News

UN: Soaring Demands Will Add More Stress to World Water Supplies

A farmer carrying water collected from a nearly dried-up well climbs a stairs at a village in Xiping county, Yunnan province, February 22, 2012.
A farmer carrying water collected from a nearly dried-up well climbs a stairs at a village in Xiping county, Yunnan province, February 22, 2012.
Lisa Bryant

Despite recent good news that millions more people now have access to potable water, a new report finds sharply rising demands for water threaten a myriad of development goals.

Changing consumption patterns, rising food demands, rapid urbanization and climate change are piling pressure on our planet's water supplies. These are among the main findings of a report released Monday (March 12) by the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The findings will be debated at a major water meeting this week in the French port city of Marseille.

The study is not the first water warning. But Ulcay Unver, who coordinated the report, says water concerns tend to be too narrowly focused. "The crisis about water tends to be more local than global. And many of us, members of the general public, even decision-makers, fail to see the global picture, the global links from the local issues," he said.

Last week, the U.N. announced that nations have met a key millennium goal five years ahead of schedule - to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. "We are talking about a very important component of water use. But it represents approximately 10 percent of water use. The rest is used for activities such as agriculture, industry. And there is also the aspect of dealing with the extremes of water, floods and droughts," said Unver.

The report finds these other water uses are increasingly problematic. Sanitation infrastructure, for example, has failed to keep pace with rapid urbanization. Farmers are using much more water today to grow food crops for our rising population, and new consumption habits like eating more meat. By mid-century, the report says, the world will need 70 percent more water than it uses today.

The U.N. predicts these competing pressures will heighten economic disparities and tensions among people and regions.

Each area faces its own set of water challenges. Africa needs to improve its water infrastructure and use its relatively abundant water supplies more efficiently.

Climate change will add more pressure to the already water-stressed Arab region. In Asia, the pressure is coming from rapid urbanization, economic development and industrialization. At the same time, a number of communities, from Ankara to Manila, are beginning to use water resources more efficiently.

The report's main message, the U.N.'s Unver says, is that water problems, and their solutions, must be looked at holistically.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Colin Megson
March 14, 2012 3:34 AM
Get potable water from brackish ground water and sea water for nothing! http://lftrsuk.blogspot.com/2012/03/water-water-every-where-nor-any-drop-to.html

Oh US of A, why didn't you do it all those years ago? http://lftrsuk.blogspot.com/2012/03/follow-up-to-is-for-atom-saddest.html

by: fy
March 11, 2012 9:03 PM
Is there any scientist working on filtering sea water into fresh water?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs