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Availability of Water

Irrigation in Algeria
Pie chart: 19% of world population affected (1.2 billions) Pie chart: 5-25% over-use of freshwater Negative trend

Water is needed for drinking, cleaning and food production, etc. (and so on) As a regional resource, shortage might occur, which resolves from drought, overuse or unsound methods of agriculture respectively freshwater management.

Affected people and foundations of life: More than 1.2 billion people live in areas of physical water scarcity, lacking enough water for everyone's demands regarding food production, health and development (IWMI [International Water Management Institute] 2007, 10; FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] 2007, 135). This applies especially to North Africa and the Middle East. Mankind uses more than half of global freshwater resources (WBGU [German Advisory Council on Global Change] 1998, 98). Roughly 70% are used for agriculture (OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] 2008, 232). Between 5% and 25% of global freshwater usage likely exceeds long-term accessible supply (e. g. [for example] regeneration rate of ground water; MA [Millennium Assessment] 2005, 106f. [and following page]). This also raises the risk of conflicts.

Targets/goals: to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels, which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies (Millennium Summit: UN [United Nations] 2000, § 23 [4]).

Trend: It is expected that by 2025, 3.5 billion people will live in water scarce or water stressed areas (WB [World Bank] 2007, 2). Water quality, on global average, is declining, too (MA 2005, 43).

Measures: The Global Water Partnership, initiated by the UN, supports countries in their sustainable management of water resources (

Annotations: For numeric names the short scale is used:
1 billion = one thousand million = 109 = 1 000 000 000


Draft (2008)

This draft is to be reviewed by experts. Your hints are welcome, please use the contact form.

Photo credit: © UNCCD /Mounir Bencharif