Water Without Borders

Water Without Borders

Premise and Mission

In a world where governments and aid agency move slowly, water crises strike with alarming speed.  When these threats occur, they can jeopardize human life and health, fragile ecosystems, and economic vitality.  In addition to urgent humanitarian needs, water crises also present urgent needs for scientific expertise and on-the-ground capability.  Both emergency response and long-term recovery depend on rigorous scientific understanding of the threat and of the impacted systems.  In many areas of the world, local scientific capabilities are overwhelmed by such crises, with outside expertise slow to arrive if it comes at all.

Water without Borders would establish a cadre of water scientists and engineers poised to respond, upon request, to emergent water crises around the world, serving as a vehicle for social justice for underserved communities and regions in their moments of greatest need. 

Water and Threats to Water Worldwide

Water is the lifeblood of human society and the environment. As global population moves towards 9 billion by 2050, an additional 2.3 billion people will live in areas with severe water stress, especially in Africa and southern and central Asia. Water crises included droughts, floods, toxic releases, and others. Even developed countries can be hard-pressed to respond well to these crises; undeveloped or developing countries can be devastated. Undeveloped areas struggle with basic recovery, often rebuilding in the same manner and in the same place, perpetuating a cycle of disaster vulnerability. What is typically lacking during this crucial recovery stage is thorough and credible scientific and engineering guidance and planning. 

Why UC Davis?

UC Davis faculty and researchers in water-related science, engineering, and policy already form the single greatest concentration of academic water expertise in California.  And California leads the nation and the world in developing scientific, engineering, and policy solutions in response to its own history of floods, droughts, groundwater overdraft, persistent growth, and threats to its own rich ecosystems. 

Water Science and Social Justice

The United Nations General Assembly has recognized access to clean drinking water and sanitation as a fundamental human right. Similarly, each year, floods and droughts and other water-related disasters impact many of the world's most vulnerable populations. In 2015 alone, 1060 severe disasters struck worldwide, and 9 of the 10 deadliest disasters of the year were in some of the poorest countries. In addition, water is the key to food security worldwide. Many existing development programs are limited by the availability of scientific and technical guidance, including for local grassroots projects.