The Asia-Pacific region will be the world’s hotspot for future water shortages, according to a new report from the Asia Development Bank.
Almost 3.5 billion people will be living in the region’s water-scarce areas by 2050, with Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan and Singapore the hardest hit.
Because most of the region’s water – up to 90 percent in some countries – goes to irrigation to feed a relentlessly growing population, little is left for drinking and sanitation. Also, in most Asia-Pacific countries, less than 15 percent of wastewater is treated. The combination of water shortages and untreated waste is a public health disaster in the making.
In addition, the region will need to double its food production if the population expands as predicted – and do so with shrinking water supplies.
TRENDPOST: To be water-secure, every country in the region will need to rapidly adopt new, more efficient methods of irrigation, agriculture and urban water use. New water sources, such as desalination of seawater, will also be crucial. While Australia, New Zealand and Japan are making rapid progress in water management, developing countries lack the money, political will and popular culture to get on trend.