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ANALYSIS

Water scarcity could lead to problems impacting
the security, economic, and social fronts.

GCC water issues: Cooperation is key

DUBAI, March 26, 2015

Unless GCC countries take all necessary measures to guarantee the availability of water resources the region is very likely to face many potential problems impacting the security, economic, and social fronts, warned an industry expert.

The GCC countries face the same environmental challenges especially in the water sector, added Dr Mohamed Abdel Raouf, a research fellow in the Environmental Research Program of the Gulf Research Center.

GCC countries so share underground aquifers and therefore must work together to better utilize these in a sustainable way. GCC-wide cooperation and joint projects will ensure that the possible consequences of water policies are anticipated and examined, and water issues are included in the countries' development strategies and plans, said Raouf.

“There is plenty of room for cooperation on many aspects related to the water sector such as monitoring and utilization of groundwater tables, recycling, water desalination, and use of renewable energies in water desalination,” said Raouf.

“Cooperation in the water sector will definitely contribute to equity, create economic benefits, help preserve water resources, and protect the environment.

“Experience has shown that specific environmental problems such as those relating to water are usually better addressed by employing a ‘policy mix’, consisting of various command and control instruments (penalties and fines), economic instruments (incentives), and awareness and educational programmes.

“It is worth mentioning in this regard that, when applying water tariffs for various users, it is better to use an increasing block rate tariff and seasonal rates, as such tariffs encourage users to rationalize water usage,” Raouf added.

In Islamic societies such as in the GCC, efforts to increase awareness and find solutions to water scarcity should have been easy because of religious reasons as many Quranic verses encourage the preservation of water, Raouf noted.

“The use of religious guidelines must be an integral part of any awareness campaign,” he said. “A competent strategy to tackle water security from both the supply and demand sides is necessary for ensuring that development is sustainable in the Gulf region.”

Since water is life and needed for all human and development activities, the GCC states must work to provide good quality water for their people in the right quantity to prevent water issues from causing unrest as has happened in many countries of the Middle East in the last few years, Raouf said.

“Thus, the issue of water security has to be at the forefront of the GCC policy agenda. There is no doubt that cooperation on water is a step in the right direction and World Water Day is a good occasion to get started,” he concluded.

The World Water Day, celebrated on March 22 every year, seeks to remind people about the significance of freshwater and promote sustainability for freshwater resources management.

The theme for 2015 is "Water and Sustainable Development." Water plays the key role in sustainable development and the availability of water resources can often determine development plans. Water is critical to meeting basic human needs, of course; besides, water supply and sanitation services as well as water as a resource are crucial to sustainable development.

The year 2015 marks the end of the United Nations (UN) Water for Life Decade (2005-2015). The Water for Life Decade encourages cooperation on water especially in regions that share similar problems and resources.

For decades, the limited availability of freshwater has presented a major challenge for the people and governments of the Gulf region. Scarce rainfall together with a high rate of evaporation and consumption leads to deficits in the water budgets of the GCC countries. Excess water consumption presents a huge problem in these countries.

According to the UN, all the GCC countries, except Oman, fall in the category of "acute scarcity." – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: GCC | World Water Day | Scarcity |

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