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Drought Threatens More than Half of the Earth’s Population in Just a Quarter of a Century!

UNICEF states, “Four billion people — almost two thirds of the world’s population —  experience severe water scarcity for at least one month each year… Half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025.”

On a planet that is made up of more than 70 percent water, its inhabitants are suffering from drought! This is despite the unprecedented technological development, including artificial intelligence, on this planet, which can contribute greatly to meeting needs and facilitating access to them. The suffering of humanity from thirst, and the security threat to its food, confirms that the global system, represented by the existing major powers in the world, has failed to provide the minimum requirements of life, which is water to quench thirst and irrigate crops. Is there any excuse left for someone who is neglecting the necessity of working hard to replace this man-made system with the divine system of the great Islam?! Or must humanity perish from hunger and thirst for consciences to be moved?!

Despite the abundance of water, natural resources, and technological development, the secular system fails to meet a basic need like water for people! It adds another failure to the list of its failure to take care of affairs. So the Arab poet’s words came true, in its literal meaning, not metaphorically, كالعيس في البيداء يقتلها الظما … والماء فوق ظهورها محمول “Like the camels in the desert, whose thirst kills them… whilst water is carried on their backs.”

To determine the scale of the upcoming water disaster, consider a new report published by the World Resources Institute (WRI), published on 16 August 2023, in which it was stated, “at least 50% of the world’s population — around 4 billion people — live under highly water-stressed conditions for at least one month of the year… The most water-stressed regions are the Middle East and North Africa, where 83% of the population is exposed to extremely high water stress, and South Asia, where 74% is exposed… By 2050, an additional 1 billion people are expected to live with extremely high water stress.”

In the Vision Statement UN 2023 Water Conference, of 1 November 2021, it is stated, “Today, a quarter of the global population – 2 billion people – use unsafe drinking water sources. Half of humanity – 3.6 billion people – live without safely managed sanitation. And 1 in 3 people – 2.3 billion – lack basic handwashing facilities at home.”

The situation over the coming decades will include 60% of the world’s population suffering.

The situation of the Middle East and North Africa region is considered the worst in terms of water stress. The region receives less rainfall than other regions. Its countries are rapidly growing in population. This leads to a constant increase in demand for water. The WRI report stated that more than 25 countries suffer from water stress, including, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Jordan, Tunisia, Iraq, India, and Syria. In Syria now, for example, millions of people cannot access water supplies. Much of the infrastructure that used to provide Syrians with clean water and sanitation has become inoperative. This caused water supplies to decrease by 40% of what they were before the revolution.

In poor Indian neighborhoods, the sight of people standing in queues in front of tanks and public taps in the streets, waiting for their containers to be filled with water, has become a common sight. According to the United Nations report, one in four people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water!

Water insecurity leads to other types of insecurity. For example, water scarcity can cause power outages and cities to go dark. Traditional power plants, dependent on coal, oil, or nuclear power, usually consume large amounts of water for cooling purposes. According to what was stated, in a research paper published on 29 October 2019, by the European Union Science Hub, “The average EU citizen’s daily energy consumption requires 1,301 litres of water.” With a simple calculation, the amount of water needed to light the homes of an entire population, throughout the year, can be known.

If we want to know the serious impact of water scarcity on electricity, there is no clearer model than that of the Indian Subcontinent, including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Water scarcity causes major problems for the region’s energy sector. In its 16 January 2018 report, “Parched Power: Water Demands, Risks, and Opportunities for India’s Power Sector,” the World Resources Institute stated, “90 percent of India’s thermal power plants — which provide the country with most of its electricity — rely on freshwater for cooling.” Once summer comes in India, a country inhabited by about 18% of the world’s population, water becomes a precious commodity like gold. On 15 June 2018, the BBC reported, “India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water shortage.”

The World Resources Institute (WRI) report of 16 August 2023 states, “According to data from Aqueduct, 31% of global GDP — a whopping $70 trillion — will be exposed to high water stress by 2050, up from $15 trillion (24% of global GDP) in 2010. Just four countries — India, Mexico, Egypt and Turkey — account for over half of the exposed GDP in 2050.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in its report, “The State of Food and Agriculture 2020,”  “3.2 billion people live in agricultural areas with high to very high water shortages or scarcity, of whom 1.2 billion people – roughly one-sixth of the world’s population – live in severely water-constrained agricultural areas.” So water scarcity worsens hunger.

These challenges facing us will worsen with the coming climate changes and the resulting droughts, floods, and unpredictability in rainfall. For every Celsius degree increase in the average global temperature, United Nations experts expect a decrease in renewable water resources by 20%. The rise in temperatures accelerates from the evaporation of water from the soil. Global warming is expected to increase the number of water-stressed areas.

By 2050, the planet’s population is expected to reach 10 billion people. They need to secure their food. For that the world needs to produce 56% more food products than it did in 2010 CE. This is whilst 60% of global agriculture is already suffering from severe water stress. This is especially so with crops that need large amounts of irrigation water, such as sugarcane, wheat, rice, and corn. So what about the situation with the upcoming climate changes?! If quick solutions are not found, water scarcity in arid regions will, according to some reports, lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people by 2030.

We are fully aware that the existing political regimes in the world are the ones that must come up with solutions to the calamities and misfortunes that people are exposed to. However, we are also certain that the cause of these human disasters are these same systems, and the secular doctrine that they emerged from. The phenomenon of global warming and other natural phenomena have nothing to do with this disaster. These calamities could be dealt with easily, if there was cooperation and integration in humanity’s efforts to confront any natural phenomenon. The only reason for the failure of these systems is their inability to come up with real solutions, in addition to the ideological and political corruption that bring about ruin. What humanity needs is a divine system based on providing people’s basic needs, instead of satisfying the endless greed of capitalist companies, which exploit and “invest” in every pandemic that strikes. Humanity needs political minds like the mind of Umar Al-Farooq (ra), who summarized the extent of his interest and the extent of his responsibility for taking care of people’s affairs, when he said, لو عثرت بغلة في طريق العراق لسألني الله عنها لم لم تصلح لها الطريق يا عمر؟ “If I found a mule troubled on the road to Iraq, Allah would ask me ‘why did it not make the way for it, O Omar’?”

Working hard to replace these regimes is a Shariah legal obligation. It is an obligation for the best nation that has been raised before the people. It is a necessity for living for all the peoples of the earth, who are no longer less miserable than the peoples of the Islamic World. So come forth for the hard work to establish the ruling by the Revelation of Allah (swt) on earth, so that the udders are full and the crops are irrigated.

Written for the ar-Rayah newspaper by Bilal Al-Muhajir – Wilayah Pakistan