Middle East/Africa Need Water Reforms: World Bank

Middle East/Africa Need Water Reforms
EGYPT: March 12, 2007

CAIRO - The World Bank urged governments in the Middle East and North Africa on Sunday to speed up improvements to water resources and said water availability per person in the region was set to drop by half by 2050. The World Bank said in a report that many countries in the area already faced full-blown crises in meeting water demand, and that was likely to worsen without reform.

"Drinking water services will become more erratic than they already are," the report said. "Cities will come to rely more and more on expensive desalination, and during droughts will have to rely more frequently on emergency supplies brought by tanker or barge." The region is already the most water-scarce in the world, and uses more of its renewable water resources than anywhere else. "All of this will have short- and long-term effects on economic growth and poverty, will exacerbate social tensions within and between communities and will put increasing pressure on public budgets," the report said.

One in three people worldwide live in water-scarce regions. In the Middle East and Africa, leaders have regularly warned water shortages caused by surging populations and climate change could trigger future conflicts. "This all means the region is going to have to do much more in the water sector with less resources," World Bank resources specialist Julia Bucknall said at the launch of the report. The World Bank advised the countries to make a series of technical and policy changes to their water sectors.

Some of the changes include reducing water subsidies and reforming sanitation and irrigation policies. Water providers should become financially autonomous and environmental regulations should be enforced. Reform should equally be extended to the 'non-water' sector, the report said. "Increased trade in agricultural products ... reforms of banking and insurance, and development of telecommunications and information technology, could all have important effects on water outcomes," the report said. It also said there should be also greater accountability for government agencies and water service providers. "Transparency is essential so that the public knows why decisions are made ... and what is actually achieved," it said.

Story by Talal Malik

World Bank Report On Water Scarcity

Ok, while I do not trust the World Bank, I do agree with the Ms. Bucknall regarding changes needing to be made in irrigation practices, crop growing, and about environmental standards being enforced. However, that isn't going to happen if corruption continues to run rampant in governments which was not addressed here, nor the mitigation of climate change. Nor will it be done if perpetual war continues to be the only answer to solving problems in the Middle East. I will have more on the "World Bank" and their plans to also privatize water systems to control them.