|Freshwater Resources in Arid Lands (UNU, 1997, 94 p.)|
|3: The future of freshwater resources in the Arabian peninsula|
The countries of the Arabian Peninsula have limited renewable freshwater supplies, which have been nearly fully developed, and the only dependable source is fossil groundwater reserves. In some regions, depletion of these nonrenewable groundwater resources is taking place at an alarming rate, owing to overpumping in order to meet agricultural requirements.
Improvements in the standard of living and urban migration, coupled with the absence of conservation programmes, have brought about high domestic water consumption, which itself increased by three times from 1980 to 1990. Programmes currently in force in many of the countries have focused mainly on the development of water resources rather than management, in order to meet rising water demand. To overcome water shortages, many of the countries of the peninsula have come to rely on desalination and mining of groundwater resources. Conservative forecasts indicate that demand during the period 1995-2025 for all sectors is expected to increase almost twofold.
To cope with future water demands there is a need thoroughly to evaluate and implement means of augmenting supplies, devoting serious effort to management approaches that will provide optimal allocation and efficient utilization of water resources. Emphasis must be placed on efficient management of water resources in the region. To meet future demand, water supplies may require augmentation with desalinated sea and brackish water, increased magnitude of renovated waste water, and groundwater recharge. Concurrently, serious efforts need to be made towards reducing water requirements through demand-management measures. The effectiveness of demand-management measures has been demonstrated in many parts of the world.
It is essential that each country of the region establish an up-to-date water plan that emphasizes integrated water-resource development and management. Water policies and strategies should address the allocation of water in accordance with market values, conservation, pollution control, and improvement of the coordination of efforts between water institutions. Technical research and development, as well as manpower development and training, are also essential aspects of any water programme. Key policies should address short- and long-term programmes for agricultural development, capacity building, review of water-pricing subsidies, development and application of appropriate technology, institutional arrangements, and water importation.