Re: Extreme water stress faced by countries home to quarter of world population

Written by Olivia Nater | Published: August 16, 2023

We submitted a letter to The Guardian on August 16 in response to an article about water stress. We did not receive a response so are featuring it below.

We encourage all our members and supporters to make their voices heard! See our media guide for advice on how to do that.

You can also see other common population myths busted on our Myths and Misconceptions page.

Dear Editor,

Sandra Laville’s important article on increasing extreme water stress (August 16th) addresses the dangerous combination of rapid population growth, economic development and climate change, but treats all three factors as a given. While decreasing poverty is clearly desirable, rapid population growth is a result of extreme gender inequality and can be tackled. The Sahel, for example, has some of the highest child marriage and teen pregnancy rates in the world, contributing to high fertility rates. Combined with worsening water stress and food insecurity, this is a recipe for disaster. A recent report by the Population Institute found that in the 80 most climate-vulnerable countries, population is growing at twice to three times the global average pace.

Investing in women’s empowerment initiatives, particularly removing barriers to family planning and girls’ education, is key to saving countless lives. Enabling more women to participate in decision making also paves the way for greater peace and security (which is especially critical in times of resource scarcity), as well as more environmental policies. Improving gender equality is one of the most powerful and neglected climate actions – world leaders and funders urgently need to pay it more attention.


Olivia Nater
Communications Manager
Population Connection