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Jul 6, 2010

Water Scarcity in the Arab World

An Arab League Conference was held in Cairo (7/1/2010) to discuss and develop a strategy to secure and protect water resources in the Arab world. The new strategy also includes coordination with neighboring countries to face the increasing challenges of water scarcity in the Arab world.

Water specialists at the meeting stressed the fact that 19 out of the 22 Arab states are classified as water poverty-stricken. They warned that the availability of water will drop to 500 cu. met. per person per year, while the minimum requirement is 1000 cu. met. per person per year.

The Arab world contains only 1% of the service water in the world and only 2% of the rainfall. Furthermore, 70% of the service water comes from rivers that start beyond the national borders of these countries. The land area of the Arab world is only 15% of the global land area. Only 30% of the land in the Arab world is suitable for cultivation and even this part is being threatened by desertification due to global weather changes.

It has been estimated that the amount of fresh water available in the Arab world is equal to 340 billion cu. met. and only 50% of it is used and the rest is wasted. According to water experts in the Arab world, 80% of the water is used for agricultural cultivation and it is not producing enough food to meet the increasing demand for consumption. For example, Egypt, the most populated country in the Arab world (83 million people) imports 60% of its wheat. As of the present (2010), not a single Arab country could be classified as self sufficient in food production. Demographers already predict that the present Arab population, which is around 345 million people, will nearly double in the next 25 years to reach 650 million people. At the Arab league meeting of Water and Irrigation Management, Mr. Amr Mousa, the director, urged the participants to start planning the construction of nuclear plants to desalinate water to meet the challenges facing the Arab world.

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