001 - Water scarcity

Geographic knowledge and understanding

Physical and economic water scarcity, and the factors that control these including the causes and impact of droughts; the distinction between water quantity and water quality.


Those places in the world that have the possibility to control the quality and quantity of water that their population has access to will hold the power in the future.

Aims of the lesson

  • To be able to define and give examples of physical and economic water scarcity.

  • To have knowledge and understanding of the factors that control water scarcity.

  • To be able to explain the causes and impacts of droughts.

  • To be able to discuss the distinction between water quantity and water quality.

Key Terminology

            • Water scarcity

            • Economic water scarcity

            • Physical water scarcity

            • Weather droughts

            • Economic droughts

            • Water crisis

Define the words above using the 'Our Planet's Freshwater' textbook by Codrington and the 'useful links below'.

Useful Links

Activity One - Describe

Water is a fundamental resource for human survival and without it we will die. We are investigating water scarcity as it is increasingly becoming a global issue even for countries who are perceived to have a lot of water. The South East of England is often in drought despite the fact that it rains on average once every three days. As you are now aware economic and physical water scarcity are different but they can often go hand in hand in some areas of the world.

        1. Using the map below describe where there is physical water scarcity in the world.

        2. Using image one describe where there is economic water scarcity in the world.

        3. Write a list of the different ways that water is used.

        4. Describe and explain the different human and physical causes of water scarcity using the articles in the 'Useful Resources' box.

Activity Two - Drought

The term drought is often banded about but what does it really mean?

      1. Define the term drought.

      2. What are the causes of droughts? The group will be divided in two and each team will be given a sheet of flip chart paper and coloured pens. One group will focus on the physical causes of droughts the other the human. Mind map the causes and then explain how they occur. The mind maps will be photographed and put on the department website - www.nationsinsoc.org

      3. Read the article below and describe the impacts that drought can have on an area.

Activity Three - Differences

When discussing water we often think about too much or too little but we don't often mention the quality. We live in the 'Water Tower' of Europe where are water is clean and plentiful but for some gaining access to safe, clean drinking water is a daily struggle. Watch the youtube clip below to gain an idea of the problems that some people in the world when discussing water.

      1. Write a definition of water quality means and what actually constitutes safe, clean drinking water.

Useful Resources

How long can you go without safe drinking water


When is water safe to drink?


Exam Style Question

‘You could suffer from being economically water scarce in the wettest place in the world.’ Discuss this statement using a range of examples. [10 marks]

This lesson was development in collaboration with Richard Allaway from geographyalltheway. For more resources please visit www.geographyalltheway.com