Three billion people live in agricultural regions affected by very high levels of water scarcity or water shortages

Three billion people live in agricultural regions affected by very high levels of water scarcity or water shortages
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) is the lead agency for SDG indicator 6.4.2, which measures the pressure exerted by human activity on natural freshwater resources. According to the FAO, three billion people live in agricultural areas affected by severe water scarcity.

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) is the lead agency for SDG indicator 6.4.2, which measures the pressure exerted by human activity on natural freshwater resources. A new study from the UN agency tells us that more than three billion people live in agricultural regions that experience very high levels of water scarcity or water shortages, and almost half of them are faced with serious water constraints.

The available freshwater resources, per person, have declined by more than 20% over the past two decades globally, the report says. About 1.2 billion people live in areas where agricultural activity faces severe water shortages or severe water scarcity situations.

Of this total, around 40% are in East and South-East Asia, and a slightly higher percentage in South Asia. Central Asia as well as West Asia and North Africa are also severely affected, with around one in five people in agricultural areas with severe water shortages or scarcity, compared to just 4% in Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Europe and Oceania. About 5% of the people of sub-Saharan Africa live in similar conditions, which means that around 50 million people live in areas where once every three years severe droughts have a catastrophic impact on crops and land pastures.

Almost 11% of rain-fed land globally experiences frequent droughts, as does 14% of pastures. Over 171 million hectares of irrigated crops are subject to high water stress. Eleven countries, all located in North Africa or Asia, face both difficulties.

It is therefore necessary and even urgent to adopt sound water accounting, a clear system of water resource allocation and modern technologies, and to switch to crops that require less water.

FAO