Five Countries with the Greatest Water Scarcity Issues | Mar 31, 2016

In the U.S., people are lucky enough to consider water as an amenity. It comes out of faucets without a second thought. People can buy bottles of water on any city street corner, or take a sip from water fountains. However, this convenience can’t be found everywhere. In some parts of the world, people experience extreme water scarcity that prevents them from getting the water they so desperately need. This scarcity often has to do with geographical location and cleanliness.

However, water is an essential source of health and nutrition. It helps keep people hydrated and gives organs, muscles and joints the nutrients they need. If people don’t have water, their bodies suffer, sometimes leading to death.

That’s why water scarcity is at the forefront of public health issues. According to FewResources.org, by 2020 it’s estimated that 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, meaning there will be little to no water resources to live off of. Another two-thirds of the world will be dealing with water-stressed conditions, meaning water resources may be limited or hard to come by. Five years later in 2025, approximately 50 percent of the world will be experiencing severe water-stressed conditions.Here are the top five countries currently dealing with extreme water scarcity.

1. Yemen

Yemen is a Middle Eastern country that’s currently experiencing political and national strife. When turmoil brews, resources are often brought to a halt. Certain parts of this country are run by terrorist groups, making it difficult for citizens to get the aid they desperately need. One of these scarce resources is water, as Yemen’s geographical layout doesn’t yield many natural sources. As a result, it uses aid and other sources for support. However, the current state of the country prevents these resources from reaching the hands that need it most. According to UPI, Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, is expected to be the first major city in the world to experience full water scarcity.

2. Libya

Libya is another war-torn country dealing with major water-scarcity issues. Currently, this country is experiencing a full political upheaval, meaning that people’s agendas are anywhere but the current water crisis. Yet it’s about time that people shift their gaze. Naturally, Libya has very few water resources. In the presence of regime change, those small resources are being blocked from getting to the country’s citizens. This isn’t the first time Libya has undergone a political change, and it most likely won’t be the last. That means that people are constantly facing water shortages and blockages, preventing them from having healthy, safe lifestyles.

3. Jordan

The country of Jordan is located in one of the driest regions in the Middle East, meaning that water isn’t exactly easy to come by. However, their neighbors are no better off – many countries that surround Jordan also experience water scarcity. As a result, Jordan often turns to its two natural resources: the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. However, it costs money and time to convert salt water to fresh water, and Jordan doesn’t have a lot of those resources, considering its economic and political state. The country’s population is also continually growing and those two resources are evaporating more and more, leaving Jordan with very few options.

4. The Western Sahara

This area isn’t classified as one group. Instead, it’s made up of two groups: Morocco and the Polisario Front. The latter group is considered to be a Sahawri tribal group that includes thousands of Sahawri refugees. Naturally, these two groups are in a constant battle for control of the land, leaving very little viable resources in their wake. Many of these refugees constantly face food and water shortages in this region. However, neither group is willing to make peace and give up other resources that the land has, such as oil. That means that these two groups will continue to keep fighting and sacrificing food and water in hopes of conquering the land.

5. Djibouti

This part of the world is constantly receiving aid from major health organizations such as UNICEF. However, despite this support, the country still experiences a major water shortage. Djibouti consistently deals with political and national strife, meaning this aid is rarely well distributed. This country also deals with consistent droughts as it’s in an arid, dry location, leaving several residents without any access to natural water.

Clearly, this is an issue that many policy makers and health professionals are looking to solve. However, the first step in solving this crisis is to understand the problem at hand and figure out what needs to be addressed.  Major health crises and issues like this are discussed extensively in Master of Public Health programs like the online MPH at The University of Arizona.