In one of the most sultry, driest places on earth, water is so scant it should be separated from the ocean.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the world’s most water-rare region, with 17 nations underneath the water destitution line set by the United Nations.
Much like cash spent from an overdrawn bank account, water in the region is being pulled back quicker than it tends to be renewed, which means MENA nations are basically “living beyond their means.”
This is the finding of an ongoing World Bank report, which outlines how the region can move past water shortage to more prominent water security.
Home to six percent of the world’s population, yet only one percent of the world’s freshwater resources, the report found that the MENA region needs to make basic move to narrow the gap between water supply and demand.
Confronting ‘absolute water scarcity’
Water shortage has been a challenge for many years in MENA.
Today, fast populace and economic growth, shared water supplies crosswise over outskirts, and the impacts of environmental change including successive droughts, declining rainfall and high evaporation rates have fundamentally affected water supplies in the region, as indicated by the 2018 Arab Regional Report.
A total of 13 countries in the MENA locale fell under the benchmark for “absolute water scarcity” in 2014, according to the most recent accessible information from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.
Nations experience the ill effects of outright water shortage when their yearly water supply from natural sources drops below 500 cubic meters per person to satisfy household, agricultural and industrial needs.
Seven of these nations confronting supreme shortage are found in the Arabian Peninsula, known for its fierce desert climate and minimal precipitation.
Therefore, a few nations are devouring considerably more water than they can sustain.
Unsustainable water use occurs in areas where water is taken from rivers and underground layers of shake soaked with water, known as aquifers, at a rate quicker than it is replenished by rain, as per the World Bank report.
“When you draw down more water than is replenished, then you begin to degrade the aquifer itself,” Claudia Sadoff, director general of the International Water Management Institute, tells Featureweekly.
“You harm the ecosystems that are dependent, and you disrupt economic production and household welfare.”
Be that as it may, debasement isn’t irreversible, clarifies Sadoff, one of the authors of the World Bank report.
“It’s possible that after a year of very strong rains, those aquifers could be restored,” she says.
As per the World Bank, unsustainable utilization of groundwater happens over the Arabian Peninsula, the Maghreb and in Iran. In any case, a few nations in the Middle East and North Africa have turned out to be incredibly resourceful in producing their own water.
Expelling salt from the ocean
A prevalent method to supplement the insufficient water supply is to separate salt from seawater in a procedure called desalination. MENA represents almost a large portion of the world’s desalination limit, as per World Bank fcalculations, making it the largest desalination market in the world.
Desalination is drilled in 150 nations worldwide and the International Desalination Association (IDA) evaluates that in excess of 300 million individuals around the globe rely upon desalinated water for a few or the majority of their daily needs.
In any case, desalination in the Middle East has a huge carbon impression as the region is dependent on energy-intensive thermal desalination plants. This procedure utilizes fossil fuels to generate heat to evaporate and condense water to a purified form.
Added to this, chemicals and brine – water immersed with salt – left over from the procedure are released into the ocean, and can harm chemicals and brine
To counterbalance the environmental cost, a few aggressive ventures in the region are exploring different avenues regarding sunlight based controlled desalination and switch assimilation desalination – a less vitality hungry procedure that expels salt from water by pushing seawater through a semi-penetrable membrane.
Secretary General of the IDA, Shannon McCarthy, says she is optimistic that renewable energy will make the process both cheaper and cleaner.
Purchasing out of the water crisis
The best measure of desalinated water is delivered in the Gulf region, where some countries are 90% reliant on desalinated water for domestic use, explains McCarthy.
“These countries have a high dependence on desalination because there is not really an alternative,” she adds.
In any case, these sorts of nonconventional water supplies can be costly to implement, making them less common in poorer countries.
As indicated by Sadoff, there are less expensive choices for creating water.
“Other technologies short of desalination, like wastewater treatment, groundwater recharge, the capture of rainwater and storm water to recharge aquifers, aren’t necessarily particularly expensive,” she says.
Nonetheless, more unfortunate regions like Yemen, Libya, the West Bank Gaza still to a great extent depend on groundwater resources, in lieu of creating their own water. It is these spots that pay the highest price for inadequate water supply and sanitation.
The World Bank report found that lacking supply of water and sanitation costs the MENA region approximately $21 billion per year in economic losses.
That incorporates medicinal services costs, lost gainful time due to being sick, and premature mortality.
The weights of populace and economic growth and environmental change are required to additionally compound water worry in MENA. The World Bank report proposes this will expand rivalry for water resources that are shared crosswise over borders, and, in turn, heighten political tensions.
On the off chance that things proceed “business as usual,” 60% of the MENA region will confront high to very high water worry by 2040, as per World Bankestimates. By 2050, the World Bank says climate-related water scarcity will cost the region 6 to 14% of its GDP.
For Sadoff, there are three clear strategies to enhance limited water supplies.
“You can become more efficient with the water that you use, you can use water for different things than you’re using it for now, and the third way is to make more water, to create these nonconventional water resources,” she says.
As water grows perpetually rare, every one of the three methodologies might be vital to verifying water for future generations.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Feature Weekly journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.