One third of the world’s population is running short of
fresh water, and it’s happening about 20 years sooner than previously
predicted, according to an authoritative new report on world water
supplies. Also Read:
International Water Management Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka, called
Insights from the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in
, was released on Monday in Stockholm at the start of World Water Week
. The report
concludes that one in every three people on Earth now suffers from a
scarcity of fresh water, a situation that a previous assessment five years
ago predicted would not occur until 2025.
The discrepancy between
the two reports is that the earlier analysis was done on a
country-by-country basis, while the more recent report provides a detailed
analysis of natural water basins. Some of those, like the Yellow River
basin that provides a significant portion of China’s food, does not have
enough fresh water to support more people or any increase in activity.
The report, which drew on the expertise of more than 700 experts,
outlines several steps that can increase the availability and effective
use of fresh water, especially among the world’s poor people, who are
often most critically affected by drought and fresh water scarcity.
Many of those revolve around collecting and storing rainwater
instead of letting it go to waste, focusing on rain-fed agriculture
instead of irrigation, and using hardier crops. The experts who
contributed to the report said rain-fed agriculture is the fastest and
cheapest way to end malnutrition, reduce poverty among farmers, halt the
invasion of natural habitats and end the scarcity of fresh water.
But the report also warns that action must be taken immediately to
achieve positive change. If the right steps are taken now, the growth in
global use of fresh water could slow by 50 percent. If nothing changes,
twice as much fresh water will be required to feed the world’s people by
“Business as usual is not an option,” said David Molden, who
coordinated the report and works for the International Water Management