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Who Has the World's Water

The world’s freshwater resources are under increasing pressure from growing human population and industrial activity. Here’s a look at how the world’s top six water-abundant countries are dealing with their resources

Published: Sep 22, 2012 06:29:16 AM IST
Updated: Sep 21, 2012 03:20:56 PM IST
Who Has the World's Water
Image: Sameer Pawar

Share of total world resource: 19%
Share of world’s population: 2.82%

Government taking steps to guard world's largest freshwater reservoir from environmental hazards, giving birth to a $100 million water protection industry.

Share of total world resource: 7%
Share of world’s population: 0.49%

Traditionally against exporting water, but is selling bottled water to the US.

Share of total world resource: 10%
Share of world’s population: 2.04%

Exporting water to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Fresh water supplies may equal that of oil and natural gas. Government officials say, “When we run out of oil, we’ll export water.”

Share of total world resource: 7%
Share of world’s population: 19.27%


70% of its water bodies are contaminated, while half of its cities have polluted groundwater. Faces shortage. In talks with Alaska to import water.

Share of total world resource: 5%
Share of world’s population: 0.67%

Contaminated freshwater. Threatened with issues like drying up of water bodies.

Share of total world resource: 7%
Share of world’s population: 3.47%

Plagued by water contamination. At this rate, by 2025, it would be facing a water crisis.

Share of total world resource: 4%
Share of world’s population: 17.8%

Deficient monsoons often lead to shortage of drinking and irrigation water. Groundwater is polluted due to poor land practices, atmospheric deposition of pollutants and direct discharge of sewage into water bodies.

Source: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-01-17/news/28431152_1_fresh-water-ground-water-water-bodies ;
http://www.nytimes.com/1995/06/26/news/26iht-water.html?pagewanted=all ; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/06/100604-brazil-watershed-protection/ ; http://colombiareports.com/opinion/julian-e-torres/16636-save-the-water-for-a-rainy-colombian-day.html  http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/06/28/in-the-news-water-shortage-strains-capital/ ; http://www.worldvision.or.id/mod/2/?aID=309; http://www.livemint.com/2012/08/03002031/It8217s-a-drought.html

(This story appears in the 28 September, 2012 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Dwayne

    USA does not appear in this list. With every tap providing drinking water it would be interesting to see how USA is protecting their supply of water for the future?

    on Sep 22, 2012