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Water uses

 Country profile section
 Regional analysis section
 Data from Main Database
 Summary maps
 Summary tables
 Topical glossary
 Related topics
 Thematic discussion
 Selected publications

Country profile section

  Water use


Regional analysis section

  Water use


Data from Main Database

For the convenience of users, AQUASTAT provides the following queries to the Main Database, providing the most up-to-date data at the click of a button. Please note that the data presented is a summary of available data. For more detail, or to fine-tune the query, go to the AQUASTAT Main Database query page.

Water withdrawal by sector

Water withdrawal by source

Freshwater withdrawal as % of total renewable water resources


Summary maps

   Proportion of total water withdrawal withdrawn for agriculture
   Proportion of renewable water resources withdrawn: MDG Water Indicator
   Total water withdrawal per capita


Summary tables

   Municipal, industrial and agricultural water withdrawal
   Population, water resources and MDG water indicator 7.5
   Water requirement ratio
   Continental, regional and sub-regional country groupings


Topical glossary

   Glossary


Related topics

   Geo-referenced database on dams
   Irrigation water use
   Expert workshop on water resource and use assessment methodologies
   Wastewater
   Key Water Indicator Portal
   Did you know...? Facts and figures about water withdrawal and pressure on
          water resources


Thematic discussion

The amount of precipitation falling on land is almost 110 000 km3 per year. About 56 percent of this amount is evapotranspired by forests and natural landscapes and 5 percent by rainfed agriculture. The remaining 39 percent or 43 000 km3 per year is converted to surface runoff (feeding rivers and lakes) and groundwater (feeding aquifers). These are called renewable freshwater resources. Part of this water is being removed from these rivers or aquifers by installing infrastructure. This removal of water is called water withdrawal. Most of the withdrawn water is returned to the environment some period of time later, after it has been used. The quality of the returned water may be less than the quality when it was originally removed.

In AQUASTAT, three types of water withdrawal are distinguished: agricultural (including irrigation, livestock and aquaculture), municipal (including domestic) and industrial water withdrawal. A fourth type of anthropogenic water use is the water that evaporates from artificial lakes or reservoirs associated with dams. Information on evaporation from artificial lakes will be available in the AQUASTAT database in the near future.

At global level, the withdrawal ratios are 69 percent agricultural, 12 percent municipal and 19 percent industrial. These numbers, however, are biased strongly by the few countries which have very high water withdrawals. Averaging the ratios of each individual country, we find that "for any given country" these ratios are 59, 23 and 18 percent respectively.


The water withdrawal ratios also vary much between regions, going from 91, 7 and 2 percent for agricultural, municipal and industrial water withdrawal respectively in South Asia to 5, 23 and 73 percent respectively in Western Europe. For more details about water withdrawal by region, please see this table.


Selected publications

A list of all publications is available on the Publications page. A non-exhaustive selection of some publications more specifically related to water uses is given below:

  Irrigation water requirement and water withdrawal by country
  Monitoring agricultural water use at country level: experiences of a pilot
           project in Benin and Ethiopia
 (Annex 1,  Annex 2,  Annex 3,  Annex 4)
  Proceedings of expert workshop in Latin America
  Cooling water for energy generation and its impact on national-level water
           statistics

  Municipal and industrial water withdrawal modelling for the years 2000 and
           2005 using statistical methods

  Disambiguation of water statistics




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       Quote as: FAO. 2015. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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