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Report Finds Countries In Africa Face Most Severe Water Risks

“African nations led by Somalia, Mauritania and Sudan have the most precarious water supplies in the world while Iceland has the best,” according to a report released Thursday, Reuters reports.

“The ranking, compiled by British-based risk consultancy Maplecroft, said climate change and a rising world population meant that stresses on supplies would be of increasing concern in coming decades for uses from farming to industry,” the news service adds.

The water security risk index, which was based on such factors as “access to drinking water, per capita demand and dependence on rivers that first flow through other nations” in 165 nations, ranked countries in Asia and Africa high on the list, led by “Somalia, where just 30 percent of the population has clean drinking water,” followed by Mauritania, Sudan, Niger, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan and Syria (Doyle, 6/24).

“The report states 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,” according to a Maplecroft press release. “Furthermore, as the global climate changes, water stress is predicted to become more acute in these regions and has the potential to threaten stability.”

“Climate change and increasing demands from population growth will cause a worsening of water stress over the coming decades,” Anna Moss, environmental analyst at Maplecroft, said in the release. “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” (6/24).

According to the study, “irrigation accounted for 70 percent of freshwater consumption across the globe,” while “[i]ndustry uses another 22 percent. … It said that companies including Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Marks & Spencer, Coca-Cola or Devon Energy were among those seeking to reduce water use,” Reuters reports (6/24).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.