More than half the global population is facing the dire consequences of high water stress, according to a new study by the World Resources Institute. The study reveals that over 4 billion people are living under elevated water-stressed conditions, where the demand for water exceeds the available supply. This alarming situation not only threatens people’s lives and livelihoods but also poses a significant risk to food and energy security. With the anticipation that water stress will worsen in the coming years, the study calls for urgent action to invest in renewable water infrastructures and establish better conservation efforts.
The study attributes the increasing water stress to factors such as population growth, economic development, industrial and agricultural expansion, poor water management, and climate change. These factors have led to a doubling of global water demand since 1960, surpassing the amount of water available for human consumption. The most water-stressed regions are concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa, where 83% of the population is exposed to extremely high water stress. South Asia follows closely behind with 74% of the population facing the same issue. Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to be severely affected as its population is projected to increase by 163% in the next 25 years. It is clear that immediate actions are needed to address this global water crisis before it escalates further.
More than Half the Global Population Affected by Water Stress, Says Study
A new study by the World Resources Institute reveals that over two dozen countries worldwide experience high water stress each year, affecting at least half the global population. The study, called the Aqueduct Risk Atlas, shows that about 4 billion people are living under elevated water-stressed conditions during any given month, as populations regularly use up most of the available water supply. This level of water stress poses a threat to people’s lives, jobs, food and energy security, according to the researchers.
The study predicts that the problem will worsen in the coming years, with an additional 1 billion people exposed to extremely high water stress by 2050, even if international climate goals are achieved. The report attributes the increasing water stress to population growth, economic development, industrial and agricultural expansion, poor water management, and climate change. It emphasizes the need for governments to invest in renewable water infrastructures and establish better conservation efforts to mitigate the emerging crisis.
Drought conditions are also exacerbating the water stress situation, depleting water supplies for irrigation, livestock, industry, and domestic needs. Many regions are at risk of running out of water altogether. The study includes a map that shows the varying severity of ongoing water shortages around the world, highlighting the most water-stressed regions. The Middle East and North Africa have the highest levels of water stress, with 83% of the population exposed to extremely high water stress. South Asia follows closely behind, with 74% of the population exposed. Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be one of the hardest-hit regions due to its projected population growth.
The global demand for water has more than doubled since 1960 and now exceeds the amount of water available for human consumption. The study identifies Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, and Qatar as the five most water-stressed countries. At least six nations are currently experiencing "extreme water stress," using at least 80% of the available supply, while countries under "high water stress" use at least 40% of the supply.
In conclusion, the study highlights the urgent need for action to address the global water stress crisis. With population growth, economic development, and climate change putting increasing pressure on water resources, governments must prioritize investments in renewable water infrastructure and implement effective conservation strategies. Failure to do so could have severe consequences for people’s livelihoods, food security, and the environment.