Much of the world is unprepared for the floods, hurricanes and droughts set to worsen with climate change and urgently needs better warning systems to avoid water-related disasters, report says from the United Nations Meteorological Agency. Global water management is “fragmented and inadequate,” according to the report released Tuesday, with nearly 60% of the 101 countries included in the report needing improved forecasting systems that can help prevent devastation caused by the phenomena severe weather.
As the population grows, the number of people with insufficient access to water is also expected to reach more than 5 billion by 2050, up from 3.6 billion in 2018, according to the report. Among the actions recommended by the report were better warning systems for flood and drought prone areas that can identify, for example, when a river is likely to swell.
Better funding and better coordination among countries on water management are also needed, according to the report from the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, development agencies and other groups.
“We need to be aware of the looming water crisis,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization. The report found that since 2000, flood-related disasters around the world have increased by 134% compared to the previous two decades. Most of the flood-related deaths and economic losses took place in Asia, where extreme rainfall caused massive flooding in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal and Pakistan last year.
The frequency of drought-related disasters increased by 29% over the same period. African countries recorded the most drought-related deaths. The largest economic losses due to drought were recorded in North America, Asia and the Caribbean, according to the report.
Globally, the report found that 25 percent of all cities already experience regular water shortages. Over the past two decades, he said the combined reserves of surface water, groundwater and water found in soil, snow and ice have declined by 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) per year.
Population growth will further strain water supplies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, said Elfatih Eltahir, professor of hydrology and climate at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which was not involved in the report. “The availability of water in growing populations forms where adaptation of water will be quite urgent,” he said. Despite some progress in recent years, the report found that 107 countries would not meet the goals of sustainable management of water supply and access by 2030 at current rates.
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