Billion-plus people to lack water in 2050: study

A A A

More than one billion urban residents will face serious water shortages by 2050 as climate change worsens effects of urbanization, with Indian cities among the worst hit, a study said Monday.

The shortage threatens sanitation in some of the world's fastest-growing cities but also poses risks for wildlife if cities pump in water from outside, said the article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that under current urbanization trends, by mid-century some 993 million city dwellers will live with less than 100 liters (26 gallons) each day of water each - roughly the amount that fills a personal bathtub - which authors considered the daily minimum.

Adding on the impact of climate change, an additional 100 million people will lack what they need for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing and toilet use.

"Don't take the numbers as destiny. They're a sign of a challenge," said lead author Rob McDonald of The Nature Conservancy, a private environmental group based near Washington.

"There are solutions to getting those billion people water. It's just a sign that a lot more investment is going to be needed, either in infrastructure or in water use efficiency," he said.

Currently, around 150 million people fall below the 100-liter threshold for daily water use. The average American has 376 liters delivered a day, although actual use varies widely depending on region, McDonald said.

But the world is undergoing an unprecedented urban shift as rural people in India, China and other growing nations flock to cities.

India's six biggest cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad - are among those most affected by water shortages. The study forecast that 119 million people would face water shortages in 2050 in the Ganges River delta and plain alone.

With an annual monsoon, India does not lack water. But it struggles to preserve the water from the wet season to the dry season, McDonald said.

West Africa, which sees some of the world's heaviest rainfall, will also face water shortages in cities such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Cotonou in Benin, the study found.

The study warned of threats to ecosystems if developing nations take water from elsewhere. India's Western Ghats region, a potential source for thirsty cities, is home to nearly 300 fish species, 29 percent of which are found nowhere else, it said.

"If cities are essentially drinking rivers dry, that has really bad effects on the fish and the reptiles and everything else in the river," McDonald said.

Instead, the study recommended reforms to agriculture - usually the top consumer of water - and improved efficiency, as nearly half of the water in some poor countries is wasted due to leaks.

"There is a lot of potential for increase in water-use efficiency in the agriculture sector, or indeed in the residential sector, to solve most of this challenge," McDonald said.

The study said there would be a need for international funding to help poorer nations "to ensure that urban residents can enjoy their fundamental right to adequate drinking water."

UN-led talks last year on climate change agreed on practicalities to set up a global fund to assist poor nations most hit by climate change, with a target of 100 billion dollars a year starting in 2020.

Other cities forecast by the study to face a water crunch include Manila, Beijing, Lahore and Tehran.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have experience of B2B s...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game