UPSC PRELIMS 2020 : Water Stress

Water Stress

Topic : Water Stress

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment



Water Stress

A new data about ‘water stress’ was released by the World Resources Institute (WRI).

One-quarter of the world’s population faces “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress.

India is 13th among 17 countries which faces huge water stress.

Extremely high water stress


  • India has more than three times the population of the other 16 extremely highly stressed countries.
  • It implies that more than three-quarters of these populations facing extremely high water stress live in India.
  • The report noted that last year, NITI Aayog declared that the country is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history.
  • India’s groundwater resources are severely overdrawn, largely to provide water for irrigation.
  • Groundwater tables in some northern aquifers declined at a rate of more than 8 cm per year between 1990 and 2014.



Food Insecurity: Water is key to food security as agriculture requires large quantities of water for irrigation.

Water Conflict and Migration: The loss of livelihood due to increasing water scarcity and variability could force those affected to migrate.

Financial Instability: According to the World Bank, Increasing water scarcity could erode some nations’ gross domestic product, triggering economic problems and a host of other issues.



Efficient Irrigation: In order to curb the problem of baseline water stress,(i.e excessive water withdrawal) countries must switch to more efficient irrigation technologies.

Water Conservation: Steps must be taken to promote the conservation and restoration of water bodies like lakes, floodplains, ponds and more emphasis must be laid on groundwater recharging to avoid groundwater crisis.

Water-related Data: India can manage its water risk with the help of reliable and robust data pertaining to rainfall, surface, and groundwater to develop strategies that strengthen resilience.


Steps taken by India to mitigate water stress including,

  • Setting up the Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • Other solutions which the WRI suggested, includes more efficient irrigation,conserving and restoring lakes, floodplains,groundwater recharge areas; andcollecting and storing rainwater.
  • Globally, water withdrawals have more than doubled since the 1960s due to growing demand.
  • 17 countries faces withdrawals of 80% or more from available supply, 12 of them are in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Another 44 countries (home to one-third of the world) face “high” levels of stress, where on average more than 40% of available supply is withdrawn every year.
  • The World Bank found that this region has the greatest expected economic losses from climate-related water scarcity,
  • The economic losses is estimated at 6%-14% of GDP by 2050.
  • Even in countries with low overall water stress, communities may still be experiencing extremely stressed conditions.

For example, South Africa and the United States, which rank 48 and 71 on the list, respectively, yet the Western Cape (SA) and New Mexico (US) experience extremely high stress levels.


World Resources Institute (WRI)

  • It is a global research non-profit organization whcih focuses on 7 areas: food, forests, water, energy, cities, climate and ocean.
  • Its mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment.

It partners with local and national governments, private companies, publicly held corporations, and other non-profits organistations.


Sample Question:

Given below are some statements:

  1. About 60% of human body is water
  2. About 96% of total fluoride in human body is found in bones and teeth
  3. Most adults consume about 1 to 3 mg of fluoride daily
  4. Soft water usually contains 10 ppm fluoride and hard water contains no fluoride. Of these the correct statements are:


(a) A, B and D

(b) A, B and C

(c) B, C and D

(d) A, B, C and D


Answer: b