FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa
©FAO/John Isaac

The Initiative on water scarcity will make governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector work together to seek participatory and innovative policy, governance and management options for the sustainable use of water scarce resources, which are vital for the food security of the Near east and North Africa countries. 

Near East and North Africa’s Water Scarcity Initiative

A partnership for the water reform agenda of the Region

A network of partners, which currently include over thirty regional and international organizations, is working to provide member countries with a wealth of opportunities to learn and share practices in the sustainable use and management of water. Lessons learnt from this exchange are being already used by partners to formulate a Regional Collaborative Strategy that aims at addressing the water challenges of the region while supporting innovative and comprehensive governance reforms to strengthen efficiency and accountability of relevant institutions.

The regional network of partners will also support member countries in the implementation of the strategy at both regional and national levels.

Innovative approach and methodologies

Water accounting, food-supply cost curve, gap-analysis and regular monitoring of agricultural water productivity are some of the advanced tools that the Initiative will use to quantify the 'benefits' and the 'costs' of alternative policy options to address food insecurity while sustaining water resources. Data collection, management and analysis will constitute the backbone of the Initiative to support the strategic planning of the resource and provide evidence for policy formulation.

Making good use of FAO's and partners' expertise, the Initiative will advice governments and the private sector on the adoption of modern technologies and institutional solutions to increase the efficiency and productivity of water use in agriculture for the benefit of millions of farmers and rural communities in the region.

Options to save water all along the food value chain will be shared with the private sector while governments will be encouraged to promote incentive frameworks that reposition farmers at the center of the sustainable management of land and water resources.

With increased efficiency and productivity of water, the formulation of evidence based water policies as well as new and efficient coordination and collaboration among member countries, the Initiative will contribute to an overall enhancement of food security in the water-scarce countries of Near East and North Africa.

The initiative will also support the ongoing major policy processes in the region, including the "Arab Water Security Strategy 2010-2030" and the "Regional Initiative for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources and Socio-Economic Vulnerability in the Arab Region".


Facts and figures

  • 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.
  • Over 60 percent of water resources in the region flows from outside national and regional boundaries