Global water crisis hits both rich and poor

Rich countries face a growing water crisis, with shortages caused by a combination of climate change, pollution and made worse by bad management of water resources, according to an NGO report.

Polluted waterways are a problem shared by the rich and poor. Here: washing clothes in the river, Madagascar

Polluted waterways are a problem shared by the rich and poor. Here: washing clothes in the river, Madagascar

The failure of the West to protect waterways from pollution or to preserve wetlands and flood-plains - natural barriers against drought and flooding - is already affecting Australia, Spain, the UK and USA, the World Wildlife Fund said in a report published this Wednesday.

Droughts plague European countries on the Atlantic coast and in the Mediterranean, where water-intensive tourism in draining water resources, warns the report Rich countries, poor water.

Salinity is a major problem in Australia, in Japan contamination is depleting available drinking water, while many areas of the United States are living beyond their means in terms of water supplies.

"This situation will only be exacerbated as global warming brings lower rainfall, increased evaporation and changed snowmelt patterns," the WWF said.

The West's mistakes should be read as a warning to India, Brazil and other fast-developing nations, dissuading them from large, unsustainable infrastructure projects like hydroelectric dams that disturb the natural balance, said the NGO.

While resources available to fight the well-publicised water crisis in the developing world are limited, developed nations seem to share some of the same problems despite plentiful funds.

"Economic riches don't translate to plentiful water," says Jamie Pittock, WWF's global freshwater programme director.

"Water must be used more efficiently throughout the world - scarcity and pollution are becoming more common and responsibility for finding solutions rests with both rich and poor nations."

The full report can be accessed at

Goska Romanowicz



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