STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Erratic rainfall patterns caused by global climate change are a growing threat to the world's rural poor, a water conference in Sweden was told.
"Millions of farmers in communities dependent on rain fed agriculture are at risk from decreasing and erratic availability of water," said Colin Chartres, director general of the International Water Management Institute, which released a report to coincide with World Water Week in Stockholm. "Climate change will hit these people hard, so we have to invest heavily and quickly in adaptation."
This adaptation should be in the form of more diverse forms of water storage, the report said.
The report warns against over-reliance on single solutions like big dams.
Instead, it says, an integrated effort should combine large single solutions with smaller-scale options like water from natural wetlands, water stored in soil, groundwater beneath the Earth's surface and water collected in ponds, tanks and reservoirs.
"Just as modern consumers diversify their financial holdings to reduce risk, smallholder farmers need a wide array of 'water accounts' to provide a buffer against climate change impacts," lead report author hydrologist Matthew McCartney said. "That way, if one water source goes dry, they'll have others to fall back on."