Philippines faces ‘high’ level of water shortage in 2040 – study

Pia Ranada

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Philippines faces ‘high’ level of water shortage in 2040 – study
The country's agricultural sector will bear the brunt of the predicted water scarcity, according to a new World Resources Institute study

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is in danger of experiencing water scarcity in 25 years, according to a new study

The study, conducted by think tank World Resources Institute (WRI), predicts the Philippines will experience a “high” degree of water shortage in the year 2040.

The Southeast Asian country ranked 57th likely most water stressed country in 2040 out of 167 countries. The sector that will bear the brunt of water shortage by that year is agriculture, a major component of the country’s economy. 

The study defined water stress as “the ratio between total water withdrawals and available renewable surface water at a sub-catchment level.” 

Countries were given a score from 0 to 5, with higher scores corresponding to greater competition among water users given limited sources of water. 

The Philippines garnered a total score of 3.0 indicating “high” level of water stress.

The study went further, predicting the degree of water shortage for 3 specific sectors: industrial, domestic, and agricultural.

For the Philippines, the predicted degree of water stress for agriculture is the highest among the 3, earning a score of 3.26. Water stress for the industrial sector and domestic use was graded “medium to high,” with a score of 2.96 and 2.92, respectively. 

But the study said country scores, being a weighted average, does not reflect future water scarcity for smaller localities.  

Thus, though the overall water stress projection for the country is “high,” specific regions like Mindanao could experience more extreme cases of water shortage than the national average.

Water-insecure world

According to the rankings, countries in the Middle East and Africa faced the grimmest water security scenario.

Out of the 33 likely most water stressed countries in 2040, 14 are from the Middle East. Eight countries also scored 5 out of 5 indicating “extremely high” water insecurity in 2040.

The 8 countries are:

  1. Bahrain
  2. Kuwait
  3. Qatar
  4. San Marino
  5. Singapore
  6. United Arab Emirates
  7. Palestine
  8. Israel

Where is the water going?

Widespread water shortage in the world is being driven by two major factors: climate change and the world’s growing population. 

Climate change will cause temperatures to rise and rainfall patterns all over the world to change. This means traditional water sources could dry up and some countries may become drier as other countries experience more rainfall than usual. 

At the same time, the world is set to have 2 billion more people by 2050. The dwindling supply of water and the surging demand for the resource is likely to lead to water shortage in many parts of the world.

The Philippines is already feeling the effects of a drier climate. The ongoing El Niño phenomenon, predicted to become the strongest in modern history, has led to drought in many provinces.

The dry spell is taking a toll on the agricultural sector with billions of pesos worth of crops damaged so far. – Map by Michael Bueza /

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.