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World Bank: Climate-Induced Water Scarcity Could Pose Major Threat to Economic Growth and Stability

May 05, 2016 10:50 AM EDT

"Water is of course the source of life, but it's also at the center of economic activity, Richard Damania, World Bank lead economist said regarding the rising economic problems brought about the scarcity of fresh water due to climate change.

"When we look at any of the major impacts of climate change, they one way or the other come through water, whether it's drought, floods, storms, sea level rise," said Damania in a report on Reuters.

According to the recent World Bank report, inadequate supply of water can greatly affect economic activity in some parts of the world, knocking down their economic growth by as much as 6 percent of GDP by 2050 due to the possible impacts of water scarcity on agriculture, health and income.

Water scarcity will not only affect regions that are currently experiencing droughts, such as Middle East and the Sahel in Africa, but also regions where water is currently abundant, such as Central Africa and East Asia.

Global Warming caused by climate change can affect water supply in more than one way. The excessive heat can evaporate inland water faster, leading to more intense individual downpour and swings in the drought conditions.

Melting ice caps resulting to rise of seawater can also contribute the scarcity of fresh water supply. Salt water can contaminate groundwater, making it more saline and not suitable for human consumption.

As the population continues its exponential increase, the demand of fresh water can soon overwhelm the supply. This can result to higher prices of water, greatly hitting the poor who can't afford the prices.

At present, about 1.6 billion people lives in countries that are already facing water scarcity.

According to World Bank, better policy decisions and better water resource management can neutralize the negative effects of climate change in water.

"When governments respond to water shortages by boosting efficiency and allocating even 25 percent of water to more highly-valued uses, losses decline dramatically and for some regions may even vanish. Improved water stewardship pays high economic dividends," Damania said.

In a previous report, researchers predicted that Middle East and North Africa will soon be unhabitable due to climate change.

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