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Ian Explains: The problem of our diminishing water supply
Ian explains: The problem of our diminishing water supply | GZERO World

Ian Explains: The problem of our diminishing water supply

Water is a vital resource the world can't live without, yet it's something we often overlook. Did you know that there is only one ocean on Earth? It's true. It might have a different name depending on where you are in the world––Atlantic, Pacific, Indian––but they're all connected. And they cover a staggering 71% of our planet's surface, representing 96% of all water on earth.

Freshwater, the kind we need to survive, is becoming scarcer every day, Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World. Climate change and increasing demand for water are putting pressure on one of the world's most precious resources. As a result, droughts and severe water scarcity are becoming more common.

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The uncomfortable truth about water scarcity
The uncomfortable truth about water scarcity | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

The uncomfortable truth about water scarcity

Water is critical to life, yet billions of people worldwide lack access to it. Gilbert Houngbo, Chair of UN-Water, sheds light on this critical issue on GZERO World. Houngbo attributes the water crisis to both "lack of resources and bad governance," and stresses the need for investment in water-related infrastructure to help solve the problem.

"We as a global society have taken water for granted," Houngbo says, "Water must become everyone's business." Agriculture alone accounts for up to 75% of global fresh water use, so investing in technology to reduce waste and also plan for climate change is key. Houngbo also highlights the importance of developing metrics to measure progress in addressing water scarcity, particularly in rural areas, and cautions against private companies leaving the most vulnerable populations behind.

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The Graphic Truth: Has clean water access improved?

In many low- and middle-income countries, availability of safe, drinkable water remains scarce. Though access has improved significantly in many places over the past two decades – by 152% in Afghanistan, for instance – the very low baseline means that still only 28% of that population has access to high quality drinking water. Meanwhile, countries like the Central African Republic, Zambia, Nepal, and Pakistan saw their access reduced over the past two decades. Here’s a snapshot of the relative change in access to safe drinking water around the world from 2000-2020.

Luisa Vieira

What We’re Watching: Water wars vs. cooperation

Water wars?

Hundreds of millions of both Indians and Pakistanis depend on water from the Indus River for drinking, farming, and hydropower. The Indus Waters Treaty, signed by India’s prime minister and Pakistan’s president in 1960, guarantees how water from the river and its tributaries will be shared. This was put at risk in February 2019, when a suicide car bomb killed more than 40 Indian soldiers in the Indian-controlled sector of Kashmir. India’s transport minister responded with plans to “stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan.” The Pakistani government then warned it would treat any stoppage of water as an “act of war.” A treaty loses its values if one side decides not to honor it. Though tensions cooled in this case, the risk of a water war remains, because it’s simply too dangerous for these nuclear-armed and bitter rivals to fight a war with conventional weapons, and water will only become a more precious resource in coming years. Global warming could shrink the Himalayan glaciers that feed the river by more than a third in coming decades and make rainfall patterns more erratic, even as Indian and Pakistan water demand increases with population growth.

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Water crisis forces Indian farmers to rethink their crops

July 22, 2020 12:42 PM

HARYANA, INDIA (BLOOMBERG) - On a scorching summer day in northern India, Ajay Singh sat next to his water pump and scanned his 10 acres (4ha) of farmland.

Sydney to impose first water restrictions in a decade

May 29, 2019 5:00 AM

SYDNEY • Australia's most populous state yesterday announced its first major water restrictions in a decade, putting limits on homes and businesses amid a record-breaking drought.

Selangor water disruption for repairs at plant to hit 4 million

April 20, 2019 5:00 AM

PUTRAJAYA • Over four million consumers in Malaysia have been advised to store two days' worth of water, ahead of the biggest water cut so far in Selangor state beginning next Wednesday.

As drought bites, Thai cities urged to rein in festive water fights

April 12, 2019 8:31 AM

BANGKOK (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - A worsening drought in parts of Thailand has prompted monks and conservationists to appeal to city dwellers to temper traditional New Year celebrations, which are marked by people throwing large quantities of water at each other in the streets.

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