1.4 billion will suffer water scarcity in the next 25 years

An estimated 1.4 billion people - a quarter of the world's population - will experience severe water scarcity within the first quarter of the next century, according to the International Water Management Institute.

Over one billion people live in arid regions that will face absolute water scarcity by 2025. These regions do not have sufficient water resources to maintain 1990 levels of per capita food production from irrigated agriculture, even at high levels of irrigation efficiency, and also meet reasonable water needs for domestic, industrial and environmental purposes by 2025. People in these regions will accordingly have to reduce water use in agriculture and transfer it to other sectors, reducing domestic food production and importing more food, says IWMI.

About 348 million more people face severe economic water scarcity. They live in regions where the potential water resources are sufficient to meet reasonable water needs by 2025, but they will have to embark on massive water development projects, at enormous cost and possibly severe environmental damage, to achieve this objective.

The paper linked below briefly reviews and interprets these estimates and examines the kinds of research and information needs necessary to manage water recourses more efficiently and productively in the twenty-first century. Since water resource programs typically require twenty years or more to bring to fruition, it is important to anticipate problems and take appropriate actions well in advance before they reach a crisis state, say the authors.

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