WATER SCARCITY DAMPENING GROWTH IN MENA

This post draws text primarily from Julia Devlin’s excellent article:
https://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2014/06/24-water-scarcity-growth-prospects-middle-east-north-africa-devlin

“Today, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are the most water scarce globally, with per capita freshwater supplies well below the water “poverty” line of 1,000 cubic meters per year. Arid conditions, low and variable rainfall and high rates of evaporation characterize the natural environment and compound the region’s vulnerability to climate change. In Syria for example, a predicted rise in temperature, lack of rainfall and unpredictable weather could result in desertification of 60 percent of land area.

“Such factors, however, have neither discouraged ambitious agricultural development schemes nor dreams of food self-sufficiency and security—frequently at high economic and social costs.

“In Saudi Arabia, for example, agricultural development policies and irrigation practices adopted since the 1980s are linked with an estimated depletion of two thirds of the country’s ‘fossil’ water supplies.

“Today, agriculture remains a vital and volatile economic sector, generating 15 percent of Morocco’s GDP, nearly one quarter of the country’s exports and employing nearly half the labor force. It is also the largest consumer of freshwater resources.”

Morocco requires short term as a matter of urgent policy implementation additional cost effective water resources, that do not destroy ground water resources and salinity, at affordable non subsidized prices and not linked with coal oil gas power generation, with continuous rising costs of importation.

For Morocco to meet the above two requirements of “Water Resources” + “Renewable Energy Resources”, Morocco must authorize short term the “Integration of Water Resources & Renewable Energy Resources” where mature non subsidized technologies today for this purpose are; “Concentrated Solar Power Parabolic + Multi Stage Flash Desalination.”

Julia Devlin continues: “New technologies for wastewater recycling are advancing rapidly, with significant potential for expanded use in MENA countries. In Libya, for example, only 7 percent of wastewater generated is treated and reused in agriculture and landscaping. Similarly, with declining costs and rapid growth in capacity, desalinated water is becoming ubiquitous, supplying more than half of the region’s municipal water needs, to the point where countries such as the UAE are building the world’s largest underground reservoir of desalinated water to safeguard supplies.

“As economic, social and political pressures mount in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, the international focus will shift increasingly to security and conflict-related engagement. Yet the grim realities of rising water scarcity and its implications for growth, health and living standards can no longer be sidelined in efforts at international dialogue and engagement.”

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