Water scarcity, drought next pandemic, warns UN

Published June 18, 2021
Water scarcity and drought are set to wreak damage on a scale to rival the Covid-19 pandemic with risks growing rapidly as global temperatures rise, according to the United Nations. — Reuters
Water scarcity and drought are set to wreak damage on a scale to rival the Covid-19 pandemic with risks growing rapidly as global temperatures rise, according to the United Nations. — Reuters

BRUSSELS: Water scarcity and drought are set to wreak damage on a scale to rival the Covid-19 pandemic with risks growing rapidly as global temperatures rise, according to the United Nations.

“Drought is on the verge of becoming the next pandemic and there is no vaccine to cure it,” Mami Mizutori, the UN’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, told an online press briefing ahead of the report’s release.

Already, droughts have triggered economic losses of at least $124 billion and hit more than 1.5 billion people between 1998 and 2017, according to a UN report published on Thursday.

But even these figures, it said, are “most likely gross under-estimates”.

Global warming has now intensified droughts in southern Europe and western Africa, the UN report said with “some confidence”. And the number of victims is set to “grow dramatically” unless the world acts, Mizutori said. About 130 countries could face a greater risk of drought this century under a high-emissions scenario cited by the UN.

Another 23 countries will confront water shortages because of population gro­wth, with 38 nations affected by both, it said. Drought, like a virus, tends to last a long time, have a wide geographic reach and cause knock-on damage, Mizutori said.

“It can indirectly affect countries which are not actually experiencing the drought through food insecurity and the rise of food prices,” Mizutori said.

The UN expects more frequent and severe droughts in most of Africa, central and south America, central Asia, southern Australia, southern Europe, Mexico and the United States.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2021

Opinion

A fragmenting ummah
Updated 23 Jul 2021

A fragmenting ummah

Muslims are suffering in many parts of the world, all of which is known by other Muslims, but that nevertheless continues.
Virtual vultures
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Virtual vultures

Pegasus software has stirred a storm of indignation across the globe.
Shifting goalposts
Updated 20 Jul 2021

Shifting goalposts

Afghanistan is one place where proxy war by regional and bigger powers has always been a constant.

Editorial

India’s admission
Updated 21 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.
New blow for Pak-Afghan ties
Updated 20 Jul 2021

New blow for Pak-Afghan ties

Islamabad police need to build a watertight case around their final conclusions because the stakes could not have been higher.
20 Jul 2021

FDI decline

THE worrisome, sharp decline in the more permanent, non-debt-creating foreign direct investment, or FDI, should be a...
20 Jul 2021

Another tragic accident

ALMOST every other week, if not every other day, newspapers report deadly road and rail accidents. It has been ...