Global warming, population growth, urbanisation and rising agricultural needs are putting a strain on water supplies
By Mariaelena Agostini
LONDON, Dec 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Water scarcity affects almost half the world's population, a number that is expected to rise in the coming decades even as global warming, population growth, urbanisation and rising agricultural needs put further strain on supplies.
The issue was on Friday's agenda in the Polish town of Katowice, where representatives of more than 190 countries have come together for U.N.-sponsored climate talks.
Following is information on some of the countries most threatened by water scarcity.
More than half of Niger's 20 million people do not have access to clean water.
Only one in 10 people has access to a decent toilet.
Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world, with an average of seven children per woman.
Dirty water and poor toilets cause over 12,000 children under the age of 5 to die from diarrhoea each year.
About 10 percent of Pakistan's population does not have access to clean water.
Pakistan's population is growing 2.4 percent annually. Linked to that, per capita water availability has been on a downward trend for decades. In 1947, the figure stood at about 5,000 cubic metres per person. Today it is 1,000 cubic metres.
Pakistan has more glaciers than any other country outside the polar region. But data gathered over the last 50 years shows that all but around 120 of the glaciers are showing signs of melting.
In Somalia, the current water scarcity is largely the result of successive droughts, which also have had a direct impact on agriculture and food production.
Only 45 percent of Somalis have access to safe sources of drinking water.
This increases the risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases, such as cholera, particularly among children and women.
In Sudan, a country of 43 million people, only 2 percent of water is available for domestic use.
Sudan's water largely comes from Ethiopia and its availability will be determined not only by climate change but also water management decisions taken by its neighbour. (Sources: WaterAid, Thomson Reuters Foundation, World Bank, CIA, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, World Health Organisation, U.N. Water, ICRC, FAO, UNICEF, ODI.)
(Reporting by Mariaelena Agostini, additional reporting by Kevin Mwanza and Umberto Bacchi, Editing by Jason Fields. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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