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Belgium one of European countries most at risk of water shortage
Belgium is ranked 23rd out of 164 countries in water scarcity, the third highest in Europe outside of Cyprus and San Marino. The figure was released in a new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI), which measures water shortage, drought and river flooding.
Water scarcity, also known as water stress, is calculated using the ratio between natural water resources and demand. On a global scale, Belgium and particularly Flanders also scored badly. The country falls into the high-risk category, the second highest of the five categories.
Regional differences highlight the worsening situation, showing the Brussels region falling into the highest category of “extremely high baseline water stress”. More than half of densely-populated Flanders also falls into the category, including all of Flemish Brabant and most of Limburg.
Patrick Willems, hydraulic engineering professor at KU Leuven, told VRT: “There needs to be a more frugal use of water in agriculture, industry and homes.”
Global water use has doubled since the 1960s because of overpopulation with climate change making the issue more serious, according to the report.
In the highest category, almost one quarter of the world’s population, living in 17 countries, find themselves in a high-risk situation. Irrigated agriculture, industry and municipalities use on average 80% of their water reserves each year.
The majority of the countries in the highest category are in North Africa and the Middle East, with the exception of San Marino, a landlocked country in Italy.
Researchers at WRI are warning that water shortage will have an enormous impact on the lives of millions of people, on communities and the economy.
Photo: Drought in Antwerp province following 2018 heatwave: Belga / James Arthur Gekiere