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Water Stress by Country 2023


Compared to all the countries in the world, Qatar is by far one of the most water-stressed countries. The need for water is extremely high, while water availability is scarce. This country is a desert without a single river to help sustain the population. The growing population and economy saw water use almost double between 2006 and 2013. Households require the most water, followed closely by agriculture.


Another water-stressed country is Israel, which has the second-worst water stress in the world. Severe climate change and droughts have made this issue compounding since 2013. Just five years ago, Israel’s official water authority reported the water sources, like rivers and lakes, were at 100-year lows. Desalination plants across the Mediterranean coast have helped provide up to 70% of the country’s drinking water.


Another desert country, Lebanon, has extremely high water stress, with households and industries needing more water than the country can supply. Much of the water stress in Lebanon is due to the inability to store water, water pollution, and chronic misuse of water. Both the agricultural industry and people at home are guilty of misusing the scarce water available in this country.


Troubling sinkholes in Iran are the leading cause of water scarcity in this country. Some sinkholes drop nearly 200 feet. The holes are caused by water pumping endeavors and drought, which have caused the problem to compound. Inefficient agricultural practices, sudden population growth, and the misuse of the available water have led to a water-stressed country.


Like other desert countries on our list, Jordan is also in extreme need of water, experiencing high levels of water stress. So major cities, like Amman, only get running water between 12 and 24 hours per week. Water conservation is a popular and much-needed skill that is taught in school. Children growing up in Jordan learn about water conservation just as they learn about math and science.


Like the other desert countries, Libya also is highly water-stressed. This country is located in a desert and rarely gets rain. Unfortunately, access to water has been weaponized and has been used as a bargaining tool among warring people. In 2018, a gunman forced water workers to completely shut off the water supply to Tripoli for days on end to negotiate the release of a captive relative.


There is little naturally available water in Kuwait, leading to extreme water stress in this country. About 99% of the freshwater pouring into the country comes from desalination plants. With the construction of the plants, freshwater sources can help sustain households and agriculture throughout the country.

- From World Resources Institute: Baseline water stress measures the ratio of total water withdrawals to available renewable water supplies. Water withdrawals include domestic, industrial, irrigation, and livestock consumptive and non-consumptive uses. Available renewable water supplies include surface and groundwater supplies and consider the impact of upstream consumptive water users and large dams on downstream water availability. Higher values indicate more competition among users.

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Which country has the highest rate of water stress?

The country with the highest rate of water stress is Qatar. Currently, the country's water stress rating is 4.97, the highest in the world.

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