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4.6 billion to face water scarcity due to climate change by 2050, says UN

Droughts expected to increase due to human-caused climate change as Africa continues to be the hardest-hit continent.

THE frequency and duration of droughts will continue to increase due to human-caused climate change, the United Nations warned in a report published on Wednesday.

The UN desertification agency estimates that roughly a third of the world’s population — 2.3 billion people — already faces water scarcity, with that number expected to double by 2050.

Although no region is spared, the report notes that Africa is the hardest-hit continent, with the Americas, India and Australia also highlighted as areas of particular concern at present and for the future.

The ongoing drought in the east and Horn of Africa was highlighted as one of the “dramatic consequences” of climate change by the UN agency.

The agency’s lead scientist Barron Orr said that the world needed to be more proactive when it comes to dealing with drought-related disasters.

He said that the next step for Africa is to “direct investments to build resilience, so as to bounce back from drought.”

India’s gross domestic product shrank by 5 per cent due to drought between 1998 and 2017 and Australia’s agricultural productivity slumped by 18 per cent between 2002 and 2010 for the same reason. The country can also expect more wildfires, the report warns.

The same is true for the Amazon, the UN says, with three droughts occurring since the turn of the century and triggering forest fires, for which climate change and deforestation are to blame.

The agency estimates that 16 per cent of the South American region’s remaining forests will burn by 2050 if deforestation continues at its current rate.

The report calls for adaptation measures such as the use of better agricultural techniques that consume less water while producing more food, drought action plans and greater investment in soil health, new technologies and early warning systems.

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