|The World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis, and a core focus of the observance is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030, but also on its contribution to enhance food security and nutrition in the world. The theme of World Water Day 2021 is valuing water. The commemoration is an occasion to value water and raise awareness of the water crisis that is affecting approx. 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is time to tackle the global water crisis.
Dr. Tarek Elsheikh, Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator highlighted that : “ One of the seven pillars of Kuwait Vision 2035 revolves around achieving a “Sustainable Living Environment”. Kuwait is one of the world’s most water-stressed countries, with the lowest per capita renewable internal freshwater availability of any country. The country is highly water-stressed with internal renewable less than 70 mm/y, and high dependency on trans-boundary aquifers.
Due to the large and continuous increases in population size, urbanization rates, income levels and economic activities, consumption of potable water in Kuwait has witnessed record increases since the start of production of water desalination plant. Rising per capita income together with government-fixed low prices have caused a steep rise in average per capita water consumption. Alternative measures should be seriously considered to reform the water saving system and the new smart metering system to ensure balanced water and rational use, and to develop innovative awareness plans that have a greater impact on reducing the current consumption pattern and saving water.
H.E Engineer Jassim Mohammed Al-Nouri, The undersecretary of the Ministry of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy also mentioned: “ Kuwait, represented by the Ministry of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy, joins the world in celebrating World Water Day, where water is the main pillar of life and all related aspects of movement, work and energy. Wherever there is water, the more it is available, cities have been established, land has been repaired, crafts, industries and trade are active. This year’s World Water Day theme is “Valuing Water”, which is part of the 2010 United Nations Recommendations and is the 6th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, providing sustainable water management for all by 2030, which provides safe drinking water to disadvantaged communities. The way of valuing water determines how water is managed and shared, is much more than its financial worth. Water is of enormous and complex value to our families, culture, health, education, our economy and the safety of our environment, and if we ignore any of these values, we may mismanage this limited and irreplaceable resource”.
“This theme reminds us of the continuous efforts of the State of Kuwait and belief on its noble mission in maintaining peace and security and spreading the principles of justice and equality by ensuring a decent living and the welfare of the peoples of the world. The ministry is developing its future plan to meet the needs of the state, with the ministry’s water production reaching nearly 1 billion gallons per day by 2035”. Al-Nouri added.
The Ministry of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy is leading various interventions to achieve all SDG 6 targets including enhancing both the water and wastewater networks; undertaking research on water resources and water pollutants; making better use of all treated wastewater; conducting community sensitization activities starting from schools to impart a more responsible behaviour in consuming and recycling water resources; enforcing laws in vigour to ensure proper usage of water, and building water tanks and drilling of wells to ensure long-term water reservation. Kuwait resorted to the establishment of seawater desalination facilities, to produce fresh water for drinking (93 %), and treatment of wastewater for domestic and irrigation purposes.
According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), GCC region is one of the most water-scarce regions of the world, while there is an increasing demand for water Freshwater resources have decreased by 2/3 during last 40 years and is expected to fall over 50 percent by 2050. In the meantime, 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. Agriculture alone uses approximately 85 percent of the total available freshwater. Innovative approaches are thus needed to ensure its sustainability and establish food security. GCC countries are investing heavily in desalinisation technology and the use of treated wastewater to increase water availability for various purposes, including in the agricultural sector.
“Although the value of water for food security is high, it is rarely assessed. Estimating the full value of water allows policy makers to see the direct and indirect benefits for rural communities and society in general, which may be economic, sociocultural or environmental” said Dr. Dino Francescutti Motis, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the GCC States and Yemen and FAO Representative in the UAE. “Improving the sustainability of water use in agriculture means guaranteeing environmental flow requirements to sustain ecosystem functions, which are often overlooked – it has been estimated that 41 per cent of current global irrigation water use occurs at the expense of environmental flow requirements. FAO has launched a Regional Initiative on Water Scarcity in the Near East. The initiative aims to support FAO member countries in identifying and streamlining policies and best practices in agriculture water management, and beyond, that can significantly contribute to boosting agriculture productivity, improving food security and sustaining water resources”.
Dr. Francescutti Motis added. “When freshwater is a scarce resource, it is critical to maximize every drop to produce food. Aquaculture is a good venue for this, because it can be efficiently integrated with crops, using traditional and modern technologies like aquaponics, but also because it can make use of more abundant sources of brackish, marine or unconventional water for food or biomass production”
Mr. Sami Dimassi, UN Environment Programme West Asia Office Regional Representative said: “Water connects and underpins all aspects of the environment and human well-being. The health of our economies and societies depend on the availability and quality of water ecosystems. The triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution and waste take a heavy toll on our freshwater resources. UNEP and that is why UNEP cooperates with member states to support management and protection of these resources as it is central to environmental protection.
Today on World Water Day, it is important to understand the value of water and how supporting progress on SDG 6 can help us achieve the sustainable development goals”. On 22 March, 2021, World Water Day will be celebrated in an online event. The United Nations World Water Development Report will be also launched including recommendations of policy direction to decision makers.
Courtesy: United Nations and the Ministry of Electricity and Water