March 22, 2023

2bn people lack safe water, as UN warns crisis looms  

2bn people lack safe water, as UN warns crisis looms  

By Biodun Busari

The United Nations agency has said that over 2 billion people lack safe drinking water globally, as it warned that water scarcity looms due to rising climate change.

UN made this known on Wednesday in commemoration of World Water Day 2023, reiterating its commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 as part of the 2030 Agenda.

In its report, the world governing body said the current water crisis paints a grim picture of rising global water scarcity, saying seasonal scarcity will continue to increase due to climate change.

According to UNESCO, about 3.6 billion people across the globe also lack access to safely managed sanitation.

“About 26% of the global population does not have access to safe drinking water and about 46% of people lack access to safely managed sanitation services,” the report said.

According to the report, the global consumption of water has increased by about 1% every year over the past four decades “and is expected to grow at a similar rate through to 2050, driven by a combination of population growth, socio-economic development and changing consumption patterns.”

The report underlined the enormous gap in the availability of water and its usage across different regions, and the need to fill it to ensure all people have access to clean water by 2030.

Speaking at a news conference, Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the report, said that the estimated cost of meeting the goals is somewhere between $600 billion and $1 trillion a year.

About 10% of the global population lives in countries where water stress is considered “high or critical.”

More than 70% of water consumption takes place in the agricultural sector. However, with the growth in city-dwelling populations, “water allocation from agriculture to urban centres has become a common strategy to meet freshwater needs,” the UN said.

The report says that because of climate change “seasonal water scarcity will increase in regions where it is currently abundant — such as Central Africa, East Asia and parts of South America — and worsen in regions where water is already in short supply, such as the Middle East and the Sahara in Africa.”