New research evaluating the water security of 165 countries rates the supply of clean, fresh water to the societies and businesses of 10 nations at "extreme risk."
According to the Water Security Risk Index, released by Maplecroft, a firm specialising in corporate risk intelligence, Somalia (1), Mauritania (2), Sudan (3), Niger (4), Iraq (5), Uzbekistan (6), Pakistan (7), Egypt (8), Turkmenistan (9) and Syria (10) are the countries with the least secure supplies of water.
Water Security Risk Index 2010
© Maplecroft 2010
The index is one of over 100 created by Maplecroft to identify risks across supply chains, operations and investments of multinational companies and is calculated by measuring the four key areas surrounding the issue. These include: access to improved drinking water and sanitation; the availability of renewable water and the reliance on external supplies; the relationship between available water and supply demands; and the water dependency of each country’s economy.
Maplecroft’s research finds that countries in the extreme risk category, including the emerging economies of Pakistan, Egypt and Uzbekistan, are already experiencing internal and cross-border tensions due to limited water resources. Furthermore, as the global climate changes, water stress is predicted to become more acute in these regions and has the potential to threaten stability.
Pakistan’s long-running dispute over Kashmir with India (13 and high risk) is in part fuelled by competition for critical water resources that are needed to maintain the growth of industry and investment for both countries. Egypt, which is dependent on water from the Blue Nile, is currently threatening legal action over the construction of the Gibe III dam in Ethiopia, which will further jeopardise its limited supplies; and in Uzbekistan, where an estimated 87% of the population has access to good quality drinking water, tensions are rising with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan due to hydro-electric projects on the rivers that flow into the country.
"Climate change and increasing demands from population growth will cause a worsening of water stress over the coming decades," said Dr Anna Moss, environmental analyst at Maplecroft. "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, within and between states and up to regional levels. It is essential for business to monitor the risks in their supply chains and operations where they might face current and future exposures."
Regions particularly vulnerable to a lack of water security include the Middle East and the CIS countries of the former Soviet Union, where all appear in the high and extreme risk categories, except Georgia, Belarus and Russia, which is considered low risk. Africa is also acutely affected by the issue, with 15 countries in the high and extreme risk categories.
The countries with the most stable supplies of clean water include Iceland (165), Norway (164) and New Zealand (163). Other low risk countries include the UK (144) and Brazil (148).
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