WB warns of water scarcity-driven growth curb
Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6 percent of their GDP, spur migration, and spark conflict, World Bank said in a report released today.
“The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain,” it said.
Unless action is taken soon, the report says, water will become scarce in regions where it is currently abundant - such as Central Africa and East Asia - and scarcity will greatly worsen in regions where water is already in short supply - such as the Middle East and the Sahel in Africa.
“Water insecurity could multiply the risk of conflict, the report adds. Food price spikes caused by droughts can inflame latent conflicts and drive migration.”
“Water scarcity is a major threat to economic growth and stability around the world, and climate change is making the problem worse,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
“If countries do not take action to better manage water resources, our analysis shows that some regions with large populations could be living with long periods of negative economic growth. But countries can enact policies now that will help them manage water sustainably for the years ahead.”
“There is a silver lining,” said the report’s author and a World Bank Lead Economist Richard Damania. “When governments respond to water shortages by boosting efficiency and allocating even 25 percent of water to more highly-valued uses, losses decline dramatically and for some regions may even vanish. Improved water stewardship pays high economic dividends.”