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India Likely to be Severely Impacted by Water Scarcity By 2050, Says UN

The global urban population facing water scarcity is estimated to grow from 933 million in 2016 to 1.7-2.4 billion people in 2050, according to a landmark research titled 'United Nations Global Water Development Report 2023: Partnerships and Cooperation for Water’ released on March 21.

Shivam Dwivedi
Strong international structures are urgently needed to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control
Strong international structures are urgently needed to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control

According to the report released ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference, almost 80% of people living under water stress live in Asia, specifically northeast China, India, and Pakistan.

"The global urban population facing water scarcity is projected to grow from 933 million (one-third of the global urban population) in 2016 to 1.7-2.4 billion people (one-third to nearly half of the global urban population) in 2050, with India projected to be the most severely affected," according to the report, which cited data.

"Strong international structures are urgently needed to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. Water is our collective future, and we must work together to share it equitably and sustainably. According to the research, two billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, and 3.6 billion do not have access to securely managed sanitation.

The research also stated that because water is a cross-cutting issue, partnerships and cooperation are critical to integrated approaches to water management that transcend important industries.

In a transboundary context, the water-energy-food nexus is equally crucial. The Mahakali Treaty (Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project) between India and Nepal established a transboundary water cooperation agreement that aims to promote water and energy security for both parties. Although the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project has been delayed for a long time, various positive effects have been emphasised in terms of irrigation and flood management, as well as reducing energy shortages, according to the report.

According to the paper, partnerships that emphasise knowledge co-creation rather than knowledge transfer attempt to embrace the diversity of expertise and experience inside a knowledge system. This is especially true in the context of water.

"Water resource management strategies in many regions of the world integrate traditional features ranging from local expert knowledge on spring water availability and flood frequency to very advanced systems such as ancient water planting and harvesting. This can (and should) include the knowledge and experience of women, who frequently play an important role in water management, particularly in rural areas," it stated.

According to the report, Google launched a flood forecasting initiative in 2018 as part of a crisis response programme aimed at providing trusted information and resources in critical moments, with the goal of preventing catastrophic damage by providing those in danger with accurate and detailed alerts.

Operating in collaboration with the Indian Central Water Commission and the Bangladesh Water Development Board, it initially reached 220 million people in India and Bangladesh, sending out 40 million possibly life-saving notifications. Earlier worldwide flood alerts merely offered information on how much rivers would rise, which was not always useful to those at risk. Google Maps flood alerts illustrate this crucial information by superimposing the extent and depth of probable floods.

The report, released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), focuses on the twin themes of partnerships and collaboration, highlighting constructive ways players can work together to tackle common difficulties.

Such alliances and cooperation, according to Connor, are critical to realising human rights to water and resolving existing problems. He described the topography of such limitations, saying that economic water scarcity is a major issue where governments fail to guarantee safe access, such as in the centre of Africa, where water flows. Meanwhile, physical scarcity is greatest in desert places such as northern India and the Middle East.

In response to a concern regarding potential "water wars" in the wake of a worldwide crisis, Connor stated that the critical natural resource "tends to lead to peace and collaboration rather than violence."

He stated that strengthening transboundary cooperation is the primary instrument for avoiding conflict and growing tensions, noting that 153 nations share roughly 900 rivers, lakes, and aquifer systems, with more than half having signed agreements.

(Source: PTI)

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