Water Challenges and Management – World’s 36 Most Water-Stressed Countries

World Resources Institute “WRI” has recently evaluated, mapped, and scored water risks in 100 river basins of 180 nations around the world. Assessment is carried out for the first time on country-level with consideration to area and population. In this research 36 countries face “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress. This means that more than 80 percent of the water available to agricultural, domestic, and industrial users is withdrawn annually — leaving businesses, farms, and communities vulnerable to scarcity. Baseline water stress, used as an indicator, measures how much water is withdrawn every year from rivers, streams, and shallow aquifers for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses.

Analyzing water risk at the country level is important as such information is highly relevant for country’s economy, environment, and communities. Though water data is usually collected and reported at local geographic scales, water-related decisions and investments are often made at much larger scales, thus requiring country-level information.

Extremely high water stress can be successfully managed such as in the case of Singapore. The country is densely populated with no freshwater lakes or aquifers, and its demand for water far exceeds its naturally occurring supply. Singapore invests heavily in technology, international agreements, and responsible management, allowing it to meet its freshwater needs. Advanced rainwater capture systems contribute 20 percent of Singapore’s water supply, 40 percent is imported from Malaysia, grey water reuse adds 30 percent, and desalination produces the remaining 10 percent of the supply to meet the country’s total demand.

An important issue in this respect which is still lacking in many parts of the world is spatio-temporal water quality maps where pollution sources, both point and diffuse, are being identified. This is of importance for better conservation and protection of water resources as well as for building up solid monitoring programs for assessing the status of surface-/ground-water and associated eco-systems. Such programs give access to base-line data of natural levels of pollutants, provide bases for early-warning systems and facilitate rehabilitation actions


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