Sunday July 21, 2019

Arab States Face Water Supply Emergency, Problems Complicated by Climate Change: UN

In response, they needed to modernize irrigation techniques and coordinate water management strategies as a matter of urgency

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arab states, water emergency
FILE - The dried, cracked bed of the Qaraoun artificial lake is seen in West Bekaa, Lebanon, Sept. 19, 2014. VOA

Arab states are facing a water supply emergency, with per capita resources expected to fall by 50 percent by 2050, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Thursday.

The Middle East and North Africa have suffered more than any other region from water scarcity and desertification, problems being complicated by climate change, FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva told a meeting of Arab states in Cairo.

In response, they needed to modernize irrigation techniques and coordinate water management strategies as a matter of urgency.

The per capita share of fresh water availability in the region is just 10 percent of the world average, according to the FAO. Agriculture consumes more than 85 percent of available resources.

arab states
FILE – Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director General Jose Graziano da Silva speaks during a news conference in Maiduguri, Nigeria, April 7, 2017. VOA

“This is really an emergency problem now,” Graziano da Silva told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.

The meeting, attended by around 20 states, was the first of its kind at which ministers of both water and agriculture were present, an effort to improve coordination between different branches of government that have often failed to work together.

“It’s unbelievable that this region does not have good governance on water management and land management,” Graziano da Silva told Reuters.

“[In Egypt], they have 32 ministers. Most probably of those 32 ministers, 30 ministers deal with water — water is a problem for them. And they don’t have ways to coordinate very efficiently.”

Egypt says it has already started working to improve ministerial coordination, for example by reducing rice cultivation to conserve water.

arab states
In response, they needed to modernize irrigation techniques and coordinate water management strategies as a matter of urgency. VOA

Graziano da Silva said he visited agricultural areas in Egypt’s Nile Delta where farmers were still employing inundation techniques used for centuries to irrigate their land.

ALSO READ: Experts Call Next UN Food Chief Must Tackle Rising Hunger and Climate Change Threats

“This is a waste of water. We need to move urgently to drip irrigation and other techniques that save water,” he added.

Water scarcity was also displacing rural populations and increasing the region’s dependence on cheap, highly processed food imports that were contributing to rising rates of obesity, he told the conference. (VOA)

Next Story

New York Governor Signs Ambitious Climate Change Bill with Goal of Slashing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030

He was joined by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has made fighting global warming his life's work

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climate change
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, accompanied by former Vice President Al Gore, announces that he is signing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Thursday, July 18, 2019, at Fordham University in New York. VOA

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an ambitious climate change bill Thursday with the goal of slashing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 85% below what they were in 1990.

“Cries for a new green movement are hollow political rhetoric if not combined with aggressive goals and a realistic plan on how to achieve them,” Cuomo said before signing the bill into law. He was joined by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has made fighting global warming his life’s work. “We still have it within our power to grab hold of this crisis,” Gore said.

The measure Cuomo signed looks to use renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, to generate 70% of the state’s electric power by 2030. It also includes construction of massive wind farms off the coast of Long Island, which Cuomo said would generate enough electricity to power 1 million homes.

It was unclear how Cuomo and future New York state governments planned to put the ambitious plan into action. The governor and other state officials will put together a 22-member panel to devise that.

climate change
As the federal government retreats from dealing with climate change, major parts of corporate America are moving forward anyway. Pixabay

Warning about costs

Business leaders and utility companies, however, warned residents to expect higher electric bills because of the initial investment needed to build up solar and wind capacity.

ALSO READ: Education Institutions from Across the World Declares Climate Emergency

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last month was the hottest June for the globe since at least 1880, when record-keeping began. NOAA said the planet’s average temperature was 15.9 Celsius, or 60.6 Fahrenheit.

Climate experts say global warming caused by greenhouse gases is to blame and say more records will fall before summer ends in the Northern Hemisphere. Many large U.S. cities can expect dangerously high temperatures this weekend, including Washington, where it is expected to feel like 43 degrees Celsius Friday and Saturday. (VOA)