Thirteen Middle Eastern countries plus the Palestinian Territories are projected to face extremely high water stress in 25 years' time due to limited surface water and increasing demand. Eight of the top ten countries in the world to be affected by this potential water shortage are also in the Middle-East and include all six Gulf Cooperation Council member states plus the Palestinian Territories and Israel.
Researchers from the World Resources Institute (WRI) who compiled the ranking from an index of 167 countries, measuring competition for and depletion of surface water, such as lakes and rivers, in the last five years and projecting it forward to 2040, said the Middle-East is already probably the least water-secure region in the world.
In an earlier study done by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) it was found that Kuwait was one of the highest per capita consumers of water in the world, using on average around 500 liters per day, nearly double the global average.
Total drinking water production in Kuwait is estimated at around 1715 million liters per day and sources at the country’s Ministry of Water and Electricity (MEW) point out that a saving of just five liters per person per day could result in MEW being able to save as much as 13 million liters per day. Meanwhile, the government is planning on completing a number of projects to improve basic water infrastructure and increase strategic water reserves.
However, KISR warned that building more water desalination plants and storage capacities would be futile, unless people in the country reduced their consumption and became more aware of their current “ominous waste of an invaluable resource.”
The study by WRI also found that countries in the region, which draw heavily on whatever groundwater is available and depend on desalinating sea water, could face “exceptional water-related challenges in the foreseeable future."
Betsy Otto, director of the WRI's Global Water Programme, said it was important for governments to understand the potential risks they face in terms of the water needed to run their economies, including rising demand as populations grow and the still uncertain impacts of climate change. However, countries can take actions to reduce that stress and the risk associated with how they manage water resources by using innovative methods such as water reuse systems that recycle waste water.