global water shortage

Last updated: July 9, 2020

Math Skill: Addition & Subtraction (3-digit numbers)

Science Skill: Earth Water

Grade level: 4th & 5th grades

Environmental Area: Water

Area level: Global level

Purpose: Develop awareness of the global water shortage problem



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Water consumption has been increasing at more than double the rate of population growth over the last century, and is causing water shortage in many areas. The water scarcity problem is projected to worsen as the global population grows and demands for food production increase in the world. It Is estimated that about 884 million people lack access to safe water. This number means that more than twice the population of the United States donothaveaccess to safe water ( The United Nations projects that nearly half the world’s population will be living in areas of water shortage stressed conditions by 2030 (United Nations).


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  • An estimated 80% of people who lack access to an adequate drinking water source live in either sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Asia or Southern Asia. (Source: World Wide Fund for Nature (WHO)
  • 1/3 of the global population lives without access to a toilet. (Source: WHO)
  • Since 1900, more than half of the wetlands in the world have disappeared. (Source: WWF)
  • Most of freshwater is used in agriculture. In the United State, 80% of the nation’s water is consumed in agriculture. (Source: USDA)


The purpose of this activity is to enhance students’ skills in data analysis. This worksheet was created based on data about people who lack access to safe water in the world. The data was  obtained from United Nations.


Worksheet & answer key

Math Skill: Addition & Subtraction (3-digit numbers)

Using the table which shows the number of people who lack access to safe water in Africa, Asia, Central & South America, and North America, Europe, and Australia combined, students are asked to answer questions related to the table. They use 3-digit addition and subtraction to answer some of the questions.



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