The United Nations warned in a report published Tuesday, March 21, that excessive water consumption and climate change have made water shortages worldwide, indicating an “imminent risk” of a global crisis.
The United Nations Water Conference and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a joint report hours before the opening of a rare conference on this thorny issue, stating that about two billion people lack safe drinking water, while 3.6 billion people lack reliable sanitation services.
In the foreword to the report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a stern warning that the world was “walking blindly down a dangerous path.”
“draining humanity’s lifeline“
Guterres reiterated his warning that the overuse of groundwater, the planet’s rising surface temperature and pollution are “draining humanity’s lifeblood” of water. Water use has increased around the world at about 1% annually over the past 40 years.
To meet this growing thirst, groundwater is resorted to and extracted in excessive quantities. This equates to between 100 and 200 cubic kilometers of groundwater reserves being depleted every year, according to the report, which also states that The urban population at risk of water shortage is expected to increase from 933 million in 2016 to between 1.7 and 2.4 billion in 2050. This “significantly” limits the availability of water to meet the needs of the population of particular concern.
Iraq is looking for solutions to water scarcity
Coinciding with the publication of the report, the Iraqi Prime Minister met on Tuesday, March 21, with the Turkish President to discuss the files of the Turkish dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as Iraq suffers from an alarming drop in the water levels of the two rivers that originate in Turkey.
After the meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to increase the flow of water in the Tigris River “for a month and as much as possible” to help neighboring Iraq combat drought.
In the same context, the Turkish president added, during a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, “The water problem will be solved… We are aware of Iraq’s urgent needs for water,” pointing out that Turkey itself is witnessing the lowest rates of precipitation in more than six decades.
This phenomenon is exacerbated by the low precipitation rates in recent years and the poor irrigation practices in Iraq with the excessive exploitation of river water.