Dr Falkenmark is Professor of International Hydrology at the Natural Science Research Council, Box 6711, S-11385 Stockholm, Sweden.
Macro-scale water scarcity requires micro-scale approaches
Aspects of vulnerability in semi-arid development
Article first published online: 9 OCT 2009
1989 United Nations
Natural Resources Forum
Volume 13, Issue 4, pages 258–267, November 1989
How to Cite
Falkenmark, M., Lundqvist, J. and Widstrand, C. (1989), Macro-scale water scarcity requires micro-scale approaches. Natural Resources Forum, 13: 258–267. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-8947.1989.tb00348.x
- Issue published online: 9 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 9 OCT 2009
This paper shows that water scarcity is a complex problem when it affects countries with a semi-arid climate, ie countries for which there are fluctuations between a dry season and a season when rain occurs. The paper discusses the general vulnerability of the semi-arid zone in terms of four different types of water scarcity, the effects of which are being superimposed on each other: two are natural (type A, arid climate, type B, intermittent drought years) and two are man-induced (type C, desiccation of the landscape driven by land degradation, and type D, population-driven water stress). When fuelled by a rapid population increase, a risk spiral develops, manifesting itself in social and economic collapse during intermittent drought years. The paper concludes that many countries in Africa are heading for severe water scarcity -in fact two-thirds of the African population will live in severely water-stressed countries within a few decades. This severe water stress will largely be the result of unfettered population growth.