Water Shortage Man's biggest Problem
Oct 18, 2001 00:40 AM
In 25 Years, Half the World Will Be Short of Water
March 21, 2001
Posted to the web March 22, 2001
Baba Galleh Jallow
The World Resources Institute in Washington DC has warned that
the world's freshwater systems are in peril. It predicts that "by 2025,
at least 3.5 billion people or nearly 50 percent of the world's
population will face water scarcity."
This is just one of the dire predictions being made public by
several organisations to mark World Water Day. There is widespread and
acute concern about the impending global water crisis.
A report by the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) indicates that
Africa will be particularly hard hit.
The GEO says that while Africa has abundant freshwater resources
in large rivers and lakes such as the Congo, Nile and Zambezi rivers,
and the Great Lakes, "there are great disparities in water availability
and use within and between African countries" because of the uneven
distribution of the continent's water resources.
The GEO predicts that by the year 2025, "25 African countries
will be subject to water scarcity or water stress" and points out that
already, "14 countries in Africa are subject to water stress or water
scarcity, with those in Northern Africa facing the worst prospects."
Over 300 million people in Africa lack reasonable access to safe
water and adequate sanitation and in sub-Saharan Africa, only about 51
percent of the population have access to safe water, and 45 percent to
Recent floods in Mozambique, Malawi and other areas of Southern
Africa have rendered sanitary conditions in that area even more
GEO estimates indicate that by 2025, "up to 16 percent of
Africa's population, (230 million people) will be living in countries
facing water scarcity, and 32 percent (another 460 million) in
In a similar report, the United Nations Environmental Programme
(UNEP) also says there is already a massive water problem in the world.
According to UNEP, polluted water affects the health of over one billion
people worldwide every year; water-borne diseases - such as the cholera
and dysentery currently rampant in southern Africa - kill an estimated
three million people every year.
UNEP warns that without better management of the world's water
resources, many more human lives could be threatened in the very near
The World Resources Institute report corroborates UNEP's finding
that water-borne diseases are currently a major cause of death,
particularly in poor areas of the world. The report ascribes much of the
degradation of the world's freshwater systems to "habitat destruction,
the construction of dams and canals, introduction of non-native (fish)
species, pollution and over-exploitation" of water resources.
According to the WRI, "analysis of existing freshwater studies
reveals that more than 20 percent of the world's 10,000 freshwater fish
species have either become extinct, been threatened, or endangered in
In a message to mark World Water Day, Khalid Mohtadullah,
Executive Secretary of the Global Water Partnership, said: "1.4 billion
people live without clean drinking water, 2.3 billion people lack
adequate sanitation, 7 million die yearly from water-related diseases
and half the world's rivers and lakes are seriously polluted."
He called on governments worldwide to establish better water
policies, laws and regulatory frameworks, put in place proper
institutional structures for managing river basins and aquifers,
facilitate the realignment of economic and financial practices with
appropriate mechanisms to protect the poor, and establish mechanisms for
strengthening river basin management.
He revealed that his organisation has established a network of
"regional partnerships" in South America, Central America, Southern
Africa, West Africa, the Mediterranean, Central and Eastern Europe,
South Asia, Southeast Asia and China "to promote cross-sectoral dialogue
on common water problems and to develop action plans to resolve these
Meanwhile, Libya's Muammar Qadafi, who is currently spearheading
a campaign for African Union, has called on Arab businesses to invest in
Africa's water resources and the tapping of the continent's "vast water
reserves, lakes and rivers such as the Nile, Senegal and Congo rivers."
'Patriotism is the last refuge of the Scoundrel' - Samuel Johnson.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application