The viability of water supplies throughout key regions of China, India and the US are under threat from unsustainable domestic, agricultural and industrial demands, according to a new study that maps water use down to 10km² worldwide. The growth economies of China and India and the world’s largest economy US are identified by risk analysis company Maplecroft, in its Water Stress Index, as having vast geographical regions and sector areas where unsustainable water use is outstripping supply.
Analysis by Maplecroft of the index results states that extreme levels of water stress in these countries has the potential to limit economic growth by constraining business activities, as well as hampering agricultural outputs. Resulting reductions in crop harvests in these countries will also negatively impact local food supplies and global food prices, while the socio-economic impacts of water shortages, especially in India and China, have the potential to create unrest and affect stability, as populations and business compete for dwindling supplies.
Maplecroft has calculated levels of water stress in 168 countries by evaluating renewable supplies of water from precipitation, streams and rivers against domestic, industrial and agricultural use. The Water Stress Index also includes an interactive sub-national map, which has been developed to pinpoint areas of extreme water stress that pose significant risks to populations and business operations at a local level.
The arid Middle East and North Africa region is the most at risk region in the index, with Bahrain (1), Qatar, (2), Kuwait (3), Libya (4) and Djibouti (5), United Arab Emirates (UAE) (6), Yemen (7), Saudi Arabia (8), Oman (9) and Egypt (10) categorised as the most water stressed countries.
However, the widespread use of irrigation for agriculture, combined with increasing domestic and industrial water demand in India (ranked 34th in the index), China (50) and the US (61) mean that increasing pressure is being placed on available water resources in these key economies, which may impact the wider world.
Maplecroft chief executive officer (CEO) Alyson Warhurst said: “Businesses should undertake impact assessment and monitoring of water stress and water security and other areas of risk that conflate with such pressures including food security, conflict and energy availability. Supply chain risk, if not managed strategically, can lead to business discontinuity and unforeseen costs that undermine the profitability of projects.”
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