Quarter of world’s population facing extreme water stress

Agriculture, industry, and municipalities are drinking up 80 percent of available surface and groundwater in an average year. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 August 2019

Quarter of world’s population facing extreme water stress

  • The WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas ranked water stress, drought risk and riverine flood risk using a peer-reviewed methodology
  • The Middle East and North Africa are home to 12 of the most stressed countries

WASHINGTON: Nearly a quarter of the world’s population lives in 17 countries facing extremely high water stress, close to “day zero” conditions when the taps run dry, according to a report released Tuesday.

The World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas ranked water stress, drought risk and riverine flood risk using a peer-reviewed methodology. “Agriculture, industry, and municipalities are drinking up 80 percent of available surface and groundwater in an average year” in the 17 worst affected countries, WRI said.

“When demand rivals supply, even small dry shocks — which are set to increase due to climate change — can produce dire consequences” such as the recent crises in Cape Town, Sao Paulo and Chennai. Qatar, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, UAE, San Marino, Bahrain, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Oman and Botswana made up the top 17.

“Water stress is the biggest crisis no one is talking about. Its consequences are in plain sight in the form of food insecurity, conflict and migration, and financial instability,” said Andrew Steer, CEO of WRI. Another 27 countries comprised the “high baseline water stress” list and a full list can be found here: https://www.wri.org/our-work/project/aqueduct/

The Middle East and North Africa are home to 12 of the most stressed countries, while India, which is ranked 13, has more than three times the population of the other 16 in its category combined.

“The recent water crisis in Chennai gained global attention, but various areas in India are experiencing chronic water stress as well,” said Shashi Shekhar, India’s former water secretary, adding that the tool could help authorities identify and prioritize risks. Even countries with low average water stress can have dire hotspots, the report found. While the US ranks a comfortable 71 on the list, the state of New Mexico faces water stress on par with the UAE.


Thai official dismisses Muslim insurgent demand on detainees

Updated 19 August 2019

Thai official dismisses Muslim insurgent demand on detainees

  • Officials of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional met a Thai delegation and demanded the release of detainees
  • The insurgency in the Malay-speaking region of the predominantly Buddhist country has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years

BANGKOK: A Thai deputy prime minister dismissed on Monday a demand made by a Malay Muslim group to free those detained over alleged links to the long-running insurgency in Thailand’s mainly Muslim south as a pre-condition for formal talks.
Officials of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) met a Thai delegation at an undisclosed location in Southeast Asia on Friday and demanded the release of detainees, a leader of the group told Reuters in a rare interview.
The insurgency in the Malay-speaking region of the predominantly Buddhist country has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years and has flared on and off for decades.
“How can you say that? Everything must follow the justice procedure,” Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters on Monday when he was asked about the BRN’s demand.
The BRN also demanded that the Thai government conduct a transparent investigation into alleged abuses by security forces after allegations that a man from the south, Abdullah Isamusa, 32, fell into a coma after being interrogated by the military.
The army said authorities were investigating and that there was no proof so far of torture.
The BRN, the most active insurgent group in the south, has opted to stay out of peace talks between the Thai government and other insurgent groups, although it said it held two previous meetings in recent years.
Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat provinces were part of an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before Thailand annexed them in 1909.