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If There Were a Water Crisis, How Would We Know?

Author(s): The Perils of Official Statistics
IWRA World Water Congress 2008 Montpellier France
5. Water Governance and Water Security
Author(s): James E. Nickum
Chair, Publications Committee, IWRA

Keyword(s): data, water crisis, China

AbstractChinese government statistics on water are often cited by the media and scholars to indicate the existence of a "water crisis" there. Yet in nearly every case, these statistics are "bureaucratically constructed" and often cited out of the context they were intended to serve. This would seem to give an exaggerated impression of crisis in many cases, but at the same time, it is not clear that the data pick up actual critical events. I will provide examples from statistics on irrigated area, water-short cities, and cessation of river flows (especially the Yellow River), and more if time allows. Although I focus on China, these kinds of problems with official data are likely to be of more universal significance.
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