Knowledge Access in Rural Interconnected Areas Network
Water Matters

Water Matters

December 02, 2016

The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) is one of the most water scarce regions in the world. The MENA region is facing chronic water issues due to climate change, political instability and lack of appropriate water policies and water management, and unsustainable and inefficient use in the farming sector and at the household level.

Agriculture in the MENA uses about 85% of the region’s freshwater and many practices are contributing to the loss or deterioration of the available resources. For example, conventional agricultural, through the excess use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers results in ground water pollution and the deterioration of soil.
Water Matters

Practices in the field

To face these constraints, adequate agricultural practices should be promoted to cope with the decreasing water availability. More sustainable agricultural techniques should be adopted such as the use of drought tolerant crops (i.e. beans, broccoli and cucumbers etc.) and drip irrigation which can help achieve yield gains of up to 100% and water savings of up to 40-80%.

In addition, techniques should be borrowed from organic agriculture such as mulching and use of animal manure instead of chemical fertilizers hence reducing water pollution and enhancing water retention and resistance to drought. Organic agriculture can act as a tool to conserve water as organic crops require less water than crops treated with chemical fertilizers.
Practices in the field
Practices at home

Practices at home

As freshwater becomes scarce, finding alternative sources for water is necessary. Greywater contains oils, fats, soap and other particles that clog the soil when spilled on the ground hence decreasing the soil capacity to infiltrate water and consequently causing soil erosion and flooding. Greywater treatment is a low cost water treatment option for households to decrease the greywater standing and clogging of soils. This system has a great potential in preventing environmental degradation and soil erosion in addition to providing extra water for irrigation. In addition to greywater treatment, countries in the MENA region such as Jordan and Palestine, are taking action and resorting to purification techniques as means to treat waste-water and re-utilize it in different industries. (Refer to karianet link for examples on wastewater treatment.)
As a final note, the water sector is not only in need of technical enhancement to improve water availability and/or quality, but it also requires adequate policies and legislation to ensure its appropriate management and regulations.
AFED, 2014, Water efficiency in agriculture
FAO, 2017, Organic Agriculture,
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