In a Wednesday report, the United Nations warned that droughts will increase in frequency and length due to human-caused global warming. Water scarcity is already affecting billions around the globe.
The U.N. desertification agency, which is currently hosting a conference of parties in Abidjan in Ivory Coast, estimates that roughly one third of the world’s population — 2.3 billion people — is already facing water scarcity, with that number expected to double by 2050.
Although there are many areas that are not affected by drought, the report highlighted Africa as the hardest-hit continent. India, Australia and the Americas were also mentioned as areas of current and future concern.
The ongoing debilitating drought in the east and Horn of Africa was highlighted as one of the “dramatic consequences”Climate change by the U.N. agency. Over half of the recorded droughts on the continent were in East Africa.
“We used to be able to grow enough tomatoes that we could stay fed for 8 months,”Kheira Osman, a Kenyan farmer, said that the crops had been left without rain for more then a year. “We used to have luscious mango trees and papaya trees.”She said that food supplies have become very scarce and that water supply has also been severely affected. They sometimes had to drink from the livestock reservoir to avoid getting sick.
The agency’s lead scientist Barron Orr told the Associated Press that the world needs to be more proactive rather than reactive when it comes to dealing with drought-related disasters. Orr stated that the next step is for Africa’s hardest-hit countries to be proactive. “direct investments to build resilience, so as to bounce back from drought.”
India saw a drought-related shrink of 5% to its gross domestic product between 1998 and 2017 and Australia’s agricultural productivity slumped 18% between 2002 and 2010 due to drought. It can also expect more wildfires. In late 2019 and early 2020 which were spurred by a lack of rainfall, the report warned.
The U.N. also stated that Amazon experienced three droughts in the past century. triggering forest firesThis is due to climate change and deforestation. The agency estimates that 16% of the region’s remaining forests will burn by 2050 if deforestation continues at its current rate.
According to the report, water shortages around the world can be controlled if the right adaptions are taken. The report recommends smarter agriculture techniques that use less water and produce more food. Drought action plans, increased investment in soil health, and new technologies can all be helpful to reduce water and food shortages.
“We need to steer towards the solutions rather than continuing with destructive actions,”Ibrahim Thiaw is the executive secretary for the desertification agency. “We must build and rebuild our landscapes better, mimicking nature wherever possible and creating functional ecological systems.”