|   |   | 

Need for WHYCOS

 Water is one of the most highly valued natural resources.  It exerts an enormous influence on a nation’s economy and almost every aspect of development is closely linked to the proper utilization of water.  It is the key element for both environmental conservation and economic development and as such should be managed through an integrated approach to land use, water supply and waste management.

Water demand and water scarcity

During last century, the pressure on freshwater resources has increased dramatically. The world’s population has almost reached  6.5 billion, and will pass 8 billion within two decades. On global scale water supply per capita haS decreased by a third between 1970 and 1990. In 1997, one-third of the world’s population was estimated to live under water-stress conditions, while it is expected that by 2025 two-thirds of the population will do so. Demand for water is always increasing, while growing pollution is likely to reduce the available quantity of suitable water. Before 2050, a quarter of the total average flow of all the rivers in the world would have been committed to use. Irrigated agriculture and hydroelectric power generation compete with other uses for limited water within national boundaries. At the same time, maintaining the health of aquatic ecosystems is increasingly accepted as an essential concern. It has also to be recalled that due to the uneven spatial and temporal global distribution of water resources, water scarcity related problems have a strong regional or local connotation and are bound to affect the human communities at different degrees of severity.

Floods and droughts

Floods are causes of loss of lives, property, and widespread crop and infrastructure destruction and affect the economic development in many parts of the world. As most of the increase of population and economic activities experienced in the last  centuries have been accommodated in flood plains the human and economic costs of floods are becoming more and more important, particularly for the less developed countries. Drought and desertification are also threatening human survival in many regions of the world, thereby increasing vulnerability and pressure on water resources. For more information about floods, please visit the website of the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM), a joint initiative of the  World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP), 

Internationally shared catchments

There are about 300 river basins and numerous aquifers which are shared among two or more nations; competition for water among nations could become a potential source of conflict. In these situations it is of paramount importance to ensure that activities in one part of the basin are not detrimental or harmful to actual or potential uses in other parts of it. 



Climate change

The global climate change scenario has the potential to impact on availability of water resources both in time and space. Climatic variability and change are increasingly affecting the water resources of most countries.  Higher temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns as predicted by IPCC climate change scenarios will not only lead to decreased water supplies but also cause deterioration of the ecosystem. These changes, as with the change in climate variables, will vary regionally around the globe, raising the risk of extreme events such as floods or droughts. This together with mainly anthropogenic land degradation has a serious impact on the already fragile water resources Impact studies at local and regional scales are needed to assess how different regions will be affected..


To respond to all these challenges, planning and decision-making on all water related issues must achieve new levels of sophistication, reliability, and acceptance at national, basin or/and regional levels. This will demand timely, accurate and comprehensive information about the status of water resources, to complement information about the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of water use. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world the systems for collecting and managing water-related information are inadequate, and often are deteriorating. Particular difficulties include a lack of resources to maintain observing stations, differing procedures for collecting data, variations in quality assurance procedures and standards between different agencies and countries, unreliable telecommunication systems, and outdated systems for information management. Regional and global cooperation must be improved notably in the field of data and information gathering and dissemination. This cooperation in the case of floods, droughts and other natural disasters is imperative if the global community is to reduce, mitigate and, in some cases, prevent the impacts of natural disasters.