Water thieves: Nearly half of water in the world is stolen: World Economic Forum

Douglas Broom recently wrote an article in World Economic Forum that says: As much as half of the world’s water supply is being stolen. He based his article on a research paper that claims that these figures come from Interpol. Read on to know more.

Water theft is posing a serious threat to mankind. Nearly half of world's water is stolen.
Water thieves steal between 30% to 50% of earth’s water supply annually

How is water theft is posing a threat to the future of mankind.

Watch the video by World Economic Forum here.

Broom’s article in World Economic Forum is based on a new study by an international team of researchers led by the University of Adelaide appeared in the Journal, Nature Sustainability where researchers state that water thieves steal between 30% to 50% of earth’s water supply annually. The report suggests that policy-makers could overhaul legal and political frameworks inorder to protect water supplies.

The report findings say that rising global population is putting global water supplies under stress. It also says that the major culprit for illegal water abstraction is agriculture. It attributes the water crisis to the climate change that is affecting the world.

Dr Adam Loch, Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Global Food and Resources, says that water theft has received little global attention. It’s mainly because water stealers hail from a poor and vulnerable background in developing countries. He highlights that water theft is also rampant in the developed world.

An insightful video by Strange Things.

There are many forms of water theft. It includes using potable and treated drinking water without paying for it. Taking water from natural sources is also a breach in some countries. 70% of water globally is used for agriculture and farmers are often guilty. The report says that social attitudes and uncertainty over future supply are contributors to this crime.

The report uses three case studies to illustrate their point:

  • California: Growing marijuana
  • Spain: Cultivating Strawberries (here thieves took water from an area protected for migratory birds)
  • Australia: Cotton Farming

Researchers used these three water-intensive activities to show the effects of market demands on water theft. They say that stealing water is simple and more profitable than following environmental regulations. Since this area receives less attention, it’s difficult to get caught.

World Water Council says: domestic consumption only accounts for 10% of worldwide water usage, with industry taking 20% and evaporation from reservoirs claiming a further 4%. The rest is down to agriculture. Domestic consumption numbers are appalling! It means that the common man, across the world is being denied water because of water theft among other issues.

This infographic by United Nations on Water and Sanitation will tell you more:

Water theft
COVID19 Implications: 3 billion people worldwide lack basic hand-washing facilities at home: UN
  • Despite progress, billions still lack water and sanitation services
    • 2.2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water
    • 4.2 billion lack safely managed sanitation facilities
  • 3 billion people worldwide lack basic hand-washing facilities at home
  • Water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030

How to stop water theft?

It’s important for policy makers, government and community to work towards the common goal of preserving water for our own good. Some measures suggested by the report are:

– Reduce uncertainty of water supply by creating storage solutions like rain water harvesting

– Tighten the policing and give importance to water theft as a serious issue

– Issue penalties for stealing water and ensure that they are enforced correctly

– Water theft identification system: Have advanced monitoring systems and bring in coordination between regulators, governments and communities

Share your views on the topic in the comment box below. Help to spread the word by sharing this post so that more and more people are aware of this unrealized threat that the world is facing.

Penned by:

Mayura Amarkant

Sources: World Economic Forum, EurekAlert.org, ScienceAlert.com, United Nations


©MayuraAmarkant. This article is the property of DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter. Any unauthorized use or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mayura Amarkant (DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter). With the right and specific direction to the original content.


  1. So much wrong happening in the world today, I wonder if we’ll ever be able to fix it in this lifetime. Doomsday seems now closer than ever and it’s getting tiring to care about so many wrongs in the world! But I guess the silver lining is that people are now more aware than ever and conversations like these are slowly finding their way into the mainstream. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is seriously a very interesting subject and honestly loved your take on it.
    Also surprised to know these glaring facts about watertheft.
    Corrective measures need to be taken very soon by the concerned authorities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 30-50% is a huge amount that needs to be monitored immediately. Thanks for bringing out this important issue. As I am an environmental law enthusiast, the article and the links attached will be a great source of knowledge for me to expand my ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A lot is written about rainwater harvesting but i don’t think we do enough. If only our govts encouraged such processes to reuse rainwater, then such problems can be sorted out

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Now, this is only left. Never knew water theft is real and this extreme. That too stealing about 30% to 50% of earth’s water supply. That’s bad and no wonder we have already seen many starting to face the water scarcity issue

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is very important topic to discuss. Yes we need to take water theft very seriously. The stats and figures are very horrible I am shocked when I read this that water thieves steal between 30% to 50% of earth’s water supply annually. Thanks for sharing this useful information.

    Liked by 1 person

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