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This report highlights the impacts of changing climate and erratic rainfalls on farms, firms and families. It offers proposals for how to tackle these challenges, calling for new policies, innovation and collaborations.

The report Uncharted Waters: The New Economics of Water Scarcity and Variability was published by the World Bank in October 2017.

It presents new evidence on how increasingly erratic rainfall impacts farms, firms and families.  It also shows that although floods and storm surges pose major threats, droughts are “misery in slow motion,” with impacts deeper and longer lasting than previously believed.

The report found that impacts caused by drought can cascade into unexpected areas. The impacts of erratic rainfall ripple through farms, firms and families, sometimes for generations. Many of the regions most affected by drought overlap with areas that are already facing large food deficits and are classified as fragile, heightening the urgency of finding solutions.

The authors recommend constructing new water storage and management infrastructure, paired with polices that control the demand for water.  Utilities responsible for water distribution in cities also need to be properly regulated to incentivize better performance and investment in network expansion, while also ensuring a fair market return.  The report also noted that when flood and droughts turn into economic shocks, safety nets must be put in place to ensure poor families can weather the storm.

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