small boy taking water buckets in hand

Top Countries with Water Scarcity

In the West, we often don’t have to think about where our water comes from. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for everyone in the world. Water scarcity is a big issue that affects a significant portion of the global population. A lack of a freshwater resource has serious consequences – sometimes being the difference between life and death.

If water availability is a topic that you’re interested in learning more about, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll find a list of the top countries with water scarcity, understand the consequences of a lack of water resources, and what can be done about it.

Top Countries with Water Scarcity

The World Resources Institute ranks countries based on their water stress and splits countries into five different categories:

  1. Low
  2. Low-medium
  3. Medium-high
  4. High
  5. Extremely high

As you can guess, countries such as Canada rank low in water stress. Countries with larger populations that are still highly developed — such as the United States — still hover around the low-medium range.

The ranking that brings the most concern is the “extremely high” category. There are currently 17 countries that have an extremely high baseline for water scarcity. Those countries are:

  1. Bahrain
  2. Botswana
  3. Eritrea
  4. India
  5. Iran
  6. Israel
  7. Jordan
  8. Kuwait
  9. Lebanon
  10. Libya
  11. Oman
  12. Pakistan
  13. Qatar
  14. San Marino
  15. Saudi Arabia
  16. Turkmenistan
  17. United Arab Emirates

As you can see, 12 of the 17 top countries with water scarcity are in North Africa or the Middle East — places covered in desert, but where the population continues to grow, hence a growing water demand.

That said, it’s important to note that water scarcity isn’t only an issue that affects these countries and the majority of their populations. Many countries that have a medium-low or even low baseline for water stress still have people within them who don’t have enough access to clean water.

For example, in Canada, there is a water security issue that overwhelmingly and disproportionately affects Indigenous communities that live on reserves away from large towns, with some communities having water advisories for over 20 years.

The lesson here is not to think that just because the 17 top countries with water scarcity are not close to home, there aren’t drinking water issues in your backyard.

Let’s look at the causes and impacts of global water scarcity.

people filling large water bottles

The Causes and Impact of Water Scarcity

The two leading causes of severe water scarcity globally are population growth and climate change. The growing population has led to water mismanagement, the politics surrounding fresh water have led to overconsumption, and many people in the West take water for granted.

What’s more is that it’s no secret that climate change has significantly impacted many aspects of the natural world, and water stress is one of the consequences.

However, there are negative consequences that occur when we aren’t able to manage global freshwater and ensure that everyone has access. The most obvious impact of water shortage is the damage that it could have to human health and the health of all living things.

As water security issues increase, food insecurity will, too, as agriculture becomes more and more challenging. Beyond that, since safe water is now considered a valuable resource and a commodity, conflicts between nations will continue to rise for the right to water.

This conflict will have detrimental effects on the people of the nations in conflict and those who need access to clean water the most.

Knowing all this, you might wonder, what can we do to mitigate these water-related risks? Let’s look at possible solutions to aid the top countries with water scarcity.

What Needs to Be Done

There’s no one solution to helping the top countries with water scarcity. Instead, it requires a joint effort from everyone in several different ways to make a global difference.

Today, we have technology that gives us the power to increase our water supply and facilitate access to safe drinking water in developing countries. One of those technologies is desalination, which removes dissolved mineral salts from water, making it safe for human consumption and agricultural purposes and increasing water availability.

However, advanced technology isn’t the only solution to water scarcity. You can make a difference in your community by responsibly using your water and influencing others to do so. If you plan an event that requires you to use or serve water, practice good water management and be conscious of how much you need and are using.

Unfortunately, there are bigger forces that also need to work together to help the top countries with water scarcity.

Many countries are caught up in geopolitics which has affected who has access to how much water. These contentious politics involving water now have countries such as the United States slowly facing water crisis issues as well.

child taking water in hand

The Takeaway: Water Scarcity Affects Everyone

Although the top 17 countries with water scarcity need the most help in solving the global water crisis, that doesn’t mean that this issue has nothing to do with you. In short, there isn’t a single continent on Earth that hasn’t been affected by water scarcity, making this a global issue.

You can do your part by being mindful of your water consumption and practicing good water management, especially if you plan large events. Renting a Quench Buggy water trailer for your next event can save water and reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills.