An boy walks through a dried up irrigation dyke in the village of Sayyed Dakhil in southern Iraq where drought threatens agriculture and livelihoods. Photograph: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images
Jonathan Farr, senior policy analyst at the charity WaterAid, said governments must take note of the findings and increase their role in preserving water resources and providing freshwater to people in a sustainable manner. “This report is a warning and an insight into a future threat. We need to ensure that investment in water keeps pace with industrialisation and farming. Governments need to get to grips with this,” he said, pointing to estimates that between $30bn and $100bn of investment was needed per year to provide freshwater where needed.
Sustainable solutions were available, he said. “We have been solving the problem of getting access to water resources since civilisation began. We know how to do it. We just need to manage it, and that has to be done at a local level.”
Providing access to clean water provides knock-on benefits to health, education, equity and the economy, he added, so investment in water assets yields both economic and social dividends.