Irrigation in the Middle East region in figures

Irrigation in the Middle East region in figures

Better integrated management of water resources and regulation is needed to manage chronic water scarcity in this region

This FAO report aims to provide an accurate status of rural water resources management, with a special focus on irrigation, highlighting the major changes that have occurred in the last decade. In each country, the paper features major characteristics, trends, constraints and prospective changes in irrigation and in water resources.

The report highlights that, In the Middle East region, 12 out of the 18 countries already face physical water scarcity and there are there are unprecedented levels of demand on the already stressed systems of the region. The driest country in the region is Oman, followed by the other countries of the Arabian Peninsula, while Lebanon is the rainiest country thus large differences exist between the countries and territories in the region. Scarcity of water resources, severe climatic conditions, pollution of groundwater, unsuitable cropping patterns and incorrect cultural practices lead to soil degradation and cause desertification.

Almost 85%of the water withdrawal in the region is used for irrigation with the largest irrigation potential is concentrated in Iran. Surface water is the main source of water for irrigation in the region as a whole yet, surface water and groundwater quality is commonly affected by agricultural, industrial and municipal wastewater. Under these circumstances, there is reliance upon withdrawals from non-renewable aquifers and non-conventional sources of water making up the balance however, the use of fossil water will cause depletion of the aquifers in the long term.  

While most countries are making considerable technical, policy and institutional progress within the water sector, the report stresses the need to focus more on integrated management of water resources and on regulation rather than provision of services should be recognised.

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