Skip to:

Finding common threads in global water crises

What does drought in Kansas have to do with underutilized groundwater in sub-Saharan Africa? Potentially a lot, according to a new study by researchers with the Global Freshwater Initiative (GFI), a program of the Stanford Woods Institute. The study, co-authored by FSE senior fellow Scott Rozelle, is the first to systematically analyze and classify water crises around the world. It finds that water systems have a limited set of patterns or "syndromes" which can be classified into one of four categories: unsustainability, vulnerability, chronic scarcity or adaptation. These syndromes have their root causes in just a few factors that influence demand, supply, infrastructure and governance - a finding that challenges long-held views that freshwater issues require highly individualized solutions.