Forum highlights water scarcity
Jeddah, October 5, 2010
The scarcity of water is one of the biggest challenges facing the Arab world at the present time, according to an expert.
“The volume of water renewed annually is about 335 billion cubic meters, while the amount of groundwater is estimated at 143 billion cubic meters,” said Dr Mahmoud Abu Zeid, former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation and chairman of Arab Water Council.
“The agricultural sector alone consumes about 89.5 per cent of the water, while domestic purposes consumption accounted for 8.6 per cent and industrial purposes accounted for 7.3 per cent,” he added.
De Abu Zeid was speaking at the recently launched Saudi Water and Power Forum 2010 (SWPF 2010) in Jeddah.
Under the slogan "The Sustainable Prosperity through Knowledge, Innovation and Cooperation", the forum gathered local and international water and energy experts to discuss plans and innovations to tackle these issues.
Dr Abu Zeid urged Arab governments to remedy the situation before its aggravation, as well as expand investments related to water and power projects for future generations.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia only produces about 30 per cent of world’s desalinated water, and that per capita share of water in the Arab region is about 1060 cubic meters per year, while it is about 177 cubic meters in the GCC countries.
Dr Abu Zeid explained that the groundwater which is consumed in Saudi Arabia is up to four times as much as of the renewed water annually.
“The present situation of water and power is more complicated than previously thought,” explained Dr Hussein Sindi, Project Manager at Alaghar Group.
He added that a study conducted by his group concluded the importance of reviewing the current tariffs for water and power since dealing with water as being the cheapest commodity cannot be continued in view of the gap between the government’s strategy and consumers’ vision.
Dr Sindi further said that Alghar study recommends the establishment of an investment fund with government participation in order to buy technologies in the area of renewable power and water and the formation of an independent water information centre to report about water status in Saudi Arabia, as well as to reconsider food security policies and agriculture subsidies to match the country’s water requirements.
On his part, Governor of Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority, Abdullah Al-Shihri, revealed that the authority has established a plan to transfer electricity from monopoly and to expand investments in power production on the basis of reasonable profits, so as to ensure the quality of services provided to consumers.
He added that the authority conducted numerous studies to identify shortcomings in electricity projects, improving the existing network, as well as the formation of a special committee to deal with disputes between investors and stakeholders. – TradeArabia News Service