High rates of demographic growth, inadequate consumption patterns and rapid urbanization are putting unprecedented pressure on water resources, in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region. Covering the 5.4% of the world population and accounting only for the 0.5% of the global water resources, the Near East and North Africa Region (NENA) faces the challenge of addressing a wide range of complex and intertwined issues associated with the management of natural resources, particularly to secure an adequate supply to a increasingly high rate of demand from all water-using sectors. The per capita availability of internal renewable water resources ranges from 0 for Kuwait to 1753 m3 for Iran with an average of 634 m3 per capita versus 6400 m3 worldwide.
To help countries to address this challenge FAO is launching a regional “Initiative on Water Scarcity in the Near East and North Africa”. The overall goal of the initiative is to support Member Countries in streamlining priority areas of action in agriculture water management through an innovative approach that puts forward the maximization of cost effectiveness of food supply options.
“The Water Scarcity Initiative will offer a multidisciplinary response to water scarcity which is by far a social construct. The Initiative will help developing innovative decision making tools aiming at reaching optimum costs for a given food supply option, thus contributing to improve food security in the region” said Ms. Chifa Tekaya, FAO Water Scarcity Initiative Coordinator.
The Initiative will also offer Member Countries and key stakeholders a common platform to develop and implement a Regional Collaborative Strategy on sustainable agriculture water management in the region.
“Although multi-dimensional, the many causes of water scarcity, if correctly identified, can be predicted, avoided or mitigated. An interdisciplinary approach prompting the cooperation of the many actors involved in water usage and management, would be a sustainable solution to face water scarcity and, through this, contribute to the improvement of food security in the region ” said Mr. Ould Ahmed Abdessalam, FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa Region.