Saturday, June 27, 2009

Delayed Indian Monsoons Highlight Growing Water Scarcity

What is water scarcity? Imbalances between availability and demand, the degradation of groundwater and surface water quality, intersectoral competition, interregional and international conflicts, all contributes to water scarcity. - FAO Water Unit

After weeks of delay, the Indian monsoon is finally showing signs of arrival advancing toward crop regions that grow sugarcane and coffee. The Indian Meteorological Department is expecting that pre-monsoon rains are on their way to the capital New Delhi, later this month and the monsoon will officially begin the first week of July. The slow pace of the monsoons have been particularly damaging as India has also been caught in the grip of a severe heat wave which took the lives of 100 people and led to water and energy shortages.

Indian government officials have proposed greater irrigation, water conservation and a number of other potential strategies in the future to protect India's agricultural produce. It is reported that 60 percent of the arable land there is completely dependent on rain water.

Water scarcity is likely to push up food prices and require more government spending to support farmers. So far, much of the discussion about global climate change has fallen short of addressing the water crisis. The water crisis has already began in much of the world and poses a serious threat to the future of rural development and poverty eradication. The World Health Organization has produced a fact sheet on water scarcity around the world. For years now scientists and policy-makers have been predicting major shortages in the supply world's freshwater. The case of the Indian rain short-fall is yet another example of why the world's governments desperately need to work toward a integrated development policy on water.

For more information on water scarcity and its relationship to the world's poor, check out the (Food and Agricultural Organization) FAO Water Unit website here.

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