Water scarcity and drought can wreak havoc on a scale similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the risks rising sharply as global temperatures rise, according a UN report released yesterday.
“We are in danger of drought becoming the next pandemic and there is no vaccine to cure it,” declared Mami Mizutori, the UN special representative for disaster risk reduction, during the press conference.
Droughts have already caused economic losses of at least $124 billion and affected more than 1.5 million people between 1998 and 2017, according to the report.
Global warming is now causing more severe droughts in southern Europe and West Africa, the UN report said with “some certainty”. And the death toll is expected to rise “dramatically” unless people take action, Mizutori warned.
Some 130 countries could face a greater risk of drought this century based on a high-emission scenario cited by the UN.
Another 23 countries will face water shortages due to population growth, with 38 countries affected by both noted the report. “Drought – like a virus – tends to last a long time, has a wide geographical area and causes extensive damage,” Mizutori said.