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

Editorial

Imran’s lesson
Updated 15 May, 2022

Imran’s lesson

Patronage of the security and intelligence apparatus exacts a heavy price and almost never delivers any long-term dividends.
15 May, 2022

Small mercies

AT a time when Pakistan is getting closer to the brink with its foreign currency reserves dropping to just around...
15 May, 2022

Child sexual abuse

IT is interesting that despite the strictures of society and political leaders on community evils, there is little...
Updated 14 May, 2022

Severe water crisis

The current situation is just another reminder that Pakistan may become the most water-stressed nation in the region by 2040.
Updated 14 May, 2022

Yasin Malik’s trial

Muslim bloc needs to do more to press home the point to India that its brutal policies in occupied Kashmir are unacceptable.
Updated 14 May, 2022

Fake markers

RECENT reports reveal that the two children in KP who had contracted polio this year, had fake marks on their hands....