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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 16, 2010

YEMEN COULD BE FIRST COUNTRY TO RUN OUT OF WATER

TIMES, UK - Yemen is set to be the first country in the world to run out of water, providing a taste of the conflict and mass movement of populations that may spread across the world if population growth outstrips natural resources.

Government and experts agree that the capital, Sanaa, has about ten years at current rates before its wells run dry but the city of two million continues to grow as people are forced to leave other areas because of water shortages.

In Yemen, which is fighting three insurgencies, the battle lines of tribal wars have traditionally followed the lines of the wadis, desert valleys that become rivers when the rare rains fall. Amid one of the world’s highest rates of population growth - 3.5 per cent last year - the water shortage has become critical and is driving civil unrest...

Water available across Yemen amounts to 100 to 200 cubic metres per person per year, far below the international water poverty line of 1,000 cubic metres.

Groundwater reserves are being used faster than they can replenish themselves, especially in the Sanaa basin, where water once found 20 metres below the surface is now 200 metres deep, and despite the rainwater tanks on the roofs of most houses...

Yemeni citizens have lived on scarce water supplies for thousands of years but the problem has been exacerbated by widespread production of the local drug of choice, qat, which consumes up to 40 per cent of water. About 70 per cent of Yemeni men chew the leaves each day, and bushy qat trees are often the only spots of green in the dry landscape.


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