Global evaluation of the effects of agriculture and water management adaptations on the water-stressed population

  • Ayami Hayashi
  • Keigo Akimoto
  • Toshimasa Tomoda
  • Masanobu Kii


Fresh water is one of the most important resources required for human existence, and ensuring its stable supply is a critical issue for sustainable development. The effects of a general set of agriculture and water management adaptations on the size of the world’s water-stressed population were assessed for a specific but consistent scenario on socio-economic development and climate change during the 21st century. To maintain consistency with agricultural land use change, we developed a grid-based water supply–demand model integrated with an agro-land use model and evaluated the water-stressed population using a water withdrawals-to-availability ratio for river basins. Our evaluation shows that, if no adaptation options are implemented, the world’s water-stressed population will increase from 1.8 billion in 2000 to about 3.3 billion in 2050, and then remain fairly constant. The population and economic growth rather than climate change will be dominant factors of this increase. Significant increase in the water-stressed population will occur in regions such as North Africa and the Middle East, India, Other South Asia, China and Southeast Asia. The key adaptation options differ by region, depending on dominant crops, increase in crop demand and so on. For instance, ‘improvement of irrigation efficiency’ and ‘enhancement of reclamation water’ seem to be one of important options to reduce the water stress in Southeast Asia, and North Africa and the Middle East, respectively. The worldwide implementation of adaptation options could decrease the water-stressed population by about 5 % and 7–17 %, relative to the scenario without adaptations, in 2050 and 2100, respectively.


Water-stressed population Adaptation Climate change Agricultural land use Water management Sustainable development 



This study has been conducted as part of the ‘ALPS’ (alternative pathways towards sustainable development and climate stabilization) project, supported by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan. The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to Professor Yoichi Kaya, President of RITE, Professor Kenji Yamaji, Director General of RITE, and members of the advisory committee of the ALPS project. We would also like to acknowledge the assistance provided by the modeling groups in making their simulations available for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the CMIP3 model output, and the World Climate Research Programme’s (WCRP’s) Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for organizing the model data analysis activity. The WCRP Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) multi-model dataset is supported by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ayami Hayashi
    • 1
  • Keigo Akimoto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Toshimasa Tomoda
    • 1
  • Masanobu Kii
    • 3
  1. 1.Systems Analysis Group, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE)KyotoJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Art and ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of EngineeringKagawa UniversityKagawaJapan

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