Freshwater: Latin America and the Caribbean

The Latin America and Caribbean Region is rich in renewable water resources with more than 30 per cent of the world's total. However, three hydrographic regions - the Gulf of Mexico Basin, the South Atlantic Basin and the La Plata Basin - covering 25 per cent of the region's territory, are home to 40 per cent of the population and contain only 10 per cent of the region's water resources (WWC 2000).

Most water-related problems transcend national boundaries although there are marked differences between sub-regions and countries. The major challenges are: decreasing per capita water availability due to population growth, urban expansion, deforestation and climate change; deteriorating water quality arising from untreated sewage, excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, and industrial pollution - particularly from the mining and energy industries; and outdated institutional and legal frameworks.