Thursday, June 01, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 11, 1444 H
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Looming crises over water shortages

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Water – or lack of it – is the subject of renewed concern in the face of rising demand growth from populations, coupled with the desire of countries to secure their rightful quotas from shared resources. This issue has continued to haunt some countries in Africa, including Egypt and Sudan, because of the plans drawn up by Ethiopia to build huge dams on its territory. Dam constructions in Ethiopia had led to a decline in the amount of water flowing downstream into Egypt and Sudan.

A similar crisis appears to be affecting both Iraq and Syria in the wake of Turkey's decision to build projects reduce flows downstream. Recent media reports have referred to declining levels in the Tigris and Euphrates.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, water disputes have led to the outbreak of wars, notably the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006 as a result of the Zionist state’s desire to tap into the resources of the Litani River.

Recent reports issued by international institutions indicate that a number of countries will be severely affected by water shortages by 2040. Access to water will be one of the most pressing issues in this century due to climate change and drought in several regions of the world, which analysts believe will lead to conflict, and widespread thirst among the citizens of those countries. According to the World Resources Institute, some countries will be exposed to significant damage from water stress in the coming decades. The Gulf region will also be the least water safe in the world, as it currently depends to a large extent on groundwater withdrawal and sea water desalination to quench the thirst of its populations.

Such difficulties may also be faced by some other countries in Europe and South America. A 2012 United Nations analysis indicated that by 2030, half of the world's population will face water shortages in one form or another. It is no secret to everyone that the high demand for water stems from population growth alongside economic growth, global climate change, and migration of people from villages and rural areas to cities and population centres due to climate change impacts. All these factors increase pressure on the water infrastructure as people enhance their water consumption to improve their social status.

This situation prompts countries to use drip irrigation systems in agricultural practices that require a lot of water. In most countries between 70 – 90 per cent of water is used for irrigation purposes due to the migration of people from arid lands to population centres. Droughts are an inevitable outcome, compounded by the uprooting of thousands of trees from farms, and conflict.

Several Gulf states are included in the list of countries that are vulnerable to water-regression issues in the coming years, necessitating increased awareness of the importance of water conservation.

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