Credit By: UN-Water
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) area is experiencing a severe water shortage, which calls for quick action and teamwork. The upcoming UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai provides an essential forum for addressing the worsening water issue and developing workable plans for sustainable water management.
The persistent effects of climate change, such as protracted droughts and intense heat, are worsening the water situation in the MENA area. Notably, Jordan, the world’s second-least water-scarce nation, highlights the serious problem. Examples of severe reductions in Euphrates River discharge in Syria and Iraq, almost complete depletion of Lake Urmia in Iran, and severe water scarcity in Egypt highlight the urgent need for comprehensive solutions.
Adopting a new paradigm that emphasizes regional collaboration rather than the past rivalry over resources is essential. Because of the complex network of cross-border groundwater sources, cooperative efforts are required. MENA countries have a rare chance at COP28 to come together in shared responsibility and put long-term resilience ahead of short-term political expediency.
Promoting Water Citizenship
An essential component of efficient water resource management is the idea of “water citizenship.” This entails encouraging equitable ownership, fidelity to water sources, and prudent water use habits. Adhering to water citizenship necessitates ongoing observation and evaluation of water resources. Creating regional research hubs to gather and exchange data will be essential to converting scientific discoveries into practical policy.
The Intersection of Food, Energy, Water, and Ecosystems
Acknowledging the innate relationships that water has with food, energy, and ecosystems is critical. To develop integrated solutions, governments, academic institutions, and international organizations need to come to a common understanding of these environmental issues. A notable step toward integrating scientific advancements into tangible benefits for citizens is creating the Water, Energy, Food, and Ecosystem Nexus regional community of practice.
Water as a Concern for Women
Everyone is impacted by water scarcity, but women and girls are more affected and directly affected in their health and well-being. Given women’s critical role in providing for their families and producing food, it is essential to consider their particular vulnerabilities. Women are most affected by water scarcity; girls skip school to collect water, women have difficulty finding jobs because of water-related responsibilities, and there is an increased risk of gender-based violence when collecting water. Including and empowering women in decision-making is crucial for finding fair and practical solutions, especially during COP28.
Boosting Health Systems in the Face of Crisis
The necessity of strengthening health systems is becoming more and more apparent as the water problem worsens. Climate change makes Health hazards worse, necessitating robust health systems that can handle various issues. Plans for health clinic disaster preparedness that address waterborne disease prevention and excessive heat protocols are essential. The effort by Pathfinder International to convert medical facilities in Egypt into “green” clinics is a prime example of how to combine resilience in the health system, climate change mitigation, and women’s empowerment.
A Women-Led, Locally-Led Approach
Local businesses, like Egypt’s Pathfinder International, can be crucial to climate change mitigation in a sustainable way. This project demonstrates the possibility of locally driven solutions by converting health clinics into eco-friendly centers, empowering women, and inspiring communities to take action on climate change simultaneously. These efforts, which provide a model for broader adoption, are characterized by trust, community involvement, and an emphasis on long-term impact.
The Future Is in Danger
Conflicts over water supplies in the region could worsen if the water problem and more significant climate issues are not addressed. It is essential to make swift adjustments to policy and strategy locally and globally to protect future generations. Millions of people without access to water are a real threat, which emphasizes the urgency of taking immediate action to lessen the effects of future difficulties. A more sustainable and water-secure future for the MENA region and beyond may be achieved via coordinated efforts at this critical juncture, which COP28 marks.
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