London, New Delhi and Beijing are among the ten countries around the world that is going to face the worst drought driven by climate change in the coming days, according to a recent report from Christian Aid.
The Charity organisation warns that some of the world’s major cities could run out of water if action is not taken to cut global greenhouse gas emissions and growing city populations that would put ever greater stress on water resources in the coming years.
It said that half a billion people already face severe water scarcity all year round. Some cities, such as Amman, Melbourne and Cape Town could experience declines in fresh water availability by between 30% to 49%, while Santiago may see a decline that exceeds 50%.
The Charity said that cities in poorer countries are also far more vulnerable than those in richer countries as they have fewer resources to adapt to the water shortages.
Christian Aid is a Christian organisation that insists the world can and must be swiftly changed to one where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. They work for profound change that eradicates the causes of poverty, striving to achieve equality, dignity and freedom for all, regardless of faith or nationality.
10 CITIES THAT ARE RUNNING OUT OF WATER
London already receives less rainfall than you might think – it averages just 620 millimetres a year – which is about half the amount of rain that falls in New York City21. Most of this rain falls in the autumn and winter and soaks into rocks underneath the city. Water companies then extract and use this groundwater during the drier summer months. However, climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of droughts in the South-East of England. Combined with a growing population, this could place serious stress on London’s ageing water supply system. If the world warms by 4 °C, there might not be enough water available to supply London’s inhabitants, even if measures are taken to fix leaky pipes and reduce the amount of water that households consume.
Harare obtains its water from four dams: Haraya, Seke, Chivero and Manyame. Harava and Seke ran completely dry which led Harare city council to decommission the Prince Edward water treatment plant, which is fed by those dams. The city’s water system was designed to cater for just 300,000 people with the last upgrade back in 1994.25 The country s ongoing economic challenges, like many developing countries, have prevented authorities from investing in improvements. Zimbabwe is vulnerable to climate change through hotter temperatures, and it can expect to face similar water crises in future as droughts get worse.
Cape Town, South Africa
In early 2018, Cape Town’s City Council announced that there were 90 days left before the city ran out of water. Drastic measures were taken to stop the taps running dry. Each household was limited to using 50 litres of water a day, Cape Town could face similar and more extreme water shortages as the climate changes. An increasingly hot, dry climate could reduce surface water supplies by as much as 20% by 2100, relative to 1971-2000 levels. Longer droughts and dry spells are also expected, along with more intense rainfall, which runs straight into rivers without filling up groundwater supplies. Without efforts to reduce global heating and to adjust to the impacts of climate change, ‘Day Zero’ could become a reality for Cape Town.
As the drought continues, Phoenix’s inhabitants are pumping the wells dry and climate change will only make the situation worse. A shrinking snow pack in the Rocky Mountains, higher temperatures and drier soils mean that flow of the Colorado River could decline by between 35% and 50% by the end of this century. Without careful management of groundwater supplies, Phoenix could face serious water shortages in the coming decades.
New Delhi, India
With India’s urban population expected to reach 600 million by 2030, the capital city already struggles to supply its inhabitants with drinking water as people move to the cities in search of a better life. Climate change will only worsen an existing water crisis created by population growth and the depletion of groundwater supplies for irrigating crops. In a heating climate, surface water evaporates much more easily. This is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of droughts during the dry season.
Rapid urbanisation, combined with a dry climate and the overuse of water to irrigate crops, has put severe pressure on Beijing’s water supply. Less rainfall over the rivers that flow into the South-North Diversion project will also reduce the amount of water that Beijing can take from elsewhere in China. Without further efforts to conserve water, Beijing might struggle to keep the taps running in the coming decades
São Paulo, Brazil
Less rainfall, along with more evaporation from higher temperatures, mean that there will be less water available to fill up São Paulo’s reservoirs. When combined with a growing population and the mass planting of particularly thirsty eucalyptus trees in the surrounding countryside São Paulo could face serious water shortages in the future if steps are not taken to reduce demand and to secure more sustainable sources of water.
water demand for irrigation, industry and domestic consumption already exceeds the supply of the River Nile, forcing Egyptians to extract water from non-renewable sources of groundwater. Climate change will only worsen the existing water crisis. Increased temperatures and less rainfall during the wet season in Ethiopia could reduce the flow of water downstream in Egypt. This will produce water shortages and reduce crop yields in a country that already imports most of its food.
Eighty five per cent of the city’s population relies on shallow, polluted wells for water and groundwater levels are falling rapidly. Climate change will only worsen existing water and food shortages. Temperatures are rising, reducing snow cover snow melt and water supplies for the growing city. Rainfall is also becoming more erratic, producing severe droughts that ruin agriculture and deplete supplies of groundwater.
With less and more irregular rainfall, higher temperatures and drier soils expected in the coming decades, many politicians and water managers are asking questions about whether enough is being done to keep the taps running. If the Australian government fails to invest in rainfall-independent sources of water, such as recycled wastewater, Sydney could run out of water when the next drought hits.
- Policies to reduce emissions from energy, transport, housing, industry and agriculture need to be introduced.
- The finance available to support adaptation to climate change is woefully inadequate, particularly in the Global South.
- finance must be grants-based and accessible to the poorest communities. Beyond this, an ambitious new post-2025 stand-alone goal for increasing adaptation finance must be established with a clear plan for delivery
- A Loss and Damage Finance Facility to pay for loss and damage needs to be established to address the impacts which poorer communities around the world have not been able to adapt to.
- More sustainable approaches to urban design and city planning need to be adopted to maximise water usage and naturally cool urban centres,