Catastrophic water crisis!


While the water crisis in the Arab world is intensifying, this vital issue remains behind the scenes because of politics, terrorism and militancy. Egypt has been engaged in long and arduous discussions with Ethiopia to secure and consolidate its share of the Nile River, as the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam threatens Egyptian water safety.

The dams of Turkey have become a clear threat to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Syria and Iraq, and the level of the rivers in both countries is threatened by the impact of life and agriculture. Syria, Lebanon and Jordan are all threatened by a severe shortage of water due to Israel and its various encroachments. Groundwater has been severely reduced in other Arab countries due to policies that have failed to rationalize its consumption.

This challenge of water security is not new to the region. Different solutions have been offered but are either unsustainable or impossibly expensive. Solutions such as towing an Antarctic iceberg dissolving it and storing the water in subterranean reservoirs, or building a river the size of the Nile have failed along with plans to build huge dams along more traditional lines. There are, of course, seawater desalination solutions, which are expensive but are still the most promising solutions to date.

Unfortunately, the focus of water policy has always been to provide more water rather than to rationalize its consumption. So far, there are no decisive policies that impose strict water rationing and emphasize the improvement of the equipment and machinery through which water is consumed.

A study of the World Resources Institute names Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar as countries that are especially threatened by total drought.

According to international experts, the issue needs to be declared an emergency crisis so that it is taken seriously and then the challenge is to deal with it urgently, because all Arab countries without exception are threatened.

The water crisis in the Arab world is a result of the imbalance between the limited water resources and the high and growing demand for water by different users. Most, if not all, Arab countries face a water crisis not only because of geographical divisions and political differences, but more importantly, because of the failure of water resources management.

One of the main reasons for the worsening of the crisis is that it has not received the same media coverage as other issues and thus the general public may not feel that the subject is of great importance. However, it is no exaggeration to say that water security may now be the most important challenge facing the Arab world.