The report, dubbed “Beyond Scarcity: Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa,” estimated that the inadequate supply of water and sanitation is costing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region around $21 billion per year in economic losses.
This World Bank publication, launched during a special session on the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, shows that limited water resources need not restrict the region’s future, but that a combination of technology, policy and management can convert scarcity into security.
The report offers a comprehensive analysis of water stress in the region and sheds light on the challenges to maintain and extend access to affordable water services, and the growth of water-related risks and the adequacy of the actions taken to address them.
“Drawing water from rivers and aquifers faster than they can be replenished is equivalent to living beyond one’s means, and it undermines a country’s natural capital, affecting longer-term wealth and resilience. But there are solutions, and they start with clear incentives to change the way water is managed,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa.
With the urban population in the region expected to double by 2050 to nearly 400 million, a combination of policy, technology and water management tools should be used to improve the water situation, the report said.
The same source said that more than 60 percent of the MENA region’s population live in areas under high or very high water stress, compared to 35 percent worldwide.
Yet, despite the scarcity of water, regional authorities impose the world’s lowest consumption charges.