Both devastating floods and drinking water shortages are getting worse all over the world, but only a few countries are prepared to master the crises – this is the conclusion of the World Weather Organization (WMO) in an analysis.
Geneva – Both devastating floods and drinking water shortages are getting worse worldwide, but only a few countries are prepared to master the crises – this is the conclusion of the World Weather Organization (WMO) in an analysis. “We have to wake up and face this threatening water crisis,” said WMO General Secretary Petteri Taalas on Tuesday in Geneva.
Climate change is exacerbating both: On the one hand, there are more unusually violent floods such as recently in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as in Japan, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and India. The number of disasters caused by flooding has risen by 134 percent worldwide since 2000, compared to the 20 years before. On the other hand, the rising temperatures mean that there is less rain in some areas, especially in Africa. The number of droughts rose by 29 percent over the same period. “Two billion people live in countries with water problems and have no access to clean drinking water or sanitation,” said Taalas.
According to the report, around 3.6 billion people worldwide did not have enough water for at least a month in 2018. The number will rise to more than 5 billion by 2050. At the time, that would be more than half of the 9.7 billion people on earth expected by the United Nations. A world map of the WMO shows the areas with water scarcity: These include the Mediterranean and North Africa, the west of the USA with California, the west coast of South America with Peru and Chile, the Sahel region south of the Sahara in Africa, the Middle East with Saudi Arabia and Iran and large parts of South and East Asia. In the past 20 years, the world’s water reservoirs – i.e. lakes, basins and groundwater as well as moisture in soils, snow and ice – have dwindled noticeably every year. The greatest loss was measured in Antarctica and Greenland.
Despite these alarming numbers, water resources are not well managed in more than 100 countries, according to the WMO. The levels for predicting floods and droughts would have to be measured more continuously. One of the UN development goals is that by 2030 everyone will have clean drinking water and sanitation. To achieve this, the effort would have to be quadrupled. (dpa)