A new report by the International Resources Panel (IRP) has found that by the year 2030 nearly half the world’s population will be experiencing severe water stress if current usage and pollution levels are not altered. The increased demand will force governments to spend $200 billion a year, more than 4 times as much as the current $45 billion.

The IRP found that with current population growth, urbanization, climate change and changes in how food is produced, the demand for water will exceed the supply by at least 40% by 2030. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone the demand for water is expected to rise 283% by that time, in relation to 2005 levels.

In order to prevent this global water shortage from occurring effective measures must be taken to decouple the global economy from water usage. Australia has already proven that it is possible to do such a thing , between 2001 and 2009 they had reduced consumption by 40% while the economy grew by 30%.

The report recommends a number of ways in which water usage can be reduced and decoupled from the economy. These measures include increasing research and development of technology that would reduce water waste, as well building infrastructure that would increase efficiency and reduce contamination.

It also recommends that governments introduce policies which will effectively meet vital demands of a society, research into how ecosystems and water factor into the development of an economy and its people. Finally it recommends that governments investigate global trade patterns in order to optimize the water used in local manufacturing.

Click HERE for a previous story on how climate change will affect food production in Africa.