News / Africa

NENA Region Faces Fresh Water Scarcity

This dry river bed is part of an extreme dry zone characterized by long droughts and sand dune encroachments.  (Credit: FAO / Rosetta Messori)
This dry river bed is part of an extreme dry zone characterized by long droughts and sand dune encroachments. (Credit: FAO / Rosetta Messori)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on Near East / North Africa water scarcity

Joe DeCapua
Water scarcity will be at the top of the agenda next week when officials from the Near East and North Africa meet in Rome. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warns the availability of fresh water in the region could drop by 50 percent by 2050.

The NENA region includes Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria,Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Agriculture ministers and others will meet on the new Regional Water Scarcity Initiative. The goal is to identify strategies and policies to help the region adapt to the freshwater shortfall. Water scarcity could mean food insecurity.

The FAO’s representative in Egypt Pasquale Steduto said, “This region is already known to be very scarce – one of the most scare in the world.  But we are observing that there is an acceleration, and there is an intensification of water scarcity that in the next 40 years will bring to the highest intensity in history of this scarcity.”

The FAO reports in the previous 40 years “per capita freshwater availability in Near East and North African countries plummeted by two-thirds.” Steduto says it’s a complex situation.

“Several things are coming into play from the population [growth], but also climate change. So, we need to be ready to address all the challenges that will come and the region will face in the coming years,” he said.

The U.N. agency estimates that agriculture uses more than 85-percent of the “available rainfed, irrigated and groundwater resources.”

Steduto said, “There is probably enough water for drinking. But for agriculture – for producing food – there is not enough. There was never enough in the past. There will be much less in the future. So one of the major challenges is that agriculture has to be more performing. It has to be more productive.”

In other words, countries must produce more food with the water that’s available. The problem is the Near East and North Africa population is growing faster than the global average -- and along with it the demand for food. 

“Due to the food crisis of 2008 – the volatility of the price and so on – the [countries] have been limited in production. They are the largest importer of food from outside. So they discovered [themselves] very vulnerable to the [imports]. Consequently, most of the agricultural policy in some [countries] tends to increase the production inside --  the internal productivity -- because if you want more food, you need more water,” said Steduto.

The FAO said the Regional Water Scarcity Initiative aims to identify and streamline policies in agriculture water management. It says these are policies “that can significantly contribute to boosting agriculture productivity, improving food security and sustaining water resources.”

The initiative’s pilot project was launched last June in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia and Yemen.

The FAO Regional Conference for the Near East and North Africa will be held in Rome from February 24th through the 28th.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid