Tuesday November 12, 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)

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

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Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

Also Read- Snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir to Help Bring Pollution Down in Neighbouring States

Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)