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1. Overview of the geography of water
= a basic need, but it is not evenly distributed
Factors influencing geography of supply:
o Physical - surface, groundwater
See page 1 (Physical Factors- Hydrological diagram)
o Human - demand, management (storage, diversion, desalinisation), mismanagement
Increasing demand not matched by supply
Implications for human well being - which is why it is a MDG
Demand from various users
Water resources often transboundary
Potential conflicts = both local & international
Resource use often exceeds recharge capacity leading to long term degradation
Future is in doubt because of unsustainable use + climate change
Vulnerable populations most at risk
Management strategies to ensure supply require cooperation of many different players = changes in way
water is valued & used
1. water shortage: low levels of water supply relative to minimum levels necessary for basic needs. Can be
measured by annual renewable flows (in m3) per head of population, or its reciprocal viz. the number of people
dependent on each unit of water (e.g. millions of people per km3)
2. Water scarcity(worst case): high demand compared to available supply, especially if the remaining supply is
difficult or costly to tap. Less than 1000 m3 pp/yr
Physical water scarcity Actual supplies are limited (rainfall or river flow). 75% of river flow is used.
Water is scarce in South East of Australia and North Africa as well as Middle East, however because
they are in the Tropics, you wouldn't expect it to rain much.
Economic water scarcity Water is too expensive to buy. Water is scarce in Central America,
Bangladesh, Sub Saharan Africa and Vietnam. This is little or no water scarcity in North America and
3. Water stress: growing conflict between users and competition for water, declining standards of reliability and
service, harvest failures and food insecurity. Less than 1700 m3 pp/yr.
Global freshwater availability
1) Plenty of water available in Northerly mid latitudes e.g. Canada, Norway, Russia and equatorial areas like
Brazil, Cameron and Indonesia due to high rainfall totals. Northerly mid latitudes is due to depression and
near the equator is due to convection.
2) In those same areas where populations are higher or heavy industrial use takes place, countries are
vulnerable. UK, Germany and Poland, because they have high amounts of waste and huge populations.
3) China is another example where industrial use is growing but also they have dry semi arid climate as does
Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.
4) North Africa and the Middle East have water scarcity; this is a combination of low rainfall and rising
population. Physical scarcity because large parts of the country are affected by the Tropics.
5) India is under water stress because rainfall is seasonal and population is very high.
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Global access to an `improved water source'
1) No surprise developed countries (Australia, Japan, N.America and Western Europe) very high access to clean
water in fact 100%.In addition Argentina, Malaysia, Botswana, Egypt and Chile also do.
2) 83 to 95% are places like Iran, S.America, India, and Bangladesh are getting there.
3) There are significant part of S America but also India and Pakistan have actually relatively high levels
particularly RICS with money like Iran (oil and gas) S Africa.…read more
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The other aspect of the water crisis is effective sanitation. There is some connection with the correlation of
GDP (positive correlation).
India (28%) and China (38%) are doing far worse on this.
Developed countries 99% population with sanitation and clean drinking water
Developing countries 50% population with sanitation and 80% clean drinking water
The water gap (water use)
Huge differences in water use across the development divide.
Only partly correlated to water availability.
This is without water use for other consumables like food and