The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Water woes plague Middle East and northern Africa

All around the world countries have to deal with increasing water shortages. Even Greensboro has not been spared, experiencing one of the worst droughts on record in the past year. However, in some regions of the world the water crisis poses a threat to both livelihood and life. The Middle East and Northern Africa are facing a water crisis that might lead to dire long-term consequences.

The World Bank warned that unless nations in this arid region of the globe don’t start investing in water industry and tackle their waste water problems, the amount of potable water will be cut in half by 2050.

First-year Coy Eakes, a student with an environmental sciences concentration, believes if action isn’t immediately taken the effects of the shortage may leave a lasting mark.

“The people that live there, the wildlife and plant life will obviously suffer,” Eakes said. “An ecosystem might be altered, or completely lost. Also, the area agriculture faces destruction.”

Decline in water quality and water shortages have already given a glimpse of the possible consequences if action is not taken. The water crisis has led to a decrease in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of several countries, including Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Iran.

The World Bank is urging farmers to cultivate crops that use less water and yield higher profits because 85 percent of water used in the region is primarily for agricultural purposes.

Sophomore John Lyons, an economics major and sustainability activist, believes actions should be taken on an individual level.

“Individually there are obvious options, like watering your plants in the early morning and at night, ensuring water doesn’t evaporate,” Lyons said.

Like Lyons, Natural Resources Coordinator for the World Bank Julia Bucknall pointed out the importance of stopping loss of water due to evaporation, according to BBC News. Bucknall also emphasized the importance of finding a way to change how water is consumed in the Middle East.

“We’ve simply got to reduce the amount of water used, especially in agriculture,” Bucknall said.

Lyons also believes it’s the job of the governments in the Middle East and Northern Africa to take action.

“Governments need to enforce water restrictions and look into different ways to ensure water is available for everyone,” Lyons said. “They particularly need to look into providing clean water in rural areas.”

Countries like Jordan and Tunisia are being hailed by the World Bank as exemplary models of how to manage water demands and needs, according to BBC News.

The World Bank believes that to avoid a larger water crisis governments need to implant education programs, improve infrastructure and develop new desalination plants.

Junior George Rossmann, a geology major, believes that desalination is not necessarily the best course of action, and that treating waste water would be a better.

“Desalination is expensive, and people need a more reliable source of this type of technology,” Rossmann said. “Treating waste water is a lot more affordable than making dirty water pure. It really needs to be the first step in solving a water problem.”

Whatever the eventual course of action Middle Eastern and North African nations decide to make, the World Bank is stressing the water crisis needs to be efficiently tackled at present.

Bucknall said of ongoing efforts, “If we plan for the future, it’s a lot simpler than crisis management further down the line.

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