Climate forecasts crucial to water resources and poverty reduction
The earth's most abundant resource, and still we have trouble finding adequate clean drinking water for nearly 1 billion people worldwide. Climate forecasts can play a role in planning for meteorological events that contaminate and pollute water reserves. With pollution levels rising and frequent flooding throughout the world, advanced warning and proper monitoring could help alleviate some of the growing problems of the water management needed to provide clean accessible water to all.
2 September 2008 – The chief of the United Nations meteorological agency today called for weather forecasts to play a greater role in planning for economic development and poverty reduction because of the impact climate change has on water resources.
Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told the World Water Congress that the agricultural, energy, tourism and health sectors are among those most affected by the impact of climate change due to drought, deterioration in water quality, increased run-off and an increase in the salinization of ground water as a result of rising sea levels.
“Mainstreaming climate change in decision-making processes will therefore be central to all development and poverty alleviation efforts,” he said at the meeting, held in Montpellier, France.
In other water news, water management corruption in impoverished nations leads to a further deteriorating system for providing water to those that are in desperate need. Corruption is said to increase the price for water services by 10-30% worldwide. Many of the people hurt the most by this are those cannot afford basic necessities, let alone the price that comes after bribes and corruption has ran its part.
Africa's largest water transfer effort, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, plans to supply water to the industrial heartland of South Africa and to generate energy for impoverished Lesotho. The multi-billion dollar investment offers economic growth and greater water security for underserved communities in the region.
The project also presents water officials with countless opportunities to become rich on the side. In 2002, Lesotho courts sentenced the project's chief executive to prison for accepting bribes from 18 multinational companies that were vying for construction contracts.
The Lesotho case is a rare example of justice. Across the globe, the water sector is particularly prone to corruption, and the world's poor are usually the ones who suffer the costs.
The pervasive nature of dirty water politics is blamed for much of the stalled progress in improving access to water resources in this year's Global Corruption Report. It is the first report to assess how corruption affects the water sector worldwide.
The widespread corruption noted in the report reflects the large challenge of solving the world's water problems. As growing populations compete for shrinking water resources, the opportunities for corruption will increase and the damaging effects will become more severe.