World Water Day 2014: The World's Thirstiest Places

Robin Kemp
Published: March 22, 2014

Places in Desperate Need of Water


For more than 20 years, countries across the globe have observed World Water Day on March 22 to draw attention to the precious nature of the world's water supply.

This year's edition is no different. Through World Water Day 2014, the United Nations hopes to highlight the precarious relationship between water supply and energy sources.

Water consumption by energy providers is just one of the many contributing factors to water scarcity. Regardless of the source, the UN estimates that by 2030 parts of the planet could be tapped out.

According to World Meteorological Organization secretary-general and UN water chair Michel Jarraud, the globe has a long way to go to address lingering water and energy concerns.

“Already today 768 million people lack access to improved water sources, 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation and 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity," said Jarraud. "These issues need urgent attention – both now and in the post-2015 development discussions. The situation is unacceptable. It is often the same people who lack access to water and sanitation who also lack access to energy.”

One way to monitor areas particularly affected by water is through the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct project, which ranks nations according to baseline water stress. Baseline water stress measures how much water a country uses every year relative to the amount of renewable water available for that given year. This year, 16 nations tied for the top spot as the world's most water stressed nation. Twelve of those nations are surrounded by water—island nations whose resources are stretched to the limit by tourism, industry and agriculture.

Click through for a look at the 16 places with the highest water demand.

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