As data from the World Resources Institute reveals, 25 countries housing 25% of the global population grapple with extreme water stress, utilizing 80% of their water supplies annually. WRI’s Aqueduct water risk map underscores the escalating global water demand, which has doubled since 1960. While Europe and the US witness plateauing demand, Africa’s thirst is surging. Projections suggest a 20-25% increase in global water demand by 2050, a trend that could endanger livelihoods, agriculture, and the world’s climate goals.
The most water-stressed nations encompass Saudi Arabia, Chile, San Marino, Belgium, Greece, and Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Oman at the forefront. Startlingly, nearly half of the world’s population, about 4 billion individuals, are exposed to extreme water stress for at least a month annually. Experts warn this number might surge to 60% by 2050 if trends continue.
Water stress poses severe risks, from lives and jobs to food and energy security. Efficient water management becomes paramount to tackle population growth, economic expansion, and climate change impacts, experts stress.
The Aqueduct analysis reveals that by 2050, 31% of global GDP, equating to $70 trillion, will be susceptible to high water stress, notably increased from 24% ($15 trillion) in 2010. Alarming figures indicate that India, Mexico, Egypt, and Turkey will contribute over half of the exposed GDP in 2050.
Moreover, heightened water stress endangers economic growth and food production. Irrigated agriculture, especially sugarcane, wheat, rice, and maize, faces severe water stress. The world is projected to require 56% more food calories by 2050 to feed an estimated 10 billion people.
Real-world examples, like Singapore and Las Vegas, emphasize that water stress can be managed through interventions like desalination and wastewater treatment. However, political determination is essential to driving water efficiency and reducing stress.
The list of the most water-stressed countries includes Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Botswana, Iran, Jordan, Chile, San Marino, Belgium, Greece, Tunisia, Namibia, South Africa, Iraq, India, and Syria. The global community faces an urgent need to address water stress for a sustainable future.
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