Globally, the number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 percent since 2000. This emerges from the UN drought report, which was presented on Wednesday at the 15th World Soil Conference in the West African city of Abidjan, capital of the Ivory Coast. The report puts the economic damage caused by droughts at around 124 billion dollars (117 billion euros) for the years 1998 to 2017 alone.
“Land is drying up, fertile soil is turning to dust,” warned Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the International Convention for the Protection of Soils (UNCCD). “Droughts are among the greatest threats to sustainable development.”
“Wake-up call for Europeans”
But while the dramatic lack of water, loss of fertile land and persistent drought have hitherto mainly affected underdeveloped countries such as the Sahel, other regions are also increasingly being affected. The day before, Thiaw had described the increasing droughts in Europe as a “wake-up call for Europeans”. “No country is immune to drought,” he said.
According to the UN, almost 160 million children have been exposed to severe and prolonged drought this year alone, and more than 2.3 billion people worldwide are inadequately supplied with water. According to UN estimates, by 2040 one in four children worldwide could be affected by water shortages.
water shortages worldwide
The all-clear is not in sight: in 2050, more than three quarters of the world’s population could be affected by drought. According to the report, between 4.8 and 5.7 billion people are likely to live in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year. This currently applies to 3.6 billion people.