Somebody the other day in an Investment Website introduced his counselling thus : You’ve got rather used to turning on the tap, and having water come out. You probably think that our water supply is fairly reliable. But you’d be wrong. More specifically in the MENA region, the issue has always been throughout the centuries there. Globally, nowadays, water is in a crisis – and it could affect you far sooner than you think. Let’s get this problem into perspective. Start by listing all the things you use water for. You’ll probably quickly add showering, washing clothes, and drinking. But if you think that’s captured your main use of water, I’m afraid you’re entirely wrong. The vast majority of the water you use isn’t in the home at all – it’s “embedded” in the products you buy. For example, it takes nearly two-and-a-half tonnes of water to make one hamburger. This isn’t all drinking water – but it’s still needed for the farming and manufacturing processes. Surprised?
Seriously, the problem is real and who best to explain to us all those related issues than the following.
The UNDP produced this article in 2006 on Water Scarcity Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa by Stockholm International Water Institute.
Water is scarce in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As Allan (2002) noted, the region basically “ran out of water in the 70s” and today depends as much on water from outside the region — in the form of its food imports, for example — as on its own renewable water resources.
We also know that using desalination, Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of desalinated water in the world had in 2011 the volume of water supplied by its 27 desalination plants at 17 locations, 3.3 million m3/day (1.2 billion m3/year). 6 plants are located on the East Coast and 21 plants on the Red Sea Coast.
The following article written in June 15th, 2016 by Pilar Buzzetti contributed to this worrisome and omnipresent problem of water supply issue in the MENA region.
Water in the MENA, a source for conflict or a source for peace?
The scarcity of water is not something new for an arid region like the MENA. Despite MENA countries represent 7 percent of the world population, they count on less than 1.5 percent of the world’s freshwater resources. Furthermore, in the light of the population growth in recent years, the shortage of water has become a serious challenge.
The complexities of managing and sharing common water resources are well known to the region. Continued and constant water scarcity is likely to affect the region’s social and economic potential, increasing land vulnerability to desertification and raising the risk for political conflict around the limited available water. Conflicts over water in both intranational and international settings evolve in complex political and hydrological environments. The potential for conflict is increasing in the region because of the highest demographic concentrations found in the region, such as in the Gaza strip.
Water dependency is clearly rather high for many countries in the area. Transboundary water issues are leading to water conflicts. Countries like Syria, Jordan and Palestine rely on water resources that lie beyond their borders; for example, Palestine is almost entirely dependent on water essentially controlled by Israel. The transboundary nature of the water resources in the Middle East makes cooperative management of these resources critical as they have the potential to induce economic and social development and reduce the risks of conflict. Despite significant investment in the water sector, water management still remains a serious economic and environmental problem in MENA countries, affecting public health and agricultural productivity. The environment as well is suffering due to the over-pumping of the aquifers and the deterioration of water quality.
The region is already struggling with other key political challenges, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran’s foreign and regional politics and the results of the social awakenings. Surely, the region is tinkering on the verge of a socio-economic repression due to a mixture of climatic change effects, economic challenges and post-Arab spring political instability. It is clear how potable water shortages together with lack of proper sanitization, represent key daunting challenges. Even more, the region’s consumption of natural resources is more than double of what regional ecosystems can support, putting the region on a brink of “ecosystem bankruptcy.” The issue of water shortage is strictly linked to national security affairs, since water plays a pivotal role across the various sectors and it is obstinately regarded as a determining factor to the region’s economic development and socio-political stability. . . .
Read more on the original document of Mediterranean Affairs .