Agriculture and Farming Technology Updates

5 billion people could face difficulty accessing water in 2050

More than 5 billion by mid-century, warned today in a report by the World Meteorological Organization


Some 3.6 billion people have problems accessing water for at least one month a year, a figure that could rise to more than 5 billion by mid-century, warned today in a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the availability of fresh water on the planet.

Difficulty accessing water

The report, the first that the WMO dedicates specifically to water resources, highlights that in 2021 two thirds of the earth’s surface had river flows below the average of the past 30 years, while only one-third was above or at average levels.

At a time characterized by the growing demand for the liquid element and a limited supply, water is also related to 74% of natural disasters (droughts, floods, storms), recalled the report by the United Nations agency.

“The impacts of climate change tend to manifest themselves through water, with more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme floods, more irregular seasonal rains and the acceleration of the melting of glaciers,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri. Taalas, at the presentation of the report.

This highlights as areas where the river flow was below average in 2021 the Río de la Plata and the south and southeast of the Amazon (South America) or the basins of the Colorado, Missouri and Mississippi rivers in North America.

Average flow

In Africa, there was also less than average flow in the Niger, Volta, Nile and Congo rivers, while in Eurasia the same was true in basins in Siberia, other parts of Russia and Central Asia.

On the contrary, higher than normal flows were recorded in some basins in North America, the north of the Amazon, rivers in southern Africa (such as the Zambezi and the Orange) and others in China and India, the latter two of which suffered significant floods.

Some of the areas where the water supply is at critical levels see their situation exacerbated by the overexploitation of groundwater for risky purposes, the report warns.

This also analyzes the cryosphere (ice at the poles, mountains and glaciers), which is the world’s largest reserve of fresh water as it is the source of rivers and supplies for 1.9 billion people, and warns of a worrying meltdown in areas such as Alaska (North America), Patagonia (South America) or the Himalayas (Asia).

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