In a 348 page assesment of world’s water supply, the U.N. said population growth and climate change are the culprits for coming water shortages. The Agence France-Press got a copy of the beastly document and boiled it down to a few key points:
DEMOGRAPHIC GROWTH is boosting water stress in developing countries, where hydrological resources are often meagre. The global population is growing by 80 million people a year, 90 per cent of it in poorer countries. Demand for water is growing by 64 billion cubic metres (2.2 trillion cubic feet) per year, roughly equivalent to Egypt’s annual water demand today.
In the past 50 years, EXTRACTION from rivers, lakes and aquifers has tripled to help meet population growth and demands for water-intensive food such as rice, cotton, dairy and meat products. Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of the withdrawals, a figure that reaches more than 90 per cent in some developing countries.
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION from water pollution and excessive extraction now costs many billions of dollars. Damage in the Middle East and North Africa, the world’s most water-stressed region, amounts to some nine billion dollars a year, or between 2.1-7.4 per cent of GDP.
Between 92.4 billion and 148 billion dollars are needed annually in INVESTMENT to build and maintain water supply systems, sanitation and irrigation. China and developed countries in Asia alone face financial needs of 38.2-51.4 billion dollars each year.
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