Erika Zarate, September 2014

Recently, the University of Twente, UNEP and Good Stuff International collaborated in order to apply the Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) for the first time to the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) subcontinent. A comprehensive accounting on water footprints per sector was produced, as well as a water footprint sustainability analysis. This report contributes with an impressive amount of data showing how water is allocated in LAC, which crops contribute with the largest water footprints and in which river basins, the river basins that undergo stress, the sectors and specific products that can increase efficiency. In addition, some water-related social issues are put in the perspective of the logic behind the current water allocation in LAC.



Annual average monthly blue water scarcity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Source: Mekonnen, M.M., Pahlow, M., Aldaya, M.M., Zarate, E. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2014) Water Footprint Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean: An analysis of the sustainability, efficiency and equitability of water consumption and pollution, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 66, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands.


The report offers as well some forward-thinking contributions: (i) presenting data and maps per river basin and not only in terms of political boundaries, (ii) working in a multidisciplinary approach, stressing the need to look simultaneously at water, food, economy and social issues, in the perspective of water scarcity, water pollution, climate change, landuse, and targets of protected areas, (iii) showing the links between green water availability, landuse and deforestation.


Small producers of banana for export in Ecuador. Courtesy of Agrofair/TASTE. Banana production represents the main source of income for these families.


We invite Latin American people to check the report and use it as a starting point to apply the WFA with local data and information, as a powerful way to engage river basin stakeholders in the water allocation and trade-offs discussion. If you have questions or feedbacks, don't hesitate to contact us.



Canal in the Chira river basin, Peru, a water-stressed river basin. Courtesy of Agrofair/TASTE.



Caño Cristales, La Macarena National Park. A beautiful protected region in Colombia. Source: