Water is a scarce resource
Water is a resource that could become increasingly competitive. A study by Population Action International (PAI) states that by the year 2050 at least a quarter of the world's population will live in countries with chronic or recurring freshwater shortages. Although the growth of the world population is slowing down, according to the new study it must be assumed that by the middle of the next century the number of people affected by water scarcity will increase to around 2 billion people, i.e. at least quadruple (PAI study Sustaining Water, Easing Scarcity: A Second Update). Already more than 430 million people - eight percent of the world's population - live in areas where there is a shortage of water.
"Due to slower population growth in many countries, the global water situation looks better than it did two years ago," said Robert Engelman, director of PAI's population and environment program. "In any case, the pace of future population growth will be critical in determining whether 25 percent of the world's population suffers from water stress or up to 60 percent…".
The competition for water as a resource could lead to open conflict in some regions – especially in the Euphrates-Tigris basin, the Nile basin and South Africa. Along the Euphrates, Iraq, Syria and Turkey compete for their primary water source. The problem will intensify if, as predicted, the population there increases by about 50 percent over the next 30 years.
According to new data from the PAI, between 2 and 6.8 billion people in 48 to 60 countries will be affected by water shortages in 2050. Which values will arrive depends above all on real population growth.
While the Middle East and North Africa are currently suffering the most from water shortages, sub-Saharan Africa will be the hardest hit in the next half century, as current forecasts indicate that the population there will likely double or even double will triple.
According to the experts, five more countries will join the list of water-scarce areas in the next ten years. These are Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Somalia and South Africa. On the other hand, the new forecasts of the study also show a more relaxed situation for other countries such as Pakistan, Jordan, Sri Lanka, El Salvador and India - the country with the second largest population. Although the population continues to grow, the slower growth rate will have a significant effect on the water situation for decades to come. The PAI attributes the slowdown in population growth to the growing need for smaller families and the support of this desire by state family policies.
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