My Water Diary

April 1, 2024

It seems important to note first, that while my water usage is lower than the average American’s (1,013 g/d to 1,802 g/d), a lot of this I attribute to Dickinson college making such lower water usage accessible ( For example, my shower at Dickinson has efficient faucets, but the house I grew up in does not. Additionally, Dickinson makes sustainability, like recycling and getting used clothing very easy. Therefore, one must take into consideration the ways the lifestyle of a Dickinson college student differs from the lifestyle of the average American. 

 The average American water footprint is 7,800 litre/day or 2060.542 gallons/day. My sub-region of study is North Africa so I looked up Tunisia to compare. The average Tunisian uses 6 100 litre/day or 1,611.44 (gallons/day. Socially, I think it is likely Tunisians consider water scarcityin their activities and everyday lives, in a way that people in the US don’t.


 Economically, water scarcity is going to make water demanding goods expensive, and is going to limit who is able to access goods. For example, foods that require a lot of water to grow are going to be expensive and inaccessible locally, and might be cheaper to import. Countries without oil wealth, like North African countries, might find such imports out of reach. Perhaps it would also mean it will take more water to consume things. 

This means that Tunisia has to import virtual water from countries, likely from outside the region given how scarce the surrounding region is as well. Internationally, Tunisia must maintain good trading relations with the countries they get this water from. Water scarcity also means the Tunisian government must have the funds to import virtual water. These patterns present challenges to sustainable development. 

I am writing my final research paper on food security in Tunisia, and part of the problem is the arid climate makes sustainable food security difficult. Reliance on imported food, which is virtual water, makes the country vulnerable, presenting foundational challenges to human life. Patterns of reliance on external countries for virtual water pose challenges for countries because it makes them vulnerable to price shocks, issues with transportation, etc. Are there any other ways you can think of water scarcity posing challenges for MENA countries? Did you notice different challenges for different sub-regions?

4 Responses to “My Water Diary”

  1.   Humayra Anisa said:

    I really enjoyed reading your water diary! My water consumption was similar to yours due to living on campus which reduce our water intake regarding accessible lower water usage but if I was home, then it would have been higher. I like the point you made about foods that require higher water usage tends to be scarce in countries that lack water.

  2.   Annie Elliott said:

    Thank you so much for your comment. While I was doing my calculations I was torn between calculating my water usage for most of my life, or my current water usage. What struck me the most however was how food and shopping impacted water usage. It got me thinking about the effects of what I eat or where I shop. Did you notice a similar impact? I know that when I graduate I will do my best to bring sustainable practices with me that I learned as a student here.

  3.   John Hertzog said:

    Thank you for your post Annie. My subregion is the Arabian Peninsula, so it was interesting to compare and contrast the issues across different areas of MENA. I noticed that since North Africa does not have as much oil wealth as some of the states in my subregion, particularly GCC states, there are different struggles associated with the same problems, especially the lack of water. Additionally, I liked how you mentioned that living at Dickinson helps to lower daily water usage. I noticed that too, since my water usage is also below the US average. Thank you again for your post.

  4.   Annie Elliott said:

    Thanks so much for your reply. It seems that how the sub-regions respond to water scarcity is dependent on many factors but I know we discussed in class how rents contribute to construction of desalination plants and importing virtual water. Can you think of any other factors that might influence how countries respond to water scarcity? One factor that I would like to consider more is available land to grow food, and the water necessary in manufacturing.

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