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C2 – Freshwater abstraction in the Republic of Azerbaijan

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Key messages

Azerbaijan is a water-scarce country facing water stress conditions, with a long-term average annual water exploitation index (WEI) of greater than 30.5 % (WEI = 58.4 % in 2017).

Agriculture is the highest water-demanding sector, accounting for 90 % of the total water abstraction annually.

Water abstraction increased by 10.3 % between 2000 and 2017, while renewable freshwater resources decreased by 20 % in the same period.

More than 80 % of the water is abstracted from surface water resources. However, the proportion of the water demand that is met by groundwater resources has more than tripled since 2000.

Is freshwater abstraction sustainable in the Republic of Azerbaijan?

Water exploitation index (WEI) in the Republic of Azerbaijan

Figure 1- Development of annual water exploitation index in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2000-2017)

Data sources:

Renewable freshwater resources provided by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Note: Data in excel table was provided by the MENR to the European Environment Agency under the ENI SEIS II East Project.

Water abstraction by economic activities provided by the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

 

Annual renewable freshwater resources on average is around 38 070 hm3 (2000-2017), which corresponds to 2 999.3 m3/capita in Azerbaijan.

However, due to the high water demand of the agriculture and electricty sectors, Azerbaijan abstracts more than 30 % of its total renewable freshwater resources every year. This level of pressure exposes Azerbaijan to severe water stress conditions almost every year. The long-term average WEI remains above 30.5 %, while water exploitation has been constantly increasing in recent years (WEI = 41.2 % in 2017) due to a substantial decrease in renewable water resources (20 % reduction from 2000 to 2017) combined with an increase in water abstraction (10.3 % for the same period).

The WEI illustrates the level of the pressure from water abstraction on renewable water resources. Renewable water resources, overall, are under the control of climate conditions. In particular, they are affected by precipitation and actual evapotranspiration. During wet years (high precipitation and low actual evapotranspiration), the WEI would be relatively lower, while in dry years, even though the water abstraction remains at the same level, the WEI would be higher.

According to the estimated WEI, Azerbaijan has been living under water stress conditions. On the other hand, it should be noted that seasonal and regional water stress conditions across the country fluctuate considerably compared with the annual index.

Is water abstraction decreasing?

Figure 2 - Development of water abstraction by source in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2000-2017)

Data sources:

Water abstraction by source provided by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Note: Data in excel table was provided by the MENR to the European Environment Agency under the ENI SEIS II East Project.

 

Although renewable water resources fluctuate over time, since 2004 annual renewable water resources have remained below the long-term average and are constantly decreasing. In parallel to this trend, the pressure of water abstraction on renewable water resources has been steadily increasing.

On average, 11 000 million m3 of water is abstracted annualy in Azerbaijan to meet the water demand of various economic activities. There was an increasing trend in water abstraction between 2000 and 2017.

The total population of the country also increased by 22 % between 2000 and 2017. This has resulted in a susbtantial decrease in the available renewable water resources per capita, from 4 567.8 m3/capita per year in 2000 down to 2 999.3 m3/capita per year in 2017.

 

What are the pressures of economic activities on freshwater resources?

Figure 3 - Development of water abstraction by economic activities in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2000-2017)

Data sources:

Water abstraction by economic activities provided by the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

 

Figure 4- Water abstraction by economic activities in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2017)

Data sources:

Water abstraction by economic activities provided by the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

 

Overall, two major sectors create a significantly high demand for freshwater resources and cause water scarcity conditions: agriculture (69 %, see C3 indicator) and the production and distribution of electricty, gas and water (22 %). Azerbaijan is highly dependent on irrigation for most of its agricultural production (UNECE, 2011). Hence, agriculture is the largest water-demanding sector, and water abstraction for agriculture has been constantly increasing, with an increase of 76.5 % from 2001 to 2017. On the other hand, on average, around 32.5 % of the total water abstraction is lost during its transport (see C3 indicator for Azerbaijan), which lowers the efficiency of water use by the economic sectors.

Azerbaijan meets around 15 % of its total water demand from recycled water. In particular, water coming from electricty and gas is recycled and used for different sectors (UNECE, 2011).

The share of water abstraction for drinking purposes has decreased due to improvement of the water supply systems (UNECE, 2011).

Neverthless, there is still much improvement to be made in water efficiency, particularly in the agricultural sector, and in decreasing water losses during its transport.

 

Indicator specification

Indicator definition

The total volume of freshwater abstracted annually (surface and groundwater) – by all economic activity in accordance with the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) and expressed as a percentage of renewable freshwater resources – i.e. as the country’s WEI.

Units

The total volume of freshwater abstraction and the volume by economic activity are measured in million cubic metres (million m3) per year; the WEI is expressed as a percentage.

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

The indicator provides a measure of the freshwater abstracted from natural sources, as well as the pressure on the environment in terms of the abstraction of freshwater resources.

Monitoring of freshwater abstraction is of great importance to Azerbaijan for preserving renewable water resources and improving the sustainability of water resources management. The indicator enables the proper assessment of achieving the preservation and efficient use of Azerbaijan’s natural capital.

Scientific references

  • UNECE, 2011. Azerbaijan –Second Environmental Performance Review, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Environmental Performance Reviews Series No. 31, e-ISBN 978-92-1-117035-1, New York and Geneva.

  • UNECE, 2018. Guidelines for the Application of Environmental Indicators, Description of C2. Freshwater abstraction.

  • UNECE, 2018. Guidelines for the Application of Environmental Indicators, Glossary of terms – C2. Freshwater abstraction.

 

Policy context and targets

 

Context description

National policy context

The water code of the Azerbaijan Republic, (1997) adopted by the Law of Azerbaijan Republic № 418-IG of December 26, 1997 - The code considers internal waters of Azerbaijan. The section of the Caspian Sea (lake) belonging to Azerbaijan is part of the national wealth of the Azerbaijani people, and it is used and protected as the basis of the life and activity of the population and to ensure the existence of flora and fauna. The code regulates the legal regulations related to the use and protection of water bodies in Azerbaijan.

 

International policy context

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda for the period up to 2030 is to ‘ensure access to water and sanitation for all’. One of indicators of SDG 6, indicator 6.4.2, is the ‘level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources’, which shows the importance of a sustainable water policy.

 

Targets

National targets

No national target has been specified.

International targets

UN SDG 6, target 6.4: by 2030, substantially increase water use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

 

Related policy documents

 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

 

 

Units and equations

ID

Component

Units

Equation

C2.1

Fresh surface water abstracted

million m3

 

C2.2

Fresh groundwater abstracted

million m3

 

C2.3

Freshwater abstracted

million m3

= C 2.1 + C 2.2;

= C 2.4 + C 2.5 + C 2.6 + C 2.7 + C 2.8 + C 2.9

C2.4

Water supply industry (ISIC 36)

million m3

 

C2.5

Households

million m3

 

C2.6

Agriculture, forestry and fishing (ISIC 01-03)

million m3

 

C2.7

Manufacturing (ISIC 10-33)

million m3

 

C2.8

Electricity industry (ISIC 351)

million m3

 

C2.9

Other economic activities

million m3

 

C2.10

Renewable freshwater resources (surface)

million m3

 

C2.11

WEI for surface water

percentage %

= C 2.1/C 2.10

 

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling methodology has been performed.

Methodology references

  • EEA, 2005. EEA core set of indicators guide. EEA Technical report No 1/2005, ISBN 92-9167-757-4, Luxembourg.

  • UNECE, 2018. Guidelines for the Application of Environmental Indicators, Data template – C2: Freshwater abstraction.

  • UNECE, 2018. Guidelines for the Application of Environmental Indicators, Description of C2: Freshwater abstraction.

  • UNECE, 2018. Guidelines for the Application of Environmental Indicators, Glossary of terms – C2: Freshwater abstraction.

  • UNSD and UNEP, 2013. Questionnaire 2013 on Environment Statistics. United Nations Statistics Division and United Nations Environment Programme, Questionnaire 2013 on Environment Statistics, Section Water.

 

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Classification of economic activities in the water data available from the statistical office is not consistent with ISIC Rev. 4. Therefore, the information and data presented in this indicator are not fully consistent for regional assessment.

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

 

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Data sources

  • Water abstraction by source and by economic activities have been provided by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the European Environment Agency under the ENI SEIS II East Project.

  • Water resources provided by the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan.