Much of the North Africa and Middle East region is set to experience acute water shortages. The region must do more when it comes to conserving water while expanding a number of direct pilot programs such as water pumps that are solar powered said officials and scientists earlier this week.
A senior official with the water ministry in Egypt, Essam Khalifa called the situation critical saying at the Food in Agriculture Organization in Rome that almost every drop of water is being used due to the growth in population.
Across the entire region, water availability is just 10% of the average for the rest of the world, according to the UN’s FAO. This had dropped by over 60% during the past 40 years and will drop another 50% before 2050.
North Africa and Middle East agriculture uses close to 85% of the total fresh water available, reported the FAO, so lowering the amount needed to produce food is looked at as being crucial.
In 2014, the region of the Middle Eat suffered the driest winter in many decades, triggering a drought across the arable areas in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.
Egypt, the most populous Arab state in the world is attempting to use solar power as a way to extract water from the large underground water source the Nubian Aquifer that four countries share.
Setting up drilling operation that are solar powered has a high cost initially but the operation of the new systems would not be expensive, say analysts.
In nearby Sudan, a significant producer of food, officials there are interested in improving the ability to gauge as well as conserve their different water sources.
A former ambassador for Sudan Shahira Wahbi said the country needs to measure water resources so it has a baseline.
Experts on the Middle East predict that more frequent drought cycles were be forthcoming accompanied by winter rainy seasons that are delayed that damage fruits and also prevent the growing of cereal crops to full maturity.