50% of people facing water scarcity live in India and China

Two UN reports say that globally 66% of the people face water scarcity and lack of access to safe water is endangering health and lives of millions of children

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

NH National Bureau

It’s just getting grimmer for the 7.3 billion people in the world, according to two UN reports. “Recent research has demonstrated that two-thirds of the world’s population currently live in areas that experience water scarcity for at least one month a year. Noteworthy is that about 50% of the people facing this level of water scarcity live in China and India,” said the latest edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report, called ‘Wastewater: The Untapped Resource.’

Another UNICEF report doesn’t paint better days ahead either. The report 'Thirsting for a Future: Water and children in a changing climate' says one in four children worldwide will be living in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040. And, 36 countries are currently facing extremely high levels of water stress, which occurs when demand for water far exceeds the renewable supply available.

About 500 million people, the report titled ‘Wasterwater’ added, live in areas where water consumption exceeds the locally renewable water resources by a factor of two. This includes parts of India, China, the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, Central Asia, arid parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, Central and Western South America, and Central and Western North America.

Areas, where non-renewable resources—that is, fossil groundwater—continue to decrease, have become highly vulnerable and dependent on water transfers from areas with abundant water.

The report stressed that wastewater was a critical component of the water cycle and needed to be managed across the entire water management cycle. Over 80% of the world’s wastewater—and over 95% in some least developed countries—is released to the environment without treatment.

Depending on its level of treatment, wastewater could be and was being used for multiple purposes, ranging from irrigation and landscaping to industrial uses, and even as a source of potable drinking water. “Reusing water enhances freshwater availability for meeting human and environmental needs and is indeed already happening in several places," the report said.

Unicef pointed out that climate change was one of the many forces contributing to an unfolding water crisis. In the coming years, the demand for water would increase as food production grows, populations grow and move, industries develop and consumption increases. This can lead to water stress, as increasing demand and use of water strain available supplies. One of the most effective ways to protect children in the face of climate change is to safeguard their access to safe water and sanitation.
"Water is elemental; without it, nothing can grow. But around the world, millions of children lack access to safe water—endangering their lives, undermining their health, and jeopardising their futures. This crisis will only grow unless we take collective action now," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said.

With PTI inputs.

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