GEOGRAPHY IGCSE: WATER. It contains: the demand for water, water management, case studies: UK, NIGERIA, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA. Water for agriculture, industrial use, domestic water use, management of water usage in MDEC and LEDC.
THE DEMAND FOR WATER.
CASE STUDIES: UK, NIGERIA,
The amount of water used in the world every day is very
MEDCs use more water than LEDCs - households, farming and
industry all demand water.
What the water is used for depends on the country.
In general, LEDCs (like Bangladesh and Malawi) will have most of
their water used in agriculture (farming) and little in industry or
domestic use. Bangladesh has farming as a large part of its
economy so a large percentage of their water is used for that
MEDCs (like the UK) have a more significant use of water for
domestic reasons. MEDCs also tend to have a higher percentage
for industrial use.
There are exceptions. The USA is an MEDC, but it still has a high
amount of water used for agriculture because there is also lot of
farming across the country.
The amount of water used per person in each country changes
The bar chart shows the total amount of water used per person
in selected countries.
In MEDCs irrigation is mechanised.
Sprinklers or timed irrigation feeds are used.
Where agriculture is common, vast amounts of water can be
released at the touch of a button.
In LEDCs irrigation channels are prone to losing water through
Industries in MEDCs can be on a large scale, and so demand a lot
The steel industry is an example of an industry which needs a
large water supply for manufacturing purposes.
LEDCs have smaller scale cottage industries.
They demand less water in the production of items.
However as more multinational companies locate in LEDCs there
will be more demand on water.
For example, in India, drinks manufacturers use over a million
litres of water a day to produce drinks.
In MEDCs there are a lot of facilities which demand water use.
For example, showers, baths, washing machines and swimming
In LEDCs many people do not have access to piped water and so
use it more sparingly. Water may be brought to the home from a
well or stream.
As a country becomes more wealthy, there will be an increase in
its demand for water.
Higher levels of industrialisation and more domestic goods such
as washing machines all lead to an increase in demand for water.
With greater wealth there is also more demand for spas, golf
courses and even baths and showers.
There are problems in supplying water in MEDCs.
• the quality of available water
• the seasonal changes in supply
• broken pipes when transporting water
Both water supply and the demand for water need to be
In the UK there is a big issue with water supply.
Areas which receive high amounts of rainfall tend to be sparsely
One third of the UK population live in south-east England.
This is also the driest area in the UK.
Ways to manage the water supply include:
• making sure the broken pipes are mended (as water loss from
broken pipes can be as much as 30 per cent)
• using reservoirs and dams in one area to pipe water into large
• making sure that the water supply is of good quality - reducing
fertiliser use on farms helps this
In December 2010, over 40,000 people had water supply
problems in Northern Ireland. One reason was because the water
pipes were quite old - some over 60 years old.
This meant that when there was a spell of very cold weather,
many pipes could not cope and the pipelines failed.
The demand for domestic water can be monitored. Households
with water meters in the UK use less water in general than those
without. Households can also conserve water.
Ways to do this are:
• having a shower instead of a bath
• collecting rainwater to use on the garden rather than tap water
• recycling bath water to flush the toilets with
• installing more efficient versions of appliances such as washing
Industries can also look to recycle waste water. For example,
when using water for cooling in steel-making, the water can be
recycled again and again in the process. In agriculture, drip-feed
irrigation systems could be used rather than sprinkler systems.
Much of Birmingham's tap water comes from over 100 km away.
There are five dams in the Elan Valley which can supply
Birmingham with 160 million litres of water a day.
Deep narrow valleys to hold the water in.
Impermeable rock means the water wouldn't leak away.
A high annual rainfall of 1,830 mm.
The area is higher than Birmingham, so the water can flow using
gravity rather than pumps.
Future expansion of the scheme raises problems.
The local environment would be damaged.
There would be increased traffic and noise from the construction
of dams to provide extra capacity.
The river flow downstream would be affected, along with the
Also more land would be affected when pipes are run across it.
There are problems in supplying water in LEDCs.
• lack of availability of clean water
• diseases spread via the water supply
• water pollution
One in eight people of the world population do not have access
to safe water.
60 million children are born each year in LEDCs who do not have
access to safe water.
In LEDCs using appropriate technology is usually the best way to
Women and children collecting
drinking water from an artificial
well in Senegal
Wells, dug by hand, are a common way of accessing water, but
the supply can be unreliable and sometimes the well itself can be
a source of disease.
Gravity-fed schemes are used where there is a spring on a
hillside. The water can be piped from the spring down to the
Boreholes can require more equipment to dig, but can be dug
quickly and usually safely. They require a hand or diesel pump to
bring the water to the surface.
In addition to locating new sources of water, some strategies
help to reduce the need for water.
• harvesting (collecting) rainwater landing on buildings
• recycling waste water to use on crops
• improving irrigation techniques
• growing crops less dependant on a high water supply
• minimising evaporation of water
As LEDC cities grow, so does the demand for water.
The problem doesn't end when water supplies have been
improved and pipes put in place.
The water has got to come from somewhere, and the source of
supply may be scarce.
It is LEDCs which have the lowest access to safe water.
Without safe water, people cannot lead healthy and productive
Areas which are in poverty are likely to remain in that way.
One example where non-governmental charities have helped
break this cycle is in Nigeria.
In Nigeria only 38% of people have access to sanitation.
A community led total sanitation project (CLTS) was started by
one non-governmental charity. In one year, the project helped
2.5 million people gain access to sanitation.
Areas with poor infrastructure, high rates of illness and poverty
were identified, and the charity worked with the local population
in these areas.
The teams worked with the people and educated them as to how
poor hygiene and sanitation can make people ill. This included
how it can also make others in the community ill.
Toilets were built using local, affordable materials. Key people in
the community led the work.
Jakarta in Indonesia has a rapidly growing population and water
companies do not have the resources to supply reliable and safe
water to everyone.
This means that a large proportion of the population are
drinking contaminated water and are vulnerable to disease.
In addition, salt water is also contaminating groundwater, which
is making the problem worse.
This is a particular problem in shanty towns such as Marunda.
Like most shanty towns, Marunda lacks basic services such as
water supply, sanitation and electricity.
People there have a poor standard of living and a low quality of
Conditions are crowded and disease spreads easily, contributing
to low life expectancy and high infant mortality rates.
In the past, people have relied on water from tankers or street
sellers who charged high prices.
Child playing in polluted water in Jakarta, Indonesia
The Jakarta city authorities tried to invest in basic services but
there was a lack of funding.
They then sought investment from abroad.
In 1999, Thames Water began a £60,000 project to bring piped
water to Marunda.
The project involved local people from the early stages to ensure
that their needs would be met appropriately and that the project
By the year 2000, over 1,600 homes in Marunda had piped water.
Water can now be obtained more cheaply, allowing money to be
spent on food, clothes and education which is vital for the
country's long-term prospects.
There have also been health benefits because the risk of disease
from contaminated water has been reduced.
This scheme was a success as it was sustainable and worked with
the people to meet their needs.
Not all schemes have been as successful as this one.
The Pergau Dam in Malaysia, for example, was constructed in
partnership with the British government with the aim of
providing safe and reliable water and electricity.
But it did not meet the needs of the poorest people and the
scheme was an example of tied aid (this means that conditions
were attached which did not benefit Malaysia's population).
vendor fills his
water at a
Simple equipment and technology that the local people are able
to use easily and without much cost.
The process in which a liquid changes state and turns into a gas.
When crops are artificially watered by sprinklers and irrigation
canals due to a lack of rainfall.
Settled at widely-spaced intervals.