Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Apr 7, 2010

U.N. Report – Water Poverty in the Arab World

In the previous post, references were made by the U.N. Global Water Report that more than 40 countries are experiencing water shortages. The report revealed that if all the fresh water on the planet were divided equally among the global population, there would be 5,000-6,000 cu.met. of water available for every person every year. Unfortunately, fresh water resources are distributed very unevenly. The U.N. report defines “water poverty” as any state that has less than 1,000 cu.met.per person/per years as “water poverty stricken”. Based on that definition, 18 out 22 Arab states have a lower level of water availability for their population. Furthermore, 60% of the fresh water in the Arab world its sources starts beyond its national boundaries. Sudan is the only Arab country that is more secure in terms of water availability. The rest of the Arab countries tend to be part of the dry region. Most of the rainfall tends to take place along the seashores. Nevertheless, the availability of fresh water fluctuates from country to country in that region, due to the imbalances between availability of water and demands.

For example, Jordan is classified as among the 10 states with the lowest availability of fresh water in the world. According to the 2009 Arab Human Development Report by the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), Jordan had some 150 cu.met. of renewable internal fresh water resources per capita in 2005. It is the sixth worst in the Arab world after Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Furthermore, the scarcity of water in the Arab world is going to get worse, unless the governments of Arab states start to immediately adopt a water strategy to meet the future challenges of water scarcity. The Gulf states have already begun a seawater desalination program to meet the water shortages in their part of the Arab world. It has been noted that nearly 70% of water desalination in the world is taking place in the Gulf region. These states have the two important ingredients: money and oil. Unfortunately, the rest of the Arab world needs to put their resources in order to meet the future challenges, which they are experiencing at the present time. These include:

1) Population growth, which is expected to double by the year 2030 to reach around 650 million people.
2) The rapid urban growth as a result of the influx of people from rural areas into urban centers. This will also increase the demand for fresh water.
3) The impact of global weather and the increase in temperature will intensify dryness and desertification. We have already referred to the fact that more than two–thirds of Arab land is barren desert.

In the next post, the focus will be on Egypt, the most populated Arab country.

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