Severe water stress, absolute scarcity for 2 to 4 billion people by 2025 – Global issues

Up to four billion people – more than half of the planet’s population – have faced severe water stress for at least one month of the year, while half a billion people are permanently water stressed. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo / IPS
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid)
  • Joint press service

In this regard, the United Nations Convention against Desertification (UNCCD) also report that “other estimates are even more pessimistic, with up to four billion people – more than half of the planet’s population – having faced severe water stress for at least one month of the year in when half a billion people who are stressed go home forever.”

This means that about 71% of the world’s irrigated area and 47% of major cities suffer from water shortages at least periodically. If this trend continues, scarcity and problems related to water quality will lead to competition and conflict among water users, it added.

Climate crisis exacerbates risks

“Climate change will increase the risk of increasingly severe droughts and water scarcity in many parts of the world. Drought is ranked among the most damaging of all natural hazards. While drought affects all climates, arid regions are particularly vulnerable to drought and its effects.”

Currently, most countries, regions and communities use crisis-based and reactive approaches to drought risk management. To solve this problem, healthy soil is a natural reservoir of fresh water. If it is degraded, it cannot perform that function. Better land management and scaling up land reclamation are essential for building drought tolerance and water security, UNCCD explains.

“Soil restoration is the cheapest and most effective way to improve water availability, mitigate the effects of drought, and address biodiversity loss.”

Rain not enough? Rain too much?

Meanwhile, the United Nations Convention against Desertification explains that communities worldwide have suffered some of the most devastating effects of drought and flooding this year.

“Flash floods in Western Europe, East and Central Asia and South Africa. And catastrophic droughts in Australia, southern Africa, southern Asia, much of Latin America, western North America and Siberia are examples. The effects extend beyond individual events. “

For example, food insecurity is increasing in the South African region, and wildfires are unprecedented in North America, Europe and Central Asia.

What is happening?

This is much more than bad weather in some cases, and increasingly, add United Nations Convention.

“Extreme events, including droughts and floods, are on the rise. With more and more land projected to be drier and more people living in drylands in the future, discussions focused on the transition that more than 60 countries are making from response to climate change. “response” to droughts and floods to “proactive” planning and risk management designed to build resilience. ”

Production system, very limited

For my part, reportState of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Agriculture and Food warns that the production systems whose land and water resources support agricultural production are so limited that their ability to meet current and future needs is seriously threatened.

Limitations may be exacerbated by unsustainable agricultural practices, social and economic pressures and the effects of climate change.

Land and water resources are central to agriculture and rural development and are intrinsically linked to the global challenges of food insecurity and poverty, climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as Degradation and depletion of natural resources affect the livelihoods of millions of rural people around the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).FAO) of reports.

The demand for food has increased dramatically

Current projections cited in the report indicate that the world’s population will increase from 6.9 billion today to 9.1 billion by 2050. In addition, economic progress, especially in emerging countries, leading to increased demand for diverse foods and diets.

As a result, the world food demand will increase, and food production is expected to increase by 70% in the world and 100% in developing countries.

“However, both the land and water resources, our food production base, are finite and under severe stress, and future agricultural production will need to be more productive and more sustainable”.

Increasing competition for land and water

And there are warning signs. Growth in agricultural production is slowing and is only half the 3% annual growth rate in developing countries in the past, the report said.

In 2007 and 2008, any complacency was shaken by food price shocks, when grain prices skyrocketed. Since then, the growing competition for land and water has now become more severe as commercial and sovereign investors have begun to acquire agricultural lands in developing countries. Producing raw materials to stabilize land and water resources.

“Further structural problems have also become evident in the natural resource base. Water scarcity is increasing. Salinization and pollution of watercourses and bodies of water as well as degradation of water-related ecosystems are increasing”.

Water is shrinking

In many large rivers, only 5% of the former water remains in the flow, and some rivers such as the Hoang Anh River no longer empty into the sea all year round.

The great lakes and inland seas have shrunk, and half of the wetlands in Europe and North America are gone. Runoff from soil erosion is filling reservoirs, reducing hydroelectricity and water supplies, it explained.

Groundwater, over-pumped

Groundwater is being pumped vigorously and aquifers are increasingly polluted and saline in some coastal areas.

The report goes on to say that most of the continents are experiencing high rates of ecosystem decline, particularly with reduced soil quality, loss of biodiversity and harm to amenities and cultural heritage values. chemical.

Agriculture, a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions

Agriculture is currently a major contributor to greenhouse gases, accounting for 13.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC, 2007). At the same time, climate change increases risks and unpredictability for farmers – from the associated warming and aridity, from changing rainfall patterns, and from the increasing frequency of events. extreme weather.

“Poor farmers in low-income countries are the most vulnerable and least able to adapt to these changes.”

Also aquaculture

The steady rise of inland aquaculture has also contributed to competition for land and water resources: the average annual human supply of food fish from aquaculture has increased at a rapid rate. averaged 6.6 percent per year from 1970 to 2008, increasing the need for food, water and land to build fishponds.

According to FAO, the decline in the ability of ecosystems to provide important goods and services has been affecting the production potential of important food producing regions.

“If these continue, the impact on food security will be greatest in developing countries, where both water and soil nutrients are least abundant.”

“Following current trends, a wide range of major land and water systems and the food they produce are at risk.”

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service


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