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The Environmental Food Crisis in Asia: A 'Blue Revolution' in Water Efficiency is Needed to Adapt to Asia's Looming Water Crisis

31 Dec 2009

The water towers of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, the Pamir, Tian Shan, and Kunlun Shan mountain ranges, constitute the primary water resources for a large part of Asia’s population and food production. The majority of the water, some 75 to 90%, is used in food production. However, while many people and farmers are already challenged by seasonal water scarcity and disrupted monsoon patterns, the reliability of the overall water supply is at growing risk. 

There are three major reasons why water scarcity is going to increase. Firstly, population growth is increasing the demand for water, and although only 10 to 25% of the water is used for households and industry, rising populations will also raise the agricultural production demand for water. Secondly, the higher demand for cereals for production of animal feed and for human consumption will increase water demand by an additional 30 to 50% in a few decades; and perhaps by 70 to 80% by 2050. Thirdly, climate change may not only disrupt monsoon patterns, it may also significantly alter the main flow and seasonality of many of the large Asian rivers within a few decades, with disastrous impacts on food production as a result.

Status: Completed

Type: Staff Publications

Author: Christian Nellemann, Bjørn Petter Kaltenborn

Year of publication: 2009

Publisher: Sustainable Mountain Development, ICIMOD

Tags: water climate change conservation Himalaya mountains polar soil wetlands Asia food

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