A Hungry and Thirsty World is Growing
Widespread annual droughts, once a rare calamity, have become more frequent and are set to become the “new normal,” causing severe economic, poverty and nutritional effects. The expected megadroughts would present major risks to water sources, and with the increasing agricultural demand there is an increased need to devise new ways to use water and provide innovative water solutions.
Today, the United Nations Water Division calculates that some 70% of fresh water goes to agricultural production; therefore feeding the world is really about water. Major river basins in the United States showed 5 percent to 50 percent reductions in flow recently, with these reductions persisting up to three years after the drought ended because the lakes and reservoirs that feed them needed several years of average rainfall to return to pre-drought levels. As population grows and demand increases, cities will have to fundamentally change how they acquire and use water.
Water scarcity in the United States will seemingly lead to current temporary emergency steps such as bans on watering lawns, becoming permanent, and grocery bills increasing with the cost of agricultural production increasing. In Malawi, it is projected that future severe droughts observed once in 25 years could increase poverty by 17 percent, hitting especially hard rural poor communities; and in India, dismal losses from droughts have in the past already reduced 60-90 percent of households’ normal yearly income in the affected communities.
Water infrastructure is therefore an area that requires investment both for new construction in developing regions and repairs for crumbling pipes in the developed world.