ME Desert

A recent World Resources Institute (WRI) study finds that water supplies across the Middle East will deteriorate over 25 years, threatening economic growth and national security and forcing more people to move to already overcrowded cities.  (http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/08/ranking-world%E2%80% 99s-most-water-stressed-countries-2040)

The region, is home to over 350 million people, is beginning to recover from a series of deadly heatwaves which saw temperatures rise to record levels for weeks at a time.  In this vein the WRI study asserts that  water shortages were a key factor in the 2011 Syria civil war.

“Drought and water shortages in Syria likely contributed to the unrest that stoked the country’s 2011 civil war. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people, primarily farmers and herders, to lose their livelihoods and leave their land, move to urban areas, and magnify Syria’s general destabilisation,” says the report. 

New WRI rankings place 14 of the world’s 33 most water-stressed countries in the Middle East and north Africa region (Mena), including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and Lebanon. Companies, farms and residents in these countries are all highly vulnerable to the slightest change in supplies, says the WRI.

“The world’s demand for water is likely to surge in the next few decades. Rapidly growing populations will drive increased consumption by people, farms and companies. More people will move to cities, further straining supplies. An emerging middle class could clamour for more water-intensive food production and electricity generation,” say the authors.

“But it’s not clear where all that water will come from. Climate change is expected to make some areas drier and others wetter. As precipitation extremes increase in some regions, affected communities face greater threats from droughts and floods,” they say.

 Itzchak Kornfeld

Landsat of Middle East

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