Parched earth and shrinking rivers: WaterAid releases list of water-scarce regions to watch

on
5 June 2018
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Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Mozambique, Madagascar, Climate change, Water
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* List of water-scarce nations comes ahead of global review of UN Sustainable Development Goal for progress on water

* Based on current rates of access to water and unsustainable water usage, these are countries where the poor will suffer most

For images, please click on this link.

Cities and villages in northern and central India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, southern Madagascar and southern Mozambique are facing acute water scarcity threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions, new analysis by WaterAid shows.

Based on NASA satellite imagery released earlier this year, the analysis also examines current rates of access to water for rural and urban areas in most-affected regions.

While underground aquifers in other areas such as northern Australia and California are also facing serious depletion, it is the world’s poorest regions and nations which will feel the strongest impact, as large numbers of their residents have already struggled historically to access to a reliable, safe source of water.

Jonathan Farr, senior policy analyst on water security and climate change at WaterAid, said:

“This illustrates the injustice of climate change – while areas on our list have contributed least to carbon emissions, they will be most affected by its impact. “Declining and unreliable rainfall, rising seas making groundwater saline, and overuse by industry and agriculture mean that the poorest in each of these regions are struggling even more to get by on limited supplies of water that is most likely not safe to drink.

“Drinking water is a human right, and as world leaders meet in New York in July to review the UN Sustainable Development Goal on water, we have only to look at this data and at these communities to know that progress is simply not adequate. We need to step up efforts to mitigate climate change, to help the poorest countries adapt to the change already upon them, and to ensure nations are making the most of this precious resource by prioritising and financing access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all.”

Regions and countries where access to water is most at risk include:

1. Northern and central India. In India, 163 million people are without access to clean water close to home, or 15% of all rural residents and 7% of all urban residents.[i] Severe depletion of water in important underground aquifers in the north, already home to some of India’s poorest communities, further threatens their access to water. Recent reports have highlighted water crises in Shimla, Sonbhadra and Bundelkhand regions, among others.

2. Bangladesh. Despite almost-annual monsoon flooding, fresh water that is safe to drink is an increasingly precious commodity, from depleted groundwater sources, dwindling rainfall and rising seas that leave water saline. Official statistics show that 4.3 million people are without access to water close to home; however, this number is likely larger when salinity of groundwater and naturally occurring arsenic, which is estimated to pollute a further 12.5% of household water sources, are factored in.

3. Myanmar. Increasingly intense hot dry seasons, a decrease in rainfall and depletion of groundwater are contributing to annual water scarcity in Myanmar. Some 17.5 million people in the country are without access to clean water close to home, including almost 40% of rural residents.

4. Southern Mozambique. Like nearby Cape Town, Mozambique’s capital of Maputo and surrounding area are facing acute water shortages, with rolling service cuts and rationing already in place, following failed rains and heavy use by large-scale agriculture. Some 14.7 million people in the country are already without access to clean water close to home.

5. Southern Madagascar. This African island nation’s southern region has faced both severe drought and torrential flooding, which has taken a severe toll on communities. Only half of the country’s inhabitants have access to clean water close to home, leaving 12 million people without access.

Avinash Kumar, Director of Programmes & Policy at WaterAid India, said:

“Due to climate change, India has experienced extreme weather events in past few years - excessive rainfall, increased incidence of floods and droughts. Every year, lack of access to clean water adversely affects quality of life, particularly of the poorest, further setting them back.

“While the Indian government is taking steps in the right direction, it needs to approach the issue in a holistic manner by ensuring stringent measures to reduce pollution of water bodies, prevent excessive exploitation of groundwater, promote water recharge measures such as rainwater harvesting, treat wastewater and promote its use for non-critical services and ensure climate resilient water sector planning.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact:


In London
Carolynne Wheeler, News Manager
[email protected] or +44 (0)207 793 4485

Fiona Callister, Global Head of Media
[email protected] or +44 (0)207 793 5022.

In Delhi
Pragya Gupta, Media Officer
[email protected]

Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected]


Notes to Editors:

WaterAid

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 34 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @wateraid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]

2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]

Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]

Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]

Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org 

 

[3] washwatch.org

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org