The Middle East is running dry – and into the perfect storm?

Damian Carrington writes:

Water, it’s the very stuff of life, and a high-resolution analysis of the most water-stressed places on Earth reveals anew a stark reality. The Middle East and north Africa (Mena), currently in the middle of a historic wave of unrest, is by far the worst affected region.

Of the 16 nations suffering extreme water stress, according to risk analysts Maplecroft, every single one is in the Mena region. Bahrain tops the list of those using far more water than they sustainably receive. Other crisis-hit countries, including Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia, are not far behind. Syria tops the next category: high stress. (The full top 20 is in a table below, with a bit on the methodology).

The obvious question is to what extent this severe lack of water underlies the troubles affecting these nations? The obvious response is that only a fool would wade into political and historical waters so deep and try to divine the role of a single factor, amid poverty, unemployment, repression and more.

But reassured by a middle east expert here at the Guardian that water is indeed a major underlying issue in many Mena nations, and John Vidal’s article from February, I’m going to dip my toe in as far as following the chain of events that starts with scarce water. Why? Because it powerfully demonstrates how the world’s biggest environmental problems link together with profound effect.

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One thought on “The Middle East is running dry – and into the perfect storm?

  1. delia ruhe

    I just want people to know that there are Canadians who are working on the question of water. It’s an international issue, and our first concerns should be for those people living in the Middle East. Israel has robbed the Palestinians of their sources of potable water. It confiscates them and then sells water back to the Palestinians at exorbitant rates. This has been going on for at least 2 decades.

    Anyone interested in water issues could begin learning about them at this URL:

    Canadians know that if/when water becomes a crucial issue in the western US, our theocon prime minister will sell water to California so that Californians can continue filling their private swimming pools and watering their golf course greens.

    But as our Canadian water advocate stipulates, water is a fundamental human right. She leads a global movement on this issue.

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