780 million people do not have access clean water, says UN

780 million people do not have access to clean water, says UN

9:01 AM, 22nd March 2013
780 million people do not have access to clean water, says UN
According to UN report, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

NEW YORK, US: With World Water Day being celebrated on 22 March 2013, United Nations (UN) has taken initiative to analyze the present scenario of water scarcity and the demand for water in future.

Though the Earth is covered 2/3 of water, 85 per cent of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. According to UN report, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. With the global population growth expected to increase by 2 - 3 billion people over the next 40 years, an increase in food demand of 70 per cent by 2050 is predicted.

As the demand for water is increasing, the energy demand from hydropower and other renewable energy resources will rise by 60 per cent. Water availability is expected to decrease in many regions. Yet future global agricultural water consumption alone is estimated to increase by 19 per cent by 2050, and will be even greater in the absence of any technological progress or policy intervention.

Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for about 70 per cent of global freshwater withdrawals. The report says that about 66 per cent of Africa is arid or semi-arid and more than 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment.

Climate change and its impact on water scarcity

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prediction states that high water stress will increase in central and southern Europe by the 2070s. Europe’s hydropower potential is expected to drop by an average of 6 per cent, but rise by 20 - 50 per cent around the Mediterranean by 2070. The cost of adapting to the impacts of a 2°C rise in global average temperature could range from $70 to $100 billion per year between 2020 and 2050. Of this cost, between $13.7 billion and $19.2 billion will be related to water, predominantly through water supply and flood management.

Multinational water sharing

Water is not confined to political borders. An estimated 148 states have international basins within their territory, and 21 countries lie entirely within them. There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world. 185 out of the 276 transboundary river basins, are shared by two countries. 256 out of 276 are shared by 2, 3 or 4 countries and 20 out of 276 are shared by 5 or more countries, the maximum being 18 countries sharing a same transboundary river basin (Danube). 46 per cent of the globe’s (terrestrial) surface is covered by transboundary river basins.

Africa has about one-third of the world’s major international water basins – basins larger than 100,000 km2. Virtually all sub-Saharan African countries, and Egypt, share at least one international water basin.

Land grabbing is another increasingly common phenomenon. Saudi Arabia announced it would cut cereal production by 12 per cent a year to reduce the unsustainable use of groundwater. To protect its water and food security, the Saudi government issued incentives to Saudi corporations to lease large tracts of land in Africa for agricultural production. By investing in Africa to produce its staple crops, Saudi Arabia is saving the equivalent of hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year and reducing the rate of depletion of its fossil aquifers.

Effect of pollution

Pollution knows no borders. Up to 90 per cent of wastewater in developing countries flows untreated into rivers, lakes and highly productive coastal zones, threatening health, food security and access to safe drinking and bathing water. Over 80 per cent of used water worldwide is not collected or treated.

International Cooperation

There are numerous examples where transboundary waters have proved to be a source of cooperation rather than conflict. Nearly 450 agreements on international waters were signed between 1820 and 2007. Over 90 international water agreements were drawn up to help manage shared water basins on the African continent.

© WOC News

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