Environmental Research Digest – June 2012
Maplecroft has launched the Water Stress Index that calculates the water stress of over 168 countries. It evaluates renewable supplies of water from precipitation, streams and rivers against domestic, industrial and agricultural use.
- Unsustainable water use is threatening agriculture, other business and populations in China, India and the US.
- The arid Middle East and North Africa region is the most at-risk region in the index, with Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya, Djibouti, UAE, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Egypt categorized as the 10 most water-stressed countries, listed in order of risk.
- 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) means that those economies’ water resources are coming under increasing pressure – and this may place more of an impact on the wider world.
- The populous northeast Chinese provinces of Beijing, Jiangsu, Shandong and Tianjin are all considered “extreme risk” by the Water Stress Index, due to large-scale economic growth and the rapid expansion of cities.
- Agriculture is a key driver of unsustainable water use in India.
- The country is classified as “high risk” overall, but at a subnational level the index identified “extreme” levels of water stress across large swathes of its most important agricultural land.
- States that are at “extreme risk” of water stress include Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, while Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are rated at “high risk.”
- Although the USA is classified by Maplecroft as “medium risk” for water stress overall, large areas are already suffering from the depletion of ground water supplies, with states including Arizona, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas classified as being at “high” and “extreme risk.”
- The effects of water stress on global food inflation are illustrated by recent price hikes for soya beans, which have been pushing all-time highs.