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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid