WRI Data: Quarter of World’s Population Faces Extremely High Water Stress

Seventeen countries, home to one quarter of the world’s population, face “extremely high baseline water stress,” according to new World Resources Institute data from its Aqueduct tools, which map water risks such as floods, droughts, and stress, using open-source, peer reviewed data.

WRI defines “extremely high baseline water stress” as when irrigated agriculture, industries, and municipalities withdraw more than 80 percent of their available supply on average every year. A narrow gap between supply and demand leaves countries vulnerable to fluctuations like droughts or increased water withdrawals and once “unthinkable” water crises.

The 17 countries (in order of risk) are Qatar, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, the United Arab Emirates, San Marino, Bahrain, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Oman, and Botswana.

In addition, the WRI data shows 44 countries, home to one-third of the world, face “high” levels of stress, where on average more than 40 percent of available supply is withdrawn every year.

The reason for these crises and growing crises are the more than doubling of water withdrawals globally since the 1960s due to increasing demand.

More information on the WRI data by country and region is available on its website.