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#climate change and pollution, the biggest cause for future water shortages.
Climate Climate Man-Made

UN report: "Almost half of the population can be affected by water scarcity by 2050"

More than 5 billion people could be affected in 2050 by a shortage of water. That states a new report from the United Nations. Climate change, increased demand and polluted stock are, according to the report, the culprits.
Parched soil
Drought in Cape Town. © AFP

The study, which was presented at the World Water Forum in Brazil, also warns against conflicts if no concrete measures are taken. According to the UN, these must be more natural solutions, for example working with soil and trees instead of steel and concrete. "The world has focused too long on a man-made infrastructure to improve water management," said Gilbert Houngbo, the director of UN-Water in the foreword of the report.

Un-Water Director, Gilbert Houngbo

In 2050 the world population will have risen to between 9.4 and 10.2 billion people, of whom two third live in the city. According to the report, between 4.8 and 5.7 billion people will live in an area where water scarcity is at least one month per year. In addition, 1.6 billion people may be affected by a flood.
A child swimming in a flodded river

Agricultural culture must be different

The main causes of this increase are the rapidly growing demand for water, climate change and polluted water. For example, about 80 percent of industrial and municipal waste water is discharged without treatment. And the drought caused by climate change is already visible in cities such as Cape Town, where very strict restrictions on water use apply due to the water shortage.
A plough on barren grey, black soil
Source: Belga / own reporting / De Standaard

The solution, according to the report, lies in a different agricultural culture. After all, it uses and pollutes the most water. According to the UN there is a need for a "conservative agricultural culture". This mainly means that rainwater is used instead of irrigation, and that crops are alternated in order to reduce the burden on the soil.

Source: The Guardian. Cover phot: Hans van der Broek, Lien Guillot