17 countries including India, home to 1.3 billion people, are identified as having ‘extremely high’ water stress. Photograph: Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times/Getty Images
Qatar, Israel and Lebanon top list of places with worst shortages, as climate crisis threatens more ‘day zeroes’
Tue 6 Aug 2019 02.00 EDT
A quarter of the world’s population across 17 countries are living in regions of extremely high water stress, a measure of the level of competition over water resources, a new report reveals.
Experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI) warned that increasing water stress could lead to more “day zeroes” – a term that gained popularity in 2018 as Cape Town in South Africa came dangerously close to running out of water.
Qatar, Israel and Lebanon were ranked as the most water stressed countries in the world, with Badghis in Afghanistan and Gaborone and Jwaneng in Botswana the world’s most water-stressed regions.
WRI said the data reveals a global water crisis that will require better information, planning and water management.
“Water matters,” said Betsy Otto, global director for water at WRI. “We’re currently facing a global water crisis. Our populations and economies are growing and demanding more water. But our supply is threatened by climate change, water waste and pollution.”
The global research organisation compared the water available to the amount withdrawn for homes, industries, irrigation and livestock.
In the 17 countries facing extremely high water stress, agriculture, industry, and municipalities were found to be using up to 80% of available surface and groundwater in an average year. When demand rivals supply, even small dry spells, which are set to increase because of the climate crisis, can produce dire consequences.
Twelve of the 17 high-risk countries were in the Middle East and North Africa.
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