Ground Report | New Delhi: 25% of world’s population; One in four people lives in countries where they live at the limit of their water resources, with consumption above 80% of the availability of water. Some Spanish regions are also close to what is now known as “Día Cero”, the day when the taps run dry and which has already threatened cities in 17 countries from Cape Town to São Paolo to Chennai.
25% of world’s population
According to the latest report of the World Resources Institute (WRI, its acronym in English) in 17 states, where 25% of the planet’s population resides, irrigated agriculture, industry and cities consume 80% or more of the water surface and underground sweet available every year on average in a situation of extreme water stress.
When demand competes with supply, even small drought events, which will increase due to climate change, can have dire consequences for people, livelihoods, and businesses around the world, the WRI report states.
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, home to 12 of the 17 countries facing “extremely high” stress, experts have pointed to water scarcity as a force that can exacerbate conflict and migration. That classification is led by Qatar, followed by Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Libya, and Kuwait. But, according to the WRI report, the largest focus of the affected population is in India.
Spain is within the category of high water stress, with global consumption of resources of between 40% and 80% per year. It ranks 28th, but some areas in the south and east of the Peninsula are classified as being at extreme risks, such as those Middle Eastern countries that top the ranking.
India ranked 13th on the list of countries with “extremely high water stress”, has more than three times the population of the other 16 countries in this category combined. North India faces severe groundwater depletion, visualized on the report’s maps and included in water stress calculations for the first time.
“The recent water crisis in Chennai has attracted global attention, but several areas of India are also experiencing chronic water stress,” said Shashi Shekhar, former Secretary of India’s Ministry of Water Resources and a senior fellow at WRI India.
“India can manage its water risk with the help of reliable and robust data related to rainfall, surface and groundwater to develop strategies that strengthen resilience. The WRI Aqueduct report can help identify and prioritize water hazards in India and around the world.” “Water stress is the biggest crisis that nobody talks about, ” said Andrew Steer, executive president of WRI, in a statement.