Ten countries worldwide, including five African nations, are at “extreme risk” because of limited access to clean, fresh water, according to a new global water security index. And the effects of climate change and population growth will exacerbate the stress on these water supplies, potentially threatening stability in many regions, according to the analysis by Maplecroft , a UK-based consulting group. Among the nations most at risk are Somalia, Mauritania, Sudan, Niger, and Iraq. Other nations at extreme risk — including Pakistan, Egypt, and Uzbekistan — are already facing internal and border tensions because of limited water supplies.
“There is a risk of water stress exacerbating future risks of conflict, although there is evidence that water scarcity may also help foster cooperation instead,” said Anna Moss, a Maplecroft environmental analyst. The index evaluates the water security of 165 nations in four key areas: access to clean water and sanitation; availability of renewable water and reliance on external sources; the compatability of supply and demand; and the dependence of the nation’s economy on water supplies. The most vulnerable regions include Africa, the Middle East and the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union. The most secure nations include Iceland and Norway.