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Headlines warn that thirst could soon choke northern China and lead the Middle East into further catastrophe. But a growing number of scientists say there’s already a crisis — only it’s not just water that’s missing. It’s information.

Kathryn Brown reports on the plight of developing countries facing water shortages, and how history has shown that a scarcity of data can hamper forecasts of drought.

But accurate water estimates require time-consuming data collection — unlikely to be a priority for developing countries. Moreover, international bodies such as the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations usually have no way to verify national statistics.

Link to Science feature article

Reference: Science 297, 926 (2002)

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