Middle East To Face Impending Severe Water Crisis

The Middle East is in for a severe water crisis if drastic measures are not put in place throughout the region in the next 25 years.

A new study by the World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organization that aims "to turn big ideas into action to sustain [...] natural resources," shows that by 2040, 33 countries around the world will face what it known as "high water stress," when the availability of water is extremely low and possibly lower than the demand. Fourteen of those countries are in the Middle East.

According to Reuters, seven of the top 10 countries that are expected to face this water crisis are the Middle East countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

The WRI study says the Middle East, even now, is not standing on stable ground regarding water supply.

"The region, already arguably the least water-secure in the world, draws heavily upon groundwater and desalinated sea water."
The WRI report also claimed that the water crisis in the Middle East is highly likely to exacerbate the already violent and complex conflicts plaguing the region, especially in countries like Syria and the Palestinian Territories.
According to the study, "Syria's general destabilization" was "magnified" by a gradual influx of farmers and herders who used to live in the countryside, yet were forced to leave their land due to "dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement."

The report also cited a BBC article on the role of water in the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict. Issues, including the Jordan River and rain water within Israeli-controlled territory, have long been sources of clashes and disputes between neighboring countries, Palestinians, and Israel.

WRI's report referred to a 2012 US Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security report, which stated that the Middle East and North Africa, along with other regions around the world, "will face major challenges coping with water problems."

"During the next ten years, many countries important to the United States will experience water problems that will increase the risk of instability and state failure, exacerbate regional tensions, and distract them from working with the United States on important policy objectives."
While water may be playing a major role in inciting more trouble in the region, the ongoing wars and violence in the Middle East is certainly making access to whatever water supplies that are currently available more difficult.

[Photo by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/Getty Images]