Earlier this year, a World Bank report found that water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could hinder economic growth, spur migration, and spark conflict. [Ya think?]

However, most countries can neutralize the adverse impacts of water scarcity by taking action to allocate and use water resources more efficiently.

Among the findings, key items include:

  • Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP, spur migration, and spark conflict.
  • The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain.
  • Unless action is taken soon, water will become scarce in regions where it is currently abundant – such as Central Africa and East Asia – and scarcity will greatly worsen in regions where water is already in short supply – such as the Middle East and the Sahel in Africa. These regions could see their growth rates decline by as much as 6% of GDP by 2050 due to water-related impacts on agriculture, health, and incomes.
  • Water insecurity could multiply the risk of conflict. Food price spikes caused by droughts can inflame latent conflicts and drive migration. Where economic growth is impacted by rainfall, episodes of droughts and floods have generated waves of migration and spikes in violence within countries.

The report noted:

None other than India, the newly anointed growth champion of the world economy, is in the grips of a two-year drought that threatens the economic livelihood of more than 300 million people. Because water levels in India’s 91 reservoirs are at their lowest levels in decades, agricultural output has declined, while electricity generation has plummeted. Dams are parched, factories are operating below capacity, and the lack of safe drinking water has put the health of millions of people at risk. Water wars have erupted between states, making the crisis all that more acute for the national government. Add it all up and the world’s strongest emerging market is being laid low by a climate-induced water crisis.



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