There is enough water in the world's rivers to meet the demands of the expanding global population, but the rivers have to be better managed, according to a series of studies released today at the 14th World Water Congress in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil.
The key problem for water use is not scarcity but inefficient use of supplies because of poor governance and regulation, concludes a special issue of the Water International coordinated by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF).
The global population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, and will need 70 per cent more food and about 50 per cent more electricity — of which hydropower is expected to supply about one third.
Some areas are experiencing water shortages already and there is concern over conflicts related to sharing of food and water resources.
"The failures are institutional and political," Simon Cook, leader of the CPWF Basin Focal Research Project, told SciDev.Net.
The studies analysed economic and demographic conditions; hydrology; agricultural systems and the influence of institutional factors on water availability and use in nine major river basins in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
They found that, in many areas, water production can be substantially increased without harming the environment. In Africa, for example, most cropland is rain-fed and only four per cent of available water is captured for crops and livestock.
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