The scarcity of water around
the world is only going to get worse, as demand grows, according to researchers
meeting in Kenya.
Members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
warn that fewer and fewer people around the globe will have access to clean,
safe water, if governments and organizations fail to address the problem of
An official with the U.S.-based International Food Policy Research Institute,
Mark Rosegrant, said water infrastructure and management systems in sub-Saharan
Africa, in particular, are inadequate to keep up with household demand for
water, which is expected to double within the next 20 years, or so. "The number
of people without access to clean water will increase dramatically, from about
150 million now to just over 400 million by 2025. On the food side, we're seeing
[that] we're likely to have an increase in the number of malnourished children
in sub-Saharan Africa, from about 33 million now to 37 million in 2025," he
Mr. Rosegrant said water scarcity is estimated to cut Africa's crop yields
by 25 percent within the next 20 years or so.
But the water problem is not just restricted to scarcity. A senior official
in Kenya's Ministry of Water Resources and Management, George Krhoda, explains
that the massive flooding in the country earlier this year cost the Kenyan
economy an estimated $48 million, or 0.6 percent of the country's Gross Domestic
He said the floods, as well as droughts, cause frequent and widespread power
shortages in Kenya.
These and other problems were highlighted at a news conference Sunday, and
are expected to be discussed more fully during a five-day conference being
held in Nairobi.
The event marks the launch of the Challenge Program on Water and Food, a
new initiative from the consultative group to study the problem of water scarcity
around the globe.
Fifty research proposals have already been approved under the $60 million
initiative, which is being funded by 64 governments and institutions, including
the World Bank. Officials are trying to raise $120 million within the next