Water scarcity

"Occurs when the freshwater demands linked to specific social, economic and environmental needs of a community exceed the available water supply." (United Nations Publications, 2013)


United Nations Publications. "Glossary of Shared Water Resources (English-Arabic): Technical, Socioeconomic and Legal Terminology." (2013). DOI:https://dx.doi.org/10.18356/70b462ce-en

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European Space Agency’s “Water Scarcity” Kick-Start

The challenge

Water is one of the most important substances on Earth and covers 70% of the planet. However, freshwater makes up a very small fraction with 97% being saline and ocean-based. While the amount of freshwater on the planet has remained fairly constant over time, the world’s population has exploded, meaning that freshwater is threatened by significant forces, like overdevelopment, polluted runoff, and global warming. 

Hydro-diplomacy: The role of space-derived data in advancing water security

Water scarcity is one of the greatest threats faced by humanity of our time – in 2019, more than two billion people experience high water stress (UN-Water 2019) and approximately four billion people suffer from severe water scarcity for at least one month per year (Mekonnen and Hoekstra 2016). This worsening problem increases the risk of international conflict over water resources breaking out, given that there are over 270 transboundary river basins, and three-quarters of UN Member States share at least one river or lake basin with a neighbour (UN News 2017).

Urban Water Scarcity: How data from NASA’s GRACE-FO Mission can be used for (near) real time water management

As population becomes larger the demand for water soars, including water needed for domestic, industrial and municipal uses (Mogelgaard 2011). One example of that, is India, where on 20 June 2019 the city of Chennai almost run out of water. Satellite images show the extent of the water shortage in the city (figure 1). While people are queuing up to get water from water trucks that transfer water to the city, the greatest struggle is taking place in the city’s municipal buildings and businesses. Hospitals are facing the threat of not having enough water to treat patients and to clean equipment, and businesses are forced to shut down and wait until the crisis is over.