Countries at Risk: an assessment of states with shared transboundary water resources and human security instability from the river basin perspective

The Countries at Risk project is a global assessment of countries with transboundary water resources that are at risk for conflict because of high human security instability. Building upon Basins at Risk (BAR) research, our team used updated Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database georeferenced social and environmental data, quantitative data from global indices, and qualitative data from news media sources. Our assessment considered a combination of analyzing 15 global indices related to water or human security to identify which countries scored as highest risk in each index. From this information, we were able to assess the highest risk countries’ human security risk by using a new human security measurement tool, as well as comparing this analysis to the World Bank’s Fragile States Index and the experimental Human Security Index. In addition, we identified which countries have the highest number of shared basins, the highest percentage of territory covered by a transboundary basin, and the highest dependency of withdrawal from transboundary waters from outside their country boundaries.

By synthesizing these social and environmental data assessments, we identified five countries to analyze as case studies. These five countries are Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Moldova, and Sudan. We created a series of 30 maps to spatial analyze the relationship between the transboundary basins and social and environmental parameters to include population, institutional capacity, and physical geography by country. Finally, we synthesized our spatial analysis, Human Security Key scores, and current events scored by using the BAR scale to determine what aspects and which basins are most at risk with each country in our case studies and how this concerns future global water resources.

The maps we created were made possible by freshwater withdrawal calculations from the University of Kassel, population projection calculations from Columbia University's CIESEN, and the TFDD's Treaty and RBO databases. These maps cover one qualitative aspect, one physical natural aspect, and one physical human aspect. We created forty maps, eight maps per country in four topic areas. There are two types of maps, one of the country and one of the transboundary basin extent associated with that country. The four types of maps are:

Each case study has an associated analysis. The maps and the analysis summary for each country are linked below:

For questions on the Countries at Risk research itself, please contact Jennifer Veilleux.

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