Water woes

Published: Sunday 15 August 1999

increasing water shortages in the world may lead to global hunger, civil unrest and even war, according to a new study by Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and senior fellow with the Worldwatch Institute, usa . Postel warns that unless immediate steps are taken, water shortage may reduce the global food supply by more than 10 per cent.

According to Postel, two-thirds of global water usage is for irrigation but less than half of that reaches the roots of plants. Without increasing water productivity in irrigation, major food-producing regions will not have enough water to sustain crop production."

But the productivity of irrigation is in jeopardy from the over-pumping of groundwater, the growing diversion of irrigation water to cities, and the build-up of salts in the soil. Water tables are dropping steadily in several major food-producing regions as groundwater is pumped faster than nature replenishes it.

With the population growing rapidly in many of the water-short regions, the problems are bound to worsen.

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