Global Water Distress: Middle East & Africa

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Global Water Distress:

Water is a basic requirement for humanity, yet for 783 million people, water is a somewhat unattainable luxury.
Eleven percent of the global population doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, according to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), and 2.5 billion people don’t have basic sanitation.
Water scarcity is expected to increase by 50 percent for developing countries and 18 percent for developed countries by 2025, according to the AWF.

The Middle East and Africa:

Since 40 percent of the global population faces water shortages, water conservation awareness is indispensable. Below is a look at how the Middle East, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and Kenya are handling water crises.

The Middle East

Photo of water crisis in Yemen by Adhron de leeuw via Wikimedia Commons

Scarce water resources and poor resource management plague the Middle East. Countries such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq struggle to gain access to sanitary water, says The Water Project. Agricultural land needs water to thrive and the misuse of available water supplies for agriculture, such as heavy irrigation, causes droughts and desertification.

Despite lavish cities and upscale living, the United Arab Emirates is on its way to depleting its natural natural water resource. Sharing the UAE’s water scarcity epidemic, Saudi Arabia tries to replenish the water supply with desalination plants, which are a major health and environmental concern as millions of barrels of oil are consumed each year to operate the desal plants. The following is a cursory look at the water crisis in the UAE specifically.

United Arab Emirates

Photo of a reverse osmosis desalination plant by James Grellier via Wikimedia Commons

The Middle East water supply is a high-priority concern, and farmers in Abu Dhabi are on a mission to ensure water conservation and sustainability. By partnering with the government, farmers plan to reduce agricultural water use by half as of next year, according to The New York Times. In spring of 2013, the Emirate was reported to use 73 billion gallons of water annually, and about 70 percent is earmarked to be used for agriculture and urban landscapes.

Amid challenges such as a hostile climate and barren soil, Abu Dhabi is working to protect its groundwater with upgraded irrigation installations, implementing new production techniques, water metering, and reusing treated sewage water.

South Africa

Photo by Julien Harneis via Flickr

The Water Project also draws attention to the water crisis in South Africa, a region with ever increasing water demands. Climate change and even stolen water affect the South African water supply. New dam construction faces delays while older dams are collapsing. Water sanitation is insufficient, and waterborne diseases threaten rural communities. Raw sewage also harms wildlife. Since wildlife, the ecosystem and the economy are all interconnected, communities and people are negatively impacted when wildlife suffers. AWF explains that “protecting Africa’s wildlife means conserving its land.” Both land and wildlife conservation can help improve agricultural and irrigation practices that contribute to water shortages.


Photo by hris1johnson via Wikimedia Commons

Hope springs eternal:

Not all nations experiencing water insecurity should feel hopeless. The New York Times reported this past fall that five aquifers were discovered in water-deprived and impoverished northern Kenya. The aquifers discovered in Turkana County are a glimmer of hope for the 17 million Kenyans who are without access to safe drinking water and 28 million Kenyans without basic sanitation, according to UNESCO. Now UNESCO is working to explore and safeguard these resources as not only drinking water, but a source for irrigation and water supply for livestock.

Global awareness and support can help combat the world’s looming and grave water scarcity threat. Share knowledge and donate to organizations such as and Don’t forget to do your part by fixing leaks and taking shorter showers to conserve the earth’s water supply.

About the Author

Amanda is a social media enthusiast and blogger. She has worked for major credit card companies and financial institutions throughout her career. In her free time, she enjoys learning about science, helping small businesses exceed their goals, and taking her rescued dachshund to the park. 

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