Countries With The Worst Water Use Productivity

Water conservation is highly important to save clean water for use by future generations.

What Is Water Use Productivity?

Water use productivity today is about improving agricultural food production by compounding water productivity. World food security is especially threatened in developing countries that are home to most of the world’s poor. The use of water to irrigate arable lands is important for the improvement of crop harvests. Water irrigation makes up 90% of water use in developing countries and 72% worldwide.

According to FAO data on water productivity usage, irrigated agriculture uses up the largest volume of water in any industry sector. AQUASTAT data shows that irrigation water usage loss is because of distribution leaks and application wastes. Variables include effective atmospheric condition, soil moisture, and plant physiological processes. Other factors are cropping patterns, cropping intensity, converted into irrigated crop calendars and areas of harvested irrigated crops.

Data from AQUASTAT, World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, and OECD GDP estimates that a number of developing countries show their economic output is seriously low proportional to their water usage. Some countries net only around $1 USD in GDP for every cubic meter of water they use. Water productivity is measured as Gross Domestic Product in constant prices divided by yearly gross water amount usage.


Madagascar is an island nation at the top of the list of countries that has only a $1USD in GDP for every cubic meter of water they use. Water waste in the country is due to poor water control, and water pollution. Madagascar has adopted a new strategy to solve scarce water in producing more rice output. It is the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a water saving system that yields more rice grains.


Tajikistan also has only a $1USD in GDP for every cubic meter of water they use. This Central Asia country has a water productivity problem caused by water volume-based fees, water resources management, and poor quality of water infrastructure. The government has made plans for the renovation of the irrigation and drainage infrastructure and introduction of a water basin system in the country.


Kyrgyzstan is another developing country in Central Asia that has only a $1USD in GDP for every cubic meter of water they use. Its problem of water productivity is due to water pollution, excessive irrigation, water pipe leaks, and absence of water-saving techniques compound the problem. Total agricultural use makes up 88% of water consumption in the country.


Uzbekistan is also located in Central Asia. A developing country that also nets only $1USD in GDP for every cubic meter of water they use. Although agriculture is its economic backbone, water wastage is at a maximum with 92% of its water use serving the agriculture sector. Worse is that 80% of its water supply comes from its neighboring countries. Crop water requirements vary greatly that dictates water use.


Afghanistan is a war-torn country in Central Asia for more than half a century that only nets a $1USD in GDP for every cubic meter of water they use. Its agriculture sector accounts for 58% of its GDP. Irrigation infrastructure needs upgrading that is one cause of water wastage. Mismanagement is another issue that affects water wastage. Irrigation organizations and water- saving methods are lacking in the country.

Other Countries

East Timor, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, and Guyana are also experiencing many difficulties in earning more from their agricultural sector relative to their GDP with their current net of only a $1USD for every cubic meter of water they use. They are all developing countries that need to improve their irrigation infrastructure and water management policies. A majority are land-locked that depend on their neighbor countries for water. Some depend on rainfall and snow-melt for their agricultural water needs. A few are desert countries that need international intervention for alternative water supply sources.

Countries With The Worst Water Use Productivity

RankCountryGDP per Cubic Meter of Water Withdrawals
6East Timor$1

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