Water scarcity could trigger crisis in the Middle East Print
Utopia - War for resources

Water scarcity could trigger crisis in the Middle East
7 December 2010
by Mohammad Ben Hussein


AMMAN - International experts have sounded the alarm against possible sever water shortage in the southern shores of the Mediterranean under a constant climate change, depletion of underground resources and ever rising demands on the blue gold.

Experts and officials identified lack of resources, poor management, ageing pipelines and climate change as the most vexing conundrums facing the region in relation to water. During a four day conference on water, exerts from around the Middle East, north Africa and Europe have come to together to study challenges facing water sector on the mid and long term.

Jordan's minister Mohammad Najar said the entire region is facing uncertain future as the climate change, drought, depletion of underground resources are representing a real dilemma to decision makers. He said the Arab region is considered the poorest in the world in terms of water availability.

''We need to come up with a collective strategy for most countries in the region to deal with a chronic water shortage and help countries manage their resources in a more effective way,'' said the minister on the sidelines of the conference in Amman. Najar added that Jordan is one of the most water impoverished countries in the world, with per capital consumption five times less than their European counter parts, according to UN figures.

Experts have called for adopting a commercial policy in relation to providing domestic water by increasing tariffs on water resources.

Enas Abdul Adeem from the Arab League secretariat said more than 50 percent of countries in the Arab region are below poverty line. The Arab region represents nearly 10 percent of the world size but it has no more than 1 percent of water resources. According to Abdul Qaei Kkhalifa, chairman of Egypt's water authority, the region will have a water crisis within forty years. ''Each individual in the region will be titled to have 1000 square meter of water a year. We need to come up with a strategy for the entire region otherwise the future is uncertain,'' he told ANSAmed on the sideline of the conference.

Khalifa said each drop counts and authorities should not be lenient regarding wasteful usage of water. ''We have to squeeze every drop of water to the limit. After using water to drink, we use them for industrial use or farming. We must stop treating water as normal commodity, it is a precious resource that needs careful handling,'' he told ANSAmed.

Among the topics discussed, the cost of water pumping and alternative solutions to public institutions that cater for water usage in domestic and industrial sectors. Experts also warned of possible political confrontation among countries that share same water resources. Mohammad Ramahi, from UAE water authority said water issue has been plaguing most of policy makers in the Arab region considering that countries like Egypt, Syria and Iraq have their water resources in other countries.

''Water could become a reason for conflict in the future as demand increase and resources decrease. We must come up with alternative solutions including better management of resources,'' he said.

This year, a fourth summer of unseasonably hot and dry weather, classified as drought in some part of the Middle East, saw rainfall at a 40-year low, deepening the region's water crisis. According to the United Nations, the Middle East region is the world's most water-stressed region. Experts said the politically volatile region can expect in the future hotter temperatures and less rainfall.


Source: ANSAmed.

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