Near East and North Africa Land and water days 2019

Pathways to sustainable scarce-water-resources management

The Near East and North Africa fresh water resources are among the lowest in the world: they have decreased by 2/3 during last 40 years and are expected to fall over 50 percent by 2050. 90 percent of the total land in the region lies within arid, semi/arid and dry sub/humid areas, while 45% of the total agricultural area is exposed to salinity, soil nutrient depletion and wind water erosion. At the same time, agriculture in the region uses approximately 85 percent of the total available freshwater.

Water scarcity and rainfall variability have already shown profound impacts on the agricultural sector that are being monitored and studied but not yet fully understood. With climate change expected to amplify these impacts, the global food industry will have to adapt to increased uncertainty and growing water scarcity to feed an ever-growing population. Better policies and smarter investments will be needed to overcome these unprecedented challenges. Failure to adapt will have far-reaching consequences for regional and global food security, as well as for the livelihoods of those who depend upon farming income.

Theme 1 will illustrate the latest evidence about water scarcity in the NENA region, highlighting its impact on regional food security and on the livelihoods of farming communities, with the objective to examine pathways to achieve food security and sustained economic development under conditions of scarcity.

The different sessions under this Theme will illustrate, amongst others, decision support and monitoring systems based on water accounting, tools to enhance water productivity and water use efficiency, lessons learnt on the sustainable use of non-conventional water sources, and methods for sustainable groundwater management.