A new World Economic Forum report has cited water, food and energy shortages as major elements posing increasing threat to world economic growth.
The sixth edition of the Global Risks report argues that the world will experience significant water, food and energy shortages in the next 10 years which will affect economic growth as demand for basic resources soars.
A rising global population that has resulted in a growing demand for food commodities and greater prosperity reads the report, “Are putting unsustainable pressures on resources.”
The demand for water, food and energy is expected to rise by 30 to 50 per cent in the next two decades. “Demand for food, water and energy resources is growing by double digits. Yet chronic fiscal deficits are threatening investments in infrastructure crucial to improving availability and access to them. The resulting shortages threaten global prosperity,” the report reads.
The Global Risks report further notes that shortages could cause social and political instability, geopolitical conflict and irreparable environmental damage. Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said the extreme price volatility in global agricultural markets herald rising and more frequent threats to world food security.
Uganda, with one of the fastest growing and youngest population in Africa and which has more than half of the 32 million people below 15 years has been experiencing steady commodity price increases especially for food stuffs. For instance, the retail price for a kilogramme of meat jumped from Shs35,000 mid last year to Shs6,000.
The price for a kilogramme of sugar rose from Shs2,000 to Shs3000 while that of groundnuts increased from Shs2,500 to Shs3,500.
Price increases in the local market can be attributed to reduced supplies due to the changing weather patterns and increased demand in both local and regional markets especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A water shortage is also a constant phenomenon in many parts of Uganda especially in the cattle corridor. The report, however, makes a case for developing integrated energy, food, and water management strategies as these are critical on a national and international scale, given the interconnected nature of the risks.
It also cautions countries to watch out for other risks including cyber-security, demographic challenges, resource security and weapons of mass destruction adding that they create huge costs for legitimate economic activities and weaken states.
By Faridah Kulabako, Daily Monitor