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Thirsty Earth Predicted

28th August 2000

Staff Writer Gayle Hefley

Dry River Bed

A new report published by the US non-profit group Population Action International (PAI) reveals that over three billion people could face chronic or severe water shortage by the year 2025. This is a four-fold increase over the 505 million people affected today says PAI. Despite the increase, PAI says this is good news. "While cause for concern, these figures are an improvement over what we thought would happen a decade ago," said Amy Coen, PAI president.

"This is due to the ever-greater proportion of couples planning their families and the resulting slowing of population growth around the world,"
she added.

Robert Engelman, lead author of the report, says that for hundreds of millions of people - most of them in developing countries - family planning remains non-existent.

"Developed countries need to address this issue because the picture for the world's environment improves as global population decreases. It's for the good of all humanity," he said.

This news comes amidst of a flood of reports that have surfaced this year warning of an imminent global water crisis. Among them, many have concerns over water pollution and global warming.

Although the world has abundant supplies of water, only 2.5% is fresh water, the majority of which comprise the polar ice caps.

PAI looked at population growth trends and compared them with the amount of available water. The amount of fresh water is finite say PAI, but the number of people keeps increasing.

According to PAI, the worst hit areas will be Africa and parts of Asia, leaving people not only thirsty but hungry and in poverty. "It's clear that a country like Kenya has more arable land than it can cultivate," said Sally Ethelston of PAI, "because there's not enough fresh water to irrigate it."

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