The Stream, October 5: Water Stress Will Affect 1.5 Billion More People By 2050

The Global Rundown

Population and economic growth coupled with climate change will stress water supplies for an additional 1.5 billion people globally by 2050, according to a new report. Bangkok will be protected from floods this year, avoiding a repeat of 2011, Thailand’s prime minister said. Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti on Tuesday, where experts say communities are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. A severe drought in South Africa will force the country’s largest water utility to cut supplies to cities including Johannesburg and Pretoria. Public distrust of water quality in Flint, Michigan may be contributing to an outbreak of a bacterial illness.

“The disaster potential we see in Haiti in these very minutes and hours is not only driven by the strength of the hazard, which is very strong of course, but also by the real lack of coping capacity and the very high fragility and susceptibility within society.” –Dr. Matthias Garschagen, the head of vulnerability assessment, risk management and adaptive planning at United Nations University, on Haiti’s extreme vulnerability to natural disasters such as Hurricane Matthew, which hit the country on Tuesday. High levels of deforestation, for example, leave communities susceptible to floods and landslides, while inadequate infrastructure and government institutions hinder emergency response. (Guardian)

By The Numbers

85 Cases of the bacterial illness Shigellosis recorded this year in the county home to Flint, Michigan, the highest number in the state. Shigellosis can spread when people do not wash their hands, and the outbreak may be linked to changing hygiene practices in Flint, where many families are still wary of using tap water in the wake of the city’s lead-contaminated water crisis. The New York Times

15 percent Cut in water supplies provided by South Africa’s largest water utility due to a severe, ongoing drought. The utility provides water to residents in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, And Reports

An additional 1.5 billion people around the globe will experience stressed water conditions by 2050, even if emission reduction goals under the Paris climate agreement are met, according to the 2016 Food, Water, Energy and Climate Outlook released by researchers at MIT. The report’s authors said both water use efficiency and water storage will need to improve in order to match future supplies with demand. MIT News

On The Radar

Thailand’s government is closely monitoring dam levels and diverting water to storage sites in order to prevent large-scale flooding in Bangkok, according to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Heavy rains and floods north of the capital city have raised concerns that it could suffer a repeat of the extensive destruction wrought by floods in 2011. Reuters