Belgium is among countries facing high water stress, the World Resources Institute (WRI) noted in a report published on Tuesday.
Belgium — alongside the likes of Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy — joined a list of 44 highly water-stressed countries, meaning that on average more than 40% of available supply is withdrawn every year.
The Institute assessed the future water stress situation of some 150 countries given the relationship between total water use and available supply. It based its assessment on climatic models, demographic criteria and socio-economic trends, awarding each country a Water Risk Indicator.
WRI placed Belgium in the high-water-risk bracket, with a score of 3.89, which puts it in 22nd place, alongside Morocco.
Seventeen countries, home to almost a quarter of the world’s population, are in the extremely high water stress group. The most threatened are Qatar (1st place; 4.97 points), Israel and Lebanon (2nd ; 4.82)
WRI has been alerting Belgium for years now to its high-risk situation with regard to the water crisis, whereas neighbouring countries have been faring much better. Nevertheless, there is still a glimmer of hope since, according to the study, the WRI has not factored in measures that countries implement to improve their water management, particularly recycling.
“Still, we are not ready to face long bouts of drought,” commented Marijke Huysmans, a hydrology professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). In this regard, Huysmans cited the example of the long, hot summer of 2018. “We need to invest more in rainwater collection, both individually and on a large scale,” she told VUB Today.
Given the increasing global demand for water, the number of countries facing extremely high water stress will rise to over 30 by 2040, according to the WRI.