Paris — The world has abundant freshwater but it is unevenly distributed and under increasing pressure, UN agencies say, as highlighted by the severe shortages in Cape Town. On Tuesday, SA declared a "national disaster" over a drought that has ravaged parts of the country and threatened to leave the city without domestic tap water. More than 97% of the planet’s water is salty, most of it in the oceans and seas, but there is also a good supply of freshwater. Every year about 42.8-trillion cubic metres of renewable freshwater circulates as rain, surface water or groundwater, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This equals 16,216 litres per person per day — four times the amount required in the US, for example, for personal and domestic consumption, industry and agriculture. Depending on diet and lifestyle, a person needs between 2,000l and 5,000l of water a day to produce their food and meet their drinking and sanitation requirements, the FAO says. About 60%...

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