Water Resources Institute published on 26 August 2015 an article on its world water supply forecast that is reproduced herewith.
Ranking the World’s Most Water-Stressed Countries in 2040
by Andrew Maddocks, Robert Samuel Young and Paul Reig
The world’s demand for water is likely to surge in the next few decades. Rapidly growing populations will drive increased consumption by people, farms and companies. More people will move to cities, further straining supplies. An emerging middle class could clamor for more water-intensive food production and electricity generation.
But it’s not clear where all that water will come from. Climate change is expected to make some areas drier and others wetter. As precipitation extremes increase in some regions, affected communities face greater threats from droughts and floods.
While changing water supply and demand is inevitable, exactly what that change will look like around the world is far from certain. A first-of-its-kind analysis by WRI sheds new light on the issue.
Using an ensemble of climate models and socioeconomic scenarios, WRI scored and ranked future water stress—a measure of competition and depletion of surface water—in 167 countries by 2020, 2030, and 2040. We found that 33 countries face extremely high water stress in 2040 (see the full list). We also found that Chile, Estonia, Namibia, and Botswana could face an especially significant increase in water stress by 2040. This means that businesses, farms, and communities in these countries in particular may be more vulnerable to scarcity than they are today.
Challenging Future for a Volatile Region
Fourteen of the 33 likely most water stressed countries in 2040 are in the Middle East, including nine considered extremely highly stressed with a score of 5.0 out of 5.0: Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon. The region, already arguably the least water-secure in the world, draws heavily upon groundwater and desalinated sea water, and faces exceptional water-related challenges for the foreseeable future.
With regional violence and political turmoil commanding global attention, water may seem tangential. However, drought and water shortages in Syria likely contributed to the unrest that stoked the country’s 2011 civil war. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people, primarily farmers and herders, to lose their livelihoods and leave their land, move to urban areas, and magnify Syria’s general destabilization.
The problem extends to other countries. Water is a significant dimension of the decades-old conflict between Palestine and Israel. Saudi Arabia’s government said its people will depend entirely on grain imports by 2016, a change from decades of growing all they need, due to fear of water-resource depletion. The U.S. National Intelligence Council wrote that water problems will put key North African and Middle Eastern countries at greater risk of instability and state failure and distract them from foreign policy engagements with the U.S.
Further reading is at WRI