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Water Crisis to Hit 52% of World Population by 2050

An Alarming Revelation

According to recent reports by the U.N., the demand for fresh water is projected to grow more than 40% globally by 2050. In addition to this, at least one-fourth of the earth’s population will be residing in countries suffering from lack of clean water. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed on the dire water crisis that awaits the planet, if corrective measures are not taken immediately. While addressing the Security Council of the United Nations, he warned that if the water resources of the 193 member countries are not managed effectively, the chances of disputes between communities and countries may become intensified.

Since 1947, a total of thirty-seven conflicts have occurred between nations owing to water-related issues. The Secretary-General has suggested a policy of ‘preventive diplomacy’ to prevent the sparking of such conflicts in the future. Guterres informed the Council that the continued pattern of consumption as it is currently will lead to water shortage on a daily basis by 2025.

The Current Situation

The present situation is such, that more than eight hundred million people do not have access to potable drinking water. A shockingly staggering 2.5 billion people still do not have access to elemental sanitation facilities. Shifting focus to the densely populated and politically sensitive Southern Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan have over one billion people who rely solely on merely three water sources – the Ganges, the Indus, and the Brahmaputra Rivers. The demand for water has been an issue of crisis in the area for a long time now but despite all the conflicts of the past, there are very limited collaborations between these countries. While close to $30 million has been provided in the last five years alone to tackle this trans-boundary issue, the world in general and these countries in particular, are far from meeting the U.N. Goals for 2030, namely:

  • Improvement in water security.
  • Access to potable drinking water.
  • Access to proper sanitation facilities.
  • Stronger management of trans-boundary water resources.

A Call for Action

The recent drought in Somalia should be an eye-opener for what is going to happen when the planet’s waters run dry. The threat of famine brought on by acute shortages of food and a desperate shortage of clean water cost the lives of thousands. Guterres suggested that a global approach to this problem is an increase in investment for improvement of water security. Apart from this, the strain on groundwater usage needs to be removed. Industries need to re-engineer their processes to implement water-economical technologies and establish strict water audit standards. It is also time to consider shifting to environmentally sustainable agricultural practices seriously. Realising that water conservation is a shared goal, is the only way forward for the survival of this planet.

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