DUBAI: Water shortages are worst in Africa and the Middle East, and the hardest hit are nations in the Gulf, including Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, according to a study released Wednesday by risk analysis firm Maplecroft.
“One of the primary water users is agriculture, providing a direct link between water stress and food security,” said Kimberlee Myers, the principal environmental analyst of the U.K.-based company, which compared the amounts of water available in a country to the demands for it. “When a country goes outside its borders to ensure food security, it creates a situation in which water is reallocated away from host countries,” she said.
“If local water supplies are being used for agriculture for food destined for foreign countries at the expense of the needs of local communities, then the governments could be open to accusations of negatively impacting on the right to water of their people. As water resources deplete in countries that currently experience low water stress, this will become increasingly problematic.”
Maplecroft’s Water Stress Index pinpoints areas of water stress down to 10 square kilometers worldwide by calculating the ratio of domestic, industrial and agricultural water consumption against renewable supplies of water from precipitation, rivers and groundwater. The index can be used by firms to identify risk of water interruptions to supply chains, operations and investments.
According to the index of 188 countries and regions, the 15 worst affected – categorized as extreme risk – are all in the Middle East and Africa.