This book, Acqua, published by Motta in Italy, is about water.

The quality of peoples’ environment has a real impact on their lives. Normal life is sustainable only where the environment is in balance; pollution, flooding and drought all have the capacity to create chaos. In the first world we take the constant supply of fresh water for granted, yet for a large part of the world’s population finding and fetching water for drinking, washing and cooking is a daily concern.

Demand has grown enormously – but there is no more fresh water on earth than there was two millennia ago, when the human population was three per cent of its current size. Within 20 years, a third of people will face water shortages, experts predict. Others will continue to face floods and unpredictable weather patterns as global warming takes effect. When environmental disasters occur, there is often a man-made aspect to their scale, through deforestation, mismanagement or military conflict.

Yet the remarkable human spirit shines through as people make the best of near-impossible situations. Water has always meant more to mankind than mere survival. Inextricably linked to spiritual and religious rituals, it symbolises purification, renewal and life itself.