Many countries are experiencing water stress

The Water Footprint of Production provides a measure of water use in different countries.

Different countries use and pollute vastly different volumes of water. More critically, this places differing levels of water stress on national water resources.
Examples of water use by people.
© Michel Gunther / WWF; WWF / Simon Rawles; Kevin Schafer / WWF; / WWF-Canada; Yoshi Shimizu / WWF; Yifei Zhang / WWF; Mauri Rautkari / WWF; Katrin Havia / WWF-Finland

Water stress is calculated as the ratio of the sum of the blue (withdrawn) and grey (polluted) Water Footprints of Production to available renewable water resources.

Countries experiencing stress on blue water sources include major producers of agricultural goods for national and global markets.

These include India, China, Israel and Morocco. This strain on water resources will only become more acute with increased human populations and economic growth, and be further exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

Explore the Water Footprint of Production in different countries on the graph below:
The Water Footprint of Production accounts for the volume of green (rain) and blue (withdrawn) water used to produce agricultural goods from crops and livestock – the major use of water – as well as the grey (polluted) water generated by agriculture and from household and industrial water uses.

All water use and pollution is assigned to the country in which these activities occurred, regardless of where the final products were consumed.


  • Green water footprint

    The volume of rainwater that evaporates during the production of goods; for agricultural products, this is the rainwater stored in soil that evaporates from crop fields.

    Blue water footprint

    The volume of freshwater withdrawn from surface or groundwater sources that is used by people and not returned; in agricultural products this is mainly accounted for by evaporation of irrigation water from fields.

    Grey water footprint

    The volume of water required to dilute pollutants released in production processes to such an extent that the quality of the ambient water remains above agreed water quality standards. Given a lack of adequate data, one unit of return flow is assumed to pollute one unit of freshwater; however, this significantly underestimates the grey water footprint of production. Given the negligible volume of water that evaporates during domestic and industrial processes, the Water Footprint of Production only includes the grey water footprint for households and industry.
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