Ten Nations Face Extreme Risk Due to Water Shortages

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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.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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