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.


US service member killed in action in Afghanistan

Updated 39 min 50 sec ago

US service member killed in action in Afghanistan

  • The death brings the number of US military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan this year to at least 17
  • The latest US fatality comes after talks between Washington and the Taliban crumbled.

KABUL: An American service member was killed in Afghanistan, the US-led NATO mission said Monday, the latest US fatality after talks between Washington and the Taliban crumbled.
“A US service member was killed in action today in Afghanistan,” NATO’s Resolute Support mission said in a brief statement.
The death brings the number of US military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan this year to at least 17, just as Washington is seeking a way out of its longest war.
NATO did not immediately provide any additional information regarding the circumstances of the deadly incident.
About a week ago, President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks with the Taliban, which were aimed at paving the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of armed conflict.
“They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead,” Trump said.
The announcement followed Trump’s cancelation of a top-secret plan to fly Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to the Camp David presidential compound outside Washington for talks.
Trump in part blamed the death of a US soldier in a huge Taliban bombing in Kabul for his change of heart on negotiations.
Until the talks were called off, there had been steadily mounting expectations of a deal that would see the US draw down troop levels in Afghanistan — from roughly 13,000 to about 8,000 next year.
In return, the Taliban would offer security guarantees to keep extremist groups out.
Last week, NATO said the focus of its Resolute Support mission remained “unchanged” — to train and advise local forces.
“NATO will stay in Afghanistan for as long as necessary to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists,” an alliance official told AFP.