Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maplecroft index identifies Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as world’s most water stressed countries

A new index from Maplecroft, this one focusing on water: The Gulf nations of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are rated as the world’s most water stressed countries, with the least available water per capita, by a new ranking of 186 countries. The Water Stress Index, released by risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft, pinpoints areas of water stress down to 10km² worldwide by calculating the ratio of domestic, industrial and agricultural water consumption, against renewable supplies of water from precipitation, rivers and groundwater. It has been developed for companies to identify risk of water interruptions to supply chains, operations and investments.

The index, which is accompanied by an interactive sub-national map, rates 17 countries as ‘extreme risk,’ with the Middle East and North African (MENA) nations of Bahrain (1), Qatar (2), Kuwait (3) Saudi Arabia (4) Libya (5), the disputed territory of Western Sahara (6), Yemen (7), Israel (8), Djibouti (9) and Jordan (10) topping the ranking.

Maplecroft’s research highlights current and future water availability as one of the foremost global challenges. The company states that the dual drivers of climate change and population growth will combine to squeeze water resources and affect the food security of governments across the world, regardless of how water secure they may be today.

Aside from the MENA region, water stress is a major issue for the large emerging economies, including India (30) and South Korea (36), which are both categorised as ‘high risk’ countries in the index and China (56), rated ‘medium risk.’ Water shortages in these countries have the potential to constrain economic development and create social unrest if dwindling resources result in higher prices and limited access for their populations.

“As a means of offsetting shortfalls, India, South Korea and China, along with the oil rich Gulf states, are acquiring water rich land for agricultural purposes in developing countries to ensure the security of food supplies and decouple themselves from volatility in global food prices,” says Maplecroft Analyst Tom Styles. “This recent phenomenon, dubbed ‘land grab,’ is taking place on a huge scale across many countries in Africa, especially those involved in post conflict reconstruction with poor development.”…

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