Home » Opinion » This Is On Me » Water crisis – the Middle East and North Africa

Water crisis – the Middle East and North Africa

By Floro Mercene

ACCESS to the precious resources has long been a problem in countries across the Middle East and North Africa. The World Bank estimates that over 60 percent of people there live in areas that suffer from a scarcity of water, compared to a worldwide figure of just 35 percent.

Only 3 percent of Earth’s water is salt-free, or fresh water. Moreover, nearly 70 percent of fresh water is locked in glaciers and icebergs, and is not available for human use. The fresh water that is available comes from rain or from rivers, lakes, springs, and some groundwater reserves, such as aquifers (Water below the water table, contained in solid or fractured rock, is known as groundwater; aquifers are geologic formations that store, transport, and yield groundwater to wells.) Today’s wells can reach water buried deep within Earth, so these freshwater supplies can be depleted on a massive scale. Most aquifers can be recharged by the annual water cycle, but water trapped in ancient underground formations cannot be renewed.

Global warming combined with massive population growth has led the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to increasing pressure making access to resources more important than ever – and no resource is more important than water. In fact, MENA is the most water scarce region in the world, because of low rainfall and high levels of evaporation, leading to limited naturally available water resources. The MENA suffers from inefficient usage and mismanagement.

Forecasts on the impact of climate change on the region are dire. Without a proactive approach that breaks current wasteful trends, the MENA countries will not achieve water sustainability. With the world’s population expected to rise to over 9 billion by 2050, it is inevitable that water stress will increase and the MENA will be the hardest hit.