Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Stanford University

FSI Stanford News

October 24, 2012

Finding common threads in global water crises

FSE, FSI Stanford News

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.