|Countries, regions, river basins|
|Irrigation and drainage|
|Maps and spatial data|
Info for the media
|Did you know...?|
|Visualizations and infographics|
|SDG Target 6.4|
|Precipitation and renewable freshwater resources||Water withdrawal and pressure on water resources||Irrigation areas, irrigated crops, environment|
For a quick overview, click on the "Water from the clouds" and "Transboundary water" infographics below.
Go to the Visualizations and infographics page for more visual presentations.
Only 2.5 percent of the water stored on earth is freshwater, the rest being oceans and other saline water.
Of the freshwater stored on earth only 0.3 percent is surface water in lakes and rivers and other freshwater, while 30.8 percent is groundwater, including soil moisture, swamp water and permafrost, and 68.9 percent consists of glaciers, permanent snow cover and icecaps.Precipitation
Globally, the annual precipitation on land is about 814 mm or almost 110 000 km3, of which 56 percent is evapotranspired by forests and other natural landscapes and 5 percent by rainfed agriculture. The remaining 39 percent (or 42 920 km3) are the worldwide theoretically available annual renewable freshwater (surface water and groundwater) resources for human uses and the environment, which in 2014 is equal to about 5 800 m3 per person per year or 16 000 litres per person per day. While this seems to be enormous, unfortunately freshwater is very unevenly distributed geographically and a large part of it is not easily accessible.
Large differences in precipitation exist between continents, regions, countries and within countries:
Depending on diet and lifestyle, about 2 000 to 5 000 litres of water is said to be used to produce a person’s daily food and meet the daily drinking water and sanitation requirements, so theoretically there is more than enough water available worldwide, even if taking into consideration the water needed to produce clothes and other consumable and non-consumable goods. However, as mentioned, freshwater is very unevenly distributed and a large part of it is not easily accessible.
While all continents have sufficient water resources to cover the daily requirements in 2013, large differences exist between continents, regions, countries and within countries:
In addition to spatial differences, there are the temporal differences. In India, most of the renewable water resources are generated during the three month monsoon period during which 70-95 percent of the annual precipitation occurs.
Almost two-thirds of all countries of the world have rivers flowing into their territories from upstream countries.
There are 276 transboundary river basins worldwide that cover about half of the earth’s surface and account for about 60 percent of the global freshwater flows.
Seven countries share the Amazon river basin in Southern America region; eight countries share the Mekong river basin in the Southern and Eastern Asia region; eleven countries share the Nile river basin in Africa; nineteen countries share the Danube river basin in Europe, the Danube being the river crossing most countries.
About two billion people worldwide, or more than one third of the world population, depend on groundwater, which includes about 300 transboundary aquifer systems.
Canada and the Russian Federation have the largest dam capacities, over 800 km3 each. However, when scaled to country population, Suriname with over 42 500 m3/person largely exceeds Canada’s and Russian’s capacity, which is 25 000 m3/person and 5 700 m3/person respectively.
44 countries are landlocked worldwide, depriving them from the potentially important sources of desalinated water in the future.
About half of the world’s desalinated water is produced in the seven countries of the Arabian Peninsula. About 10 percent of the total is produced in the United States of America.
For a map, go to:
|Total renewable water resources per inhabitant|
For regional-level data, go to:
|Freshwater availability – Precipitation and internal renewable water resources|
For country-level data, go to:
|Main AQUASTAT country database|
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|Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].|
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