Problems such as the growing shortage of fresh water (drinkable or industrial grade) are not just public or governmental concerns. Agriculture, manufacturing, and general business also require copious, inexpensive and reliable sources of water – so it’s not surprising that research organizations that cater to business needs also take the problems seriously. Such is the case with the Maplecroft Water Security Report, issued annually by the Maplecroft Corporation, a corporate risk assessment firm. The company analyzes data from 165 countries and then ranks them according to the severity of water related issues. The issues covered include the shortage of water, as in the lack of resources, and also factors such as rapid growth in population, increased business demand, and the decrease in useful water caused by pollution.
This year the report lists ten nations ‘at extreme risk,’ meaning that they are most likely to have social, economic, and political disruption directly related to the shortage of water. Not surprisingly, sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, but many countries in Central Asia are in a similar position:
In many cases such as Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt the water shortage problems have already led to diplomatic problems, some of which threaten to spill (if that’s the word) into armed conflict.
“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. “Conflict is likely to spread and intensify as a result of a lack of water security and for the countries that are heavily reliant upon external water supplies the issue of water may become critical. 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.
[Source: Maplecroft Water Security Report]