In Brief... Water Shortages Worsening

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In Brief... Water Shortages Worsening

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Here are some highlights of the report:

Asia has the lowest per capita availability of water and, by the year 2025, nearly one billion people there will not have adequate access to water.

One-third of the world population is living in countries experiencing medium water stress.

It looks as though the bulk of the developing countries will spend the next 50 years struggling to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to their burgeoning urban populations and enough irrigation water to maintain high levels of food production needed to provide improving diets.

If all of the earth's water fit in a gallon jug, available fresh water would equal just over a tablespoon-about half of 1 percent of the total.

The supply crunch could also revive old-and introduce new-water-borne diseases and lead to micro-pollutants from pharmaceuticals such as synthetic hormones getting through existing treatment facilities.

International conflicts over water are likely to consume more and more of our time.

Even "relatively privileged" countries such as the United States and Canada are not going to be trouble-free over the next 50 years.

At the dawn of the 21st century, more than a billion people in the developing world lacked safe drinking water.

In a related report, scientists using pictures from a NASA satellite estimated that Lake Chad would be reduced to nothing more than a puddle in a few years. It has shrunk approximately 95 percent over the past four decades.

Once the fourth-largest body of water in Africa, it may not be able to continue to supply water to the countries it formerly bordered-Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon. Sudan and the Central African Republic, which rely on rivers from the lake's drainage basin, may also face shortages. A steady drop in rainfall amounts has caused the shrinkage of the lake for nearly 40 years, accompanied by a commensurate increase in demand for water to irrigate crops.

Sources: AFP; Times Newspapers Ltd.