border review | 29 October 2011

Brahma Chellaney on Asia's "water stress"

Brahma Chellaney, author of the recently published book Water: Asia’s New Battleground, has written an excellent op-ed for The Hindu. Apart from consumption growth and rapid industrial development, Chellaney highlights a lesser known fact about the increasing water scarcity throughout Asia:

Asia more than doubled its total irrigated cropland just between 1960 and 2000. Once a continent of serious food shortages and recurrent famines, Asia opened the path to its dramatic economic rise by emerging as a net food exporter on the back of this unparalleled irrigation expansion.

Asia now boasts the leonine proportion of the world’s surface land under irrigation. About 70 per cent of the world’s 301 million hectares of land equipped for irrigation is in Asia alone, making it the global irrigation hub. Just three sub-regions of Asia—South Asia, China, and Southeast Asia — by themselves account for about 50 per cent of the world’s total irrigated land.

A very good read.