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Visualizing the Global Population by Water Security Levels



water security levels in different countries

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Visualizing the Global Population by Water Security Levels

Most of the world’s population today lives in countries facing critical water security issues.

Dealing with issues such as declining freshwater availability, demand from growing populations, insufficient infrastructure, or flawed water governance can impact how easily a country’s population can access water. A combination of multiple factors quickly makes problems with water security a lived reality.

A recent Global Water Security Report by the United Nations University assessed the water security of different countries across the world.


This study assesses water security in countries by examining 10 different underlying components, ranging from water quality and sanitation to availability, resource stability, and climate-related risks.

Each component is given a score out of 10, with a nation’s overall water security score calculated from the sum. Water security levels are assigned based on the overall scores:

  • 75 and above is classified as “water secure”
  • 65‒74 is classified as “moderately secure”
  • 41‒64 indicates a country is “water insecure”
  • 40 and below is considered “critically insecure”

Water Security Levels by Country

Water security remains a concern around the world, but is especially dire in regions like the Middle East and Africa, where 13 of the 23 nations in the critically insecure category are located.

In total, 113 countries are considered water insecure, including the world’s two most populated, India and China. An additional 24 countries are considered critically water insecure, with the largest by population including Pakistan and Ethiopia

CountryWater Security ScoreAssessed Level
🇦🇫 Afghanistan32Critical
🇦🇱 Albania60Insecure
🇩🇿 Algeria58Insecure
🇦🇴 Angola53Insecure
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda56Insecure
🇦🇷 Argentina56Insecure
🇦🇲 Armenia60Insecure
🇦🇺 Australia78Secure
🇦🇹 Austria85Secure
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan60Insecure
🇧🇸 Bahamas48Insecure
🇧🇭 Bahrain67Moderate
🇧🇩 Bangladesh51Insecure
🇧🇧 Barbados44Insecure
🇧🇾 Belarus68Moderate
🇧🇪 Belgium71Moderate
🇧🇿 Belize54Insecure
🇧🇯 Benin47Insecure
🇧🇹 Bhutan56Insecure
🇧🇴 Bolivia55Insecure
🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina62Insecure
🇧🇼 Botswana55Insecure
🇧🇷 Brazil69Moderate
🇧🇳 Brunei Darussalam52Insecure
🇧🇬 Bulgaria67Moderate
🇧🇫 Burkina Faso49Insecure
🇧🇮 Burundi45Insecure
🇨🇻 Cabo Verde54Insecure
🇰🇭 Cambodia46Insecure
🇨🇲 Cameroon47Insecure
🇨🇦 Canada75Secure
🇨🇫 Central African Republic43Insecure
🇹🇩 Chad39Critical
🇨🇱 Chile67Moderate
🇨🇳 China64Insecure
🇨🇴 Colombia62Insecure
🇰🇲 Comoros40Critical
🇨🇬 Congo, Rep.58Insecure
🇨🇷 Costa Rica69Moderate
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire51Insecure
🇭🇷 Croatia75Secure
🇨🇺 Cuba 56Insecure
🇨🇾 Cyprus80Secure
🇨🇿 Czech Republic75Secure
🇰🇵 Democratic Republic of Korea59Insecure
🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of Congo50Insecure
🇩🇰 Denmark85Secure
🇩🇯 Djibouti32Critical
🇩🇲 Dominica 41Insecure
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic46Insecure
🇪🇨 Ecuador61Insecure
🇪🇬 Egypt45Insecure
🇸🇻 El Salvador58Insecure
🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea47Insecure
🇪🇷 Eritrea29Critical
🇪🇪 Estonia78Secure
🇸🇿 Eswatini41Insecure
🇪🇹 Ethiopia31Critical
🇫🇯 Fiji57Insecure
🇫🇮 Finland83Secure
🇫🇷 France81Secure
🇬🇦 Gabon52Insecure
🇬🇲 Gambia50Insecure
🇬🇪 Georgia63Insecure
🇩🇪 Germany79Secure
🇬🇭 Ghana52Insecure
🇬🇷 Greece80Secure
🇬🇩 Grenada48Insecure
🇬🇹 Guatemala55Insecure
🇬🇳 Guinea46Insecure
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau44Insecure
🇬🇾 Guyana44Insecure
🇭🇹 Haiti34Critical
🇭🇳 Honduras52Insecure
🇭🇺 Hungary75Secure
🇮🇸 Iceland83Secure
🇮🇳 India41Insecure
🇮🇩 Indonesia51Insecure
🇮🇷 Iran, Islamic Rep.48Insecure
🇮🇶 Iraq51Insecure
🇮🇪 Ireland82Secure
🇮🇱 Israel75Secure
🇮🇹 Italy78Secure
🇯🇲 Jamaica59Insecure
🇯🇵 Japan77Secure
🇯🇴 Jordan65Moderate
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan58Insecure
🇰🇪 Kenya46Insecure
🇰🇼 Kuwait75Secure
🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan54Insecure
🇱🇦 Lao PDR56Insecure
🇱🇻 Latvia78Secure
🇱🇧 Lebanon59Insecure
🇱🇸 Lesotho54Insecure
🇱🇷 Liberia36Critical
🇱🇾 Libya37Critical
🇱🇹 Lithuania81Secure
🇱🇺 Luxembourg85Secure
🇲🇬 Madagascar37Critical
🇲🇼 Malawi47Insecure
🇲🇾 Malaysia75Secure
🇲🇻 Maldives49Insecure
🇲🇱 Mali43Insecure
🇲🇹 Malta62Insecure
🇲🇷 Mauritania41Insecure
🇲🇺 Mauritius43Insecure
🇲🇽 Mexico61Insecure
🇫🇲 Micronesia38Critical
🇲🇳 Mongolia60Insecure
🇲🇪 Montenegro51Insecure
🇲🇦 Morocco57Insecure
🇲🇿 Mozambique46Insecure
🇲🇲 Myanmar50Insecure
🇳🇦 Namibia51Insecure
🇳🇵 Nepal48Insecure
🇳🇱 Netherlands72Moderate
🇳🇿 New Zealand81Secure
🇳🇮 Nicaragua54Insecure
🇳🇪 Niger38Critical
🇳🇬 Nigeria57Insecure
🇲🇰 North Macedonia51Insecure
🇳🇴 Norway84Secure
🇴🇲 Oman 55Insecure
🇵🇰 Pakistan37Critical
🇵🇦 Panama61Insecure
🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea34Critical
🇵🇾 Paraguay63Insecure
🇵🇪 Peru55Insecure
🇵🇭 Philippines58Insecure
🇵🇱 Poland70Moderate
🇵🇹 Portugal75Secure
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico51Insecure
🇶🇦 Qatar73Moderate
🇰🇷 Republic of Korea70Moderate
🇲🇩 Republic of Moldova57Insecure
🇷🇴 Romania70Moderate
🇷🇺 Russian Federation73Moderate
🇷🇼 Rwanda46Insecure
🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis36Critical
🇱🇨 Saint Lucia46Insecure
🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines42Insecure
🇼🇸 Samoa50Insecure
🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe50Insecure
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia56Insecure
🇸🇳 Senegal49Insecure
🇷🇸 Serbia57Insecure
🇸🇨 Seychelles50Insecure
🇸🇱 Sierra Leone38Critical
🇸🇬 Singapore61Insecure
🇸🇰 Slovakia76Secure
🇸🇮 Slovenia76Secure
🇸🇧 Solomon Islands23Critical
🇸🇴 Somalia35Critical
🇿🇦 South Africa56Insecure
🇸🇸 South Sudan37Critical
🇪🇸 Spain77Secure
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka40Critical
🇵🇸 Palestine51Insecure
🇸🇩 Sudan30Critical
🇸🇷 Suriname57Insecure
🇸🇪 Sweden90Secure
🇨🇭 Switzerland84Secure
🇸🇾 Syria Arab Republic42Insecure
🇹🇯 Tajikistan44Insecure
🇹🇭 Thailand53Insecure
🇹🇱 Timor-Leste42Insecure
🇹🇬 Togo49Insecure
🇹🇴 Tonga43Insecure
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago54Insecure
🇹🇳 Tunisia58Insecure
🇹🇷 Türkiye68Moderate
🇹🇲 Turkmenistan49Insecure
🇺🇬 Uganda49Insecure
🇺🇦 Ukraine62Insecure
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates66Moderate
🇬🇧 United Kingdom79Secure
🇹🇿 United Republic of Tanzania46Insecure
🇺🇸 United States of America80Secure
🇺🇾 Uruguay60Insecure
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan46Insecure
🇻🇺 Vanuatu31Critical
🇻🇪 Venezuela56Insecure
🇻🇳 Vietnam48Insecure
🇾🇪 Yemen38Critical
🇿🇲 Zambia56Insecure
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe49Insecure

Countries facing water security issues account for 72% of the world’s population, with an additional 8% of the global population facing critical water insecurity.

That includes 4.3 billion people in the Asia-Pacific region alone, and an additional 1.3 billion people across Africa. Many of these countries are grappling with issues including fast-growing populations and drought conditions faster than they can develop the necessary infrastructure to deal with them.

Only 12% of the world’s population lives in water-secure countries, including almost all Western countries, with Norway at the very top of the rankings at an overall score of 90. An additional 8% of the world lives in moderately secure countries such as Brazil and Russia.

However, water availability in these more secure countries is not perfect either. For example, U.S. states reliant on the Colorado River for irrigation and drinking water are facing continued drought conditions and limiting consumption, with further crisis on the horizon.

Towards a Water Secure Future

As nations around the world face increasing water-related challenges, governments and international agencies have been collaborating to foster sustainable water management practices. In fact, clean water and sanitation for all is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many regions have already begun to implement these practices. For example, cities in California have begun recycling wastewater and capturing stormwater to deal with water scarcity. Farming-dependent regions are also looking to smart agriculture to reduce the drain on the limited freshwater resources.

Such initiatives to improve water irrigation systems, enhance water infrastructure, and conserve the depleting freshwater reserves may help elevate countries out of water insecurity and help preserve this precious resource for generations to come.

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The Most Polluted Cities in the U.S.

What are the most polluted cities in the U.S. according to data from the American Lung Association’s 2024 State of the Air Report?



Teaser image for an infographic showing the most polluted cities in the U.S. according to the American Lung Association's 2024 State of the Air report.



The following content is sponsored by National Public Utilities Council

The Most Polluted U.S. Cities in 2024

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths annually, and could cost the global economy between $18–25 trillion by 2060 in annual welfare costs, or roughly 4–6% of world GDP.

And with predictions that 7 in 10 people will make their homes in urban centers by mid-century, cities are fast becoming one of the frontlines in the global effort to clear the air.

In this visualization, we use 2024 data from the State of the Air report from the American Lung Association to show the most polluted cities in the United States.

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is a complex mixture of gases, particles, and liquid droplets and can have a variety of sources, including wildfires and cookstoves in rural areas, and road dust and diesel exhaust in cities. 

There are a few kinds of air pollution that are especially bad for human health, including ozone and carbon monoxide, but here we’re concerned with fine particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 microns, or PM2.5 for short. 

The reason for the focus is because at that small size, particulate matter can penetrate the bloodstream and cause all manner of havoc, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic pulmonary disease. 

The American Lung Association has set an annual average guideline of 9 µg/m³ for PM2.5, however, the World Health Organization has set a much more stringent limit of 5 µg/m³.

The 21 Worst Polluted Cities in the U.S.

Here are the top 21 most polluted cities in the U.S., according to their annual average PM2.5 concentrations:

RankCity, StateAnnual average concentration, 2020-2022 (µg/m3)
1Bakersfield, CA18.8
2Visalia, CA18.4
3Fresno, CA17.5
4Eugene, OR14.7
5Bay Area, CA14.3
6Los Angeles, CA14.0
7Sacramento, CA13.8
8Medford, OR13.5
9Phoenix, AZ12.4
10Fairbanks, AK12.2
11Indianapolis, IN11.9
12Yakima, WA11.8
13Detroit, MI11.7
T14Chico, CA11.6
T14Spokane, WA11.6
15Houston, TX11.4
16El Centro, CA11.1
17Reno, NV11.0
18Pittsburgh, PA10.9
T19Kansas City, KS10.8
T19Las Vegas, NV10.8

Note: The American Lung Association uses Core Based Statistical Areas in its city and county rankings, which have been shortened here to the area’s principal city, or metro area in the case of the Bay Area, CA.

Six of the top seven cities are in California, and four in the state’s Central Valley, a 450-mile flat valley that runs parallel to the Pacific coast, and bordered by the Coast and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. As a result, when pollution from the big population centers on the coast is carried inland by the wind—cities #5 and #6 on the list—it tends to get trapped in the valley. 

Bakersfield (#1), Visalia (#2), and Fresno (#3) are located at the drier and hotter southern end of the valley, which is worse for air quality. The top three local sources of PM2.5 emissions in 2023 were farms (20%), forest management / agricultural waste burning (20%), and road dust (14%). 

Benefit to Economy

While the health impacts are generally well understood, less well known are the economic impacts.

Low air quality negatively affects worker productivity, increases absenteeism, and adds both direct and indirect health care costs. But the flip side of that equation is that improving air quality has measurable impacts to the wider economy. The EPA published a study that calculated the economic benefits of each metric ton of particulate matter that didn’t end up in the atmosphere, broken down by sector. 

SectorBenefits per metric ton
Residential Woodstoves$429,220
Industrial Boilers$174,229
Oil and Natural Gas Transmission$125,227
Electricity Generating Units$124,319
Oil and Natural Gas$88,838

At the same time, the EPA recently updated a cost-benefit analysis of the Clean Air Act, the main piece of federal legislation governing air quality, and found that between 1990 and 2020 it cost the economy roughly $65 billion, but also provided $2 trillion in benefits

Benefit to Business

But that’s at the macroeconomic level, so what about for individual businesses?

For one, employees like to breathe clean air and will choose to work somewhere else, given a choice. A 2022 Deloitte case study revealed that nearly 70% of highly-skilled workers said air quality was a significant factor in choosing which city to live and work in.

At the same time, air quality can impact employer-sponsored health care premiums, by reducing the overall health of the risk pool. And since insurance premiums averaged $7,590 per year in 2022 for a single employee, and rose to $21,931 for a family, that can add up fast. 

Consumers are also putting their purchase decisions through a green lens, while ESG, triple-bottom-line, and impact investing are putting the environment front and center for many investors.

And if the carrot isn’t enough for some businesses, there is the stick. The EPA recently gave vehicle engine manufacturer Cummins nearly two billion reasons to help improve air quality, in a settlement the agency is calling “the largest civil penalty in the history of the Clean Air Act and the second largest environmental penalty ever.”

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