at seeing images of children with severe malnutrition as the Biafran War raged between 1967-70 (Nigerian Civil War) and wondering even back then how starvation could be allowed to happen in our modern world.

Nearly 50 years on, and in spite of the Ethiopian famines of the 1980s, further long term famines in Sudan and the horn of Africa and elsewhere, it is still happening. In 2016, South Africa is in its third year of a severe water shortage, significantly affecting food supply across the whole of the southern part of the African continent. Zimbabwe, once regarded as the bread basket of Africa has long been a political basket case. Political instability has further hindered international efforts by governments and charitable organisations to ensure that aid reaches the people who need it most. Water is life.

It is an absolute travesty that in the 21st century clean, safe drinking water is not available in every corner of the world. Sadly water has become commoditized, and companies are making a profit from supplying bottled water, and not all of that is clean and safe, not all regulated. Desalination plants around Africa and the Middle East are not always for the sole benefit of the local populations, frequently being piped or shipped long distances to satisfy industrial and agricultural demand or simply to quench the voracious thirst of growing cities.

A mixture of greed, political corruption and incompetence has been compounding the problems of drought for many decades, and the wars that are now raging through Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya are continuing to deprive populations almost wholly of a human right that we in comfortable Britain take for granted. Only the other night I watched news coverage of dying children in Aleppo, and it seems that as a race we never learn. So when you next pour half a cup of water needlessly into the sink instead of watering a houseplant, emptying it into a bucket for washing down a car or external windowsills, or pouring into a pet’s bowl, please think of the following points:



– World population 7.4 billion

– A third of humankind is without proper sanitation

– 650 million without safe drinking water

– 315,000 under fives die each year due to dirty water & poor sanitation



– Too many children still have to walk miles for water

– Girls spend as many as 6 hours a day collecting water

– Water carrying a priority over education

– Carrying water causes spine and neck injuries

The song Dry The Life was originally constructed around a tune I played on an N’Goni, borrowed from my good friend Steve Stavrinou who was gifted it in Australia by a Ghanaian friend about seven years ago. It seemed appropriate to use that medium to write about something that has been a way of life in many African countries for too long. Rajendra Jadeja who plays tabla on Moorscape, spent the early years of his life in Kenya, where he and his brothers would have to carry water for miles. Children are still carrying water for miles.

But before you think Dry The Life is just about the poorer nations of the world and their difficulty in accessing a regular, safe supply of clean water, consider this: our own Environment Agency stated this year that parts of the South East of England have less available water than Morocco and Tunisia, and California has been suffering drought conditions since 2012. Throughout history, humankind has taken its vital natural resources for granted, and in 2016 does not seem to want to acknowledge that water shortage has reached a critical level. We may not be able to influence the Corporates in the global water industry, but please do your bit to conserve what we have and influence others to do the same – wherever they are in the world.



– 330 million in India affected by drought

– Record drought hitting South Africa’s food supply

– Drought in California since 2012 affecting 40 million

– London is drier than Istanbul




  • kwmcfc64

    20th December 2016 at 7:31 pm

    HI John, I want to thank you for making me much more aware of the global problem concerning water. It is something that i think we all take for granted. I have been listening to the wonderful Dry The Life EP, I love it . Funnily on my Cd player ,the one i took out was Moorscape!
    The quality of both Cd’s is superb , the meaning, musicians, production….these are Cd.s, for me, that have to be played & played……a rare & marvelous thing to come across nowadays.
    Thank You, John!

    • John Waldeaux

      24th January 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Hello Kevin. Water is a human right and where it is plentiful it is both being polluted in some way, whether by fluoride to supposedly keep our teeth healthy or by industrial effluent or whatever, and too often wasted criminally by people who don’t give drought a second thought. One day they may be sorry, but so may we! It was good to see Matt Damon standing up and highlighting the issue at Davos yesterday, with his water.org campaign. Thank you for your kind comments about my CDs. It’s a privilege to be in a position to have made them. And if you are wondering why it took me so long to see your comment, I only found it today – this blogging malarkey needs a bit of practise I think!

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