Middle East and North African Countries at Highest Risk for Water Stress

A recently released Water Stress Index assesses the vulnerability of 159 countries to water stress and the risks it poses to governments, populations and business. The five countries at highest risk include Egypt, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. Countries in the Middle East and North African region only receive one percent of the world’s precipitation of which 85 percent is lost through evaporation.

China and India are using more than 80 percent of their renewable water resources putting them at “high risk” of dwindling water supplies. Some cities in China are already using water supply at a higher rate than available supply according to the study done by UK-based global risk advisory firm Maplecroft.

In both China and India, high demand for water is driven by climbing populations and rising industrial and agricultural use. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization, India’s annual growth for industrial water withdrawal is 8.91 percent. In China withdrawals for municipal water is rising at 10.38 percent.  

Developed countries like the United States and Australia have also been rated as “high risk” with some swathes of Australia identified as “extreme risk” such as South Australia. In western parts of the United States, groundwater is already being consumed faster than it is being replenished and groundwater tables are steadily falling according to the study.
The Index is calculated by evaluating the ratio of a country’s total water use, form domestic, industrial and agricultural use, to the renewable supply of water from precipitation, streams, rivers and groundwater.  The index is accompanied by a sub-national map that utilizes Geographic Information System technology to pinpoint global water stress.

More details on the study


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