More than 3 billion people affected by water shortages, data shows

More than 3 billion people affected by water shortages, data shows
A waterhole in Harare, Zimbabwe. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: As the amount of fresh water available for each person has plunged by a fifth over two decades, data has shown water shortages are now affecting more than 3 billion people around the world.

About 1.5 billion people are suffering severe water shortages or even drought, as a combination of rising demand, climate breakdown and poor management has made agriculture increasingly difficult across swathes of the globe.

The United Nations warned on Thursday that billions of people would face hunger because of water shortage and widespread chronic food scarcity as a result of failures to conserve water resources, and to tackle the climate issues.

The director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu, said: “We must take very seriously both water scarcity (the imbalance between supply and demand for freshwater resources) and water shortages (reflected in inadequate rainfall patterns) for they are now the reality we all live with … Water shortages and scarcity in agriculture must be addressed immediately and boldly.”

He said that the UN’s sustainable development goals, which include improving access to clean water and wiping out hunger, were still within reach but that much more needed to be done to improve farming practices across the world and to manage resources equitably.

The UN’s State of Food and Agriculture 2020 report found that 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in areas where severe drought has catastrophic impacts on cropland and pastureland once every 3 years. More than a 10th of the world’s rainfed cropland is subject to frequent drought due to lack of water, as is about 14% of the world’s pastureland.

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