Drought threatens food security and economy

Drought threatens food security and economy

Gamze Şener - ISTANBUL
Drought threatens food security and economy

Decisions in recent days to restrict water use in major cities show that the threat of drought is becoming more widespread. With water losses in cities reaching 60 percent and the drought set to become a more prominent topic of conversation after May, experts say the focus should be on what needs to be done as soon as possible, rather than how full reservoirs are.

Dursun Yıldız, president of the Water Policy Association and a former State Waterworks Authority (DSİ) official, said that the drought and its consequences will be a hotter topic, especially from May.

“In addition to Ankara, Çanakkale and Bursa, other cities may also face restrictions on water consumption,” he said.

“After the winter rains, the reservoirs of the dams that provide drinking and utility water remained empty. The drought has now turned into a risk of thirst and food security. The impact of regional droughts is seen as a decrease in water resources and a decline in agricultural production. Türkiye has been severely affected by two consecutive periods of widespread drought. As a result, our water and food supply security is threatened. Our economy and ecological balance will be negatively affected,” he added.

Baran Bozoğlu, head of the Climate Change Policy and Research Association and a former president of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers, said no one should be dazzled by floods.

“We use snow as a basis for water resources, and we can see from the data that snowfall is also decreasing,” he said.

“Everyone should stop talking about volumes in dams and focus on solutions. Most water is used in the agricultural sector. We need to create the conditions for a transition to water-free agriculture and focus on products that use less water.”

In cities, nearly 50 percent of the water that is treated from the source and delivered to the urban network is lost, Bozoğlu noted.

“Water losses and leaks can be reduced to 5 percent, there are examples of this in Malta, Israel, the United States and many cities in Europe,” he added.

“Tiered tariffs and the pricing of water used by industry also need to be reconsidered.”

Yıldız explained that Türkiye is not rich in water and that water resources are not distributed equally among the population.

“To prevent drought, the public sector should increase efficiency, the private sector should reuse wastewater, and individuals should change their water use habits,” he said.

“At home, toilet bowls and taps should be replaced with those that use water more efficiently. In this way, domestic water use can be reduced by 35 percent.”

Studies show that drought could increase migration by 200 percent in the most optimistic scenario and up to 500 percent in the pessimistic scenario this century.

Bozoğlu drew attention to the reverse migration movement in this sense.

“There is a need to depopulate the big cities and invest in attracting people to other cities,” he added.

“In cities, an infinite demand is now being placed on a limited resource. Risks and costs are increasing in large cities. Additional financial burdens are also beginning to fall on citizens.”