Water scarcity

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An abandoned ship in what used to be the Aral Sea, in Kazakhstan. Irrigation projects have caused it to shrink to 10% of its original size.
Food and Agriculture Organization's estimate for 2025 in Africa: 25 countries are expected to suffer from water shortage or water stress.

Water scarcity is a lack of drinkable water available in a given area. It mostly affects arid and deserted areas, and places where the water is too polluted to drink. It is a social, environmental and economic problem in many countries. Water scarcity can be the result of both human and natural causes. Changes in climate and weather patterns can cause the availability of water to drop. Common human causes include over-consumption, bad governance, pollution, and increases in the demand for water.[1]

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Different terms are used to describe different types of water scarcity:

  • A water shortage is when there is not enough water to meet demands. It is normally brought on by changes in the weather, such as drought.
  • Water stress is the difficulty of finding sources of fresh water for use, because of depleting resources.
  • A water crisis is a situation where the available supply of potable, clean water within an area is less than the demand for it.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that by 2025, 1.9 billion people will be living in countries or regions with total water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.[2] The World Bank has said that climate change could heavily change the future of water availability and use, amd therefore increase water stress on a global scale.[3]

Water scarcity has negative affects on ecology, biodiversity, agriculture and human health. It has also led to armed conflicts in several cases.

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