Min­is­ter high­lights Kuwait’s ef­forts to tackle wa­ter scarcity

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

Kuwait on Tues­day gave a pre­sen­ta­tion about its suc­cess­ful ef­forts in deal­ing with wa­ter se­cu­rity, af­firm­ing strong back­ing to UN’s Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO) ini­tia­tive to crys­tal­lize a joint re­gional strat­egy to­wards chal­lenges of wa­ter scarcity.

Speak­ing at the 40th Ses­sion FAO Con­fer­ence on tack­ling the wa­ter scarcity and im­prov­ing food se­cu­rity amid cli­mate change, Mo­ham­mad Al-Jabri, Min­is­ter of Awqaf and Is­lamic Af­fairs and Min­is­ter of State for Municipal Af­fairs, said Kuwait has been suf­fer­ing from a sharp shortage of wa­ter re­sources.

The State of Kuwait has only one re­source of wa­ter, ground­wa­ter, while most of the coun­try’s wa­ter needs are met by de­sali­na­tion, he added. He stated that pop­u­la­tion growth and a rise in stan­dards of liv­ing led to an un­prece­dented rise in wa­ter con­sump­tion, de­spite the coun­try’s ef­forts made over long decades in tack­ling wa­ter scarcity.

As a re­sult, the coun­try had to de­pend on wastew­a­ter treat­ment as an ad­di­tional source for agri­cul­tural pur­poses, and to re­duce pres­sures on in­dis­pens­able ground­wa­ter, he told the con­fer­ence. This way has contributed to achiev­ing sus­tain­able wa­ter se­cu­rity in the coun­try, he pointed out.

Re­spond­ing to in­struc­tions of His High­ness the Amir, Kuwait is keen on se­cur­ing many wa­ter re­sources to meet grow­ing needs for agri­cul­ture, he said. He re­ferred to some plants of wastew­a­ter treat­ment, mainly Su­laibiya Wastew­a­ter Treat­ment and Recla­ma­tion Plant which op­er­ates 600,000 cu­bic me­ters per day for agri­cul­tural pur­poses.

Kuwait is tak­ing part in the con­fer­ence to share ex­per­tise and views, and sup­port­ing the ini­tia­tive launched by FAO in 2013 in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Arab League in the Near East and North Africa re­gion, he stressed.

Ma­jor gap

Mean­while, Arab League Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ah­mad Abul Gheit said the fu­ture of the Arab re­gion in tightly linked to the prob­lem of wa­ter scarcity, re­fer­ring to a ma­jor gap be­tween sup­ply and de­mand in wa­ter and food in the Arab re­gion. He said this gap leads to dire po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and se­cu­rity con­se­quences. Abul Gheit told re­porters that cli­mate changes, wa­ter and agri­cul­ture dossiers are main rea­sons for in­sta­bil­ity of the re­gion, and will lead to neg­a­tive im­pacts on the fu­ture of the re­gional coun­tries. He re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of mo­bi­liz­ing in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to tackle chal­lenges to wa­ter and food se­cu­rity in the Arab re­gion.

In the mean­time, FAO Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Jose Graziano da Silva said the Arab coun­tries should con­tinue to seek in­no­va­tions to over­come the wa­ter scarcity cri­sis in the face of cli­mate change. He lauded ac­com­plish­ments made by the re­gion’s coun­tries, mainly the Gulf ones, in de­sali­na­tion, wa­ter har­vest­ing, drip ir­ri­ga­tion and treat­ing wastew­a­ter. “It is fun­da­men­tal to pro­mote ways for agri­cul­ture, and food pro­duc­tion in gen­eral, to use less wa­ter, and use it more ef­fi­ciently,” he said. “Pop­u­la­tion growth and the im­pacts of cli­mate change will put more pres­sure on wa­ter avail­abil­ity in the near fu­ture. Cli­mate change, in par­tic­u­lar, poses very se­ri­ous risks.” He pointed out that farm­ers and ru­ral house­holds should be at the cen­ter of strate­gies to tackle wa­ter scarcity.

He said not only to en­cour­age them to adopt more ef­fi­cient farm­ing tech­nolo­gies, but also to se­cure ac­cess to drink­ing wa­ter for poor ru­ral house­holds. This is vi­tal for food se­cu­rity and im­proved nu­tri­tion, he made clear. In the Near East and North Africa re­gion, the per capita re­new­able wa­ter avail­abil­ity is around 600 cu­bic me­ters per per­son per year - only 10 per­cent of the world av­er­age - and drops to just 100 cu­bic me­ters in some coun­tries. The FAO con­fer­ence, which in­cludes over 600 high-level gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 194 coun­tries, will run un­til July 8. It mainly focuses on is­sues and poli­cies re­lated to global food se­cu­rity. —KUNA

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