4 Billion People Face Water Shortage: Rising Populations, Agriculture Drive Water Demand
A new study found that about 4 billion people worldwide are suffering from water shortage. Findings have suggested that supply shortage is driven by population increase and its consumption practices. Moreover, the increasing water demand for agriculture adds to the shortage.
University of Twente researchers in Netherlands analyzed 'blue water' availability of using a high resolution computer model that measures underground and surface freshwater. They compared the data to water demand data for household, agriculture and industry needs.
"We find that 4 billion people live in areas that experience severe water scarcity at least part of the year, which is more than previously thought, based on those earlier studies done on an annual basis," said study co-author Arjen Hoekstra.
Findings have showed that the total global water is enough to cover all needs. The real problem is that water isn't always available in all of the places where it is needed. Also, water isn't always available at all times. The study has found that areas with widespread irrigation practices, increasing population or both suffer from high water shortage.
The team has found that agricultural practices top the highest demand for water. Businesses and household consumption followed. Individual household consumption additionally covers about 1 percent to 4 percent of the total water demand.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said that two-thirds of the worldwide population could suffer from water shortages by 2025. The organization said that 70 percent of available freshwater is utilized on agricultural practices but inefficient methods, faulty irrigation systems waste bout 60 percent of it.
Cultivating crops in environments where they can become too thirsty for water also add to the wastefulness. Ironically, agriculture's high demand for freshwater also contribute to the supply's pollution through the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
WWF added that 41 percent of the world's current population resides in river basins that suffer water stress. An increasing population means new demands for basic needs that contribute to additional pressure on freshwater, which is used to produce required energy and commodities.
"Governments need to set a water cap for every month so they don't allow more water use than water available, and people must become more aware of how much water is being used for everything they consume," added Hoekstra.
Photo: Matthias Ripp | Flickr