If the amount of renewable water in a country is below 1, m 3 per person per year, that country is said to be experiencing water stress; below 1, m 3 it is said to be experiencing water scarcity; and below m 3 , absolute water scarcity 1.
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The water stress index method is commonly used because it is straightforward, easy to use, and the data needed is readily available. However, such a simplistic approach has its limitations:. An alternative way of defining and measuring water scarcity is to use a criticality ratio. While this approach avoids the overly simplistic assumption that all countries have the same demand for water, it also has its limitations:.
Using this approach, the IWMI classifies countries that are predicted to be unable to meet their future water demand without investment in water infrastructure and efficiency as economically water scarce; and countries predicted to be unable to meet their future demand, even with such investment, as physically water scarce 6. While the IWMI measure of water scarcity is more sophisticated, its complexity means that it requires significant amounts of time and resources to estimate.
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This approach also fails to consider the ability of people within countries to adapt to reduced water availability by importing food grown in other countries, or by using water saving devices. The ability to adapt also depends on the economic resources available in countries as a whole, as well as to individuals within a country. For instance, wealthy residents in rich countries are more likely to be able to adapt to reduced water availability than poor people in developing countries.
This approach attempts to take into account the role of income and wealth in determining water scarcity by measuring: 1 the level of access to water; 2 water quantity, quality, and variability; 3 water used for domestic, food, and productive purposes; 4 capacity for water management; and 5 environmental aspects 7.
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The complexity of this approach, however, means that it is more suited for analysis at a local scale, where data is more readily available, than on a national level. This point is illustrated in Figure 1 which shows two different measures of water scarcity for Africa and Western Europe; one which accounts for the impact access to water technology can have on water scarcity, and one which does not.
First, by using a criticality ratio, the authors estimate the level of water scarcity based on a number of stressors Incident HWS Threat. They then include the investment benefits factor to the measure of water scarcity to estimate an adjusted measure of water scarcity when technological capacity is taken into account Adjusted HWS Threat 8.
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As Figure 1 shows, the way in which water scarcity is defined and measured has direct, and sometimes contradictory, implications on how serious the issue is perceived to be in different regions. As a result, relying on a single indicator may give a misleading impression about water scarcity issues.
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Pricing for water and water services (C7.01)
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Managing Water For All An Oecd Perspective On Pricing And Financing 2009
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