Himalayas, Africa Facing Climate Change-Induced Water Shortages - Yemen's Already Rioting

nepal photo

photo: Anna Pearson via flickr

The focus keeps getting placed on the impact of global climate change on world water supplies: Oxfam highlights the effect of water shortages and declining crop yields in Nepal; IPCC chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri comments on how thirsty Africa could become; and, Reuters writes from Yemen on a growing population depleting water sources. Not so cheery stuff to be sure, but unfortunately a sign of things to come:Even the Himalayas Have Stopped Smiling
That's how Oxfam characterizes the situation in Nepal in their new report [PDF]. Already changing weather patterns are causing decreasing crop yields, higher temperatures and water shortages.

Because of drought over last winter, more than 3.4 million people require food assistance -- with 31% of its population living below the poverty line.

The solution, according to Oxfam, for this nation which is responsible for a mere 0.025% of global carbon emissions is to get communities more engaged in reducing their own vulnerabilities to climate change and getting Nepal's national government to prioritize climate change mitigation and adaptation at a national level -- not to mention a generous portion of aid from the wealthy nations of the world...

dry riverbed photo

photo: Matt Rudge via flickr
One Quarter of Africa Faces Water Shortages
The Economic Times quotes Dr Rajendra Pachauri as saying that 25% of Africans will face water shortages due to climate change. By 2020, somewhere between 75-250 million people will be suffering from water stress, the IPCC chairman added.

Keep in mind, that the upper range of the figure is the equivalent of about two-thirds of what the US population is likely to be by the same time period.

aden yemen photo

Aden, Yemen; photo: Raphael Faveau
Yemen Already Facing Deadly Water Riots
In case you think that civil unrest UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was alluding to are something over the horizon. If you're in Yemen they are right on top of you.

According to a recent Reuters report, in Aden one person was shot dead and three wounded in riots over water shortages last week. In the capital, Sanaa, only 80 of the the city's 180 wells are operational due to the fast falling water table -- in some places residents only get city water once every nine days.

The per capita availability of water in Yemen is now under 100 cubic meters a year; the UNDP considers the "water poverty line" to be 1,000 cubic meters per year.

That's just the tip of that story though: Rural to urban migration, unsustainable irrigation practices and a general lack of government authority (not anarchy, but pretty close is how the article describes it) only make the whole problem worse.

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