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Cyprus among world’s most water-stressed countries

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Cyprus is among the 25 countries facing extremely high water stress each year, the World Resources Institute (WRI) said in a recent study.

These countries are home to a quarter of the Earth’s population, while at least 50% of the world’s population – some 4 billion people – is under highly water-stressed conditions for at least one month of the year.

According to the research, a country facing “extreme water stress” uses at least 80% of its available supply.

In contrast, “high water stress” means it is using 40% of the supply, with Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Qatar being the six most water-stressed countries, where water stress is mostly driven by low supply, paired with demand from domestic, agricultural and industrial use.

Similarly, the most water-stressed regions are the Middle East and North Africa, where 83% of the population is exposed to extremely high water stress, and South Asia, where 74% is exposed.

Water shortages can lead to industrial interruptions, energy outages and agricultural production losses and pose a risk to food security, as 60% of the world’s irrigated agriculture faces extremely high water stress — particularly sugarcane, wheat, rice and maise.

Without intervention, such as investment in water infrastructure and better water governance, water stress will worsen, particularly in places with rapidly growing populations and economies.

Moreover, WRI’s research shows that solving global water challenges does not necessarily come at high costs, amounting to about 1% of global GDP, or 29 cents per person, per day from 2015 to 2030; what is missing is the political will and financial support to make these cost-effective solutions a reality.

The Institute recommends that countries improve their water governance, incentivise efficient water use in agriculture, adopt integrated water resource management and strengthen water infrastructure through nature-based solutions and green infrastructure.

It also urges policymakers in water-stressed countries to prioritise water-prudent energy sources like solar and wind to avoid power shutdowns caused by water shortages.

It calls on cities to develop urban water resilience action plans, while the treatment and reuse of wastewater could also create new water sources for cities.