4 Billion People Face Severe Water Shortages

17 February by


At least two-thirds of the global population, over 4 billion people, live with severe water scarcity for at least one month every year, according to a major new analysis published in the journal Science Advances.

Co-authors Arjen Y. Hoekstra, a professor of water management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and post-doctoral researcher Mesfin Mekonnen used computer modeling to study a growing shortage that they say is being driven by population growth, improved living standards, changing consumption patterns and the expansion of irrigation in agriculture.

The new research reveals that 500m people live in places where water consumption is double the amount replenished by rain for the entire year, leaving them extremely vulnerable as underground aquifers run down.

Many of those living with fragile water resources are in India and China, but other regions highlighted are the central and western US, Australia and even the city of London.

In a year when we have had so much rain and flooding in the UK, this can be difficult to comprehend, however there is no doubt that water scarcity is a very real threat to global sustainability; As Hoekstra told the New York Times, water scarcity isn’t just a problem for those who don’t have enough water. “Since the remaining people in the world receive part of their food from the affected areas, it involves us all,” 

Read more The Guardian 'Four billion people face severe water scarcity, new research finds