Africa's water most precarious, Iceland best-study
Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:42am GMT
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
ATHENS (Reuters) - 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 survey on Thursday that aims to
alert companies to investment risks.
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.
A "water security risk index" of 165 nations found African and Asian
nations had the most vulnerable supplies, judged by factors including
access to drinking water, per capita demand and dependence on rivers
that first flow through other nations.
Somalia, where just 30 percent of the population has clean drinking
water, topped the list above Mauritania, Sudan, Niger, Iraq,
Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan and Syria.
At the other end of the scale, rain-soaked Iceland had the most secure
supplies, slightly better than Norway and New Zealand.
"With climate change there is going to be a greater strain on limited
water resources in many nations," Anna Moss, author of the study, told
Shifts in monsoon rains and melting of glaciers, for instance, could
disrupt supplies with the potential to cause cross-border conflicts.
Construction of hydropower dams or more irrigation, for instance, can
disrupt supplies downriver.
The study said irrigation accounted for 70 percent of freshwater
consumption across the globe. Industry 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.
Water stress was not only a problem in poor nations. Nations such as
the United States and Australia have regions that are at risk.
"Countries in Europe, such as Bulgaria, Belgium and Spain, have issues
with water stress," Moss said. Bulgaria ranked 47 on the list, Belgium
50, Spain 68, Australia 95 and the United States 104.
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