How is Drinking Water Different in Other Areas of the World?

How is Drinking Water Different in Other Areas of the World?

Abby Dreibelbis, Middle School Science Teacher, State College, PA

Grade 7: General Science

Instructional Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Appreciate water shortages in other regions of the world
  2. List solutions or consequences of water shortages
  3. Name countries and regions that have water shortages
  4. Identify why different regions have water shortages
  5. Identify problems of sharing water sources
  6. List solutions to water shortages
  7. Identify ways politics affects water resources.

Pennsylvania Academic Standards

3.5.7.D: Explain the behavior and impact of Earth’s water systems

3.5.10.D: Assess the value of water as a resource

Content Explanation

Not many students realize that clean, drinkable water is not as readily available in other regions of the world as it is in the United States.  Many countries have less water than their population needs.  Some countries must share a water source that runs through many countries. Protection of water sources is an issue for many countries- protection of water pollution and protection of water quantity. This politicizes the issue. Many countries have started to privatize water sources in order to get clean water for their people. This becomes an issue when people begin to debate the issue of selling a basic right for profit.

Lesson Summary

Students will read articles related to water shortages around the world and answer questions about them. The class will discuss the articles.

Administrative Considerations

This lesson involves a lot of reading. ESL students may have trouble with comprehension. Students with low reading comprehension skills may need some guidance.



Engagement questions

What are some facts about water in the U.S.?

Do you think those same are true about other countries?

What are some reasons we have access to clean drinking water in the U.S.?

What might affect a country’s or region’s water supply?


Students read articles and answer article questions.


Students’ question sheets, student discussion (teacher evaluation of students participation)

How I’ve used this lesson in the past

This is a week-long lesson usually that results in some lively discussion. This is a great lesson for cross-curricular teaching tying in language arts skills (reading, summarizing, and comprehending) and social studies skills (geography, history, politics).  At the end of our week of discussion on this topic, I usually have the kids write an essay defending one side of the argument that water is a basic need and right and should be available to everyone or that water can be privatized and sold for a profit.  In past years, after writing their essays, students took them to language arts class as a writing piece to edit and revise.

Last year, one of our staff members from India came in with a PowerPoint presentation and talked about water in India specifically.  An issue in India is religion and education. People believe that certain water sources are sacred but are not educated enough to know that they are infecting the water source by bathing and washing animals in it. People drink from this believed to be sacred water source not knowing that they are harming themselves. This really had students thinking about how different things are in other parts of the world. Even something as basic a need as water wasn’t a right elsewhere.