Climate change threatens S.Asia food, water: ADB

People fill containers with drinking water from a municipal corporation tanker in Jabalpur September 2, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Melting Himalayan glaciers and other climate change impacts pose a direct threat to the water and food security of more than 1.6 billion people in South Asia, according to initial findings of an Asian Development Bank study.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal are “particularly vulnerable” to falling crop yields, floods, droughts, erratic rainfall and other climate change impacts, said the ADB study, based on current trends and projected temperature increases.

“South Asia’s vulnerability to climate change has extremely serious implications for agriculture and therefore food security,” said Kunio Senga, director general of ADB south Asia.

If current trends persist until 2050, yields of maize, wheat and rice can fall by up to 17 percent, according to the study, which will be unveiled at a United Nations convention on climate change in Bangkok in late September.

“The resulting food scarcity will lead to higher prices and reduced caloric intake across the region. Under this scenario, per capital calorie availability in 2050 will be below levels recorded in the year 2000,” it said.

Almost half of the world’s absolute poor live in south Asia, where they tend to depend on rain-fed agriculture, ADB noted.

India warned on Tuesday that wholesale price inflation could rise as a poor monsoon drives up food costs.

Separately, an Indian government-backed report on Wednesday said greenhouse gas emissions will jump to between 4 billion tonnes and 7.3 billion tonnes in 2031.