Water crisis wakeup call

Water-related hazards like floods and droughts are increasing because of climate change according to a new multi-agency report.

As a result, the number of people suffering water stress is expected to soar, exacerbated by population increase and dwindling availability. But management, monitoring, forecasting and early warnings are fragmented and inadequate, whilst global climate finance efforts are insufficient, the State of Climate Services 2021: Water predicts.

The report was coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and contains input from more than 20 international organizations, development agencies and scientific institutions.

The report highlights the need for urgent action to improve cooperative water management, embrace integrated water and climate policies and scale up investment in this precious commodity which underpins all the international goals on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

“This report should be a wakeup call to the climate negotiators meeting in Glasgow in November. The report’s main conclusion is that integrated water resources management is crucial to achieving long-term social, economic, and environmental well-being” Said Dario Soto Abril, executive secretary of the Global Water Partnership (GWP).

Water-related hazards have increased in frequency over the past 20 years. Since 2000, flood-related disasters have risen by 134 per cent compared with the two previous decades. Most of the flood-related deaths and economic losses were recorded in Asia, where end-to-end warning systems for riverine floods require strengthening. The number and duration of droughts also increased by 29 per cent over this same period. Most drought-related deaths occurred in Africa, indicating a need for stronger end-to-end warning systems for drought in that region.

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